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Dining in Key West

Will be coming down to Key West in a couple of weeks to do some diving. What are the best places to eat...or drink. Thanks for all your help.

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  1. A trip to Key West isn't complete if you don't dine at Michael's!

    I try to go at least one time per year just have a dinner there. Excellent food!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Tippi

      Thanks Tippi...would you recommend it for lunch or dinner? and any dress code we should know about?

      1. re: katidyd

        Dinner!!! No dress code. But I wouldn't go in shorts and flip flops.

        Save it for a special night during the trip. Save room for dessert!

      2. re: Tippi

        This was a great find. I had totally forgotten about this little restaurant on a quiet street in KW.
        My friend and i shared a meal of stone crabs and the 24 oz porterhouse that was cooked to perfection.

        Much, much, much better than Louis Backyard.
        If you're in the mood for prime aged beef, Michaels is the place.
        If your looking for a romantic spot, not filled with tourists, but more of locals, this is the place.

        highly recommended.
        perfect way to enjoy the island.

        Michael's Cafe
        2304 NE 62nd St, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308

      3. My favorite is El Siboney. Real Cuban food, reasonable prices. Somewhat off the beaten path.

        6 Replies
        1. re: 1stmakearoux

          Sounds great - LOVE cuban food. We don't get it really authentic up here in Canada...it's definitely on the list.

          1. re: katidyd

            Here are a few of my KW choices. I lived there for 4 years, but am now in West Palm.

            Alonzo’s Oyster Bar www.alonzosoysterbar.com - on the water – great happy hour half price appetizers and discounted drinks

            Blue Heaven www.blueheavenkw.com/ -
            Outdoor casual dining

            El Siboney www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com -
            Inexpensive Cuban cuisine

            Nine one Five http://www.915duval.com/
            Eclectic tapas bar

            Sarabeth’s www.sarabethskeywest.com
            Excellent healthy cuisine

            Pepe’s http://pepescafe.net/
            Great breakfast with outside dining. Also good for lunch or dinner.

            Croissants de France http://www.croissantsdefrance.com/
            Breakfast on Duval

            Camille’s http://www.camilleskeywest.com/
            Good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Diner type atmosphere, but food and service are good. On Simonton Street

            1. re: DiFlorida

              Wow - thanks so much. This should really help answer the question of where to eat. Great variety and I'm sure we'll enjoy them all.
              Thanks again for your help.

              1. re: DiFlorida

                That is a good selection (well picked), but I would personally add La Trattoria on Duval Street. I haven't tried Alonzo's Oyster Bar. We used to go upstairs to A&B Lobster House, but I've stopped going since they changed owners. I took the wife and a couple (friends of ours) right after the ownership changed. I spent $250 on dinner and the quality was terrible. The lobster bisque was awful. We complained about that (very politely) and were basically told "Oh well".

                There are a lot of expensive, inferior restaurants in Key Weird so I would definitly advise listening to peoples suggestions of places they have been or frequent. It has become way too touristy since I started going there (over 20 years ago). I still love it down there, and I would move down to the Lower Keys (Big Pine through Sugarloaf being my favorite area) if I could convince the wife to do it. I wouldn't want to live in Key West (or any further down than MM10), but I do love the Lower Keys.

                1. re: kempshark

                  The Chef stayed on well past the ownership change at A&B and his recipes didn't change. When he did finally leave he left his recipes. Give them another try. Maybe it was just an off night but they place wins local awards and local cooking contest throughout the year. The bisque is the exact same recipe.

                  1. re: Suzie

                    I think the Conch chowder at Alonzo's is the best in the world

          2. Don't forget the schooner wharf bar for drinks and great music.

            1. We stumbled onto this place last night after visiting with a friend on Catherine Street.
              Not only was it reasonably priced, a mom and pop joint, food made fresh to order, and very nice wait staff.
              I had the skirt steak and my friend ordered the frita vaca.
              Our food was delicious!
              And it was nice that it wasn't as overpriced as the rest of the restaurants on the island.

              i counted 5 tables inside and lots of places to tie your bike up outside.
              we sat at the counter because the place was filled with people.. all locals.

              i will definitely come back here the next time i come back to KW.
              highly recommended!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Shirley U. Jest

                Shirley, which place are you referring to? I didn't catch the name of the restaurant in your post. I'm always looking for places down there with good quality food.
                I just got back from four nights in Key West, and I think I'm more disappointed in the quality of the food down there each time I go. I used to look forward to eating out in KW, but anymore the vast majority of the restaurants are overpriced and low on quality. That always seems to happen when a place gets majorly touristy as KW has gotten in the last 30 years. A lot of the places seem to worry less about return customers and more worried about immediate profit margin.
                I still love the Lower Keys and visiting Key West, but I'm more likely to cook a lot more of my own food (especially fish I've caught) then I am to go out to eat anymore. I'm not a real old-timer when it comes to the Keys, but I have been visiting regularly (4-6 times a year) for the past 20 years.

