Of all the ridiculous food “holidays” out there — Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day?! That seems a bit niche — National Cheeseburger Day is one we can get behind.
It’s coming up Saturday, and we’ve got 22 local places from North Fort Myers to Naples, Marco Island and Sanibel where we’d be thrilled to celebrate.
Twisted Sheep Pizza & Brew
A burger from a pizza place? Twisted Sheep Pizza & Brew A burger from a pizza place? This slice shop was created by Calvin Joiner, a Naples native and former owner of Red’s Pizzeria. Twisted Sheep’s Black Sheep Burger is made with Kobe beef and roasted-garlic–thyme aioli. It also includes a variety of cheeses on its brioche bun. Are you unable to decide between pizza or a burger? Smash Burger Pie is available at the restaurant.
(3802 Tamiami Trail E., Naples; 239-919-3287; twistedsheeppizza.com)
FROM 2020:Twisted Sheep Pizza, Ninja Japanese shine in Naples — JLB
Using its own blend of beef, this waterfront Marco Island joint crafts ½-pound and ¾-pound burgers that may be topped with pulled pork and fried pickles (ala the Prohibition Burger) or stuffed, juicy-Lucy-style, with bacon and cheese (that’s the Roaring 20’s Burger). You can grab napkins, no matter what you do. It’s going to be messy.
(1106 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Island; 239-970-2929; speakeasymarco.com)
Smokin’ Oyster Brewery
For more than two decades, this open-air restaurant has served food that tastes good on the beach: grilled oysters, coconut shrimp, mesquite grouper — and some of the thickest, juiciest, cheesiest burgers on Estero Island.
(340 Old San Carlos Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-463-3474; sob4fun.com)
Smoke’n Pit Barbeque
While this North Fort Myers mainstay is renowned for its pulled pork and Southern-style sides, don’t sleep on Smoke’n Pit’s burgers. The mushroom burger, a fan favorite, features a thick patty, bacon, white American cheese and loads of sizzling mushrooms — all for less than $10.
(1641 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers; 239-997-7982; smokenpitbbq.com)
There’s no better bang for your burger buck on Sanibel than there is at Schnapper’s. These are drive-in-style, old-school patties that are pounded thinly and griddled crispy. Add a layer of cheese, leafy lettuce, and a buttery soft bun to make an exceptional burger. This burger is enhanced by the beautiful island setting.
(1528 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel; 239-472-8686; schnappershots.com)
I wasn’t going to include Nevermind on this list, but I found it impossible not to. The restaurant that redefined dining in south Cape Coral lost its legendary chef-owner, Shannon Yates, last month. Yates’ death has meant that I haven’t been back. However, close friends who were there for Yates’ funeral said that his classic pressed cheeseburger was still delicious. That gives me hope for this restaurant — and for the best of Yates’ legacy to continue.
(927 Cape Coral Parkway E., Cape Coral; 239-994-3062; nevermindcapecoral.com)
MORE:Chef Shannon Yates, owner of Nevermind, dies after battling COVID-19
Matt’s Red Hots
Another quick-service spot, Matt’s serves griddle-smashed burgers that can be piled with as many patties as you can handle. Matt’s also has Sahlen’s hot dog, which is a quick-serving, natural-casing Sahlen. This place has been a San Carlos Park landmark for four years, thanks to its hand-cut fries.
(18911 S. Tamiami Trail, San Carlos Park; 239-791-8036; mattsredhots.com)
Lucky Dawgs 2
If this banana-yellow building reminds you of the Vienna Beef hot dog logo, then Lucky Dawgs 2 has done its job. This takeout-only spot is a bite of Chicago in Golden Gate. Go for the Chicago dogs smothered in classic neon-green relish. A $7 double cheeseburger worth every penny is available.
(12435 Collier Blvd., Golden Gate; 239-300-0367; facebook.com/luckydawg2)
Life: The Vegan Drive Thru
Burgers don’t have to be beefy to be good. Ryann Urban is Life’s head chef and owner. She makes her own vegan burger patties from an umami-rich blend of chopped mushrooms, black beans and quinoa. The coconut strips that are used to make her chewy bacon are cured. Her cheese involves no dairy. And yet this burger is undoubtedly a burger; a delicious one, too.
(3310 Del Prado Blvd. S., Cape Coral; 239-599-2291; thevegandrivethru.com)
REVIEW:The plant-based genius of Life Vegan Drive Thru in Cape Coral
It’s been fun to watch this place expand, from Fort Myers Beach to a larger home base in Cape Coral and then on to Estero. Every new Lehne Burger burger spot has been a great experience. These burgers, with all the customizable toppings, get better every day.
(locations in Cape Coral and Estero; lehneburger.com)
MORE FROM JLB:In Estero, three new restaurants find room for growth
Keg & Cow
Tucked into a corner unit of a strip plaza way the heck out in west Cape Coral, Keg & Cow is easy to miss. But with juicy, ⅓-pound burgers loaded with just about anything you like (including a bourbon mayo that’s mmmmm), this is a place worth finding.
(2384 Surfside Blvd., Cape Coral; 239-558-5001; kegandcow.com)
ALSO:Keg & Cow in Cape Coral picks up where Mr. Brews Taphouse left off
Jimmy P’s Charred
These are burgers the way a family of butchers make them: crafted with ½ pound patties formed from their own thoroughly marbled blend of Wagyu beef that’s ground fresh, onsite every day. Jimmy P’s tops its lovingly made patties with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle; or with house-cured bacon, cheddar and a thick onion ring; or with caramelized onions and Swiss. It’s simple to say that these are delicious burgers.
