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Mar 16, 2009 11:40 AM

24 hrs - 3 Meals in Key West

Reviewing this board and the great comments, I've come up with a few selections for meals that I would love your help narrowing down for my upcoming first trip to Key West!

Saturday arrival Memorial Weekend

Lunch options: B.O.’s Fishwagon or Louie's Backyard

Dinner options: Azur, 7Fish or Rooftop Cafe

Sunday breakfast/brunch: Blue Heaven, Banana Cafe or Louie's Backyard

I only have 24 hrs and 3 meals for my inaugural Key West experience, what is the ultimate combination, chowhounds?

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  1. The difference between BO's Fishwagon and Louie's, do you want to sit in a parking lot or over looking the sparkling Florida straights....Louie's is a bit overrated but beautiful and the food is delicious but it is reflected in the bill. The fish at BO's is "off the boat" and charming but I prefer prosecco to Rolling Rock while relishing 24 vacay's. Azur has a wonderful chef that is extremely talented and hopefully won't scare away the Key Westers. The dinner menu is kinda limited, I prefer lots of small dishes and less exotic meats. I love breakfast there, with the frisse salad added for a brunch or late lunch. The ambiance is so-so, definitely ask for Andreas...Rooftop is at a cool location but I have usually only one outstanding dish out of 3 or 4 everytime I go there. Blue Heaven is great for a Bloody Mary but the place is tourist trap menu-wise. Banana Cafe has a new location now that has lackluster charm compared to the old location a block away, I am sure the food is just as good...

    Have you ever been to Pepe's Cafe? You have to get there before noon and may have to wait a bit but the harbor is a few steps away and the homemade breakfast bread is to die for. It’s the oldest food and bev establishment in the key's! And most of the staff has worked there since the beginning, ha ha. They celebrate their 100 years this year.

    Hope this helps let me know! I lived in Key West for 15 years, worked in many of those restaurants, now I study culinary experiences at a hospitality school in Orlando, as if this gives my post some sort of credentials (hopefully someday!)

    BTW I think you should consider lunch or brunch at Sarabeth's on Simonton and Southard, phenomenal!

    1 Reply
    1. re: emishea

      I do want to chime in that you won't be sitting 'in a parking lot' if you eat at BO's. While it does not have white table cloths or an gorgeous view, the food speaks for itself (which is why it's rightfully on the OPs list).

      just to clarify - if you choose to eat at BO's there are tables to sit at under a palm frond roof if I remember correctly.. the vibe is beach bar (sometimes they even have live bands playing) so no, it is not fancy. but it is definitely a lot different and a step up from something like a trailer parked in a parking lot (while those have their own merits of course!)

      emishea did say it best though - if you prefer prosecco to rolling rock this may not be the place for you, but I myself would rather 'rough it' a bit in the name of deliciousness.

    2. I had the most amazing omelette at Camille's at a Sunday brunch. It gets crowded, so call ahead!

      4 Replies
      1. re: nmurawsk

        Thanks everyone for the great responses. I'm still a little confused as to which we'll pick, clearly this just means I'll need to come back!

        I've read about Pepe's but saw a lot of chatter about how it too has become a tourist trap, with rude wait staff and more of a focus on selling tourist tshirts. I'm also on the fence about Blue Heaven - people tend to feel really strongly - either it's heaven on a stick or the nastiest, rooster-ridden tourist trap ever.

        So maybe we'll do:

        Lunch: BO's
        Dinner: Azur
        Sunday Brunch: Louis or Sarabeth's

        1. re: Clairechat

          I think you could rightfully call Blue Heaven a tourist trap based on the prices for lunch and dinner. Breakfast/brunch, however, is the one meal that I can still justify going there for.

          Also, if you're planning on doing other high-end meals like Azur or Louie's, BO's would probably be a good contrast to that. As for Pepe's, again, a lot of the food is over-rated. What it is good for, however, is getting a dozen raw oysters on the half shell and a drink from the bar with freshly juiced citrus.

          I'm surprised that 915 didn't make it into your list of dinner options. I still think that's my favorite dinner spot in town. You should at least give their menu a look:

          Sarabeth's has killer fried chicken on Sundays, so that's something to keep in mind as well.

          1. re: Nick

            Thanks Nick! I live in Charleston, S.C. with fantastic dining and 915 seemed a little too close to that. The other options seem to have more of a unique Key West flavor/personality to them based on the Web sites and visitor comments.

            1. re: Clairechat

              I recommend Santiago's Bodega for dinner. Its on Petronia and just a few blocks off of Duval. They serve great tapas!!