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The state of Florida is likely to be greatest identified for Mickey Mouse, Miami’s stylish South Seashore and its Everglades alligators.
However the Florida Keys provide one thing fully completely different.
Historical past buff? Nature lover? Water-baby? Sunseeker? The Keys ship.
However additionally they provide a smorgasbord of memorable food and drinks experiences reminiscent of conch fritters, key lime pie and Hemingway-inspired rum cocktails.
So if you happen to’re planning a street journey south, listed here are among the greatest locations to eat within the Florida Keys.
Suppose Caribbean meets the mainland. The Florida Keys are nuzzled by the waters of the Atlantic on one aspect and Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on the opposite.
They stretch southwest for practically 300 kilometres. And there’s loads of nice meals alongside the best way.
That can assist you plan your personal culinary street journey, I’m sharing my favorite locations to eat (and drink) within the Florida Keys from Key Largo within the north to Key West within the south.
You gained’t wish to miss these foodie necessities!
There’s low cost eats, seafood lunches, rum distillery excursions, fine-dining eating places, sundown cocktails and extra.
1. Order Conch Fritters at (of Course) Key Largo Conch Home
I arrive on the first entry on my listing of Florida Keys must-dos for foodies a mere five-minute drive from the bridge becoming a member of the Keys to the Florida mainland (Google Map).
Welcome to the Key Largo Conch Home.
This second-generation family-run restaurant has been featured on the Journey Channel, Meals Community and Emeril’s Florida.
It’s well-known for the standard and number of its seafood and is among the high locations to eat within the Florida Keys in the case of conch.
Their conch fritters are an absolute must-do.
Properly fried and boasting only a trace of curry, they’re served with house-made aioli.
Once I do the Caribbean, two gadgets all the time make their means onto my foodie bucket listing: conch fritters and piña coladas.
Right now they’re serving chilled mimosas on the verandah of this quaint former home that includes peach-painted board-and-batten facades and gingerbread trim.
That’s why I forego the piña coladas.
Don’t forego the fritters.
🌟 Insider Tip: Judging from the exercise at surrounding tables, the tacos — fillings starting from gator to lionfish — are as common because the fritters.
2. Dine al Fresco with a Aspect Order of Sundown
Throughout that afternoon’s actions I pump some locals for dinner suggestions.
Meals’s a precedence tonight however I’m actually after a desk with a sundown view. I can eat anyplace.
By the tip of my appetizer — Maine lobster bites deep-fried in beer batter and served with honey mustard sauce — the sundown’s grow to be an afterthought.
This stuff have been scrumptious. Even higher washed down with a specialty of the home, a Frozen Key Lime Colada.
However again to the sundown.
They promote the truth that each seat in the home has an unobstructed view, whether or not you selected the extra formal Grand Tiki eating room, the patio sheltered by periwinkle-coloured umbrellas, or the “bar ledge” – a row of seating actually cantilevered over the waters of the bay itself.
With anchored sailboats for foreground the sundown is nothing wanting spectacular – all the pieces however the inexperienced flash.
It’s nearly as scrumptious as dinner.
3. Chunk into Considered one of Peg’s Scones
First the unhealthy information: if you wish to pattern Peg’s scones – a Key Largo breakfast delight – you should be a visitor at Bay Harbour Lodge & Coconut Bay Resort proper subsequent door.
The excellent news? You get to remain at Bay Harbor & Coconut Bay Resort.
Strategically located on Florida Bay (Google Map), this laid-back property boasts 23 cottages in a 2.5-acre backyard setting. Every room (or suite) is meticulously clear, tastefully adorned and screams Previous Florida with its décor.
Add a heated pool, a tiny seashore, good sunsets and free paddleboards and kayaks for a recipe for an ideal trip.
This charming resort can be a super base to discover the myriad points of interest (and eating places) in Key Largo.
