Key Largo Report
Went to Key Largo last week and had some decent food that I thought I'd share.....
Snooks - Saw it on the Food Channel and was surprised that it was actually pretty good. Most places that feature the sunset views have bad food, but this was an exception. We started with an app. of bacon wrapped shrimp which were well prepared with crispy bacon around tender large shrimp. I had a mixed grill seafood sampler which included scallops, shrimp, lobster and grouper. My girlfriend had the lobster stuffed with crab. I'm not a huge fan of warm water lobster, but both versions were good as was the rest of the fare. The sides were nothing spectacular but overall it was good food and the view at sunset was nice. We could have done without the singer who was doing his best to butcher the oldies, but it was a good experience in a sea of tourist traps.
Snappers - Went for lunch at the reccomendation of a local. It was a decent lunch on an oceanside dock where you could watch the resident Tarpon while you eat. The food was average and nothing spectaclar, but still better than I expected and a good option for dockside dining.
The last place we tried was on the bayside of US1, near the entrance to John Pennekamp Park, next to a Walgreens or CVS. I forget the name, but this was the one place that I thought was great. It was a small place with two or three tables inside and the rest either out front on the porch or in back in the garden. The food was top quality and they have many fish that I would not expect to find in south florida. I think I liked the place so much because it featured a lot of the Alaskan seafood that I grew up eating in Seattle. They had at least 20 diferent types of fish and chips with a great batter that was not heavy and the preperation featured the fish. We shared halibut fish and chips, a shrimp salad and the salmon special lunch. The salmon (and this is VERY important) was wild, line caught Alaskan salmon, not the farm raised garbage that they serve elsewhere in Florida. My girlfriend was rasied in Flordia and claims to not like salmon. I told her that's because she's never had real salmon. I gave her a bite of the wild salmon and she was an instant convert! The house salad dressing was a homemade shallot vinegrette that was refreshing and the lobster chowder was rich and creamy. We even tried some key lime ice cream (made down the street) which was also excellent. They have a nice selection of wine and a large selection of ice cold beer. Sorry I can't remember the name of the place, but look for it around mile marker 102, just south of the Walgreens/CVS.
The place near the entrance to John Pennekamp park and next to the CVS/Walgreen's is called Captain Shan's. On your recommendation, scscr, my husband and I, down from Baltimore for a week, visited Captain Shan's and did indeed find very fresh fish and a great selection of beers. The proprietress was very welcoming and described many of the menu items. Thanks for the rec!
The Marlin is a Cuban restaurant directly opposite the entrance to John Pennekamp park. Didn't get a chance to try it.
We had a lovely bayside, watch-the-sunset, dinner at a restaurant called simply Marker 88. They have a great patio at the waterside.
We also had a great dinner at Braza Lena (oceanside, mile marker 83.5, part of a complex with two other restaurants) a Brazilian style restaurant. For a flat price of $37. apiece (this price was not posted anywhere that we could see, and I don't think one can have anything other than the prixe fix meal) we had access to a "salad bar", really too mundane a description, of 59 items, including such things as salmon and rather exotic vegetables. Waiters dressed as gauchos bring pieces of meat to the table and cut you a slice as you wish. There are 17 types of meat including several cuts of beef, ribeye, pork, chicken, lamb, and sausage. You can accept as many types of meat as you wish as many times as you wish. It's hard not to overeat, the meat is all so good. How anyone has room for dessert, I don't know.
Thanks to the Chowhound board for recommendations for out-of-towners!
I've just spent the past 5 days tooling around The Keys and want to add these places:
Marathon: Burdine's on 15th ... great location on Intracoastal and excellent fish selection. Cheap but great eats. Castaways, just down the road, is also good.
Islamorada: Morada Bay and Pierre's; same owner, right next door to one another on bay side. I didn't get to Morada Bay, though the locals swear by it; Pierre's was the only meal I paid over $70 for all week and it was well worth it. Met the chef; 27 year old transplant from Maine who made the filet melt in my mouth. Or maybe it was the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Also in Islamorada, Marker 88 for lunch on the beach, Harriette's for breakfast and great biscuits (open from 6 am to 2 pm).
Kay Largo: Calypso's was hailed by locals, though I found the food to be not as good as I'd hoped. Hobo's is outstanding and well worth the wait for dinner; you may not have a sea or bay view, but you won't mind once you order the calamari sauteed in garlic and VOO.