featured photo by @visitkeywest on Instagram
The OG Margaritaville might just be as good as it gets in the United States.
Often referred to as the Conch Republic, Key West, Florida is home to a multitude of iconic beaches, pools, bars, restaurants, coffee shops (shoutout to you, Cuban Coffee Queen!), food trucks, and little takeout shops, right in the heart of the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s my favorite place to visit. I seriously could go once a month.
Aside from the live entertainment and historic seaport, the delicious food is a good reason in and of itself to visit this popular spot.
The first time I went, I was a bit overwhelmed at the amount of options we had. Everywhere we looked, there was a food truck, crowded restaurant or happy hour on a rooftop bar.
I wished someone had written out a guide of their favorite places so I had a bit of an idea of where to start.
So you don’t run into the same issues that I did that first time, I’m going to give you a guide of my all-time favorite Key West restaurants for you to eat and drink your way into oblivion.
I seriously think about this place at least once a day. A few streets over from the iconic Duval street lies a sleepy little hideaway on sandy grounds with picnic tables and plastic lawn chairs.
And man do they cook a mean breakfast. Dare I say the best breakfast in all of Key West.
What to order: Lobster. F’n. Benedict. Spiny lobster is different from New England lobster where it’s spiny and chewy, the perfect balance for poached eggs.
Order this with a slice of the best key lime pie, and you’ve got yourself a five-star breakfast. These guys know what they are doing.
Schooner Wharf Bar
The first time I went here, a chicken pretty much ran over my feet. It’s not every day you go to an entirely open-air restaurant with dirt floors and livestock running around.
But that’s just what makes this bar over by Elizabeth Street so special. This is the perfect place to take in all that Key West has to offer. It’s lowkey, laid back, and an island favorite.
Everyone loves it here. Even Kenney Chesney will sometimes do impromptu concerts on the stage, which I hope one of you reading this will get to experience.
What to order: Do right by the oceanside bar and eat tons of Key West’s freshest seafood. Every single time I’m here, I get the conch chowder and the tuna nachos.
Florida chowder is nothing like New England chowder, as it’s primarily tomato based. But I think it works really well with the soft flavors of the conch.
Pair this up with their loaded tuna nachos, which is raw marinated ahi tuna over a bed of wontons and seaweed salad, and you’re in business!
When you think of an island haven, I bet this is the first image that’ll pop into your head.
Right over by Mallory Square on the southernmost coast lies this simple little beach haven. Nothing crazy, just picnic tables and umbrellas, but the ambiance here is just stellar.
I’m talking live music, fresh fish, happy people—could it really get any better than this?
I recommend getting a whole bunch of apps and splitting them among your group. My favorite is their peel-and-eat shrimp. Seasoned perfectly with homemade cajun spices, this is a messy one—but it’s the freshest shrimp you will find and will not disappoint.
Located right on Stock Island, this bar and grill is a local favorite, and in my opinion, one of the best places for conch fritters in the keys.
This place is a bit off the beaten path, which is how you know it’s going to be good. It’s one of the best restaurants for fresh local seafood, as told by their catchphrase, “where the fishermen eat and the locals meet.”
Aside from the conch fritters, I recommend getting yourself some baja-style fish tacos and the world-famous Killer Hogfish Sandwich.
They serve the best of the best authentic hogfish with swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms on fresh cuban bread. My mouth is watering just describing this.
Garbo's Grill/Hank's "Hair Of The Dog Saloon"
And here it is… my favorite spot in the Florida keys. This great place just feels like home.
Not only do you have the best of the best live music, but you can also bring your dog here. Is there anything better than dogs at a bar?
From the reasonable prices to the great food, it’s no wonder why the locals spend their Friday nights having their good times at this great place.
I recommend ordering the Korean BBQ tacos. The last time I was here, I went up for thirds. The marinated beef short rib is the most tender I’ve ever had in my life, and just melts in your mouth.