Best Breakfast Restaurants in Sanibel & Captiva Islands

Breakfast Hotspots Still Sizzling After Hurricane Ian: A Foodie’s Guide to Sanibel Island

The quaint little retreat of Sanibel Island, nestled along Florida’s Gulf Coast, has always whispered a siren call to sun-seekers, shell-collectors, and those craving a laid-back escape from the jangle of everyday life. Despite being bruised by Hurricane Ian, this paradise hasn’t lost its charm or its appetite. If you’re a foodie, a travel enthusiast, or simply love your breakfasts done right, then slip on your flip-flops and join me as we discover the best breakfast restaurants on Sanibel Island.

When Hurricane Ian, a mighty Category 4 beast, roared onto the Island’s shores in September 2022, it really shook the Island’s residents to the core. Not since 1926 had the island been caught in such a tempest’s fury. Ian’s ferocious winds scored against the palm trees like a surfer battling the waves. But it wasn’t just the wind that had everyone holding their breath—it was the storm surge. This surge, heartbreaking and relentless, was the first to surge over the island sands since Hurricane Donna in 1960. Yet, through it all, the residents stood tall; the community, a tapestry of resilience and strength, has woven back the colorful exuberance into the fabric of Sanibel Island, one sunny, syrup-drizzled pancake at a time.

1. Over Easy Cafe

Currently Closed

If ‘over easy’ isn’t just your breakfast preference but a philosophy, you’ll be saddened to hear that this beloved joint is currently closed due to the hurricane’s aftermath. Over Easy Cafe has been a Sanibel staple for their sumptuous morning dishes, like french toast, and locals eagerly anticipate their reopening.  

2. Sanibel Cafe

Nestled in the heart of Sanibel, this cafe serves classic American dishes with a Southern twist, making it the perfect stop for comfort food lovers. It’s open daily from 7 AM to 2 PM and even offers a selection of beers, wines, and mimosas to ease you into island time. Since 1984, it has been a steadfast place for breakfast that will make your taste buds sing with joy. 

3. Coffee Bar @ Bailey General Store

Currently Closed

The Coffee Bar at Bailey’s might be out of action post-Ian, but its legacy of serving the best morning brews and treats is etched in the island’s memoirs. Whether it was a shot of espresso to start your day or a flaky croissant to sweeten it, this beloved spot catered to every breakfast craving. 

4. Lighthouse Cafe

Currently Closed

Known for its laid-back atmosphere and views of the historic lighthouse, the Lighthouse Cafe sadly isn’t lighting up mornings at the moment. Their hearty breakfast combos were the stuff of legends, a perfect start before a leisurely day of beachcombing. They boldly state, and firmly believe they serve the World’s Best Breakfast.  We look forward to the day – and we really do hope it’s soon – the Lighthouse shines again. 

5. Sanibel Fresh

Permenatley Closed

In the culinary wasteland that usually comes with ‘fast food’, Sanibel Fresh was an oasis of health-conscious, made-to-order breakfast delights. While, sadly, they have shut their doors for good, their memory still tantalizes those who remember their açaí bowls, overnight oats, and fresh-pressed juices. Thankfully, healthier alternatives have sprouted up across the island. 

Sanibel Island Lighthouse

6. Blue Giraffe Restaurant @ Periwinkle Way

Currently Closed

The Blue Giraffe’s vibrant decor and menu were as colorful as the island sunsets. Though currently closed, it’s known for its diverse breakfast selection, providing everything from fluffy pancakes to exotic platters. When the earthenware sun glows once more at the Blue Giraffe, be sure to set your alarm early. You don’t want to miss what they serve up. 

7. The Island Cow

Currently Closed

This long-time local favorite, with its island meets Texas menu and convivial atmosphere, has also temporarily ceased breakfast operations. Famed for their cinnamon rolls and quirkily-named dishes, it’ll be top of your list when it’s back in business. 

8. Rosie’s Cafe & Grill

Permanently Closed

Rosie’s might be history now, but its oversized portion sizes and all-American breakfast food are etched in memories of those who devoured their sticky buns or feasted on their legendary skillets. As the island rebuilds itself post-Ian, new breakfast joints emerge, but Rosie’s spirit is irreplaceable. 

9. Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory

They might boast the ‘Best Coffee on the Island,’ but at Sanibel Deli, it’s not just about the brew; it’s the delectable breakfast sandwiches, fluffy omelets, and decadent muffins that set the stage for your day.  It’s a great place to start your day before exploring the Island.

10. Sanibel Bean

Currently Closed

The charming Sanibel Bean, a favorite for its cozy nooks and locally-roasted coffee, unfortunately isn’t buzzing with morning activity currently. Their delightful breakfast menu, which ranged from Southern classics to tuna melts, is deeply missed.  

11. Sea Breeze Cafe

Currently Closed

Located in the heart of Sanibel’s beachfront paradise, the Sea Breeze Cafe’s doors are currently closed. Their fresh fruit platters and house-made granola breathed life into many a visitor’s holiday tales. Once the Sea Breeze Café reopens, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser yet again. 

12. East End Deli

Permanently Closed

Nestled in the quieter end of the island, East End Deli was a well-kept secret of Sanibel’s breakfast enthusiasts. Known for its no-frills menu of classic morning eats and their to-die-for cubano sandwich, it’s a brunch buzz that’s sorely missed these days. 

13. Jerry’s Foods

If you’re casting about for a spot that’s got it all, swing by Jerry’s Foods! It’s your one-stop-shop for grub, both on-the-go and the kind that you lovingly select for home cooking. Get lost in the delightful aromas wafting from The Bake Shop where the doughnuts are a sugary dream and the cupcakes are fluffier than the clouds above Sanibel. Each bite of their fresh baked bread and the island-famous Jerry’s Signature Key Lime Pie is a little celebration of flavor.  And hey, when morning hunger pangs strike, make a beeline to The Cafe for their breakfast burrito—stuffed with goodness—or a fluffy omelet that’ll catapult your taste buds straight to foodie heaven. 

