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Miami and the Keys: Check my homework, please!

I'm traveling to Miami and driving south to the Keys for our annual girlfriend's getaway in late March. This is my first visit to South Florida.

Just to set the stage a bit, I'm flying from San Francisco and definitely into the creative, fresh, seasonal, local cuisine thing--though that doesn't have to mean $30/plate organic restaurants. I like quirky, community-driven restaurants, some of them dives, like this Tunisian cafe in San Francisco and Monell's and Prince's Hot Chicken in Nashville.

Cost doesn't matter much: I just want really good food, whether that's a sandwich or an amazing plate of fish for $30.

Miami (possibly two days and two nights):
Michael's for dinner on a Wednesday (already reserved)
_________ for dinner on Saturday

Keys (possibly two days and two nights, overnight in Key West but traveling around via car)
BO's Fish Wagon for lunch
Seven Fish for dinner
Hogfish for lunch or dinner
___________ for breakfast?

Thanks for any advice you can offer. I promise to report back.

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  1. We used to stop at the Wreck and Galley at mile marker 58 on Grassy Key for a really good grouper sandwich. I think it has changed hands so I can't be sure it's still as good as before. Perhaps some one else can verify. I hope it's still okay because we'll be there next Friday!

    1. Keys Fishery in Marathon is a good stop on the way to or from KW, but probably too far to drive to specifically. They claim they supply the stone crab to Joe's. The setting is very rustic (i.e. keys-like), and the fish is reliably good. Lines can be long, which of course is both a good sign and too bad if you're in a hurry

      BO's is a good choice.

      2 Replies
      1. re: johnb

        definitely stop at Keys Fishery on the way to Key West. It's the perfect lunch destination if you start driving from Miami in the AM. they have stone crabs for a great price, and their mustard sauce is good
        BO's is an interesting stop
        in Miami, for something local
        consider Ceviche 105, tasty pescado a la macho
        and Enriqueta's Sandwich shop for a nice pan con bistec

        1. re: ankimo

          I've never had the bistec at Enriqueta's but the pan con lechon was awesome.


      2. Miami -> Red Light for your other meal. I think it's exactly what you're looking for. Located in a former motel-by-the-hour, chef found his way to Miami via New Orleans and retains some of that influence (awesome NO-style BBQ shrimp), short menu, almost everything under $20, strong focus on fresh local product (one of my most recent visits, I saw a guy bringing a few big heads of bok choy grown down in Homestead into the kitchen, and 5 minutes later it was on my plate).

        More info on this thread ->

        1 Reply
        1. re: Frodnesor

          sonybob, johnb, frodnesor and advisor_girl: thanks so much! your advice is much appreciated. red light sounds right up my alley.

          we're traveling in late march, so i'll report back after my return.

        2. pane

          ___________ for breakfast?

          If you are in Key West, Blue Heaven 729 Thomas St or Croissants D'France for breakfast. If you are in the upper keys Hariettes 95710 Overseas Hwy or Mrs Macs 9336 Overseas Hwy or Bobs Bunz 81532 Overseas Hwy.

          In Miami Sunday Brunch at Nemo 100 Collins


          1. Croissant D"France for breakfast in Key West!! or Two Friends!!! Both yummy!!

            1. Made the same trip last may and stopped for late lunch on marathon Key at Sparky's Landing thansk to a rec on this board. Great fish sandwich for me and yummy chili dog for the non-fish eater

              Our favorite breakfast in Key West was Sara Beth's


              1 Reply
              1. re: ginnyhw

                For future reference.......we spent two months in the lower keys last summer so I think I can safely say, we can rate the good and the bad. Most of our time was spent at Rob's Island Grill, US1, Big Pine, MM31. Great food, great happy hour, full bar. It's more like a sports bar, not on water. But very pleasant. We were there almost every day and never had a bad meal. We always sat at the bar. Seared ahi-tuna was excellent. Rob had it up for sale, so if there are new owners, who knows. Favorite for breakfast was Big Pine restaurant, MM30 or Cracked Egg, MM30.5, both on US1. There is also a place in Marathon in a strip mall that has killer eggs benedict and serves mimosas/Marys...think it's called Farella's Village cafe. We didn't make it there that visit, but was always good in the past. It's on US1 bayside. Also in Marathon, the Castaway, MM47.8, turn on 15th street. Really good. Hubby had raw oysters, biggest we have ever seen and I had hog fish to die for. Best besides Rob's, when we felt like driving, was The Island Fish Co. MM54, Marathon, bayside. Fab, fun, open air. They have Mexican Sundays that are unbelievable. Monster, delicious fajitas, and delish shrimp rancheros. Lowe Key Tiki bar, US1,MM27.5. Local hangout, not so good food, bartenders with attitude unless you are a local. Just past there bayside is another huge tiki bar & putt putt golf. Great open air place for drinks, pretty good appetizers. Parrotdise Bar and Grille, great place for cocktails, decent appetizers, good chowder, friendly staff. Off US1 on Little Torch Key. Don't know the MM, but you can see it from US1, going south. Oh, back to Big Pine.....best pizza in the Keys......No Name Pub. Harder 'n hell to find, but worth it. Turn at the only light on Big Pine and meander back toward Old Wooden Bridge. It's on N. Watson. After you eat, cross the bridge and drive thru No Name Key till the road ends. Beautiful scenery. We always fish the Old Wooden Bridge and caught our share of nice Yellowtail snapper. Yum. The Square Grouper, MM22.5, US1....way over priced.....keep going. Bobalu's Southern Cafe, MM10, US1. Thought I had died and gone back to Georgia. The best southern food I have ever eaten out. I had fried okra, sweet tater casserole, greens, blackeyed peas...you get the idea. But hubby had a seafood wrap that was very, very good, so a nice variety. OK, Key West......you gotta hit Schooner Wharf when Michael McCloud is on stage. He's usually there lunch time into early afternoon. Some days not at all, so check. Decent food for the most part, but more fun than ever. Michael is a hoot. Just remember, he's not very "tactful" sometimes. :) Turtle Krawls is OK, but there are other better places. A&B seafood or ALonzo's Oyster Bar....can't remember which is the casual downstairs, but excellent. Best ahi tuna. Half price appetizers at happy hour. And last but not least.....Roof Top Cafe in Key West. We had our 25th anniversary dinner there. Pricey....pretty much....but I had rack of lamb that could beat any in the country. Hubby had a seafood combination, expecting a nice broiled platter, but it was served w/ pasta in a sauce. Not bad but not very good. Disappointing, I guess more than anything. They have an appetizer with gnocchi (sp) in a sherry cream sauce, mushrooms, etc. And it was excellent. Lovely decor and great ambience. Sorry this is so long, but hope it helps. We are venturing to the south west coast of FL this year. Trying Matlacha (pronounced Mat-la-shay). Hear the fishing is good. Anyone been there?