However crucial recipe(s) right here must be the scones made day by day underneath the watchful eye of proprietor Peg Mullin Laron, retired schoolteacher and resort proprietor.
Rise up within the morning and stroll over to the meals truck positioned in gardens and surrounded by a horny lounge space.
Then seize your scone, fresh-baked that morning.
Years in the past a visitor complained in regards to the lack of espresso within the resort so Peg instantly responded however she felt that espresso wasn’t sufficient.
She’d add freshly baked scones to the combination.
The remainder is historical past, within the guise of no less than three flavours provided every morning from Peg’s recipe of sixty-five scrumptious treats.
I recall my morning scone – or ought to I say my scones? – with affection.
No means you possibly can restrict your self to only one.
4. Feed Your self then Feed the Tarpon
As a lot a well-liked vacationer vacation spot as it’s an entry on our listing of Florida Keys’ must-dos for foodies, Robbie’s of Islamorada is far more than only a nice lunch cease.
It is a common waypoint for reserving a wide range of watersports, house to fishing constitution boats and snorkeling excursions, host to an open-air market, common bar, and mini mall à la Previous Florida.
That’s as a result of whenever you’ve completed feeding your self you possibly can feed the visiting tarpon. These are not any unusual fish. A few of them are greater than a metre lengthy.
Drop a little bit of change and decide up some baitfish then stroll out to the docks and feed these monsters. Some will break the floor and take their lunch proper out of your hand.
They’re undoubtedly hungry.
Good backstory right here: roughly twenty years in the past Robbie, the proprietor, seen a struggling and injured tarpon simply off his dock.
He rescued it, introduced in a vet for first help and launched the fish. However it caught round for lunch. Every time it returned it introduced extra buddies.
So started a Keys custom.
However it’s not simply the tarpon who get pleasure from their lunch.
Informal menu with a few shiny spots. Take into account the cracked conch or the black mussels. Try the institution’s southern pedigree with a shrimp jambalaya.
Dessert, it would go with out saying, is a slice of Key Lime pie.
🌟 Insider Tip: If you happen to’ve gone fishing for the day and will discover somebody to wash your catch of the day, they’ll prepare dinner it up for you – your alternative of fried, grilled, blackened or Thai type.
🌟 Professional Tip: Keep and luxuriate in among the points of interest of Key Largo. E-book a glass backside boat, a non-public tour to snorkel the reef or simply stretch out on the sand at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.
5. Elevate a Mug at Florida Keys Brewing Co.
Subsequent day we uncover one other good place to lift a mug of beer in salute.
Right here on the Florida Keys Brewing Firm (Google Map), the suds are greater than a welcome addition. They’re your complete raison d’etre.
However that is no mere microbrewery (although there’s one onsite).
Hand around in the beer backyard behind the tasting room, selecting a pastel-painted picnic desk or high-top desk nestled in a tropical backyard. Add in a stage at one finish that may be worthy of Jimmy Buffett himself and the image’s full.
The stage isn’t only for present. Thought of Islamorada’s premier venue for reside music, the Beer Backyard at Florida Keys Brewing Firm hosts reside leisure each night time of the week.
Even higher, the backyard and the tasting room itself have a extra Caribbean vibe than half the seashore bars I’ve visited within the Caribbean.
However it’s nonetheless all in regards to the beer.
They serve each seasonal brews and rotating drafts – beers with nice names and backstories.
I’m torn between a mug from immediately’s rotating faucets. Iguana Bait, Spiny Hopster or Alligator Lighthouse Lager?
Co-proprietor Cheryl McBay (her husband and co-proprietor, Craig, is a Canadian ex-pat) promptly solves my dilemma. She pours me a flight.
So now I increase my mug.
Only one extra time.
🌟 Insider Tip: From baseball hats to quirky shirts, you possibly can decide up an ideal memento of your go to. Or simply order a growler to take again to your lodge.
