by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Travelers from across the country have reviewed Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, Fort Myers Beach, on Tripadvisor and they say the waterfront restaurant has it all – location, great drinks, amazing food and an attentive staff.
That quadruple combination earned it the number one spot nationwide in Tripadvisor’s Top 10 Everyday Eats, a list calculated on the quality and quantity of reviews over the last year and a half. Joe Harrity says the award truly recognizes the staff’s hard work.
“It is really about the staff,” said Harrity, Doc Ford’s marketing director. Nearly all of the reviewers ranked the service as great or excellent, even mentioning a bartender or server by name. “Kandace, who is the general manager at Fort Myers Beach, puts a high priority on staff training and that is invaluable,” he said.
Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille’s roots are on Sanibel Island, where its story became intertwined with the famous Doc Ford character in the novels of local author Randy Wayne White. The cuisine is inspired by Doc Ford’s (and White’s) travels throughout South and Central Americas.
The Yucatan Shrimp is a great recipe storied to be brought back from the Bay of Ascension, Quintana Roo, Mexico, by another “Doc Ford” character Tomlinson. Steamed peel-and-eat shrimp is dressed in real butter, garlic, mild Colombian chilies, fresh cilantro and key lime juice. This signature dish also comes in a delicious taco.
“The Yucatan Shrimp is undoubtedly the best peel-and-eat shrimp around,” a Tripadvisor reviewer wrote. “It’s a half pound of huge shrimp with a piece of crusty bread to sop up all the delicious sauce.”
The menu showcases a myriad of wonderful flavors from the popular toasted macadamia encrusted grouper with a “toasted rum” coconut sauce to the seafood paella or Texas baby back ribs basted in the restaurant’s unique BBQ sauce.
After six years on Sanibel, Doc Ford’s opened the doors to its second location with ties to White and his best-selling books. Fort Myers Beach is where White briefly lived in a stilt house next to the shrimp docks while working on his Doc Ford novels.
The restaurant is situated on the back of beautiful Estero Bay on San Carlos Island. Diners can arrive by car or boat and enjoy live music or watch the largest shrimp boat fleet in the country head in and out of the Gulf of Mexico through Matanzas Pass.
“My wife and I are sitting out on their dock after enjoying what we can only describe as one of the best meals we have had on Fort Myers Beach,” wrote one reviewer on Tripadvisor.
Third and fourth locations have followed on Captiva and St. Petersburg respectively. But it doesn’t matter which location you visit. Doc Ford’s will serve up supreme cocktails and distinctive cuisine with savory spices and sauces, as well as divine desserts like the Drunken Parrot carrot cake or key lime pie made fresh daily. And don’t forget the skillful service that is part of the Doc Ford’s experience.
It’s interesting to see this article in lieu of the multiple postings from local residents re. the poor quality of the food at Doc Ford’s lately. Several said they’d become ill from the food, at least one mentioned they’d suffered food poisoning. Over the years we’ve eaten at both Sanibel & Captiva locations of Doc Fords, & have found the food to be acceptable, but never outstanding.