Although our area is known for amazing and varied outdoor activities, our exciting culinary scene continues to grow.

In fact, there are so many stellar local restaurants that Punta Gorda won second place in the 2020 USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards - Best Small Town Food Scene – the only Florida destination nominated!

To commemorate this honor, we’ve compiled a list of Punta Gorda restaurants offering exemplary food and drink, service, ambiance, and some special extras.

Carmelo’s Italian Ristorante

OpenTable named Carmelo's one of The 100 Best Al Fresco Restaurants in America.

They consistently earn other accolades as well, including from Harbor Style and TripAdvisor, but the stellar local reviews are maybe more impressive.

With a beautiful outdoor seating area and live music events, they've become a destination in the area, not just for dining. The ambiance is unparalleled, outdone only by the delectable menu.

Try the Bada Bing Pasta. Trust.

The Perfect Caper

The lauded Asian-French cuisine at The Perfect Caper is inspired by Chef Jeanie Roland’s world travels.

Nominated multiple times for a James Beard Foundation Best Chef in the South award, Chef Roland did actually beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network show Beat Bobby Flay, and has competed on Iron Chef Gauntlet.

The Perfect Caper is the only Charlotte County restaurant to earn a Golden Spoon Award, Florida’s top culinary nod. 

Dean’s South of the Border

Dean's is a family-owned and operated Tex-Mex treasure routinely recommended by locals and visitors alike. A community institution since 1992, Dean’s is a comfortable, cozy, friendly neighborhood place with great food and a relaxed atmosphere.

Whether you get the food to go or enjoy dining in accompanied by live music, Dean’s is always a good experience.

The Celtic Ray Public House

Dining Area of the Celtic Ray Public HouseThe Celtic Ray has been recognized as one of the best Irish Pubs in Florida, which means, of course, that the food, beer, and atmosphere are all appropriately authentic.

With a roomy beer garden and outdoor stage, The Celtic Ray is the perfect place to spend an evening with friends. Live entertainment includes live music from local and nationally-known bands, trivia nights, and more. The Fish and Chips can't be beat, and of course, this is the place to be on Saint Patrick's Day

Italia at River City Grill

Most of their produce comes from local growers, exhibiting commitment to “quality, organic living, and environmentally-friendly farming.” They also use fresh clams harvested from local waters, the finest Italian cheeses available, and only fresh mussels, fish, and chicken. Italia even raises their own Red Angus cattle at a nearby ranch. After 17 years in business, it’s clear they know what they’re doing food-wise. 

F.M. Don’s

The dining room of F.M. Don's is a lovely space where you can see the history of Punta Gorda on the walls. Chef/Partner Keith Meyer became a Punta Gorda favorite soon after moving here. He uses French techniques and keeps his menu “fresh, varied and approachable.” You’ll sometimes see him in the dining room, revealing cooking techniques and checking in with diners, which demonstrates the restaurant's “…genuine desire to meet and exceed the expectations of [their] guests.” Definitely worth a special trip.


The IceHouse PubFour friends toasting at IceHouse Pub in Punta Gorda, Florida

This authentic English-styled pub is in a building built in the 1890s that was, indeed, an ice house.

With 26 taps dispensing the best beers from around the world (like Guinness, Boddingston's, Stella Artois, etc.), British-style pub entertainment including competition-style dart boards, and a full British-themed menu of staples like Fish 'n Chips, Cottage Pie, and Bangers &  Mash (as well as American favorites like cheeseburgers, steak sandwiches, and giant salads), The Ice House Pub is a destination in itself.

Peace River Seafood & Botanicals

This community gem draws many locals, seasonal residents, and visitors alike! Those who like seafood know that Peace River Seafood & Botanicals is the place to go. 

Bonus: you can find locally-sourced honey, cold-pressed juice, and more at their fresh market, and locally-harvested natural remedies, and much more. Word of advice: do not miss the Blue Crabs!

Sandra's Restaurant

Talk about legit! Sandra’s is German-owned and operated, and serves authentic German and European cuisine using their own traditional family recipes. They also offer partially-baked Authentic German Breads made with fresh, natural ingredients and no artificial preservatives, flavoring or coloring. They feature live music on the weekends, and Schnitzel night is Wednesday.

Explore even more of the gorgeous spaces offering top-notch cuisine in the gallery below, and as always, Bon Appétit!