Florida Keys is a small archipelago with a food scene as diverse as the people who inhabit the small string of islands. The eclectic mix of cultures, combined with the island vibes here create the perfect environment for creativity, which has obviously spilled over into the food scene. Here are our top places for food trip in the Florida Keys!
1. Breakfast at Blue Heaven
On our first morning in Key West, we headed straight into one of the oldest and most historic parts of town, Bahama Village, for breakfast in the colourful gardens of Blue Heaven. Having served as a social hub in Key West for over 100 years, the building and its garden have hosted cock fights, gambling and boxing matches refereed by Ernest Hemmingway. Even the floor we stood on had a story to tell the slate slabs in the courtyard used to be the pool table tops from the building’s days as a local bar and pool hall! Now though, it’s home to Blue Heaven, a charismatic garden restaurant, shaded by trees, filled with colourful art and colourful people, and serving some of the best food on the island. The chef-designed menu takes old-faithful classics from around the world and gives them a Florida Keys twist by adding local ingredients like fresh seafood and key lime. Take the Shrimp and Grits for example – Key West Shrimp Sautéed in White Wine and Butter and served with Grits and White Cheddar! I went for the Blue Heaven Benedicts – classic eggs benedict, topped with Key Lime Hollandaise and Key West Shrimp, with a side of homemade banana bread!
We all finished off our breakfasts with a ‘healthy chunk’ of Key Lime pie, a locally originated dessert pie, which comes as a creamy tart or a fancy meringue topped indulgence. Blue Heaven sits on the meringue side of the table.
Check out Blue Heaven on Tripadvisor too!
2. Dinner at The Stoned Crab at Ibis Bay
The Stoned Crab is the signature seafood restaurant of Ibis Bay Resort, where we stayed for three nights. They specialise in the freshest, locally caught seafood you can imagine, and in serving it up in unique and mouth-watering combinations.
As well as catching lobster, Key West pinks (shrimp), Alaskan King Crab, oysters Conch and various other seafood, with their own two fishing boats, they also serve some of the best Stone Crab Claws on the island. Stone Crab Claws are a seasonal Florida delicacy – huge, meaty crab claws which are harvested from natural populations of Stone Crab in south Florida waters. These crabs have the ability to regenerate their claws, so this tasty meal is actually renewable, as well as sustainable!
Our dinner in the Stoned Crab started with two of their hot seafood towers, The Show Stopper – a three-tiered platter of their best seafood, including stone crab claws, shrimp, lobster tail, conch fritters, calamari, mussels and more!
One of the key food philosophies at the Stoned Crab is ‘Dock to Dish’, which means getting the fish from the sea to your plate as quickly possible. They also promote a ‘three-hands approach’ to seafood, in that it should only pass through three peoples’ hands – the fisherman’s, the chef’s and finally yours, on the way into your mouth!
Not forgetting the Key Lime Pie, this one followed the creamy tart version, which seemed to have a bit more of a limey tang to it and was much less sugary than the meringue we had for breakfast.
Check out The Stoned Crab on Tripadvisor too!
3. Dinner at Latitudes at Sunset Key
A little more sophisticated than my usual hangout, we took a private boat from Key West Harbour to Latitudes the resort island which is home to Sunset Key Cottages. The beach side restaurant setting was classy, but relaxed and welcoming, with palm trees wrapped in bright lights and glowing light-up menus.
The chef specialises in locally sourced ingredients and transforming them into unique versions of classic dishes. Between the whole table, we shared a selection of starters, then I had the Wagyu steak, which was incredibly tender, juicy and flavourful, while Kach had a mixed seafood risotto. Desert was obviously Key Lime Pie, which was like a hybrid of the previous two – a meringue topping, but nowhere near as large or sugary as the first, allowing the key lime to stand out a bit more.
Check out Latitudes on Tripadvisor too!
4. Lunch at Sunset Grille & Raw Bar
After cycling the historic 7 Mile Bridge, we went for lunch at Sunset Grille & Raw Bar, a seafood and sushi restaurant right next to the water with the best view of the new and old bridges, not to mention the sunsets. As you’d expect, the menu is packed with fresh seafood, but also a massive sushi menu, raw seafood menu and meaty classics like baby back ribs.