(locations in Bonita Springs and Naples; jimmypscharred.com and jimmypsbutchershop.com)
Hoosiers in Paradise
It’s been a minute since I’ve had a burger from Hoosiers, so I’ll hand this one off to Mark Travis, the Hoosier transplant who opened this popular Fort Myers Beach restaurant in 2013. Travis sent an email saying that “(W]e are well-known for having the best burgers on FMB.” “We use ½ pound of 100% Angus beef, a hand spanked and fresh, never frozen burger.” Add-ons include your choice of cheeses as well as lettuce, tomato and onion. Hoosiers homemade chips and onion rings are a great side to this burger.
(1901 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach; 239-314-5601; find Hoosiers on Facebook)
The High Life Eatery
This simple takeout window serves the kind of burgers that require a stack of napkins and a shirt you don’t mind possibly ruining. Chakita Taylor, the owner and head chef, stacks her patties high. She also uses a lot of cheese. The result is a delicious burger mess I cannot stop eating.
(2957 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Myers; 239-208-7100; facebook.com/thehighlifeeatery)
MORE:Living The High Life: Fort Myers restaurant poised perfectly for pandemic
Ask Neapolitans about their favorite burger joint, and this chickee bar is bound to enter the group chat. Harold’s grills thick, all-Angus beef burgers and then serves them with a secret mix of seasonings. A pint or two of the Gulfcoast Inn’s cold beer will make your burger experience even more enjoyable.
(2555 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; 239-263-7254; naplesharoldsplace.com)
Fat Katz Sports Bistro
When Fat Katz opened in a former Starbucks drive-thru in 2013, I fell in love with its burgers. Gregg Buell, the chef-owner, grinds his own beef blend and bakes his own buns. He’s created things like the Bistro Burger (piled with his slow-braised short ribs and crumbled blue cheese) and the Wine”oh” (cabernet-infused mushrooms, fig jam, Manchego, bacon, spinach). There’s the Crazy Larry and the Buffalo Chicken and the Western. And there’s Pastrami. It’s hard to choose. It’s easy to eat.
(10080 Daniels Interstate Court, south Fort Myers; 239-768-3541; fatkatzsportsbistro.com)
This Puerto Rican food truck doesn’t merely serve burgers, it serves hamburguesas that can be piled single, double or triple, then layered with bacon or queso or all of the above. You don’t feel like eating a burger. Cheche’s tripletas are delicious, too.
(3 Homestead Road N., Lehigh Acres; 239-265-2416; facebook.com/chechesburgers)
Cabbage Key Inn
Legend has it, this is where Jimmy Buffet found his inspiration for “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” You can order that cheeseburger for yourself, with lettuce, tomato and Heinz 57 — just not the french-fried potatoes. The restaurant doesn’t have a fryer, though fans swear by its potato salad.
(accessible only by boat; water taxi departs from 13921 Waterfront Drive, Bokeelia; 239-283-2278; cabbagekey.com)
MORE:Fort Myers Beach restaurant named best in the U.S. — and the winner is…
In 2018, Brooks Burgers claimed the No. 2 spot on Tripadvisor’s list of the 10 best restaurants for burgers in the U.S. From a burger dressed with pulled pork, cheddar and a fried egg, to the sweet and savory doughnut burger with American cheese and bacon all lovingly crammed between two glazed doughnuts — I say that spot was well earned.
(multiple locations in Naples; brooksburgers.com)
Blue Dog Bar & Grill
This charming Matlacha restaurant is better known for its mullet and shrimp, but chef and co-owner Jesse Tincher is no slouch when it comes to burgers. I’ll let his menu do the talking: “A half pound of hand-pattied, flame grilled, Wagyu beef served on a buttered, toasted brioche bun; served with lettuce, beefsteak tomato … coleslaw and sea salt fries.” Mmmm.
(4597 Pine Island Road, Matlacha; 239-558-4970; bluedogmatlacha.com)
Fast casual yet thoroughly chef-driven, this place is aptly named. The chef driving it is Tim Yoa, whose classical training shines in everything he cooks — burger included. There’s just one beef-based burger on Artisan’s menu. It starts with Jackman Ranch Wageu, and then continues with Yoa’s tomato comppote, slowly caramelized onions (melted Gruyere), leafy arugula, and Yoa’s tomato sauce. The last delicious bite is the end. Unless you order another.
(8951 Daniels Parkway, south Fort Myers; 239-887-4844; artisaneatery.com)
MORE:Where to watch the sunset: 48 restaurants with sunset views in SWFL
10 Twenty Five
This place makes great burgers. There are many great burgers. A personal favorite is the PB&J. This thick patty is smeared with Thai peanut sauce and Melba Jam. The Firecracker is a favorite with its spicy aioli, ghost-pepper cheese and fried egg. You can personalize your burgers with pulled pork, macaroni cheese, and guacamole. These burgers are your playground, and the results are always deliciously fun.
(locations in Cape Coral and downtown Fort Myers; cape10twentyfive.com)
Annabelle Tometich is a staff writer and food editor for The News-Press and Naples Daily News. Email email@example.com; connect on Instagram (@abellewrites) and Twitter (@atometich).
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