It's not every day that a chef who has worked with New Orleans' lauded John Besh settles on Sanibel Island, but that's exactly what Melissa Talmage did, making Sweet Melissa's one of the island's—and Southwest Florida's—best. Don't judge the place by its bland, retirement home décor. The white tablecloths are lovely and the lighting is dim enough, but the real attraction here is the food. Using only seasonal meats, produce, and seafood, Talmage offers a creative menu of dishes like pork belly and clams—the most unlikely, yet remarkable, bacony-briny combo you'll have in these parts. Other specialties include braised veal cheeks, Benton's country ham-wrapped mahi mahi, and a tamarind-braised lamb shank that, like a good book, you won't ever want to end. Dishes come in small or large plates, depending on your appetite, which should be huge here. For real Top Chef-style creative cuisine, Sweet Melissa's is only bittersweet when the meal is over.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands
Sanibel and Captiva Islands› Restaurant
Sweet Melissa's Cafe
1625 Periwinkle Way
Our Rating Neighborhood Sanibel Island Hours Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm amd 5pm–close, Sat 5pm–close Phone 239/472-1956 Prices Main courses $14–$32 Cuisine Type NEW AMERICAN Web site Sweet Melissa's Cafe
Map1625 Periwinkle Way Sanibel and Captiva Islands
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.