The seared Ahi Tuna Salad was amazing!
Check out Sunset Grille and Raw Bar on Tripadvisor too!
5. Dinner at the Fish House
Another day in Key West, another amazing seafood dinner! The Fish House in Key Largo is known for its yellowtail snapper, mahi-mahi, grouper, Florida lobster, and stone crab. They even have their own in-house smoked fish. They have been cooking up seafood directly from the fishermen since 1987. The atmosphere is chilled out and rustic, with friendly staff who know everything about seafood.
Check out The Fish House on Tripadvisor too!
6. Lunch at the Hungry Tarpon at Robbie’s Marina
One of our most unique dining experiences was down at Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada. The Hungry Tarpon has been a part of Islamorada since 1976, selling fresh seafood in a variety of ways, like fish tacos, fish sandwiches, seafood salads, burritos, shrimp quesadillas and fried seafood baskets! (There are non-seafood meals available too)
The setting is completely unique, with the restaurant sheltering under an old corrugated iron roof, the marina one side where you can feed giant tarpon fish, so big your whole hand fits inside. To the other side are open air artisan shops selling all kinds of crafts made from old fishing equipment. We had the Shrimp Burrito and a mixed fried seafood basket!
Check out The Hungry Tarpon on Tripadvisor too!
7. The Florida Keys Brewing Company (Yes, beer is food too!)
Liquid food in all flavours and styles! Canadian and Keys couple Craig and Cheryl McBay founded The Florida Keys Brewing Company in early 2015 and have used their brewing skills, ingenuity and artistic flair to grown their fledgling brewery into one of the most popular craft beer spots in Florida. They currently have 11 brews on tap, all brewed out of just one small fermenter, but they already have the equipment in place to expand into a full-sized craft brewery. Their bar was packed and every table was full on the Thursday that we were there and that can be put down to the combination of great beer, friendly atmosphere and the creativity and artwork that touches every part of the building. They also have amazing initiatives like their ‘Detox Retox – Yoga and Beer’ days, as well as community promotions like Girl Scout cookies and beer deals!
We tried a full wheel of beer to get a full taste of what they offered. The chocolate ale was my favourite, with the chili a close second.
Related Article: Looking for Luxury Hotel in Florida? Check out our List!
8. Dinner at Marker 88
On our last night in the Florida Keys, we needed something spectacular to end the trip. Marker 88 is famous in Islamorada for beachside dining, fine dining and obviously fresh seafood! We were really lucky to have a live cooking demo from owner and chef, Bobby Stoky, who opened the restaurant with his brother back in 1967. Bobby showed us how to cook each course, starting from scratch with basic ingredients and fresh produce, creating dished off the menu right in front of us with nothing more than a small hotplate!
The first dish was homemade, pan-fried crab cakes served with a walnut, strawberry and mixed leaf salad. Next was a locally caught, encrusted yellowtail snapper, seasoned with a mixture of rock salt and peppers, plus his special blackening spice mix. Every dish was a well-balanced combination of fresh ingredients and clear, simple flavours.
Desert was a mixed plate of sweet treats, with Key Lime Pie taking the centre of the plate. This one went for the Meringue style, with a stronger kick of lime.
Check out Marker 88 on Tripadvisor too!
9. Breakfast at Mrs Mac’s Kitchen
Our final morning deserved an amazing breakfast – American diner style with a bit of Florida Keys thrown in. The whole restaurant is decorated with donated licence plates from various guests over the years. Much like Blue Heaven, yet also nothing like it, Mrs Mac’s takes classic breakfasts from home and abroad and make them into something a bit more Keys’ish!
Check out Mrs Mac’s on Tripadvisor too!
10. Sweet Tasting at Key Largo Chocolates
Just to squeeze in one last dessert, we visited Key Largo Chocolates, a family-owned and run chocolate factory and shop, who specialise in hand made truffles and Key Lime Pie on a stick. As well as watching chocolates being made by hand, we got to eat a few too!
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Note: This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of the official tourism office of Florida Keys, who arranged the whole trip and coordinated with private companies for our sponsored hotel stays and tours. Thank you!
Thank you to everyone we met along the way who all helped to make this such a special experience. It was an incredible visit to the Florida Keys and we will never forget it!