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Food For Thought: T2 Traders

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Braised beef short rib with garlic mashed potatoes.

Why We Love It: Whether it’s après-beach or after-office, this jewel box of a dining space hits all the right notes—it’s casual without being sloppy, sophisticated without being stuffy and the kitchen is militantly stocked with only the freshest ingredients. Opened not too long ago as the little sister to the longstanding Traders, it is the updated, fresher and arguably more exciting epicurean experience that’s worth a short trek from the mainland—or at least functions a no-brainer for au courant cocktails and shareable plates after a work rendezvous on the island.

Ideal Meal: For summer, it’s hard to beat the cool, crisp white gazpacho laced with sweet and salty notes from the petite slices of grapes and toasted almonds. The chilled soup is something chef Mike Patnode perfected at Traders and thankfully decided to make a staple here. The cornerstone of the kitchen is batching everything from scratch even down to the tortillas for the tacos, which, while are not what you’d find in Mexico City, are still bursting with unique flavors and textures. The menu is a little bit of this and a little bit of that (think: oysters Florentine, flatbreads and fried green tomatoes), all best sampled with a group to get the full scope.

Vibe: Vintage-style flamingo and palm-patterned wallpaper mixes with industrial-chic design elements for a thoroughly modern yet retro nod to Old Florida—and what is Sanibel itself if not that? The island exudes an air of nostalgia that seamlessly mingles with the finer things expected from its well-heeled clientele. The small-yet-handsome bar is done in black subway tile and features wooden shelves stocked with top-flight liquor, and it’s always helmed by a preternaturally friendly barkeep (who complements the warm service all around), making it that much easier to sit and stay awhile.

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