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ANNIVERSARY TRIP TO FLORIDA KEYS

My husband and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary in early June. We will be staying on Marathon Key for three days and Key West for three days. I am looking for the best recommendations for dining options in both places. Would love to hear about some "hole in the wall" local places in and around Marathon, as we plan on doing lots of fishing, swimming and diving and plan on staying very casual while there. In keeping with the laid back vibe of this leg of our trip, we are also looking for any place that has both live music and food. However, in Key West, we plan on having our anniversary dinner and would love to know the restaurant with the best romantic atmosphere and food in Key WEst. Any type of cuisine will do, and would prefer this to be a more formal atmosphere. Also looking for a few laid back casual spots for lunch and dinner with great food (atmosphere notwithstanding) Any suggestions appreciated!

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  1. There are several votes for Island Grill in Islamorada on this board (mine is among them). Agree 100 percent with other posters who recommended the tuna nachos (EXCELLENT).

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    1. Check out Keys Fisheries in Marathon - End of 35th Street on Gulf. This is a super casual (picnic tables-place your order at the window and pick up when number is called) super fresh great seafood Keys institution. They have every kind of local fish and seafood imaginable prepared any way you like it. They have all the local favorites- conch fritters and chowder - great fish sandwiches (try the hog snapper sandwich). This is the place in Marathon.

      7 Replies
      1. re: hollys

        Lived in Key West for 15 years. Marathon Fisheries as mentioned above is a can't miss! Get the lobster rueben....yum! More upscale in Marathon, try Butterfly Cafe.

        In Key West - Jose's Cantina on White Street is a must for me every visit. A total dive with the best fish soup and whole yellowtail snapper. So delicious. They were out of the yellowtail last time I was there and went to the market, bought one and made it for me.

        Michaels great neighborhood American food. Sit at the bar, chat with Emmett and Suzette the bartenders and meet the locals.

        Santiago's Bodega - great tapas, old neighborhood and fantastic service.

        Pepe's or Harpoon Harry's for breakfast, both on Caroline Street. Blue Heaven gets all the press, but these two are local and better.

        For your anniversary - romantic - I would go to Pisces. It's been there for a long time, under two names, same owner and chef for both, the window seats are divine, the service is impeccable and the food is exquisite. Make a reservation, let Chef Andrew know you are celebrating. Enjoy!

        1. re: foodiekw

          I agree with foodiekw on Pisces for you anniversary. I also like Louie's Backyard, particularly the deck outside (for lunch or dinner). Cafe Sole is kinda romantic and kinda funky. Love the hogfish.

          I dig Santiago's as well. 915 is another option for tapas (on Duval).

          El Siboney has very good Cuban home cooking. Large servings and cheap prices.

          1. re: BayouTeche

            I have heard many mixed reviews about Louie's backyard. How was your experience there with food, cocktails and wine? Obviously the atmosphere is wonderful but I want the best of everything. Thanks!

            1. re: ScarlettNola

              Yeah, I've heard the same mixed reviews. I've always had very good meals there however. I'd say the food and wine is certainly better at Pisces. Louie's is great for a long, lazy lunch outside.

              1. re: BayouTeche

                Thank you! We will try that for lunch one day and Pisces for dinner. Any word on Michaels? That has been highly recomended by kwfoodie on this board and by several friends. I guess we can do all of the above. Thanks again!

                1. re: ScarlettNola

                  I've only eaten at Michael's twice, first time, maybe four years ago, then again last year. First time, the food was awesome. Last year....eh. I also don't care for the "vibe" in the dining room. Decor not to my taste. If you do try it, opt for a table on the patio.

          2. re: foodiekw

            I second Harpoon Harry's for breakfast. Make sure you make it down to the Schooner Wharf Bar for some really great music. The place usually rocks. BO's Fish Wagon has great sandwiches. I don't know the name of the place but just down the street is an incredible used music instrument shop.
            Bob

        2. Just arrived from a vacation in Key West--my first time there and loved it!
          I recommend Nine One Five on Duval, excellent. Great menu, great service, all around winner. Santiago's Bodega also excellent. It had a very inventive menu, great service and probably the best bread pudding I've had in my life. Very small, however, so reservations are a must.
          El Sigoney --very casual cuban fare, a mom and pop feeling to it, but good food.
          Louie's Backyard--just went for drinks, the view is beautiful. Heard mixed reviews re: the food, though.
          Roof top cafe--I sampled a few appetizers, which I enjoyed very much. Main entree nothing spectacular though. Good location near Mallory Square and you are on the rooftop, which is a nice view.
          Enjoy!

          1 Reply
          1. re: jmol11

            Also just returned from KW, loved Roof Top and the whole package, apps to dessert, Service was out of this world. View was really only of the street but it was OK.

          2. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Seven Fish yet. That place is top notch and I felt it has more interesting food than most other places in Key West. It would be my vote for an anniversary dinner, especially as it's away from the hustle and bustle that is Duval St.

            I also second the earlier recommendation for Nine One Five on Duval St.

            1. Great anniversary trip! We go every year for ours and stay in Marathon. I highly recommend the Hideaway Cafe hidden at the Rainbow Bend Resort. The hotel is dumpy, but the HC is excellent. You'll need reservations. http://hideawaycafe.com/menu.htm

              1. I was in Key West a few weeks ago, and I thought Blue Haven (or Heaven?) had very good food and a nice, relaxed, romantic atmosphere.

                1 Reply
                1. re: miami2boston

                  We tried blue heaven, we were tired but it was loud, food OK. They allow smoking in the outdoor part and I hate that while I am eating......