Restaurants in Key West
Like the rest of the Keys, the three main food groups in Key West seem to be fresh seafood, tropical fruit and key lime pie—with the fourth food group perhaps being the margarita. While Duval Street has no shortage of familiar brand names, Old Town is a good place to find more locally inspired cuisine. Head to one, or a few, of the best Key West restaurants.
Housed in an oceanfront Victorian house, Louie’s Backyard is a Caribbean-American restaurant and a local favorite for more than three decades. You can dine inside, with white tablecloths and wood-shuttered windows, or sit on the multilevel deck overlooking the Old Bahama Channel. Using locally caught seafood and produce grown specifically for Louie’s by Island Farms, longstanding chef Doug Shook creates fresh, seasonal (and pricey) dishes like Bahamian conch chowder and seared yellowfin tuna with wasabi sweet soy. The Paseo is a casual Key West restaurant with Caribbean feel, with its Cuban sandwiches and bowls of home-cooking-style pork, black beans, and grilled corn. B.O’s Fish Wagon is a funky shack that nicely embodies that Margaritaville mindset, with its mishmash of ripped fishing nets, no sniveling signs, and a rusted truck. The conch fritters are superb, too. For a great spot for a slice of pie and local margaritas, try The Rooftop Café. This elegant Key West restaurant is just a few blocks from Mallory Square and the festivities that accompany the daily sunset.
Don't assume that the smaller shops selling Key lime pie are the most authentic. The yellow factory on Simonton, which smells of graham crackers (an ingredient in the crust), is the real deal. Order it topped with meringue.
The owners of Eaton Street Seafood Market opened the place to help fight what they saw as an import trend.
Housed in an oceanfront Victorian house, this Caribbean-American restaurant has been a local favorite for more than three decades.
With its old-school fishing shacks and shrimp boats, Stock Island harks back to Key West circa the 1970's. Dine at tables overlooking a dock crowded with shrimp boats at this funky dive that has live music on weekends.
This intimate, 50-seat restaurant is located in the Marquesa Hotel, a collection of 19th-century conch houses in historic Old Town.
Michaels, a casual fine dining steakhouse, is located on a back street in Old Town. The small wood bar and large wine display rack create a homey feel in a quiet restaurant, complete with covered patio seating and a fountain surrounded by greenery.
Originating as a casual lunch café in 1992, Blue Heaven is now a full-service restaurant that draws huge crowds all day. The restaurant is located in a small, century-old building that once housed a pool hall, an ice cream shop, and a bar where Ernest Hemingway refereed boxing matches.
This restaurant’s menu is a marriage between Caribbean and Italian cuisine with an emphasis on seafood. The oceanfront seating overlooks Higgs Beach, while the inside is designed like a funky beach shack with hanging white lights, mural-painted walls, and a dog-friendly policy.
The funky shack gets its charm from a mishmash of ripped fishing nets, no sniveling signs, and a rusted truck. And yes, the fritters are superb.
Mangoes is famous for its Mango Coladas and prime destination on a corner of Duval Street.
In Old Town, nurse a $7 frozen Rum Runner as the live music plays throughout the day.
Order the key lime pie; it has meringue and crust that oozes buttery lime juice.
Located inside the Marriott Beachside Hotel, Tavern N Town chefs craft seasonal breakfast and dinner cuisine behind the Tapas Theater Kitchen, an open-air kitchen surrounded by mosaic stone-colored tile, which takes center stage along one entire wall.
Sandy’s Café never closes so visitors can stop in for Cuban and Mexican cuisine anytime.
When the crowds on Duval get too rowdy, step off the street into this whitewashed Victorian tapas and wine bar. Pair one of the specials—Black Angus filet and a cone of crispy French fries—with one of more than 20 wines by the glass.