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Key West Recs for Dinner

I will be visiting Key West later this month for one night on business. I generally go once a year to Key West for one night, and always find myself focusing more on atmosphere than the food. I have no doubt there are plenty of good eats down there, and would really appreciate some recs from some of you who know the area.
What I would like is a casual dining atmosphere, with a kitchen staff that uses the great local ingredients that are available, and knows how to produce some serious flavors.

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  1. Nine One Five Duval Street.

    1 Reply
    1. re: 2top

      Thanks 2top, i've looked at their menu, and it looks a lot like something I am looking for, especially a couple of the Thai dishes.

    2. 7 Fishes always delivers.

      1. picklelicious.....You can't go wrong with what Jan Norris says..She was a top-notch food crtic here in south Florida

        2 Replies
        1. re: HotMelly

          Thanks, HotMelly. I'm still writing - read me at Jannorris.com and in several local papers.

          1. re: HotMelly

            Never heard of J Norris but I second 7 Fishes.

          2. We had a delicious lunch at Santiago's Bodega. I think they are open for dinner. It's all tapas and they encourage sharing.

            1. Nine One Five is my fave. The whole fish and the Chicken is very very good. I also like ambrosia for sushi. Ive tried a bunch of the higher end restaurants but always find myself preferring Nine One Five

              1. Thanks to the recommendations on this thread, my husband and I had dinner at Nine One Five with our friends and had a wonderful time! We loved Sizzling Thai Whole Fish and Key West Grouper.

                1. Blue Heaven, 729 Thomas St, was the best meal we had on our last trip to Key West. We had grouper and yellowfin tuna after a 45 minute wait for a table on a Monday evening. It was excellent!!

                  1. Well, I'm headed back down to Key West in a few weeks, and wanted to see if their were any updates with suggestions.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: picklelicious

                      Don't miss the Hogfish at Cafe Sole'. Superb - The best I've ever had.

                      1. re: Alfred G

                        Really, I've never had hogfish, nor to my recollection seen it on a menu...and I have been around. I'll look into that.

                        1. re: picklelicious

                          Real Hogfish is notoriously difficult to find - so enjoy it when you can!

                          One reason - it's most often not caught on line, but speared by divers.

                          I've got family who have lived in the Keys for 20+ years. They still get most excited when a friend's boat comes in with two fish - yellowtail snapper and hogfish.

                          1. re: CFByrne

                            For real hogfish try the Hogfish Grill on Stock Island. Island rustic right on the docks with great food (including Hogfish) beautiful views and friendly service. Not elegant but you'll definately feel like your in the Keys and the food is fresh, local and well prepared.

                            1. re: kennyr

                              Perhaps we will...looks like a fun place, and if the food and service are good, hard to go wrong. Might do upscale one night, and casual the other. Did Nine One Five Duval on my last visit, and really loved it, would really like to go there again, but I'm sure there are many other quality restaurants to choose from, and I just hate to limit my brief experiences in Key West to the same restaurants.

                              1. re: picklelicious

                                The Stock Island restaurant is a favorite of the island chefs (Norman Van Aken among them); it's docks and dives like these that I favor. Unless it's to go for soup at Cafe Marquesa - swoonable - I rarely eat high up on the Keys lists. Some of the best food is at lowbrow places like the Keys Fisheries, on Marathon, where you serve yourself (their lobster reuben is of note), or a great plate of Cuban fare at Siboney's or a slice of pizza at the No Name Pub on Big Pine - or a bowl of spicy conch chowder at the Cra'ked Conch. Just ferret out stuff here and there - it's all around, picklelicious - ask some of the old Conchs or chefs. Do share any new ones you find - we're all ears and mouths!

                                1. re: picklelicious

                                  Crikey!! I forgot all about B&O's Fishwagon - I just take it for granted everyone knows of it. Hands down, best fish sandwich in the Keys. You'll have to keep the cats off you as you eat, and it's probably in violation of a zillion codes, but it delivers the funk and flavor everyone should have in Key West. It's right on the wharf; outdoors. Miserable to the nth degree in July...

                                  1. re: Jan Norris

                                    Thanks Jan...I do appreciate and will give these some consideration...especially the Cra'ked Conch...you just don't get that offering in most places I travel.

                      2. Well just back a couple of days in key west. Dined a couple times at the hogfish grill. Didn't really do a ton of eating but did try a few things. Let me say first of all, that's my kind of place. The staff, the owner, the vibe...I'd say the best thing I had there were their jerk wings, it was not a traditional jerk wing, but man were they done right. The disappointing dish I had was the fried lobster bites....just was not there from a flavor standpoint at all, probably needed a better seasoned breaking for starters, not much you can do about the actual lobster itself.

                        Tried a little Cuban sandwich/coffee shop, good stuff all around, even a decent tamale, which are few and far between.

                        Ate at 9 1 5 Duvall one night, we had a variety of things, all were enjoyed. Special shout out to the Thai style whole fried fish, cooked perfectly, seasoned very nicely, and they had an extraordinary fish sauce on the side (where it belongs so fish stays crispy) that just took it to another level. My one complaint would be the dozen blue points we prob paid $35 for were close to room temperature, theyd call that a flagrant foul in basketball. They must be served ice cold to get that quality raw oyster experience that big boy restaurants provide.

                        Special shout out to the locals, what a great group of people-engaging, courteous, they make the paradise a true paradise.