6. Elevate a Mug on the Pub with No Identify
On our first go to to the Keys my spouse and I exited the primary freeway on a quest to come across the elusive Key Deer.
It’s an endangered subspecies of white-tailed deer distinctive to Large Pine Key and neighbouring Keys.
Since we met with failure on that first go to, we have been much more decided this time.
We enterprise additional down that lonely street on Large Pine Key however nonetheless no deer.
On the upside we did discover a horny whimsical construction surrounded by a backyard boasting lounge chairs and picnic tables (Google Map).
Welcome to the No Identify Pub.
The constructing’s exterior is painted lemon and lime. The inside is darkish and festooned wherever you look with greenback payments hooked up to each floor.
Regardless of its lack of a reputation this pub is downright well-known and is the stuff of historical past.
Again in 1931 it was a normal retailer and bait and sort out store till the house owners added a small room and it formally turned a pub in 1936.
Open seven days every week, it’s an ideal spot to lift a mug of beer. They’ve bought 15 completely different labels and 6 extra on faucet. Considered one of which is their very personal No Identify Amber.
Along with a standard pub menu, their pizzas are well-known all through the Decrease Keys.
It’s one in all greatest locations to eat within the Florida Keys for Key West Pink Shrimp pizza.
🌟 Insider Tip: Deliver some greenback payments to hitch the enjoyable and beautify the place.
7. Assist a Wholesome Ocean with a Florida Keys Seafood Lunch
If I’d identified that purchasing into the entire idea of sustainable seafood and and environmental stewardship can be as tasty as our lunch at Conch Republic Seafood Firm, I’d have began years in the past.
And it’s not simply the admirable objectives set by this informal Key West eatery on the waterfront (Google Map) boasting nautical décor from life jackets adorning the ceiling to an outdated boat suspended overhead.
Sustainable seafood is especially essential given the delicate ecosystems that comprise the Florida Keys.
Defending the surroundings is a part of the unique DNA of this former shrimp processing plant.
Be taught extra about sustainable fishing strategies and seafood selections at Seafood Watch.
Proper from the start their founders have been dedicated to defending the surroundings – proper all the way down to the truth that they keep their very own fleet of fishing boats with crews dedicated tlocal recent seafood regionally sourced.
“Conch Republic Seafood Firm was constructed on conservation and restoration of the native working waterfront,” says advertising and marketing supervisor Casey Arnold, “and we nonetheless observe that to this present day.”
However again to the meals.
Whereas I do like shrimp, I choose lobster. That’s, till I style their shrimp.
Transfer over lobster.
Finest but, their seafood choices have been possible swimming at breakfast and every merchandise was processed or filleted onsite.
If you happen to’re searching for among the finest locations to eat within the Florida Keys for seafood, ensure that to pattern a meal at Conch Republic Seafood Firm.
Conservation by no means tasted so good.
🌟 Insider Tip: Although they’ve bought a formidable listing of signature cocktails and a stable wine listing, the vibe requires beer.
On faucet are eight completely different native brews – order a beer flight to strive a range.
8. Toast Ernest Hemingway with His Favorite Cocktail
Or perhaps you’re simply attracted by the reside music. Tonight’s band is pumping out Jimmy Buffett tunes at a hundred-and-one decibels.
Their well-known Sloppy Joe sandwiches do grace the eclectic menu of this restaurant/bar, however tonight’s extra about their most well-known patron and his favorite drink.
Two large bars dominate Sloppy Joe’s lengthy low-lying room. Hemingway memorabilia and images are scattered all through the bar, testomony to the truth that the well-known creator was an everyday right here through the early 1930’s.
Lot of draft selections on the menu however our server factors me in a special course. “Hemingway’s favorite,” she assures me.
🌟 Insider Tip: A “Papa Doble” is a concoction that’s mainly Hemingway’s tackle a Daiquiri.
It channels the spirit of “Papa” Hemingway and options Bacardi Rum, grapefruit juice, bitter combine and Grenadine. Shake, add soda and recent lime.
