TAG: The American Gastropub
23161 Village Shops Way, Estero, (239) 949-4300, tagswfl.com
Why We Love It: There’s no arguing with the appeal of comfort food—sliders, flatbreads, burgers and wings have a way of instantly transporting you to simpler times and bringing a smile to your face. But, as grown-ups, we also yearn for something more reflective of our current taste buds. At TAG, you can have your mac ’n’ cheese and your Gouda, bacon and herbed breadcrumbs, too. People in office attire (jackets and ties left in the car) line the indoor-outdoor bar for happy hour, and it’s the perfect place for a cold brew or a cocktail if you work or live nearby.
Ideal Meal: Executive chef Jay Bucklin has created colorful, tasty twists to your favorites, from a gorgeous fuchsia pickled deviled egg (the hue comes from beet juice, and they’re sold bythe- pop for just $2) to a creamy, zesty shrimp and grits N’awlins-style with cayenne (courteously labeled as glutenfree on the menu, which denotes vegetarian and vegan items as well). In chain-dominated Estero, independents like this restaurant are few and far between, with the highest concentration surrounding TAG in its corner of Coconut Point. TAG fosters a feeling of authenticity and sense of place.
Vibe: The bar area has cozy banquettes and no shortage of stools, plus the lively, intimate patio out front is a breath of fresh air given the sheer size of the cavernous main dining room. (If not busy, it can sometimes feel too sedate, but it is a great spot for a discreet meeting. Another positive is that there are always plenty of tables.) Although this location has proved challenging over the years with a history of restaurants struggling to stay afloat, we are rooting for this gastropub to reverse the trend.