February 8, 2012

Key West Best Eats

As you may know, I am in love with Key West. I try to get there at least once a year if not more. I got engaged there, married there and HOPE to one day move there. When anybody tells me they are going I can't help but spew out where I think they should eat, drink, and sleep, what I think they should do and what I think they should avoid. I get giddy just thinking of somebody enjoying some of the lesser known places and getting off of Duval Street to see the real Key West. Given my inability to shut up about the place I figured I should share some of my favorite places to eat in Key West. I left out most of the touristy places because (1) you can find them on your own without any help and (2) if I was going out to eat, I probably would not eat there. I'm not knocking the touristy stuff. There is something about those Key West classics like Margaritaville, Sloppy Joes and Hogs Breath that will draw you in, but trust me, you can find better food and drinks if you venture off Duval.
Waterfront Area
Pepe's Cafe

Pepe’s CafeA fairly good place, for quite a long while. Open under old management. Pepe's was established in 1909 and is open every day for breakfast lunch and dinner. It is a low key place with friendly service and an outdoor patio area to bring the pooch. I had breakfast here last time I was in Key West and tried an omelets and the homemade coconut bread. The bread was to die for! Indoor and outdoor seating but no view.

BO’s Fish Wagon – think food truck with picnic tables, crab traps cold beer. All outdoor seating but it is shaded. Amazing burgers and black beans & rice.

Old Town Bakery – not a restaurant but a good place to stop for coffee and pastries/ breakfast sandwiches or lunch. Selections are always changing. I found out after falling in love with this place that the bakery was recently opened (May 2010) by the same guy who made my wedding cake back in the day.

5 Brothers – Cuban coffee and sandwiches. It has a whole in the wall/ gas station feel, but you will see the locals lined up around the corner to get their cup. 

Other restaurants directly on the waterfront. A word of caution here. I have never been really impressed with the places on the wharf. They have nice views but I have never been blown away by the food or service. If I was to eat at any of them it would be Half Shell Raw Bar and I would stick to the raw bar options. One of the 'fanciest' places in this area A&B Lobster House served me the worst grouper I have ever had in my life. Yuck. If you can live without the view I would recommend checking out Seven Fishes instead (see below).  

Casa Marina Area

Louis Backyard – Right next to dog beach and right on the ocean. I love to come here and have drinks on the deck and a casual lunch at the bar. Just a note, if you want to eat lunch on the deck you have to eat AT the bar or in the restaurant. Inside the restaurant is much more upscale and is a nice place to go for a Key West 'fancy' dinner. The view of the ocean is perfect but it is on the wrong side of the island to enjoy the sunset.

El Siboney – Family run Cuban restaurant. It gets a bit busy and crowded but that is a sign of good food, right?

Bahama Village

Blue Heaven – Great food. Quintessential Key West atmosphere. If the weather is nice you should eat outside with the cats, live music, ping pong tables, and bar. I never leave KW without going here at least once. They also do Sunday brunch.

Old Town

SaraBeths – Good breakfast place, but they are open for lunch and dinner as well. Indoor and outdoor seating. This is a branch off of the famous NY restaurant of the same name.

Hot Tin Roof – Restaurant at the Ocean Key Resort. KW Fancy. Perfect view if you get a seat on the balcony. Near Mallory square so it’s a good place to go for the sunset. Ocean Key also owns the pier that goes out over the water (Sunset Pier). This is a great place for a drink or to watch the sunset, but the food is gross. I would go for the atmosphere/sunset and skip the food on the pier.

Seven Fish – This might be my new favorite in KW. Pricey but AWESOME. You have to try the curry snapper. Everything is fresh and delicious. Its off the beaten path, but worth the journey.

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