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May 8, 2009 10:54 AM

Eating in the Keys

Heres the facts: wife and I are going for a week. staying in key west, renting a car for about 3 days and definately plan on hitting no name pub on big pine and BOs in key west. we are NOT fancy shmancy people. we're looking for great dumps, dives and mom & pop shops. great food and cold beer. we are not opposed to driving just to get a cold beer in a great unpretetious bar. if you know some great local spots let us know we really appreciate it. if we could stay away from the tourist traps that would be great, thanks

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  1. While you are in Key West you absolutely MUST go to the Chart Room bar in the Pier House resort. This bar has been around for years and when someone wanted to buy up the land around it to put in a resort, they were told okay as long as you leave the Chart Room untouched. It's a tiny fun dive bar. While you're there, make sure to check out the drilled holes in the bar at the end near the entrance with plaques underneath them. The ashes of some of the patrons are actually in the bar! The open holes are for those who plan to end up there but are still living.

    1. Sounds like you're looking for fun so be sure to hit the Schooner Wharf Bar for a beer and some of the best rock and roll on the island (between 10 and midnight is best). Just head toward the water from BO's. Across the street from BO's is Harpoon Harry's where you can get a really good breakfast. Just NE on Caroline from BO's is a really neat used musical instrument store that has some interesting stuff if you're in to that. By the way, renting a car in Key West can be a pain in the a.. 'cause there's no place to park. If you're inclined, you would do better to rent a MoPed. Does anyone agree?

      1. We like Eat it Raw on the docks for oysters, conch chowder and such. Run up the road a little ways north to Mangrove Mama;s, a little yellow and green Dive on the right as you're headed north-excellent. Favorite bar in Key West is the Green Parrot. VERY local color.

        1. Don't forget the keys are a long chain of islands. if you are flying into Key West and renting a car there , you have to drive north to the other keys on US 1. Big Pine is 30 miles from Key West.

          9 Replies
          1. re: eimac

            i keep hearing rave reviews about a place on Stock Island..Hogfish Grill, I believe? Anyone been?

            1. re: HabaneroJane

              While in Key West last may we had lunch at the Hogfish Bar and Grill. Enjoyed our hogfish sandwiches immensely. We liked the place much better than B.O's fish wagon. In fact having been to both places I can't recommend B.O.'s even if you can't make it to Hogfish Bar. Hogfish was great, we'd go back in a heartbeat.


              1. re: janniecooks

                ok we'll definately have to check this joint out

                1. re: HabaneroJane

                  The Hogfish is great! I haven't been in a few years, but there's nothing like a good hogfish sandwich. Imagine the tastiest grouper that you've ever had, then double it. It's on the water at the marina, so lots of nice views.

                  Across the dirt parking lot is the place that the shrimpers sell their catch, so you can pick up some Key West Pinks for bargain prices!

                  1. re: HabaneroJane

                    We just went to Hogfish yesterday and I was a bit underwhelmed. I enjoyed the shrimp a lot, but was told they were out of Hogfish?????when I ordered the hogfish sandwich. They substituted blackened grouper and it was a bit bland. The atmosphere is great and the portions huge(You could almost split the sandwich with someone) and my husband enjoyed his fried shrimp po boy. I was just upset that I did not get to try the one thing on the menu that I went there for. Next time I will try the Shrimp Shack or the Rusty Anchor.

                    1. re: ScarlettNola

                      I went over Memorial Weekend for the first time and lo and behold they told us the same thing--JUST missed the last hogfish....grrr...we had some shrimp and fish dip instead--both mediocre..not worth a trip back , especially to that ramshackle neighborhood which didn't find charming in a fishing village kind of way at all. i felt dirty!

                      1. re: ScarlettNola

                        Scarlett, if I recall correctly from your past posts, you're from NOLA, right? Did the shrimp po boy really compare with a NOLA po boy? I usually won't order one anywhere else because the bread never seems right, but if y'all liked it, then I'd reconsider.

                        1. re: Niki in Dayton

                          It was okay. I believe that they use cuban bread. You just never get the exact consistency with the bread. From what I have found-po boys can be ordered outside of NOLA and they are served on a hoagie roll which is just not the same. He tends to stick with what he knows, and I tend to try new cuisine dependent on the enviroment. If you have tried a po boy in NOLA, I would not recommend this one- to me it was simply a sandwich.

                  2. We always have to hit Blue Heaven for breakfast great homemade breads and El Siboney for dinner which is a little Cuban restaurant. Also Finegans Wake is an Irish Pub but people weer super friendly and food was good and beer was cold. Have fun.