Whether you are staying in Key West or just visiting for the day, this little town offers some great spots for grabbing a bite to eat with the family. Here are 8 favourites we discovered on our last trip.
This open-air café is located right on the beach, delighting your senses in the sights and sounds of the ocean in front of you. We arrived late in Key West but as we were staying at the Southernmost on the Beach Hotel, the café was a logical stop. Nothing beats starting a Key West vacation with some local seafood, such as tasty coconut shrimp or a mahi mahi sandwich paired with Key Lime Margarita during the sunset. Families will love the kids menu for a short stack of pancakes without breaking your holiday budget.
This courtyard restaurant nestled under a canopy trees and umbrellas offers a tasty twist to an old favourite, lobster benedict with key lime sauce and a mimosa to wash it down. There’s never a wrong time for lobster in Key West. The location’s history of once hosting cockfights makes for a colourful story. Roosters and hens aren’t an uncommon sight in the streets of Key West and you’ll even see them strutting their stuff as you dine in Blue Heaven’s courtyard. Live musicians and local guests will also entertain you. We loved that their breakfast menu is served right up until the early afternoon so you can sleep in or in our case catch a morning swim at the SouthernMost Hotel on the Beach Ocean front pool. This spot is busy so you might have to wait for a table to open up but the outdoor juice bar will make the wait worth while.
There’s no short supply of key lime in Key West. You’ll find the pie on the dessert menu of most restaurants in town. If you are a fan of this little green citrus you’ll want to visit Kermit’s down by the historic Marina. You’ll find sauces, cookies, candies and even a sample of Key Limeade. Although not a restaurant Kermit’s does offer a quiet back patio to sit and enjoy your treats. Of course our favourite treat is the chocolate covered Key Lime Pie on a stick, a treat we originally discovered when staying at Hawks Cay Resort. It really is like a slice of pie, graham crumb crust and all, coasted in a hardened sweet chocolate.
Across from Kermit’s and located right in the marina you’ll find the Conch Republic Seafood Company. From all the bikes parked out front you can guess this is a popular spot for locals. The restaurant is much larger than it appears, like a big open warehouse inside. The garage door windows give you a feeling of sitting outside, enjoying the breeze from the marina. My kids inhaled conch Fritters with Key Lime Mustard. Although the restaurant does offer a kids menu it was a little uninspiring for my group but the seafood options made dinner choices difficult. If you are a mojitos fan then you have to try the Conch Republic’s Key Lim version. Of course you can’t end a meal at this place without trying the Tempura Strawberries, sweet strawberries warmed by a crispy shell.
Mallory Square is another busy waterfront area in Key West. In the evening you can catch a festival of fun, Sunset Celebration, celebrating the end of another sun-filled day. Right off of Mallory Square you’ll find a little bit of Cuba. Once a Cuban cigar factory , El Meson de Pepe is now home to the family owned Cuban restaurant. We were fortunate enough to have one of the owners as our guide through Cuban cuisine. He explained to the kids the different ways plantain is used in Cuban cooking, including using them as the chips in our nacho order. We sampled all sorts of great dishes by my favourite was the handmade pitcher of sangria. You can eat inside, surrounded by the restaurant’s history but outside on the porch we enjoyed live music from Mallory Square. We enjoyed some great spots in Key West but I think dinner at Meson de Pepe was one of the trip’s dining highlights.
Another great restaurant with a little Key West history is Kelly’s. Located just off of the busy Duval strip, we were first attracted to Kelly’s because they brewed their own beer onsite but when we discovered it was the birthplace of now defunct PanAM, we had to stop in for dinner. The main entrance wasn’t that impressive but when you walk back to the outdoor patio you are greeted with a large airplane wing that makes up the restaurant’s bar. You can dine inside but the patio was so inviting with its canopy of trees and lights, perfect for nighttime dining. You’ll find an array of dishes, from pasta and salads to chicken and of course seafood. The kids loved their homemade large ice cream sandwich for dessert but the Black Bottom Key Lime Pie is a must in my books.
Although breakfast isn’t usually big for us when we travel I’m certainly glad we stopped into La Crëperie Key West. Hidden by overgrown trees we spotted this cafe because of its location across the street from Blue Heaven. The small café offers a few tables inside and on the wrap around deck outside but the coveted spot has to be at the kitchen bar. This solid wood bar is beautiful to sit at but it also offers the best view of your crepes being loveinly made right before your eyes. Of course you can order other items such a omlettes and sandwiches but how can you not indulge in a fresh pineapple, coconut and honey crepe or a red velvet crepe with homemade raspberry chocolate ganache, fresh strawberries, almonds, English custard ice cream, raspberry coulis. My tummy is grumbling just recalling how delicious these crepes were.
Key West has this quaint small village charm to it and Sarabeth’s fits right in with its fresh American dishes. The high fenced patio with sail shades gives you the outdoor dining experience without feeling the eyes of those walking on the sidewalk. Inside is just as quaint with bench seats and library books. It reminded me of a lovely kitchen nook in an old friend’s home where you could sit and savour scones and tea all afternoon. I enjoyed a lovely French toast but my son’s ricotta pancakes were heavenly. Highly recommended.
While Duval Street is full of activity and many dining options, exploring the side streets will surprise you with some delightful dining options to enjoy with the family. I can’t wait for the chance to return and visit some of our favourite spots and discover new ones.
If you’re looking at planning your own day trip to Key West or any of the Florida Keys, you can find more ideas on their site http://www.fla-keys.com/