Naples

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Many of Naples's top eateries, spanning a U.N.'s worth of cuisines, dot the historic downtown, but Fifth Avenue South has its share of tourist traps as well. Follow the locals, if only a block, off the beaten path; check out East Naples for less chi-chi options; and don't limit your meals to resorts.

Top Restaurants in Naples

Bleu Provence

The cheery blue and white façade of this locally beloved French restaurant makes it easy to spot – once you've wandered away from the main avenues. Located near the Naples City Dock, it's a sunny slice of Provence with gracious owners transplanted from the south of France. Foie gras, escargots, and frog legs? Check, check, and check. The sauce-laden entrees are oh, so filling and the wine list first rate, but save room for dessert, too. Reservations are a must during high season.

1234 Eighth St. South, FL, 239-261-8239, www.bleuprovencenaples.com
Tags: expensive | editor pick | smart splurge | french

Café & Bar Lurcat

Resembling a two-story Mediterranean villa, Lurcat does double-duty: chic resto-lounge downstairs (small plates only) and fine dining restaurant upstairs. A well-dressed crowd gives the lounge, with its glass-topped bar, white fabric-draped chairs, and pillow-strewn couches, major weekend buzz. Specialty martinis are de rigueur.

494 Fifth Ave. South, FL, 239-213-3357, www.cafelurcat.com
Tags: nightlife | editor pick | trendy | lounge

Chrissy's at Bayfront

The Bayfront shopping plaza is still fine-tuning its identity, but Chrissy's knows its niche and prepares it well: tasty breakfast fare, sandwiches, and salads. There are plenty of light choices on the menu, from smoothies to spinach salad, but the hollandaise-smothered crab benedict – or lunch version, the open-faced crab melt – are deliciously decadent. In fact, it's on the highly caloric side where Chrissy's really shines.

469 Bayfront Place, FL, 239-649-8807
Tags: budget | comfort food

El Rincon de Mexico

With its sizable Mexican population, great south-of-the-border restaurants should be a dime a dozen in Naples, but there are far more missteps than hits. El Rincon is one of the stars, serving up authenticity sprinkled in white Mexican cheese and accompanied by fresh chips and salsa with some kick. Familiar items like enchiladas and flautas are good, but don't miss the soup-as-a-meal pozole, with hominy and chicken. The restaurant is a sibling to Maria's, further east on Tamiami Trail: the menus and cheery marigold paint are almost identical, but El Rincon has bold blue chairs carved with sunflowers and swans.

2248 Tamiami Trail East, FL, 239-774-4283
Tags: budget | mexican

Fernandez de Bull

Pulled pork, black beans, oily Cuban bread – all the staples are in the house at this low-key eatery – even paella, assuming the order is placed 48 hours in advance. Service is friendly but views are non-existent; it's all about the food. Want to pack a beach picnic? Locals swear by the Bull's Cuban sandwich.

1265 Airport Rd. South, FL, 239-659-2996
Tags: moderate | local favorite | cuban

Naples Tomato

Naples Tomato's American-Neapolitan dishes combine Italian cooking techniques and local ingredients in a menu heavy on homemade pasta – the black truffle raviolinni and lasagna are noteworthy. The restaurant also delivers some twists to inspire the 11-mile trek north of downtown on U.S. 41: a weekly four-course dinner and pasta-making class (various nights; parties of six or more); a gourmet market; and a 48-bottle enomatic wine-tasting lounge, where a pre-paid card allows guests to sample a variety of vintages at their leisure.

14700 Tamiami Trail North, FL, 239-598-9800, www.naplestomato.com
Tags: expensive | italian | notable wine list | cooking class

Sushi-Thai Too

Familiar Thai curries and superb sushi dishes are the trademark of this downtown establishment, which also has two popular locations in North Naples. The large corner Fifth Avenue location, with its copper and gold accents warming up to dark wood, has more panache than the typical Thai joint, and the lunch specials, at less than $10, are a steal.

898 Fifth Ave. South, FL, 239-430-7575
Tags: moderate | thai | sushi

Taqueria San Julian

A mostly Latino clientele frequents this little Mexican joint, where two bucks buys a piece of heaven in a fresh, soft tortilla shell. Yep, it's all about the tacos, served with chipotle, habanero, and green tomatillo sauces in a bright space that rarely registers on the radar of turista types. Spanish isn't required to negotiate ordering, but going early is a smart move as some items vanish quickly.

3575 Bayshore Dr., FL, 239-775-6480
Tags: budget | editor pick | local favorite | mexican

The Real Macaw

This totally non-pretentious Key West-style bar and restaurant with indoor-outdoor seating often hosts live entertainment, with a festive gay T-dance on Sundays. There's a full menu of Caribbean-influenced dishes, but The Real Macaw is also well suited to patrons stopping in for appetizers like calypso calamari, mashed yucca, or crab cakes at the bar.

3275 Bayshore Dr., FL, 239-732-1188, www.realmacawnaples.com
Tags: moderate | seafood | patio | caribbean

Truluck's

Tucked behind the multi-million-dollar Sugden Community Theater, this elegant seafood and steakhouse has an expansive outdoor patio, various rooms with themed décor (the Capri room has a Key West vibe), and rich dark-wood accents. The star attraction is the all-you-can-eat crab claw special on Mondays, but they're known for bringing in fresh oceanic delicacies from around the globe daily.

698 Fourth Ave. South, FL, 239-530-3131, www.trulucks.com
Tags: seafood | expensive | steakhouse

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