                1. re: kempshark

                  I'm pretty sure she's talking about El Siboney.

                  1. re: carolinadawg

                    It does sounds like it from the description of the food, but El Siboney has a lot more than 5 tables inside... maybe if you didn't realize there was a large dining room in the back, you might think it only had 5 tables.

              2. El Siboney!!! Their Skirt steak is delicious. It may be Cuban but its not all beans and rice !! No view. Residential location. just excellent food....and very reasonable compared to anything else in Key West.

                900 Catherine St, Key West, FL 33040

                1. We like Salute on the beach, near the Casa Marina, great Italian food, also seafood. For breakfast or lunch, Alan Merrill's outdoor Cafe at The Inn, out on the boulevard ... they have misty fans, and a big canopy. Definitely Banana Cafe (authentic French-locally owned) for breakfast/lunch/dinner, on Upper Duval ... wonderful food and a better buy than most for breakfast. Great authentic Thai food at the Garrison Bight Floating Thai restaurant, in a funky setting, on a houseboat, at a dock, you walk up to it, sitting on the water. There are at least 2 other good Thai rest., too, one across the Bight ... the other on Greene Street, in Old Town. For a more reasonably-priced Italian rest., try Mangia Mangia, indoors or out, on Southard, Old Town.

                  900 Southard St, Key West, FL 33040

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: katiet

                    Personally, I was thoroughly disappointed in all three of those Thai restaurants. The floating restaurant concept was cool, but the food was not of a very high quality. We found it overseasoned and fairly expensive even by KW standards (for what you got).
                    We were also disappointed with the food quality at the one on Greene Street. Again, the location was awesome, but the food (especially the sushi) was definitely subpar.
                    As for Thai Island (the other one at Garrison Bight) the was the first Thai restaurant where I actually found the food disgusting. We took the whole family there (8 people), paid a very large tab, and left most of our food there to search for another meal! We ended up going for sushi and enjoying that meal.

                    I might be a little more demanding when it comes to southeast asian food, since my wife if from Laos and we eat Lao/Thai food and Vietnamese food on a weekly basis. Then again, there are many places in our area (Tampa Bay) that we go eat (and enjoy) these foods on a regular basis. I've been trying to get the wife to move down to the Keys (with me along of course) and open a Southeast Asian restaurant (mostly a mixture of Thai and Vietnamese food) for a while now. It is a type of food that is sorely lacking down there.

                    1. re: kempshark

                      Num Thai on Key Largo is pretty autentico. My wife is not South Asian, but we found it to be on par with many of the good Thai spots in New York City. I will take your word on Key West. Miami is a desert for good Thai spots, although there is some good fusion and I know the real thing is happening in Broward.

                  2. Spent a long wild weekend in Key West for our 1st Fantasy Fest and had some very good dining at surprisingly empty restaurants. I had made some reservations months ago worried about the crowd but soon learned that most people are dining at the food vendors on Duval or attending parties instead of going to restaurants.

                    Upon leaving the Key West Express we headed to Turtle Kraal for oysters and a refreshing ceviche. Our 1st dinner was at Hot Tin Roof, which is a long time favorite and it didn’t disappoint. Rather than a formal dinner we grazed on the more interesting small plates, like the pork chicharonnes and onion mojo an absolute killer. The scallop with bean grits and every other plate was a winner. Service and wine were polished.

                    Next day, lunch was a simple meal of a heaping platter of royal red shrimp at Conch Republic. They are the only place in town serving them and aren’t listed on the menu. You need to ask. They are hard to catch as the shrimp are in very deep water but have an incredible lobster like taste. Well worth the premium price. Happy hour was at 2cents, a gastropub. Marinated castelvetrono olives were good, but the Quack Quack Nachos were the best we’ve ever had. Made with duck confit, black beans, cheddar, sour cream and salsa served over very thin chips. There were other exciting things listed on the menu and we were going to return for lunch our last day on Sunday, but they only offered Sunday brunch with breakfast items. Drats! Dinner was Onlywood, with a beautiful woodfired oven in the front of the restaurant. We split the wonderful Estiva salad with baby arugula, hearts of palm (fresh, not canned), tomatoes, avocado and shaved parmesan cheese. This was followed by an authentic Neapolitan type thin crust pizza, with a bit of a charred crust like you see back in their homeland. This is real Italian, not American Italian!

