Top Restaurants in Key West
It’s not surprising that this little island at the end of the continent is known for seafood, but the creative and artistic vibe of Key West means that the ocean-focused cuisine veers towards innovative. Come for the sun, stay for the fish!
429 Caroline St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
The Porch shares its porch with another bar, Caroline’s Other Side, but you won’t likely confuse the two. While the Other Side is all about the cocktail, the Porch sticks to beer and wine, and that tight focus pays off. With an international selection of brews on regular rotation, and a casual and friendly vibe, the bar has become a favorite of locals and a few savvy tourists since it opened. At any given time, the chalkboard over the bar lists 18 draft beers on tap as well as 50 more available in bottles. Tropical plants set the relaxed mood on the shady front porch, and the interior is decorated with eclectic art and photography.
429 Caroline Street
In the land of piña coladas and light beers, The Other Side cocktail lounge is chiseling out new booze territory one ice globe at a time. Drinks, loosely inspired by the Keys, are like nothing else on the island. There’s the frothy Ramon Fizz, a mix of gin, lime, cream, egg whites, and fleur d’orange, or twists like the fennel martini, and for purists, a serious list of bourbon, whiskeys, and 16 rums. The small space feels a world away from the beach, with touches of old-school Hollywood glamour: a marble-topped bar, padded white leather bar stools, and a painting of a peacock tail fanned across one wall. When you need a break from the sun and throngs, this is the place to tuck in with a good book, or a good date (snag the chess board if you’re feeling ambitious).
424 Eaton St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
The tiny Flaming Buoy Filet Co. is located down a residential street (walk or come by cab—you won’t find parking), so it feels removed from the crowds along Duval Street. From the simple menu, popular items include the appetizer trio plate (small servings of lobster macaroni and cheese, grilled shrimp with spicy lime chutney, and a caprese salad) and any of the fish specials. A lot of regulars choose the lobster macaroni and cheese as an entrée, too. Dine outside on a porch strung with twinkling lights, or opt for inside the mellow and air-conditioned dining room or at the bar. Reservations are strongly recommended, even in the off-season.
245 Front St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Latitudes is the acclaimed restaurant at the Sunset Key Cottages, on Sunset Key, a small private island accessible only by boat. Take the ferry across the Key West Harbor—your scheduled ferry time is your reservation time. The dreamy ride across the gulf waters sets the tone for the rest of the evening. While most restaurants in Key West have flexible dress codes, if any, Latitudes is a place you should break out the nice clothes. If the weather’s nice, ask to eat on the patio, which is decorated with twinkling lights wrapped around the green palms that surround the courtyard, and features tables set with white cloths and candles.
632 Olivia St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
This stylishly nautical bar and restaurant is located in the Old Town on Olivia and Elizabeth streets, nicely removed from the hustle and bustle of Duval Street. The dining room decor pays tasteful tribute to Key West’s maritime culture with sea-blue upholstered banquettes and accents like sea star mobiles, brass lanterns, compasses, and porthole windows. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the menu too looks to the sea for inspiration. A great wine list, a knowledgeable staff, and a cool sense of romance all add up to Little Pearl being a good choice for a special night in Key West.
420 Appelrouth Ln, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Mary Ellen’s is known for its delicious grilled cheese sandwiches, which are made in nine gooey varieties and are accompanied to the table by a wide selection of dipping sauces. The menu makes a half-hearted (a little joke there) effort to promote healthy options like kale salad and avocado toast, but really it’s all about the bar food at this friendly neighborhood joint in Old Town. The game’s always on the television, and there’s a regular schedule of trivia contests, open-mic comedy nights, and beer-fueled spelling bees, all of which go well with grilled cheese.
1075 Duval St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Ocean Grill & Bar is the locals’ choice for special occasions. While the mood is relaxed (it’s still Key West, after all), the cuisine hits all the right notes for a big night or brunch out. The generously wide porch is set with tables for an alfresco experience with a view of Duval Street, but the inside’s a very nice option on hot days. Fish and seafood are the thing here, as at most island venues, but here the treatment is more decadent: Diver scallops are sautéed with grouper and served over lobster risotto. Lobster bisque, already thickened with cream, is served with a morsel of lobster floating in a swirl of drawn butter. At brunch, even the eggs Benedict has been goosed up with chunks of lobster.
