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Key West - Staying around Thanksgiving.

Last year we took a trip to Key West for Thanksgiving to get away from some family drama. This year we've been so busy we just wanted to do it again to spend some time alone together.

I'm looking for recommendations for practically any food or drink. We are adventurous and will try practically anything as long as it isn't alive while we are eating it. lol.

Here is a list of things we did last year

Pisces - Thanksgiving dinner. We loved this and they had a "Thanksgiving Seafood themed special dinner" Last year. We might decide to eat there again this year, provided they are open.

Garbo's Grill - Loved it. We'll make it back to here, maybe try something different, although the fish taco was spectacular

Black Fin Bistro - Nice outside dining area. Loved the pink shrimp appetizer and the dinner was delicious.

Amigos - for tacos , disappointed. Will Skip

Mangoes - Dinner was disappointing and just as expensive as Pisces and Black Fin but not near as good. Service was horrid. Will Skip

Croissants De France - This was good, Ordered a Raspberry croissant and a Key Lime Beignet

Key West Lime Pie Factory - Bought a Key Lime Pie to bring back home and share with family. This was good, and the family loved it.

So what am I missing out on? All recommendations are welcome.

Some things we may need

An inexpensive but great lunch option

Anything quintessential Key West that is a must have

A place off the beaten path

We'll probably want something key lime again, What and where should we go?

Any place to buy locally made food stuff to bring home

We aren't super keen on breakfast, but we'll entertain the idea if something is a standout, or for brunch.

Best Key West Snack

Anything - we like all kinds of food and cuisines.


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  1. The wife and I are also supposed to be there for about four nights the week of Thanksgiving.

    A few small suggestions to try: Kojin Noodle Bar, Paseo (I wasn't blown away, but only tried one thing and it definitely garnered a retry), Havana 1 or somewhere for some cuban......I always grab some breakfast sandwiches and cafe con leche at Sandy's or Cuban Coffee Queen (sometimes at the Courthouse Deli since it is really close to where we stay).
    I definitely want to try Grunt's...didn't get a chance while we were down last month. I would also recommend trying The Conch Shop on Petronia......mind you though, they're only open on Friday and Saturday for limited hours.

    Totally agree with your assesment of Mangoes.....typical of most places on Duval, it seems to be a tourist trap.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kempshark

      Thanks for the quick reply.

      The Conch Shop sounds great - I like the idea of Conch salad ceviche. Maybe we can get in there for a but on Friday or Sat.

      Kojin Noodle Bar - sounds like something I would not expect in Key West. It's going on my list, I'm going to try to find out more about it. I wish more restaurants had websites with a menu, or a sample menu if they change it often.

      "Havana 1 or somewhere for some cuban......I always grab some breakfast sandwiches and cafe con leche at Sandy's or Cuban Coffee Queen."
      My husband works a lot in Miami so I'll check with him if he wants to do Cuban this time around. He is a sucker for the Cuban espresso . Another one going on my list.

      I noticed Grunts, never heard of it until recently. Another one to research a little more.

      Last year we had some people suggest Mangoes and I always hate when recommendations don't work out but that was such a let down more so because of the price and the service

      Let me know if you come up with anything else. We might just be able to compare some notes. lol

    2. We like to spend Thanksgiving there too.
      I know you said you weren't big on brunch but we always go to Sarabeth's for a breakfast. Good coffee, homemade everything.
      Try Nine One Five upstairs for the pink shrimp with romanescu sauce plus a terrific wine selection. A&B Lobster House for the happy hour oyster specials and a drink.
      You will probably have a car so drive out to Stock Island and have lunch at Hogfish Bar.
      You also might like Seven Fish for dinner or BO's Fishwagon for a quick lunch.
      We dragged lots of stuff home from the Key Lime Pie Store and made our own pies and cookies.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Berheenia

        Awesome, Thank you!

        A long time ago I went to Seven Fish and really enjoyed it. I don't think my Husband was with me though, so this might be a must for us. It looks like their menu changes, I can't find any menus online. I don't mind if the food is good. :)

        Sarabeth's sounds good and I'll put it on the list. My husband doesn't like to eat soon after he wakes up but he does like breakfast food.