9. Sip a Cocktail with a Aspect Order of Sundown
Whether or not you’re foodie or only a fan of this space, an absolute Florida Keys must-do is a sundown at Mallory Sq. in Key West.
Be part of a whole bunch (if not hundreds) of different guests who come to have a good time day’s finish.
Down the sq. a busker thrills a crowd with feats of acrobatics; simply behind us a middle-aged fellow plucks tunes on an acoustic guitar.
Excellent night, complemented by a superb cocktail to go – a Margarita in a take-out plastic glass, an impressed alternative if ever there was one.
Someway a sundown and not using a cocktail appeared incomplete to me.
So after we go the patio of El Meson de Pepe, subsequent to a historic pink brick constructing referred to as Casa Cay Hueso, I instantly step as much as the scarred picket bar and take a look at their choices.
Given the very fact this institution is a little bit of Previous Havana, boasting genuine Cuban meals, I practically go for one in all their mojitos.
However it looks as if a margarita sort of night time.
The margarita cocktail, sipped at water’s edge, entertained by a bonfire sky, seems to be as scrumptious because the sundown.
🌟 Insider Tip: Can’t go unsuitable with a margarita right here. They provide 4 completely different signature recipes.
10. Order the Catch of the Day – Right now’s Catch!
If the ambiance and fare we found at Conch Republic Seafood Firm have been thought of informal, each are uber-casual at Half Shell Uncooked Bar, a fixture on the docks of Key West’s Historic Seaport (Google Map).
Suppose picnic tables scattered helter-skelter, naked rafters and unfinished picket partitions adorned by donated license plates from practically each state within the union.
Housed in a former shrimp warehouse, it’s cottage nation meets Key West.
The fare, too, is uber-casual. However no much less interesting.
Servers scurry about bringing bowls of recent oysters. It’s no shock this place is constantly rated Key West’s greatest uncooked bar.
My very own entrée, a scrumptious lobster, is accompanied by potato salad and corn on the cob. Once I gaze in regards to the room I notice nearly everybody’s ordered the identical sides.
My spouse goes for catch of the day. It’s Mahi Mahi, yellow tail and pink grouper.
I pattern a chew of my spouse’s Mahi Mahi. It’s simply pretty much as good as my lobster.
Then once more if you wish to gown for dinner, you possibly can go for advantageous eating with out leaving the historic docks.
Do dinner on a balcony at A & B Lobster Home (Google Map) with an ideal wine listing and menu gadgets starting from Oysters Rockefeller to Yellowtail Snapper Meunière.
Or, get pleasure from coastal Italian fare at Bel Mare, a fine-dining restaurant simply across the nook.
🌟 Professional Tip: Try Half Shell Uncooked Bar’s onsite market if you happen to’re seeking to channel your interior chef. Strive their fresh-caught lobster on this simple recipe for Creamy Lobster Fettuccine.
11. Splash Out with a Posh Picnic on the Seashore
The subsequent day I am going exploring and uncover a stunning Key West swathe of sand referred to as Smathers Seashore. A younger fellow is establishing for an impending marriage ceremony in paradise.
Most likely good spot for a seashore picnic too, it out of the blue happens to me.
Early subsequent morning we go to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park essentially the most southerly state park within the continental United States. Together with a go to to the historic fort onsite, this park additionally incorporates a good little seashore.
Whereas Smathers Seashore is nicer than the one at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park the latter has one benefit.
The benefit? Its multitude of picnic tables surrounded by sea grapes and shaded by swish casuarina bushes.
Don’t wish to pack your personal picnic lunch? Cease at beachside Cayo Hueso Café (Google Map), providing informal fare from Cuban sandwiches to burgers on a pleasant patio sheltered by seashore umbrellas.
Or take issues up a notch. Order from Provisions of Key West and Chef Callie will create a picnic field full of native flavours from a relaxing Key West pink shrimp cocktail to pineapple cake. They’ll ship proper to your lodge.