                    Back to Conch Republic for 3rd day lunch and more royal reds and a beautifully fried plate of cracked conch. Most places serve the ubiquitous conch fritters which tend to have more bread than conch. This is the first time I’ve had big pieces of conch lightly breaded and fried. Many restaurants were closed on Saturday because of the Fantasy Fest parade so we ended up at Inca’s. We are spoiled because of Inca’s Kitchen in Naples but this newly opened Inca did a very good version of ceviche and an excellent Lomo Saltado.

                    On our last day we decided to forgo the B&B breakfast and headed to our favorite bakery, Croissant de France on Duval. Santiago’s Bodega, for lunch, was a very good spring mix salad with duck confit, dried cranberries, walnuts, red onions, and citrus ginger vinaigrette, shrimp and chorizo skewers, and great ½ rack of lamb encrusted with Dijon mustard, pecans, and thyme. Before boarding the boat back home we hit the Turtle Kraal again. We disliked the pork belly sliders and the chorizo and goat cheese empanadas which were both cloyingly sweet. We had tried their wood grilled wings on a previous trip and found they had a funky taste. Not sure we will back--may try the ½ Shell next door.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: RevrendAndy

                      Thanks for the pointer on the royal red shrimp at Conch Republic......had a bad dinner there years ago and haven't really eaten there since. Will have to give them another try, and will definitely call ahead to see if they have the royal reds. Will also try 2cents.....have been wanting to try there and Grunts, but we just never seem to make it there. Will be down again shortly though and hope to remedy that!! :)

                      1. re: kempshark

                        That's the only reason why I ever ate there and would go back... that and the stone crabs but that's because I'm in the Midwest.

                    2. Has anything new restaurants/cafes opened up in Key West in the past year? Make it down to Key West at least once a year and while I am a creature of habit (7 Fish, Cafe Sole, Sarabeth's, My Blue Heaven, and Santiago's Bodega) a new option is always appreciated!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: jmdhsmiami

                        I'm also interested in input. I have a reservation at 7 Fish and one at Cafe Marquesa (I'm staying there so it just seemed easy and seemed to get fairly good reviews). I'm thinking My Blue Heaven for my last day. Do I need a reservation for this place? Dining alone if that makes a difference (I'm happy to sit at the bar if there is one). Does anyone have any strong objections to the Cafe Marquesa meal? Thanks in advance for advice/info.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          What did you think of cafe marquesa?

                          1. re: herbert1

                            Hmmm. The people are really nice, they have a great wine menu. The food ... eh. I feel like maybe they feel the need to put one too many ingredients into each thing on the menu. Some people (and you'll know if you are one of them) like this way of cooking/eating and others don't. If you look at the menu and try to imagine each course I think you'll know whether it sounds good to you or not. Nothing was *bad* - definitely not. Just wasn't absolutely wonderful. I did, however, love 7Fish and Blue Heaven.

                      2. I have a small place in my heart for the following:
                        Bo's Fish Wagon (Grouper sandwich)
                        DJ Clam Shack (Lobster roll!)
                        Cuban Queen (Iced coffee is nice when walking around.)

                        1. I like sarabeths's and for a quick cheap breakfast or lunch go to Frenchie's.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: SimonF

                            Personally, well relaxing down there I like a real causal breakfast......normally get a breakfast sandwich pressed on Cuban bread at either Sandy's or Cuban Coffee Queen.....if at CCQ Is nice to enjoy the sandwich and a cafe con leche while sitting by the harbor enjoying the view. Last trip down we really enjoyed great burgers and tacos for lunch at Cayo Mexican Cantina.....then again, lots of times I just walk down to Old Town Bakery and grab a warm baguette for breakfast to go with some good cafe con leche (if not having cuban toast or cheese toast with it).........very cheap but delicious breakfast!

                          2. Haven't been for two years but are headed down tomorrow. Any reviews about Grunt's? Yelpers cited a lot of service issues but there isn't a whole lot that I can find on line. Thanks.