        Nine One Five - I don't think I can get enough of Pink Shrimp. This seems worth a try

        A&B Lobster house - Oyster Happy hour sounds great!

        We will have a car and your mention of Stock Island sounds like a great little trip and something we haven't done before.

        I bake so I'm very interested in the Key Lime Pie Store

        I've heard rave reviews on BO's Fish Wagon. I'd love to be able to fit this in too.

        Thanks so much. I can't wait!

      2. Louie's Backyard , Sandiego Bodega for dinner
        Blue Heaven for dinner and for breakfast
        B O Fishwagon for lunch

        2 Replies
        1. re: dining with doc

          I've been wanting to try Santiago's Bodega for a long time, but somehow we never seem to make it there. Maybe this trip we'll swing by......definitely going to try to hit the Conch Shop and Grunt's. Still not sure where else new we'll try. Will most probably get the normal fix of Cuban food and swing by Kojin Noodle Bar for a little decent asian fare. I'm also considering trying Inca's Restaurant on White Street for a little Peruvian fare.....hmm

          1. re: kempshark

            sounds good, I'm adding these to my list. Inca's sounds interesting.

        2. Thanksgiving in Key West should be fun. I absolutely enjoy Key West. My suggestions are not too far off from the rest of the recommendations posted here. In fact, I have added a few to my list that people have recommended here.

          First I would be remiss if I didn't mention the absolutely best dessert place in the U.S, haha. It's called "Better than Sex". I believe, there new address is on the corner of Simonton and Truman. They are open from 6pm to midnight. They are always busy so MAKE RESERVATIONS!!! Several people are always turned away. I truly believe this is a MUST in Key West.

          A great little lunch spot to visit is called "Lobos Mixed Grill". They have salads, wraps, and burgers. All are delicious and I felt as though the portions were huge, especially the wraps. I'm a pretty decent sized guy and could only finish half of my wrap. All are very decently priced and very tasty. This is an outside eatery located on/just off Duval.

          As someone already mentioned, "Blue Heaven" is a pretty good place. We only ate dinner there but it was very good. I believe the seating was all outside with the roosters, haha. Food and drinks were great. Not overly expensive but not cheap.

          I thought "Grunts" was very very good. We had drinks and dinner there and were completely satisfied. The happy hour was even pretty good.

          "Kelly's Caribbean Bar" across the street from Grunt's was good for Happy Hour. We didn't eat dinner there so really can't comment on it. Seemed like everyone was enjoying it though. There Margaritas are 2 for 1 on happy hour and Thai wings are very good.

          One last place you can check out is maybe Michaels Restaurant. I really wanted to check out their fondue menu at their garden bar.

          Sorry about being a little long winded, haha. We'll be going for New Year's this year. Have a great trip!!!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Adam_813

            I have been looking at better than sex. - I'm thinking drinks and dessert - how big are the desserts can we and should we share?

            Put Lobos on the list of contenders

            We almost went to Blue Heaven the last time we were there. - So I stuck it on the list again

            What is grunts like?

            At Kelly's were the margaritas and happy hour decent?

            Put Michaels on the list.

            You have a great trip as well. and I hope to report back. :)

            1. re: Sandwich_Sister

              The desserts are definitely big enough to share, HOWEVER, I wouldn't, haha. You will be wanting to try more than one and it is best that you and your other half order your own so you can try each other's! The wine is good but the best thing about all the drinks is that the glasses are usually rimmed in chocolate, white chocolate, caramel, etc. My girlfriend had a "Mandy's Man Candy", it's a strawberry beer with a chocolate rimmed glass, and I had an "Adult Apple", which was a apple ale with a caramel rimmed glass. Both were absolutely great.

              We really enjoyed Grunt's and have never heard bad things about anyone's experience there. Prices are reasonable and food was great. I believe there happy hour was until 8:00 as well. I believe the happy hour may only be just food, not quite sure. It was still worth it. Atmosphere was great too, which is probably the most important since that is why we are visiting.