Seashore day and picnic in paradise. An irresistible duet if ever there was one.
12. Have a Slice of Key Lime Pie
Sort of unusual that I’ve been laying aside sharing essentially the most well-known meals within the Florida Keys.
Imagine me, a slice of Key Lime Pie is definitely worth the wait.
Throughout one journey to Florida’s Gulf Coast I frolicked with a number of journey writers on a mission to pattern a slice of Key Lime pie at each meal, at each restaurant.
I couldn’t get previous the very fact we weren’t truly within the Keys. Sort of like going to France on a quest for the most effective Italian pizza.
On this journey to the true house of key lime pie it didn’t take me lengthy for my first chew.
An hour within the Keys and I’d already completed a slice.
This iconic dessert was apparently “invented” in Key West within the 1890’s. It was a partnership between condensed milk (because the common type wasn’t available) and key limes.
Key limes are a bit smaller than common limes and extra noticeably tart and acidic.
Regardless of their identify, key limes are native to southeast Asia, having been transported to the world by Spanish explorers. They have been grown right here commercially till early within the 20th century.
Each institution has their very own tackle the recipe. However I can attest to at least one factor.
I felt the love in each single slice I tasted.
Need pie to go? Try the award-winning Kermit’s Key Lime Store. Look ahead to the intense inexperienced constructing on Elizabeth St. in Previous Key West (Google Map). It’s among the finest locations to eat in Florida Keys in the case of the enduring dessert.
🌟 Insider Tip: Pattern key lime pie on a small-group Jimmy Buffet WalkingTour of Previous Key West and see locations that impressed songs like Margaritaville, the situation of his first gig and favorite hangouts reminiscent of Capt Tony’s Saloon.
Verify costs and availability of a Jimmy Buffet WalkingTour on Viator.com.
13. Have One other Slice of Key Lime Pie (form of)
Someday between my tenth or fifteenth serving of key lime pie, throughout a post-dinner stroll by means of Key West I’m impressed to modify issues up.
The solar has set however the night remains to be heat, if not downright balmy.
That’s once I discover an ice cream store on Duval Avenue, essential thoroughfare of the Historic Centre (Google Map).
Moments later we step into Mattheessen’s Sweet Kitchen.
It’s arduous to withstand the interesting treats ready inside however I’m robust.
I forego the slabs of selfmade fudge – chocolate, rocky street, chocolate pecan and peanut butter. I skirt the tubs of twenty-three completely different flavours of small batch selfmade ice cream.
However I can’t forego one specific candy.
It’s not key lime pie. At the very least not fairly.
Like all the pieces else right here it’s selfmade, their secret being the graham cracker crust. However that’s only the start.
Every slice is frozen then dipped in Belgian chocolate.
Suppose a form of key lime pie fudgsicle on a stick.
I succumb to its irresistible lure: perhaps only one extra slice of key lime pie.
🌟 Insider Tip: You don’t must be in downtown Key West to pattern their delights. Matheesen’s has three Key West areas to titillate your style buds.
14. Pattern a Ration of Grog
In line with an ambiance that just about qualifies the Keys as a Caribbean vacation spot it shouldn’t be a stretch to be taught in regards to the primacy of rum right here.
Shouldn’t be a shock to come across two – not only one – rum distilleries proper in Key West.
Not solely is the whirlwind tour at Key West First Authorized Distillery free, it contains samples of their mild, darkish, spiced and coffee-flavoured merchandise at tour’s finish.
And also you’re partaking of a bit of historical past alongside along with your spirits.
The distillery’s housed within the former Coca-Cola plant (are you able to say Cuba Libré?) (Google Map) and one model is called in tribute to an notorious Cuban prohibition rumrunner.
Be taught the story of rum then pattern a ration of grog at Key West’s first ever authorized rum distillery.
