Hard-working foodies who may be too tired for a dine-in meal during their busy work week can still enjoy the fare of many of Cape Coral's fantastic eateries, delis and specialty markets. The Cape offers an assortment of meals that can be purchased from an array of venues and brought home for the ultimate in end-of-day dinner convenience.
LuLu's Garden owner Jenny Lu said the family owned Mandarin-style Chinese food restaurant has been serving the community for more than a decade.
LuLu’s Garden, 3812 Skyline Blvd., Unit B
"We appreciate that the community gave us the opportunity to serve them for so long," she said.
The restaurant pays attention to detail, such as what some of their customers order on a regular basis, as well as knowing them by their first name.
Her husband, William, does most of the cooking, focusing on the quality of what he serves.
Six days a week the restaurant receives deliveries to ensure they have the freshest vegetables and fruits to prepare the favorites on the menu. Lu said they also use beef flank for their dishes and Purdue chicken breast, legs and wings, rather than meat scraps.
"That is the most important for the food service we believe, that everything is fresh," she said. "Everything pays off because our customers like our food."
William makes all of the sauces from scratch, which can take up to four hours to prepare.
"The sauce is the most important in the food service," Lu said.
One of the homemade sauces is their sweet and sour sauce, which includes such tasty ingredients as celery, onion, carrot, ginger, lemon and orange. William also makes homemade brown sauce and chicken broth for the dishes, as well.
The Mandarin-style sauces, Lu said are richer, tastier and boost more flavor in every bite.
Some of the menu items include such classics as General Tso and sweet and sour chicken. Szechuan chicken, which is spicy with a touch of sugar, also graces the menu.
Mongolian beef, a signature dish, is one of the favorite menu items for customers - and Lu.
"Ninety-nine percent of people that order it love it," she said.
LuLu's Garden also serves fried rice with chicken, pulled pork and shrimp or fresh steamed white rice.
Appetizers are also among the menu at LuLu's Garden.
Lu said the most popular item is Crab Rangoon. She said during the week they serve up to 18 orders a day and 25 on the weekend.
Other appetizers include chicken wings and egg rolls. Lu said her husband also makes dumpling dough from scratch for their pan-fried and steamed dumpling appetizers.
Egg drop soup, chicken rice, chicken noodle and a customer favorite, hot and sour soup, are also menu items at LuLu's Garden.
Lu said they offer daily lunch specials with pork fried rice and have combination platters with egg rolls, Won Ton or egg drop soup and pork fried rice.
LuLu's Garden offers delivery service to the majority of south Cape Coral, as well as dine-in service at the few tables inside the restaurant. LuLu's is at 3812 Skyline Blvd. For more information, call 239-542-8388.
Paesano's Italian Market
Once customers walk into Paesano's Italian Fresh Market, the aroma of homemade Italian foods may influence the decision of which self-serve and heat-and-serve meals they will bring home.
"They are very popular," Paesano's Italian Fresh Market store manager Michael Martohue said because the option is perfect for those who are on their way home from work later in the day and do not feel like cooking. "People seem to always be in a hurry."
Martohue said they always offer a nice variety of selections, so someone does not get stuck with the same meal over and over again.
Dishes include such classic Italian favorites as sausage and peppers, eggplant and chicken parmesan, chicken marsala and homemade lasagna.
Martohue said if individuals need larger portions, all they have to do is give them a call.
They always have homemade meatballs and a meat sauce available, as well as fresh pasta. All customers have to do is warm up the sauce once they make it home for dinner.
An assortment of pizzas are also available at Paesano's. The pizzas, with either thin or Chicago-style crust, come in all varieties including cheese, margarita, mushroom and pepperoni and sausage.
Martohue said many times Paesano's will offer the same kind of sandwiches the cafe does for individuals to grab and go, like the sausage and pepper and the chicken sandwich.
They also like to coordinate some meals with the specials that run weekly. For example, if turkey a special, Martohue said they will prepare some turkey dishes.
Earlier last month, he said he made a fresh homemade sausage and mushroom quiche, which was received well by patrons.
The store also offers traditional homemade soups like Italian wedding, bean, minestrone and fresh pesto, all available for purchase. Martohue encourages individuals to share ideas of what they would like to see in the self-serve case for future options.
"New ideas are always good," he said. "We are always trying new things."
Paesano's Italian Market is at 862 Lafayette St. For more information or to place a large custom order, visit PaesanosItalianMarket.com, or call 239-549-7799.
Merrick Seafood offers an assortment of fresh fish for those who would like seafood as an easy at-home prepared meal.
Kerry and Patrick Kreg, owners, also have a market that offers more than 70 "We Make, You Bake" meals with baking instructions; live Maine lobsters of all sizes, mussels, clams and oysters and more than 25 different types of fish.
"We have a lot of seafood that you wouldn't find anywhere but here," she said, adding they make all of their offering on site, including such specialties as crab-stuffed grouper, sesame tuna, pistachio salmon and homemade crab cakes.
They carry fresh northern fish brought in from Maine, a variety from the West Coast, oysters from Hawaii as well as a local favorite, grouper. They also carry frozen items that are typically not found in grocery stores, like white tuna, soft shell crabs, frog's legs and alligator meat.
Hot homemade soups, such as seafood chowder, lobster bisque, Manhattan clam chowder and an all seafood soup with shrimp, grouper and clams, is also available. Kerry said they go through 80 gallons of lobster bisque and seafood chowder every week at the shop.
The market also has a full selection of salads.
"It's pretty much a one-stop shop," Kerry said. "We move pretty quickly through most of the items in our market. We try to switch it up daily."
Merrick Seafood is located at 1229 SE 47th Terrace. For more information, visit MerrickSeafood.com.