              As far as Kelly's, I'll say this about the margaritas...everyone was ordering them, hahaha. The margaritas were 2 for 1 and really good. The wings were half price, as well, and pretty good. I enjoyed Kelly's, there were good folks there.

              If you enjoy raw oysters, I would recommend sitting down at the White Tarpon. When we were there they had .50 oysters all day everyday. They were pretty good...I mean, we did eat about 3 dozen, haha.

              I'm sure you will have a fantastic time. Can't wait to hear about your experience.

              1. re: Adam_813

                Better than sex sounds like a great time. We'll have to save room for it, or maybe on a day were we just have a large enough lunch we aren't that hungry for dinner.

                I love Raw Oysters and at .50 cents a piece! Totally putting that on my list.

          2. Liked the burger at The Conch Shop.....little shack of a place in the Bahama Village on Petronia, but good food so far. Only had conch fritters and Nasty Burger so far.....they were out of collard greens unfortunately......still have to try some of their other foods......conch sandwich, conch chowder, souse, etc.
            Skip the fries....not bad, but not worth the extra money. Only open on Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun.....open like 11am-7pm

            Haven't really been anywhere else yet except picking up my normal egg/ham/cheese on pressed cuban bread with a cafe con leche for breakfast.....just got here yesterday afternoon.....hanging out with some locals at Schooner's Wharf for a few lunchtime beers today......maybe something interesting for dinner tonight

            1 Reply
            1. re: kempshark

              Awesome Keep us posted. I had to move back my trip a little bit because my Husband is out of town working. But we are planning to go when he returns.

            2. My husband and I are Key West junkies and I keep a running list for people who visit of bars/restaurants to visit. Here is what I have that I have personally been to and recommend, as well as a few of my 'must tries'. I have notes so I just left them in case they help...

              Food/Restaurants (sit down unless otherwise noted):

              7 Fish - only open 6p-10p, make reservations (one of our favorites)
              Sweet T’s - creative southern cooking/infusion
              Santiago's Bodega- fabulous tapas, happy hour 3-6p, reservations not a bad idea (my favorite :-)
              Prime 951 - steakhouse
              Mr. Z’s - best philly cheesesteak EVER (says the florida girl). also have pizza, order at counter, open late
              El Siboney - authentic Cuban, very local, very good, good prices, relaxed
              Cafe - vegetarian and more, next to Mr Z’s
              Conch Shop (across from blue heaven) - order at window, variety of fresh conch dishes, authentic, bahamian, very relaxed
              Pepe’s - neat atmosphere, good food, but I feel it's overrated

              Louie's Backyard, Mangia Mangia (incredible homemade pasta), Michael’s & Kelly's - I haven’t been to yet, but are highly recommended.

              Harpoon Harry's - local, diner style, breakfast basics, cash only
              Banana Cafe - off the beaten path if you don’t want a long wait
              Blue Heaven - must go/see at least once, long wait on weekends, recommend for breakfast; also have dinner but I hear it’s fallen off.
              Sandy’s - delicious cafe con leche, breakfast sandwiches, to go/order at window, very local

              Sarabeth's and La Te Da's - I haven’t been to yet, but are highly recommended.

              We tend to stay off of Duval for food unless it's an emergency in which case Caroline's and Fogarty's are the only places I would even attempt to eat (if necessary).

              Have a great trip. My hubby and I were going to stay in Marathon for Thanksgving and have T-Giving Dinner at the No Name Pub in Big Pine, but instead we are in NJ working so I'm completely jealous and living vicariously through you right now ;-)

              Hope this helps. I can post a list of the bars and live music upon request lol!

              1 Reply
              1. re: rathersaucy

                Just got back and highly recommend brunch at La Ti Da. Also had the prime rib special there and my husband loved it but the service and ambience were not up to the brunch experience.

                Ate at the bar in Seven Fish and loved the specials and the bartender/waiter.

                We went to two French places that have not been on our radar and loved both. Creperie for breakfast and Banana Cafe for lunch.

                Had bad luck connecting with Grunts and Conch Shop. Maybe next time.

