As you know, Coach and I recently returned from a vacation in the Florida Keys. Y’all know I love food, right? Today I’m going to give you the scoop on Key West food, from the best Florida Keys Restaurants to our favorite seafood market (since we prepared a lot of our own food). I’m also going to share some signature Key West food that you can’t leave without trying.
Best Food in Key West
Some of the best Key West food we had was right in our own lodging, which, lucky for us, was my Aunties’ house on Sugarloaf Key. Having a fully stocked kitchen is pretty amazing when you visit the Keys, if you don’t mind preparing a few meals. I didn’t work hard on anything we ate in, partly because the Aunties don’t have air conditioning in their kitchen, and partly because, who wants to cook on vacation? The simple meals we prepared at the house really stand out, though, and I want to share those with you first.
What about this beautiful salad? No heat required, and I made sure to throw in some tastes of the tropics! There’s a fabulous farmer’s market just a few miles up the road from the Aunties’ house where I scored the mango, strawberries, and even some fresh, beautiful brussels sprouts (we also bought an amazing little jar of bacon jam, which sounds weird as heck but is so very delicious). This salad was so perfect, and will go down as one of my most memorable meals in the Keys. I love fruit on a salad, don’t you? We actually ate the brussels the night before with another meal, and I threw some on my salad cold…unbelievably good.
Because Coach can’t resist a big, beautiful grill, he fired us up some hamburgers one night. Since it was vacation, we sprung for the ground sirloin burgers and some delicious kaiser rolls. We didn’t even have to heat up the kitchen for this meal! Those chips? Oh, man, are they good! I can’t find them anywhere near home, but I buy (and eat) a bag or two every time we go to the Keys. They’re made by Cape Cod, and they’re sea salt and black pepper flavored. Yum!
You can’t visit the tropics without finding a good seafood market. We found the best one in the Keys, and bought a pound of big, beautiful Key West Pink shrimp to cook. Coach fired up the grill for this meal, too, and we had corn on the cob and those yummy sautéed brussels sprouts alongside. Guess what? I was so excited to eat it that I forgot to take a picture. Hehehe…
We made shrimp skewers, and I used this recipe. Make your own and take all the pictures you want, ok?
Anywho…the seafood market we went to is called Fanci Seafood, and it’s about 20 miles from Key West proper, but worth the drive. It wasn’t that far for us. Fanci Seafood was the cleanest seafood market I’ve ever been in, and absolutely had no fishy odor. The owner was friendly, and informed us that she could ship to us if we ever get a hankering for Key West Pink shrimp at home! Awesome!
Key West Food Musts
I’ve already mentioned a few things that you just have to eat while in the Keys. I’m going to make you a little list of the best foods in Key West, just so you won’t forget to try them all. Some may not be foods, but beverages…it counts if it’s ingested.
- Mangoes, when in season, are an absolute must. So delicious!
- Key West Pink shrimp…find some!
- Smoked fish dip is phenomenal. It’s definitely a popular food in the Keys, and I absolutely loved it! You can order some from Fanci Seafood if you’re now dying to try it, but aren’t going to the Keys any time soon. Fanci also has the smoked fish, in case you want to make the dip yourself.
- Cuban food cannot be left off this list, and I’m getting to the restaurant section of this post soon!
- Baby’s Coffee = my absolute favorite coffee ever. As a matter of fact, this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned it on the blog. It’s located on Sugarloaf Key, maybe 15 miles from Key West, and is worth the drive. Have a cup of hot coffee. Have an iced coffee. Prepare yourself to drive back each day for more. Baby’s also ships out the goods, and I’ve ordered from them on more than one occasion. Shipping is free for orders of $50 or more!
Lots of people will tell you that you have to try Conch fritters, and sure, go ahead. They don’t do much for me. You can certainly find them on every corner in Key West, so help yourself!
What else did I miss?
Restaurants in Key West
For those of you who absolutely refuse to shop for, prepare, and clean up after meals on vacation, this section is for you. I’m giving you my two favorite restaurants in Key West, where you can sample the best of Key West food without all the work.
Do NOT go to Key West without eating at Blue Heaven for breakfast! They make it easy and serve breakfast until 2 pm, so you can party all night, sleep in, and still eat the best banana pancakes on the island. Coach and I have been to Key West four times now, and we haven’t missed an opportunity to eat at Blue Heaven yet. This trip was my best Blue Heaven meal to date: lobster and grits.
It was one of the specials, and is probably not available year-round, but OH MY GOODNESS, was this heaven!
Our favorite Cuban restaurant is El Siboney, and it’s a little dive hiding in one of the less populated streets of Key West. I didn’t photograph my plate there, but I had the fried pork chunks and was mopping my plate clean with their delicious Cuban bread. I know there’s a more popular Cuban spot right on Duval, but I’m telling you, you can’t go wrong with El Siboney.
There are literally TONS of restaurants in Key West, and we’ve tried several that are amazing. The Half Shell Raw Bar, La Trattoria, and Turtle Kraal’s are some standouts, and they’re all good. The two I featured are the two that I will always go back to when I’m in the Keys.
Eat What You Love
My best advice for any vacation is to eat what you love. That’s one reason I love traveling to the Keys, because what I love is Key West food! I could live there if it weren’t for the extreme summer heat and humidity, which makes home feel like a cool spring breeze by comparison.
I highly recommend that you visit the Florida Keys, and that you try all of this amazing Key West food. And if you go to Baby’s Coffee, tell them I sent you! They may not know who I am, but if you’re convincing enough, maybe they’ll give me a discount!
Try the Death by Coffee…which I’m lovingly sipping on while I write this post. Yes, I brought some home!
This post is linked up with #FoodieFriDIY!