14. Sandollar Kitchen & Bar

And don’t forget about the cozy gem tucked away at the Sanibel Beach Resort, Sandollar Kitchen & Bar.  While the reviews are a mixed basket, they whip up a straightforward breakfast that hits the spot when you’re on the go. It’s the no-frills, honest goodness of a meal that gets you fueled up for a day of adventure. If you’re up with the sun, take a short stroll down the beach after you eat and let the morning waves be your soundtrack – it’s all part of the Sanibel experience we cherish. 

Other Activities

Now let’s switch gears from scrumptious food and talk about what makes Sanibel Island a true slice of paradise beyond the breakfast plate. Imagine a morning breathing in that salty sea breeze, your hands delicately sifting through rows of pastel seashells – each one a tiny treasure waiting to be discovered along the shoreline. Sanibel isn’t just known for its breakfasts, but for being the shelling capital of the world! And for the adventure-seekers, kayaking through the mangroves can feel like you’re paddling across the pages of a storybook, escorted by friendly dolphins and curious manatees. For those looking for a more mellow vibe, why not coast along island bike paths dappled with sunlight, or stroll through the historic Sanibel Lighthouse? Every activity you dive into is not just a pastime, it’s a heartfelt experience dripping with the island’s unique charm.

A person's hand holding four seashells

Or, after you’ve happily filled up with breakfast, why not plan an island adventure that you’ll be telling stories about for years to come? One of our absolute favorite activities is diving into the crystal-clear waters for some top-notch snorkeling! Imagine you’re gliding alongside schools of colorful fish, uncovering the hidden treasures of the sea, and feeling that perfect blend of thrill and serenity. Whether you’re a newbie or a snorkeling maestro, Sanibel’s undersea wonders will not disappoint. 

Best Places to Snorkel In Sanibel

Captiva Island

Ready to explore more? Don’t you dare miss out on the sister island charm of Captiva Island!  Imagine just a short scenic drive from Sanibel, and you’re in paradise’s backyard. It’s quainter, it’s quieter, but oh, it’s so ripe with adventure! From the minute you arrive, Captiva Island wraps you up in its own unique brand of magic. Whether it’s searching for the elusive Junonia shell along the shore, or simply kicking back to catch that fireball sunset, Captiva is the perfect place and has a way of making every moment memorable. 

Exploring Captiva?  Check out what not to miss.

Lunch and Dinner Options?

After a sun-kissed day of discovering every hidden gem the islands have to offer, I bet you’ll be craving some scrumptious sustenance to refuel. Well, my friends, you’re in for a delectable treat! Sanibel and Captiva are home to some genuinely mouthwatering dining spots, where the flavors of the islands come alive. Imagine digging into the freshest, zestiest seafood that goes from ocean to plate in the blink of an eye! And for my fellow foodies who crave variety, the local cuisine ranges from cozy beachfront cafes to chic bistro dining – each with a story to tell. 

In the mood for a snack?  Be sure to check out many of the wonderful places on the island that serve some of the best ice cream.  An island favorite?  Well too many to list, but check out Joey’s Custard or the Shack of Sanibel

​Lazy Flamingo

Currently Closed

A true jewel of Sanibel Island that has weathered many storms, creating a space where laughter mingles with the clinking of glasses and the sizzle of fresh seafood. Sadly, the Lazy Flamingo is on a little hiatus, as Hurricane Ian invited itself to our shindig unannounced. But fret not my fellow flamingo fans! The spirit of the ‘Lazy’ is far from lazy when it comes to bouncing back. The pink beacon of good times and belly-filling bliss is just taking a little breather to come back stronger, zestier, and yes – lazier than ever! 

Grab our FREE Ultimate Packing List here.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, lovingly known as the “Home of the Island Mojito.”  Imagine sipping the perfect blend of minty freshness as the sunset paints the sky in hues of fiery passion from their outdoor seating. You’re not just tasting a drink; you’re imbibing the very essence of the islands with each delightful sip. Doc’s isn’t just a place; it’s an experience where every mojito tells a story, infused with the carefree soul of Sanibel and the spirited buzz of island life. In the mood for a bloody mary?  Many people swear this is the best one on the island.

Mucky Duck

This isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a priceless pearl nestled in the sand. With a sunset view that’s nothing short of spectacular, you’ll dine on the freshest sea treasures while the horizon glows with the day’s fond farewell. Don’t forget to slip your toes into the sand at their beachside bar, where laughter flows as freely as the local ales. And let’s not skirt around the legendary “Duckwich” — a culinary creation that’ll have your palate singing sea shanties in pure joy. 

Mudbugs Cajun Kitchen

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of live zydeco music drawing you in, each beat a spicy invitation to let your hair down and indulge in authentic Cajun cooking that’ll have your taste buds two-stepping! At Mudbug’s, life’s a jubilant jamboree, and the outdoor patio bar isn’t just a spot to grab a drink—it’s a place where stories unfold under open skies, friendships are forged over frosty glasses, and every sunset is toasted as if it’s our last.  Of course, they offer live music to listen to while enjoying the views, food and drinks.

Normandie Seaside Cafe

Permanently closed

In the meantime, if you have a favorite breakfast joint on Sanibel Island that’s still open for business, share it far and wide. The island needs us, and breakfast lovers need their fix for a great breakfast. And hey, maybe this list will double as a delightful breakfast time capsule when the island’s iconic joints come back strong. Stay tuned for updates and deliciousness!