Sample Award-Winning Dining and Stunning Gulf Views at Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant

Sanibel is frequently described as an upscale retreat on an unspoiled island. This is certainly reflected in the exclusive atmosphere and ambiance at the Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant at Casa Ybel Resort.

Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant Sanibel Island, FL | Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo courtesy Thistle Lodge

Follow in the footsteps of local high society who have been visiting this historic retreat for over 100 years. Well-heeled visitors such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford dined at this elegant resort long before Sanibel Island was voted #1 Travel Destination in the World by Arthur Frommer. Today the Thistle Lodge Restaurant remains one of the top places to dine for locals-in-the-know.

History of Thistle Lodge Restaurant on Sanibel Island

Set in 23 lush acres of tropical landscaping and enjoying its own stretch of pristine beach, the Casa Ybel Resort was built by Rev. George Barnes in the mid-1880s. He intended it to be a quiet holiday cottage, building it after running aground on the island in his boat. The cottage evolved over time into a 30-room inn, making it one of first beach resorts on Sanibel.

Historic Casa Ybel resort Sanibel Island, Florida | Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo courtesy Casa Ybel Resort

In the 1890s, Georgia Barnes, George’s daughter, met and married a resort guest. For a wedding gift, George built her a beautiful mansion in the grounds of the inn which was named Thistle Lodge. This elegant historic home is now the home of the resort’s award-winning Thistle Lodge Restaurant, offering gourmet dining in serene surroundings. | Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant Sanibel Island, Florida

Photo courtesy Thistle Lodge

Award-winning Dining from the Thistle Lodge Menu

The Old-Florida ambiance of this beautiful property coupled with the stunning Gulf views never fails to make a wonderful first impression on diners. | Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant Sanibel Island, Florida

Photo courtesy Thistle Lodge

So too does the mouthwatering menu created by Executive Chef John Wolff. He firmly believes in letting the food speak for itself, in his words “the simpler the plate, the better”. What makes his culinary masterpieces stand out is not the frills and artistic garnishes but the “wow” factor as flavor and tastebuds collide.

Thistle Lodge Restaurant Sanibel thistle fish entree |

Photo courtesy Thistle Lodge

The dinner menu offers a range of delicious appetizers fresh from the sea but with a nouveau twist in the accompaniments. Simple Shrimp and Crab Cocktail takes on a new dimension when accompanied by pineapple mango salsa, or how about Maryland Crab Cakes served with a roasted red pepper remoulade and citrus beurre blanc?

Outstanding entrees include grouper with a subtle horseradish potato crust, honey-dijon butter, pea tendril and fava beans, or enjoy an old favorite, New York Strip, but with a peppercorn demi-glaze, grilled asparagus and baby sweet pepper.

Thistle Lodge Restaurant Sanibel Island steak entree |

Photo courtesy Thistle Lodge

Lunches provide an opportunity to sample lighter fare from noteworthy salads and flatbreads to tuna tacos with sashimi which are given a tasty bite from sweet chili soy, radish sprouts and wasabi dusted shells. The Classic Thistle Club Sandwich is a wonderful introduction to the restaurant’s legendary quality and taste. Snowbirds will find familiar comfort foods in the form of White Pulled Pork on a Buttermilk Biscuit with Carolina BBQ sauce, mango slaw and frizzled onion.

Salad Thistle Lodge Restaurant Sanibel Island, FL | Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo courtesy Thistle Lodge

With a noteworthy wine menu featuring wines from around the world, you’ll probably want to reserve a suite, not just a table at Sanibel’s Thistle Lodge Restaurant!

Written by:

Nita Ettinger is Co-publisher for Siesta Publications Inc. and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed magazines and the website Must Do magazines are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County Chamber of Commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications can be found.