6 Nights in Key West
We’re going to KW in early Feb – I’d like to list our dining itinerary and would gratefully appreciate any comments, suggestions, etc. We have been to KW about 10 times over the past 15 -20 years, so things might have changed for better or worse. Here goes:
1) La Trattoria – Always has been our ‘first night in Key West’ place – why change now. Also, IMHO, they serve the best Spaghetti Aglio e Olio AND best Martini we’ve ever had. But: We have to have one of the 2 tables in the front windows – without that, the magic is down a few notches.
2) Square One – Nice atmosphere: live piano, food above average (heard new menu), and the host is a hell of a nice guy. This is about as classy as we like to have it when dining down here.
3) Antonia’s – Most folks seem to think this beats La Trat, but we rate it a close second. The seating is kind of a pain: tables too close, space too ‘formal’. We ate upstairs last time there, and that was a big improvement.
4) Mangoes – We come here for the Key Lime Pie at the end of the meal. I know that this is not fine dining by any means, but we always have a good time here. We like to sit in the back.
5) Santiago’s Bodega or Café Sole – never been, but heard good things online. Menu looks interesting in both places.
6) ??? – Your call.
Ate at Opera, Louie’s, Bagatelle, Alice’s, Marquesa, Siboney, Kelly's, MangiaMangia ,Rooftop – didn’t like.
Loved KayRUMba, but that closed years ago. It was nice sitting on the balcony watching the cops bust somebody at the Scrub Club while sipping one of their rum concoctions.
Used to love Blue Heaven, then it became chic.
Breakfast is usually Camille’s, with Blue Heaven and Sarabeth’s thrown in. (Too bad about the Deli Restaurant closing – loved the diner atmosphere). Gotta hand it to Blue Heaven: you can’t find a better order of toast on the island.
Lunch is a fruit smoothie to tide us over. We tend to gain weight with such good food.
There you have it.
My family ate at Antonia's for the first time about 2 weeks ago and it was all-around so so. Their homemade pasta was excellent but the sauces were bland (except for the fettuccine alla checca). Entrees were just average, but our appetizers were excellent, including a goat cheese souffle and baked asparagus. La Trattoria is definitely a better bet for Italian, we eat there regularly and always have a good time. Opera is actually worth a second try, it's interpretive Italian but always well prepared, and the owner and manager are very friendly.
Santiago's Bodega is a great tapas place but make a reservation as far in advance as possible! They have very few tables, although this time of year is wonderful for outdoor seating.
I would recommend retrying Siboney and get the first item on the menu. They do the best Cuban pork I've ever had, just go for the traditional.
Sandy's Deli has excellent pork and Cuban mix sandwiches, they are great to split for a light lunch.
For the best key lime pie, Blonde Giraffe makes the best.
The crepe place on Duval is also a must, get the cream cheese and guava paste sweet crepe.
For breakfast/brunch, give the new reopened Dennis Island Deli across the street from Blue Heaven. It's about a third of the cost of Blue Heaven brunch, they have a great Cuban french toast with guava paste sandwiched in between.
re: alison Nichols
Good point about Marquesa. Last meal there was over 10 years ago and maybe, just maybe, things have changed. Might be that we were staying at the Hotel Marquesa at the time and were put off by the whole concept of paying a hell of a lot of money to stay in a small noisy room overlooking the side of another building. At the time, the Marquesa was hyped as the Ritz-Carlton of Key West. A return visit to the restaurant is a definite maybe.