Doc Ford’s Fort Myers Beach sits on the back of beautiful Estero Bay on San Carlos Island and offers the best waterfront dining on Ft. Myers Beach. Feel free to come by car or boat and experience live music and watch the largest shrimp boat fleet in the U.S. head in and out of the gulf through Matanzas Pass. With seating inside and out, it’s a view you will never forget!
Before I started writing novels, back when I was a full-time fishing guide on Sanibel, I Lived, for a few years, about 200 yards from where you’re sitting – in a stilt house next to the shrimp docks. This part of Ft. Myers Beach was affordable, and I loved the salty, tropic-lazed lifestyle.
It’s true. Look across the water. See the rows of commercial fishing boats? The house was right there, although it wasn’t much of a house. In a big wind, the old place swayed on its pilings like a sailboat jibing. Ceiling fans provided air conditioning and, the only source of heat on cold winter nights was a fireplace where, necessarily, I burned driftwood and sea wrack that smelled of creosote – a common odor around shrimp docks. The shower system was basic: water came out cold and it drained through cracks in the floor.
Whatever diplomatic skills I possess were honed while living here. Shrimpers are a tough, weather-hardened group, working at night because that's when pink shrimp are active. It wasn’t unusual for the boats to return at 4 a.m., music blaring to the rhythm of fresh beers being popped. I would wander down to the docks, acting as if I had nothing better to do, and strike up an amiable conversation that, on a good night, ended with me saying, “Oh, by the way, you mind turning that music down a notch or two? I gotta get some sleep.” Usually they consented. When they didn’t…well, I’d put in some extra writing-time, learning my craft. If someone had predicted then that I would be associated with a restaurant as fine as this one, I would have suggested that they reshuffle their tarot cards.
I love the symmetry of that. As a member of this team of restaurateurs and staff, I now have the opportunity to spend more time in the area I love.
So welcome to Doc Ford’s on the bay, Ft. Myers beach. Just as my novels are inspired by these islands, my days on the water, and the people I came to know, the spirit of this fine sports bar was inspired by the marine biologist who is the main character of those novels.
Doc Ford is the baseball-loving, tropical adventurer who – not so surprisingly – has spent a lot of time in the same far flung places that I wrote about when I was a monthly columnist for places such as Cuba, Cambodia, South Africa, Australia, Vietnam, Borneo, and all over South and Central America. It was while traveling for that I came to know and love the superb cuisine of the rural tropics.
I loved the sauces, the spices, and the passion that went into the food preparations.
We hope that spirit is part of Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, too.
– Randy Wayne White
General Information: Open Year-Round
Rate Information: Free admission
Suitable for Ages: All Ages
Hours: 7 days a week; 11am - close
Facility Amenities: Patio
Cuisine Served: Caribbean, Floribbean, Seafood
Dining Type: Casual Dining
Meals Served: Dinner, Lunch
Restaurant Features: Outdoor Dining
Restaurant Type: Sports Bar
Meeting Facilities: Catering Managers