601 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Chances are that when you return home after your trip to Key West, someone will ask you if you went to the Green Parrot. It’s that kind of iconic bar, the kind your parents’ friends ended up at over spring break in college long ago. The bar started as a local grocery store about a hundred years ago; the building became the Brown Derby, a bar that was popular first with the submarine sailors from the naval base down the street. When the naval base closed in the ‘70s, the bar transitioned into a hangout for fishermen and local sailors and the hippies that began to drift into town. The Green Parrot still has the air of a honky-tonk, lit exclusively by spotlight and neon, with a roster of almost-nightly live music, mostly of the bluesy, rollicking sort.
231 Margaret St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
In the heart of the historic seaport at the Key West Bight, the Half Shell Raw Bar occupies an old shrimp-packing building. The eatery is best known for a ceviche made with queen conch (conch is a seafood notoriously hard to work with because it can easily turn rubbery if not handled properly). The Half Shell slices the conch paper-thin to achieve a delicate texture that showcases the sweet taste. In addition to the other conch items on the menu (fritters and a full meal version), any of the seafood is a safe bet for being fresh and delicious. How fresh is it? The Half Shell operates a local fish market in the building that sells just-caught seafood to nearby restaurants and the community.
6810 Front St, Stock Island, FL 33040, USA
Hogfish Bar and Grill, under a thatched palapa roof with open sides, is tucked in among the boats and gulls of Safe Harbour Marina in Stock Island. In short, a meal or a drink there makes you feel like an insider, a salty local far from the crowds downtown. That in-crowd feeling is burnished on weekends, when local bands play sets, or during one of the events held by Hogfish during the season, like shrimp boils. The simple food is served generously on plates crowded with side dishes. The hogfish sandwich, served fried on Cuban bread, is the stuff of late-night-post-beer legend.
425 Grinnell St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Azur Restaurant removes itself from the booze-chugging stereotype that Mile Zero usually has to offer. The setting is romantic and fun, with star-shaped light fixtures dangling throughout the beautifully decorated dining room. The eatery has a nice patio with plenty of sunlight. For starters, the feta-stuffed date appetizer is highly recommended. The dinner menu offers branzino, osso buco, and a selection of gnocchi recipes. Other standouts include the pan-roasted chicken with lemon and garlic, served with broccoli rabe and orzo pasta. Finish it off with sweet panna cotta with candied lemon and espresso. During the day, Azur is known for the Key lime crispy French toast with berry compote topping. And there’s a great selection of frittatas and eggs Benedict.
729 Thomas St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Blue Heaven is a favorite in Key West—Jimmy Buffett even mentioned it in one of his famous beach tunes. The whimsical courtyard is filled with brightly colored tables and chairs, twinkly lights, foliage, and stray animals. The bar and restaurant is owned and operated by a husband and wife whose creative backgrounds in art and literature inspired the space. There’s a mini art gallery, a sandwich shop, and roaming roosters on the grounds. Once a boxing ring (with Ernest Hemingway as referee), the spot now pays tribute to the Caribbean, with bright accents and Cajun seasonings on the menu. Menu highlights include the scallops, which are locally celebrated, served with white wine and lemon butter with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and lots of garlic. Locals say the Key lime pie is one of the best in town.
829 Fleming St, Key West, FL 33040, USA
Lately I’ve been very into finding healthy eateries while traveling. My favorite nutritious spot in Key West is Date & Thyme, owned by Charlie Wilson, who studied at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, then moved to Key West and focused on improving the lives of others through food. The building is an old gas station with a market—supporting the community with locally made soaps, produce, grocery items, and handmade textiles—and a café, serving coffee, fresh juices, smoothies, and teas. The colorful, mostly vegan menu offers an array of salads, bowls, and toast. I chose the acai bowl with blueberries, banana, and goji berries, blended with creamy coconut milk and topped with granola, coconut flakes, goji berries, and cacao nibs. It was heavenly. The restaurant’s off-Duval location makes the patio seating area a peaceful place to spend some time, away from the tourist crowds. At night there’s live entertainment and organic wine.