🌟 Insider Tip: Although it’s the alternative of politically right, First Authorized Distillery’s hottest spirit by far is their Unhealthy Bitch Rum Spanish Marie. It’s aged in French oak barrels for seven years.
15. Take a Hemingway-Impressed Meals and Strolling Tour
To wrap up your Florida Keys street journey, foodies will even wish to make a cease at Papa’s Pilar Rum Distillery (Google Map). Named after his boat the “Pilar”, it pays tribute to Ernest Hemingway, one in all Key West’s most well-known residents.
Join a mixology class, take a look at the wealth of Hemingway memorabilia and ebook a guided tour of the Hemingway Rum Co. Distillery.
Along with sampling his favorite libation, Hemingway followers shouldn’t miss visiting the house the place he lived and labored.
Set amid tropical gardens close to the Key West Lighthouse, the Ernest Hemingway Residence and Museum (Google Map) is a Nationwide Historic Landmark and Literary Landmark. It’s a must-see in Key West. You’ll be able to go to independently however it’s a cease on many historic excursions.
Whereas there are a lot of strolling excursions that go by this designated Historic American Constructing, the 2-hour Hemingway Meals and Strolling Tour dives deep into the neighbourhoods the place Hemingway as soon as roamed and located inspiration.
It’s not only a journey by means of streets and landmarks, it’s an opportunity to step into the very soul of a literary legend, to breathe within the salty air that fuelled his prose.
You’ll see the place he watched boxing matches, the place he fished and chartered boats and the place he completed writing “A Farewell to Arms”.
This immersive Hemingway expertise contains lunch, a slice of key lime pie and time to hangout at Sloppy Joes, the watering gap the place he spent a number of time.
Verify costs and availability of the Hemingway Meals and Strolling Tour on Viator.com.
Journey Information to the Finest Locations to Eat within the Florida Keys
Official Florida Keys Web site: www.fla-keys.com
Completely positioned within the Islamorada space, Amara Cay Resort provides nice meals, each poolside and of their extra formal eating room.
Rooms are comfy and provide expansive ocean views. Finest but, you possibly can go to their sister resorts for added eating and points of interest.
Key Largo Resort
For a dose of Peggy’s scones and a really comfy resort in Key Largo, ebook a collection at Bay Harbor & Coconut Bay Resort.
A number of suites function a full kitchen if you happen to’d wish to whip up a meal or two of your personal.
Key West Resort
A bit exterior of the historic centre, The Gates Resort Key West is a horny family-friendly property with an ideal pool and cozy rooms.
You’ll respect its seaside location whenever you want a break from the vacationers.
However it’s simple to get to the place the motion is with the lodge’s handy shuttle. You’re simply minutes away from some the most effective locations to eat within the Florida Keys.
It doesn’t take so long as you may suppose to get to the most effective meals in Florida Keys. Key Largo is a 4.5 hour drive from Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and only one.45 hours from Miami, Florida.
It takes 2 hours and quarter-hour to drive from Key Largo to Key West by way of Freeway US-1.
Verify for the most effective automotive rental charges at Discovercars.com.
One of the best time to go to Key West is March and April. Not solely will you keep away from the crowds however you’ll be exterior the sargassum seaweed season, which generally is a problem in the summertime months.
Along with key lime pie, the Florida Keys are identified for spiny lobster, conch fritters, conch chowder, recent seafood, Key West pink shrimp and rum.
Extra U.S. Journey Inspiration and Suggestions
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Mark Stevens and photographer/accomplice Sharon Matthews-Stevens are a multiple-award-winning crew who’ve offered tales and photos for retailers from Canadian Yachting to the Washington Submit. Collectively they’ve swum with sharks in Bahamas, dogsledded within the Yukon, cooked within the mountains of Morocco and reported from no less than 40 Caribbean islands. Go to their portfolio at Journey Write Click on
Be taught extra about Mark and Sharon.