If you’re in Matlacha for a day of shopping the many colorful and funky art galleries and boutiques that line the main drag of this unique little piece of Old Florida and find yourself hungry, or a bit parched, head to the Blue Dog and rest your tired ‘dogs’ while you chow down on some truly tasty dishes prepared with fresh caught seafood from the local waters.
History of the Blue Dog
The Blue Dog Bar and Grill is a new addition to the Matlacha scene. It replaced a family style restaurant by the name of Mulletville and is located near the entrance of the Matlacha Park. This prime location offers easy parking on the west side of the historic one story building. The structure dates back to the beginning of this fishing community and had housed a host of businesses and eateries in the past. A fire a few years back gutted the inside of the one story building and forced a total remodel, complete with new roof and shiny new kitchen. Today stands a brightly painted yellow restaurant with a big blue dog in white boots for a logo. The dog is homage to the owners loyal first pet and the boots are a nod to the commercial fishermen. While some locals refer to these white boots as “Pine Island Reeboks”, men and women, who make a living working on the waters up and down the Gulf Coast, don this practical footwear, from the tip of south Florida to the shores of west Texas.
Step inside this humble bar and grill and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its bright and friendly atmosphere. After being greeted by a welcoming smile, you’ll find yourself seated at a comfortable booth or table that allows plenty of elbow room and enough space between you and your neighbors that you can talk without being over heard. Service is prompt, and the selection on the menu reflects the local harvest with tasty dishes prepared fresh from the boat, Gulf shrimp, Florida Mahi, Blue Crab or Mullet from the local waters. Many come with salsa prepared with mango or the chef’s own sweet and spicy Pine Island sauce. If you are not in the mood for seafood, the burgers are prepared with a half pound of flame grilled Certified Angus, hand crafted in house and served with sea salt fries. Chicken sandwiches and entrees are available, as are a few veggie sandwiches.
If you like to get an early start to your day, this establishment opens for breakfast and offers southern favorites such as Country Fried Steak with eggs and sausage gravy and corn beef hash. A fun and flavorful twist known as Fried Mullet and Grits is worth a try. On Saturday and Sunday, The Blue Dog kicks it up several notches with their Weekend Brunch. You will find classics dishes, Eggs Benedict and New York Strip with Eggs prepared to order but you can also venture outside of tradition and enjoy locally inspired dishes such as Crabs Benedict, Shrimp and Grits and Frog In A Pond.
Just thirsty? The Blue Dog sports a long bar with comfortable high stools and serves a nice selection of beer, including a few from local independent craft brewers. Wine imported from Italy, Argentina and New Zealand as well as domestics from California and Washington State can be ordered by the glass or bottle, and the house selection is also nice. Of course, nonalcoholic beverages include hot and iced teas as well as various colas. The Blue Dog serves an exclusive, custom blended coffee which can be purchased for enjoyment in your home. A few large flat screens are hung near the bar so that your favorite sports nut can catch up on the latest scores while cooling off from the outside heat.
So remember, while Matlacha is known for brightly painted ‘shacks’ that house beautiful as well as fun and funky art, clothing and collectibles, there is a new ‘dog’ in town that serves its own take on island fare, and believe me, your taste buds won’t be disappointed. And you don’t have to wear the white boots – Blue takes care of that.
Update: 2/27/2015 by Chuck
I had breakfast in the Blue Dog this morning. A build your own omelet with three choices cost me $7 and and a bottomless cup of coffee $2. Both were good. They were generous with my choices. Sam my waitress told me they have been jammed at meal times. They appear to be having an excellent first season.
There is no music in the Blue Dog, which is great for diners who want to carry on a conversation or may be picky about the music they listen to. In a lot of Matlacha restaurants you often get not very good music, want it or not.
Blue Dog Bar and Grill
4597 Pine Island Road
Matlacha, Florida 33993
From North Ft. Myers, travel west on SR 78 (Pine Island Road) towards Pine Island and cross the draw bridge.
From Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, travel south on Burnt Store Road and turn right onto SR 78 (Pine Island Road) towards Pine Island and cross the draw bridge.
From Naples, travel north on US 41 and cross thru Cape Coral via the Midpoint Bridge and follow Veterans Parkway west and then turn left onto SR 78 (Pine Island Road) towards Pine Island and cross the draw bridge.
The Blue Dog Resturant