              2. Sorry it's taken a bit of time to do this because of the holidays but...

                TRIP REPORT

                Hard Rock Cafe Key West
                To say we started off at Hard rock is a little embarassing but because of how our trip had to be pushed nothing else was really open, and the things that were, were booked. We weren't very hungry, a drink and potato skins was all we had. It's pretty hard to mess up potato skins, although these were not the best I've had.

                The major hit for us was the Sesame Tuna appetizer, nice wonderful cuts of sashmi tuna pepperred in sasame, plated with some lettuce and rice noodles. But the secret is their Thai dipping sauce. It's a little soy, seasame sauce, chili oil maybe, we had fun trying to pick out the flavors. It was a special that was on a chalk board and not on their regular menu. The rest of what we ate was good but not outstanding. My husbands remark on his Mahi was that it was okay. and my Tuna salad was more of the same of the appetizer but without the amazing sauce. Which we finally asked for because the dressing was really lacking.

                Better than Sex
                I'm glad we made it here. This is fun. Again we ordered a special for dessert. A red velvet pumpkin cake that was outstanding. Moist, and with the flavors of red velvet at pumpkin coming together. I wish I could say it looked decadent but it's hard to see there. The flash lights were needed for me. Great beer selection and I loved the idea of pairing the wines with the chocolate rim sauce. It kind of gave me some ideas for when my husband comes home late from business travel and isn't hungry but might want to induldge.

                We went back and it was just as good. The service is impeccable. It's a little romantic there at times. Great date night. We do have a horrible habit of ordering off the specials menu. The soups are rich and balanced. The shrimp was well cooked and the frozen sauce which melted with it had an amazing hot and cold to it that came off brillantly.

                This was really something a local suggested and we enjoyed it a lot. We were eating through out the day so I wasn't that hungry but I must tell you. This is counter service and just stop in for the roasted grilled corn even if you aren't too hungry. It's that much of a treat. It's a roast grilled corn cob, I'm thinking is rubbed with a little butter, salt, lime, a grated white cheese, garlic, and cilantro.

                Garbo's Grill
                Came here last year and their reputation has made them quite busy. Same cute couple running the stand, it looks like they've added at least one other person to help out. Service was great, food is still great. Had the Cayo Fish Tacos again. I have a love a fish tacos and these are some of my favorites.

                Cool to find out that Key West was Originally Called Cayo Hueso by the Spanish meaning bone island. Cayo means Island. Hueso pronouced weso means bone. They named it bone island because of the battle grounds of the American Indians. Later the american's translated Hueso prounouced weso into west.

                Le Creperie
                This was a real treat because we had breakfast and dessert at the same time. I enjoyed the small mom and pop atmosphere and the french being spoken, which reminds me I need to brush up on my french. We split one savory and one sweet crepe. Our savory crepe was filled with proscutto, tomato, and swiss cheese with basil. Our sweet crepe was strawberry with nuetella and whipped cream on top. I loved both. If I had to pick one I'd pick our savory because I just loved the taste of it all together. But the sweet is not to be missed either. I'm really glad we got two and split them for a taste of each.

                7 Fish - Our inn was right near here and I know I've been here before but it seemed so much smaller. I think it was because when I first went it wasn't quite as popular yet. Reservations are needed even on the weekdays. Crab Cake with ginger garlic sauce, loved the asian style to it, Fresh Fish Entree was devine

                Food Gifts
                Key West Oil and Vinegar
                Key Lime Pie store

                We gave some of the oil and vinegar as gifts for family and baked some home made breads to go with them. This was a hit.

                Conch shop - only open on fri, sat
                A&B Lobster House, We got there way to early and had to go somewhere else.

                Too little time too much to eat.

                Thank you all for the recommendations I have a running list because we will be back down again. It was harder this time since our plans got pushed due to my husbands work out of the country but thanks to you guys and some think on our feet we had an amazing time!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                  Always love reading your recommendations and trip reports.

                  You and the other posters have now provided me with the definitive rundown of Chow worthy establishments in Key West. Now if I can only get past that cracker bar on Big Pine Key......

                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                    Thank you!

                    I really wanted to hit A&B Lobster House but time just didn't allow for it. That is one I plan on hitting next time.