Enjoying some time away from it all in the remarkable Floridian hamlet of Boca Grande shouldn't mean you need to do all the cooking - check out these amazing restaurants, grab a cocktail, and relax!
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Boca Grande, a tiny, island community on the Gulf of Mexico, owes much of its charm to the limited number of inhabitants, who, combined with tourists, coincidentally support a number of high-end shops and restaurants.
Wondering where to eat in Boca? Check out the highlights:
The Pink Elephant, Boca Grande
One of several eateries run by The Gasparilla Inn, the Pink Elephant is probably the "best" restaurant on the Island (for more on its competitor for that title - check out The Gasparilla Inn's dining room discussion, below).
The Gasparilla Inn's Dining Room, Boca Grande
If you're looking for a more traditional, Old Florida experience, The Gasparilla Inn's dining room has been catering to the leaders of industry, down from the North, for a century. With a much more formal approach than the Pink Elephant, the dress code is significantly more stringent (check this out before you pack for the trip, to make sure you have the proper attire if you're planning to drop by).
The Gasparilla Inn's menu is more traditional than the Pink Elephant's, as well, but they spice it up with alternative veggie platters and fun desserts. The dining room itself is stunning - decorated in the same over-the-top traditional island floral as the rest of the Inn, it's a triumph of Island formal, accented with traditional dark green napkins and glassware. Large parties are definitely a mainstay and reservations are recommended.
Cell phones are definitely a faux pas - so put it away for just a couple of hours!! But, we did sneak one picture!
BZ's (the bar) at The Gasparilla Inn, Boca Grande
In addition to its other dining options, The Gasparilla Inn also has its own bar, BZ's, featuring gorgeous cypress and teak furniture, good, strong drinks, and excellent people watching. Even if you aren't going to have the full experience at the Inn's dining room, definitely plan to stop by BZ's for a cocktail and Vineyard Vines fashion show.
The bar tenders are accommodating, attentive, and generous (seen below is my drink, accompanied by the excess that was left in the shaker and dressed up with some cucumbers). Either bar or table service is available - and they're flexible if you want to grab your drinks and take them to a table. Outdoor seating is also an option, overlooking the golf course!
Eagle Grille and Miller's Dockside, Boca Grande
A couple of restaurants in one, Eagle Grille and Miller's Dockside is home to a more casual, lower floor restaurant (Miller's), and then the Eagle Grille in the upstairs, with a more leather, nautical theme and upscale menu.
At Miller's downstairs, you'll find a mix of local Boca residents popping over for dinner, and people who've just hopped off a boat. The windows open just above your head when seated, making for the perfect indoor/outdoor comfort level. Menus are available here.
The Loose Caboose, Boca Grande
The main restaurant in the center of town, The Loose Caboose has a fun and storied history. Located in the town's former train depot, the decor is a mix of fish and train - like the Island itself. Food is quick and casual - sit where you like and the t-shirt clad waitstaff will be buzzing by as soon as you know it. Chips are the main side dish and wraps of every variety are in store. Multi-generational families fill the tables, chattering away and drinking Coronas. It's the perfect place to grab a bite to eat when you're doing a bit of shopping in Boca, and definitely one of the Island's more casual and comfortable options, if you're just in town for a day.
South Beach Bar & Grille, Boca Grande
Last, but certainly not least, is South Beach, the Island's beachside eatery, offering traditional seafood options.
South Beach's location is absolutely to die for - directly overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the half inside/ half outside seating offers stunning views toward the beach and the water. The seafood is delicious, if expensive - but you can't put a price on that view! If you aren't interested in a full meal, there is an indoor bar, but they also offer outdoor Adirondack chairs where you can take your drinks from the bar.
Depending on where you're coming from on the Island, it can be a bit of a hike - we biked, but saw many a golf cart in the parking lot! If you do happen to arrive via the beach, be sure to bring appropriate attire - clothing is required!
Hope you enjoy Boca and get to try out some of these great restaurants during your adventures! Happy travels! xx
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