Road trips have become the preferred mode of travel for many and South Floridians are fortunate to have one of the most scenic drives in the country when heading to the beloved and quirky Southernmost city of Key West. The 113 mile trip on the famed Overseas Highway offers a restorative balance of scenery along with great food along the way, and here are 16 restaurants that can’t be missed.Read More
Where to Eat in the Florida Keys
Soak up those scenic views at these top spots
The Fish House
This Upper Key favorite has been around since 1982 serving fish like mahi mahi, yellowtail snapper, and grouper in a myriad of creative ways that includes Black and Bleu (topped with blue cheese crumbles and baked, then topped with a cream sauce of bleu cheese, garlic, blackening seasoning, and white wine) and Hemingway (lightly breaded with Italian breadcrumbs and baked, topped with a white wine, garlic, basil cream sauce). Other popular items include fried cracked conch and coconut shrimp served with poppyseed mango dressing.
Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Cafe
If the name rings a bell it’s because this spot serves as one of the coast’s biggest fish exporters, making most of the meals literally “fresh off the boat.” With so much to choose from the menu can be overwhelming but classics like conch fritters with remoulade, peel and eat Key West shrimp, and stone crab chowder (when in season) are good starts. Don’t miss the lobster reuben, which like the original reuben comes served on toasted rye bread with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing swapping corned beef with a generous serving of lobster.
Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar
Come for the nightly sunset celebrations overlooking idyllic Florida Bay and listen to local bands while sampling favorites like Lorelei’s smoked fish dip, Key lime peppercorn snapper, and twin lobster tails. Don’t pass on Lorelei’s World Famous “Frozen” Key Lime Pie for dessert, which is less tart than standard key lime pie and comes topped with mango sauce and whipped cream.
Also featured in:
Midway Cafe & Coffee Bar
Fuel up with every kind of good coffee imaginable (hot or iced), freshly-baked muffins, and morning staples like the breakfast burrito, sausage Mid-muffin or avocado toast. There are lighter items like smoothies and lunch items as well.
Serving freshly caught fish sandwiches and drinks like the Islamorada Ice Pick (ice tea vodka, lemonade, and a splash of champagne) overlooking turquoise waters, this spot knows how to get the vacation vibe going right away. Afterwards, head over to feed the tarpon where more than 100 of the large fish will grab bait almost out of one’s hand.
Island Fish Company
Slip right into the Keys groove with a tiki drink and seafood favorites like mango crabcakes, stuffed shrimp, and Florida lobster tail. The menu is massive and accommodating to everyone, whether you want steaks, pasta, chicken, or simply a vegetable burger. Like most spots, there’s Key lime pie on the menu, but more intriguing is the deep-fried rendition, which is rolled in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with mango sauce.
Castaway Waterfront Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Beer lovers take note: there are 52 beers on tap to go along with this restaurant’s expansive menu. Founded in 1951, it was originally the place to stop for a beer and shrimp steamed in beer, that is, until John Mirabella and his wife Arlene sailed from Los Angeles to the Keys purchasing the restaurant in 1999 and expanding the menu to include offerings like oysters Moscow (raw oysters on the half shell served with sour cream, horseradish, and red and black roe) and snapper BLT (fried yellowtail snapper, bacon, chipotle aoili sauce) and, of course, shrimp steamed in beer.
South of the Seven
Tucked inside the Sugarloaf Lodge, owners chef Paul Kapsalis and Kris Kubik serve modern American fare like Apalachicola oysters roasted in their shell with chorizo, manchego, garlic butter, cilantro, and lime and locally-caught whole fish fried Thai style. Carnivores are not forgotten either with the menu having a generous selection of meat dishes like the 40-ounce Tomahawk steak, ribeye steak, and Sugarloaf burger.
Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen & Bar
A little removed from the party scene on Duval Street, this peaceful American restaurant inside the Perry Hotel Key West is offering some of the best meals on the island. Self-described as American coastal comfort food, appetizers like the crab beignets with lemon powder and stone grain mustard aoili and the oyster Rockefeller with parmesan, kale, bacon, and anise are not to be missed. Grouper gnudi (gnocchi-like dumplings made with ricotta) or shrimp and grits with tomato bacon gravy and manchego cheese are both must-try dishes.
Cuban Coffee Queen
Several outlets throughout town make it easy to get a regular caffeine fix along with breakfast sandwiches and plenty of merch like t-shirts with cheeky messages like “Drink More Cuban Coffee and Do Stupid Things Faster.” Coffee is available for purchase by the pound, which means the caffeine party can continue at home.
B.O.'s Fish Wagon
Epitomizing the relaxed vibe of Key West this colorful venue made from driftwood welcomes diners with a junk car swathed in bumper stickers. The menu is a simple and straightforward array of fresh seafood caught from the docks a few blocks away along with the prerequisite burger. The fried conch sandwich is a must as is an order of gigantic onion rings.
Within walking distance from all the action on Duval, this local favorite is the ideal brunch spot. Grab a table in the lush, outdoor patio and indulge in Key lime French toast (yes, there’s pie in there!) as well as the crab cake benedict served on flatbread or Roesti potato pancake with brie, prosciutto, arugula, and hollandaise.
Eaton Street Seafood Market & Restaurant
Primarily a seafood market for the locals, this spot also serves one of the best lobster rolls south of Maine. The secret is the lobster-to-bun ratio. While many lobster rolls are guilty of overdoing it with carbs, here, diners are treated to a tidy, buttery, toasted bun generously packed with chilled lobster salad heavy on the lobster meat. There’s no real seating inside, so grab it to go or snag one of the spots outside.
5 Brothers Grocery and Sandwich Shop
This tiny corner grocery has been doling out some of the best Cuban sandwiches and Cuban coffee for several generations. There’s the traditional Cuban sandwich, or better yet, the Cuban mix (ham, pork, salami, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.) Feel like ending the meal with a cigar? No worries, 5 Brothers sells those too.
A meal here will leave diners feeling as if they’ve stumbled upon a gem, or little pearl. Dishes are thoughtful and well executed, with a tasting menu currently in place featuring items like King crab scone with seasme sprinkles, laced shrimp shumai with ito kezuri and chili ponzu, and crème brûlée bread pudding. End with a cheese plate. Wine pairing is also available. Reservations required.
Known as one of the top brunch spots in town, this Key West staple offers bites like Florida shrimp omelet or Blue Heaven BLT benedict (bacon, lobster and tomato). Sit in the courtyard where chickens and cats roam free.
Also featured in: