NI’s 2018 Dining Awards: The Dish

Best Tacos: Tacos & Tequila Cantina

Tacos & Tequila Cantina offers more than a dozen specialty tacos on its menu, along with daily specials.
Photography by Vanessa Rogers

So popular, it expanded last year from its East Naples location to a new North Naples one. Cement-floor casual, it adapts its taco menu to American palates with specialties beyond the traditional, such as fried chicken, barbecue pork, cheeseburger, and po’ boy shrimp.

Honorable Mention: Taqueria San Julian

Serious taco lovers head to this tiny, humble Bayshore institution where the food is as affordable as it is authentically Mexican. Try the al pastor or, for the truly adventurous, tongue taco.

Best Burgers: Jimmy P’s Charred

Jimmy P’s Hangover burger loaded with pastrami, bacon, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg,

Making an award-winning hamburger starts with quality meat. Long known as Naples’ ultimate butcher shop, Jimmy P’s ensures the finest Wagyu beef. From the Naked Burger to the Hangover Burger served on a brioche, loaded with pastrami, a fried egg, bacon, and cheddar, these burgers graduate summa cum laude.

Honorable Mention: Brooks Gourmet Burgers & Dogs
Another Naples tradition, now with two storefronts, Brooks does burgers more than 20 ways with your choice of ground black Angus beef, turkey, lamb, or veggies.

Best Pizza: Margherita, Campiello Ristorante & Bar

This classic pizza is the litmus test of a restaurant’s pizza proficiency, as it simply tops a thin, Neapolitan-style crust with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. Campiello’s edge comes from the dimension that the wood firing of Florida white oak adds to pizza. The freshly made cheese and San Marzano- imported tomatoes provide an authentic finish.

Honorable Mention: Lieutenant Dan, Osteria Tulia

Named after the character Lieutenant Dan from the film Forest Gump, this pizza does not disappoint. Gulf shrimp, pepperoni, ricotta, sweet onion, and pea tendrils add notable character to this pie.

Best Steak: The Continental

Premium cuts of meat like the Piedmontese Filet Mignon are standard on The Continental’s menu.
Photo Credit: Vanessa Rogers

Standards are high on this restaurant’s priority list for its superlative beef. Meat is sourced from name farms in the U.S., Australia, Japan, and Italy. Cuts range from a flat iron steak from Creekstone Farms to a Japanese Wagyu A5 strip that is priced by the ounce.

Honorable Mention: Jimmy P’s Charred

With its adjacent butcher shop, Jimmy P’s guarantees only the finest Wagyu beef in a wide range of tender cuts.

Best Sushi: Sushi-Thai

Sushi-Thai serves up a variety of fresh, authentic sushi at its four locations around town.

With four locations in Naples and Bonita Springs, Sushi-Thai covers the town with fresh, authentic sushi, sashimi, nigiri (sashimi on a ball of rice), and makimono and temaki (hand-rolled) rolls. Fans love its Spider Roll filled with fried soft-shell crab, asparagus, and avocado; and the Beauty and the Beast, half tuna and half eel.

Honorable Mention: Araya Sushi Asian Grill

From its menu of more than 30 rolls, sample something spicy like the Picante with tuna, masago, topped with avocado, spicy sambal sauce, jalapeno, and Japanese pepper; or decadent, such as the crunchy lobster roll.

Best Salad: Cauliflower with currants, Marcona almonds, and scallion, Bar Tulia

Bar Tulia’s scrumptious cauliflower salad

Foodies proclaimed cauliflower as 2017’s veggie of the year, but Bar Tulia was ahead of the curve with its multi-textured, healthy helping of raw cauliflower sweetened with reconstituted currants. Hand-sliced Marcona almonds add crunch and an emulsion of lemon, white balsamic, and honey dress it to perfection.

Honorable Mention: Apple, cheese, and chive, Café & Bar Lurcat

Café Lurcat crisply demonstrates its aptitude for farm freshness with this signature salad in the shape of a pyramid. The contrasting textures of apple sticks and manchego cheese form the foundation. Extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper and fresh chives finish it.

Best Pasta: Linguine with king crab, Campiello Ristorante & Bar

Homemade pasta meets one of the sweetest, most exclusive crab meats in the world in this longtime popular dish. It tastes of the sea and the bursting flavor of heirloom tomatoes. Fresno chile pepper adds a nice smoky, fruity tingle.  

Honorable Mention: Garganelli with lamb neck sugo, Osteria Tulia

Similarly tubular to penne, the house-made garganelli provides an apt vessel for delivering to your palate the richly stewed lamb and tomato sauce topped with sheep cheese.

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