WHY WE LOVE IT: Eating a dinner bubbling with creativity and sourced with care used to be the provenance of dining rooms with jacketed men. Since that has been turned on its head, finding high-quality meals even in a fast-casual setting is entirely possible, especially if you are talking about this laidback café. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., it’s the brainchild and test kitchen of the talented Tim Yoa, who left an executive chef gig at the Naples Grande to open it last season.
IDEAL MEAL: Don’t hesitate to order anything that appears on his ever-changing specials board, whether it’s Fruit Loop challah French toast, 14-ounce New York strip with truffle fries or seared scallops in tomato-caper butter atop Parmesan risotto. There are set (albeit limited) menus for breakfast and another to round out the day with sandwiches, salads, burgers and flatbreads.
Both feature dishes that shine, with upgrades to basics like a Belgian waffle capped with a schmear of Nutella and freshly simmered berry compote and a cheesesteak cheesy enough to make a Philadelphia Eagles fan swoon (Yoa definitely does his hometown proud). But, arguably, the real fun comes from what strikes his fancy that moment.
VIBE: The space is a dash of café, a sprinkle of old-school luncheonette with aesthetics appealing to millennials (black-and-white butcher prints and a marble counter with mismatched blooms in tiny vases). Parents will appreciate the bins of toys in the front with enough to keep Dennis the Menace entertained. There is a wood-paneled waste bin by the door as well, which might be a jolt to your system if you take table service for granted—but give it a chance. A little extra work is worth it for a meal that will satisfy and surprise.
Artisan Eatery, 8951 Daniels Parkway, Fort Myers, (239) 887-4844, artisaneatery.com