As I may have mentioned before, I am a recent graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, which happens to be located in the ever so mediocre city of Fort Myers, FL. I suppose Fort Myers Beach is a popular spring break location…. but other than that I don’t know what draws people to the area. There really isn’t a whole lot, especially in the way of local joints.
Fort Myers is over run (increasingly so, as they’re going crazy with development right now) by chain stores and restaurants. Seriously, off the top of my head I could tell you where 2 Arby’s, 2 Paneras, 2 Zaxby’s, 3 McDonald’s, 2 Tropical Smoothies, a Taco Bell and a half, and at least 8 big chain sit-down restaurants (i.e. Chili’s, P. F. Chang’s, etc) are. Out of those I could also tell you at least 5 of them were built in the last year, and all of them are less than 10 miles from the house I lived in (most of them less than 5). It’s kind of ridiculous.
Looking back at the list above, apparently we also like our restaurants built in twos. Well I have two words for you: Chicken and waffles; and you aren’t going to find it at any of those places. For all the crappy, unnecessary double restaurants Fort Myers gives us, it has supplied us with at least one hidden gem. Fancy’s Southern Cafe. Just hearing the name makes my mouth water. Then again, I’m a sucker for southern food.
Fancy’s has a really elegant, yet casual vibe with lots of blues, browns, and brick. Apparently the three B’s key to a successfully cozy cafe. They have a country chic look going on with their mason jar chandelier, copper accented ceiling, and little bouquets of fake flowers everywhere that add a nice pop of colour throughout (though it would be cool if they were real). I also like their Fort Myers Brewing Co. drink glasses, because local is always better. Of course, I had sweet tea, not beer, because this was good ol’ southern food.
Not only is their decor on point, but the food is delicious. Their chicken and waffles dish is kind of their claim to fame, and with good reason. It’s a tower of alternating thick, fluffy waffles and savory, fried chicken breast. Then they top it with a crispy sweet potato garnish and douse it in a mouthwatering, homemade, buttermilk syrup. It may not be the most photogenic dish, but it is definitely the most delicious. Although, I have to say for some reason it did come out looking a little worse than it usually does this time around (of course when I actually needed to take pictures) and the sweat potato crisps on top were on the verge of being burnt. It was still just as tasty.
The only bummer about the chicken and waffles is that it is one of only two entrees that do not come with sides! The other being the shrimp and grits. Not that I could ever eat it all anyway, but Fancy’s has some of the best mac and cheese. Their mac and cheese (middle of the second picture) is oven baked in that little white dish, so it has a crispy top filled with gooey, cheesy deliciousness underneath. The second picture is my friend’s meal. He ordered the chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes with gravy. It all looked and smelled amazing, and I know the mac and cheese was because I devoured like half of his dish. The only thing I have ever been unimpressed with at Fancy’s so far was the country fried steak. It was still edible, but I wouldn’t spend $16 on it again. It was just a little lackluster and the gravy wasn’t as flavorful as I would have liked.
After we stuffed ourselves with delicious food, we headed out to Fort Myers Beach and hung out there until sunset. FMB may not be the nicest beach, but it will always be my college beach. A little slice of nostalgia served up with some pretty good memories.
Moral of the story, if you’re ever in cookie cutter corporate Fort Myers, make sure you find your way to Fancy’s Southern Cafe, and while you’re there you might as well check out the beach and maybe catch a Florida sunset.