Unique and delicious, the cuisine of the Florida Keys ranges from stone crab claws, large savory pink shrimp, spicy Cuban pork, and tart and tasty conch chowder to its famous tangy, yet sweet, key lime pie. The 125-mile long Florida Keys offers a wide variety of scrumptious taste bud delights for visitors and locals to enjoy.
Location and heritage play a huge part in the growth and tastes of the Key islands’ cuisine. The saltwater surroundings and isolated location meant the ocean’s resources were historically relied upon by residents for their nourishment. Immigrant settlers from various places brought multicultural recipes and seasonings of their native lands with them.
Florida Keys & Key West hosted my stay in the Keys. All opinions are my own.
Fast-casual, elite up-scale, and everything in between can be found in the Keys. These are some of our favorite captivating and memorable restaurants. They are listed in no particular order.
1. Key Largo Conch House
Hidden behind native shrubs, trees, and flowering plants at mile marker 100.2, Key Largo Conch House features a menu of fresh local seafood and delectable desserts. Both indoor and outdoor dining is available.
When we visited, we enjoyed outdoor seating in the mid-afternoon. There was a breeze and lots of shade. I enjoyed the tender coconut macadamia hogfish. Other crowd-pleasing items at the family-owned and operated eatery include crab-stuffed mahi-mahi, conch fritters, lionfish, and conch and lobster ceviche. They have separate menus for each meal. They also serve vintage wines and a variety of brews to complement your meal.
Pro Tip: Take a few minutes to walk around the garden paths and enjoy the plants and flowers.
2. Morada Bay Beach Cafe
An outdoor Mediterranean bistro cafe set in the sand overlooking the water, Morada Bay Beach Cafe in Islamorada is the perfect place for a fun evening. Whether you stop for one of their menu items blending the Caribbean and American cuisines or enjoy drinks and dessert, you will enjoy watching the sunset or the water.
When we visited, we enjoyed yummy desserts. I indulged in their version of a coconut cream pie. Coconut was baked into the shape of a shell, filled with thick coconut cream, and topped with passion fruit popping pearls and chantilly cream. The passion fruit pearls gave the coconut cream a very distinctive taste. My husband enjoyed the Key lime pie.
Pro Tip: If the place looks familiar to you, it was a filming location for Bloodline, the Netflix drama series.
3. Midway Cafe & Coffee Bar
Breakfast like grandma used to make is available at this excellent restaurant in Islamorada.
Located midway in the Keys, the Midway Cafe is one eatery you might pass by. Stop! You don’t want to miss the great food. They serve breakfast, lunch, and baked goods. Both indoor and patio dining are available. The breakfasts are scrumptious and the baked goods are a delightful taste-bud treat.
Pro Tip: Many return visitors to the Keys and locals eat here.
4. The Hungry Tarpon At Robbie’s Of Islamorada
Robbie’s Marina in Islamorada is known as the home of the world-famous tarpon feeding! We enjoyed lunch at The Hungry Tarpon overlooking the water.
Robbie’s is a busy mix of food vendors, outdoor shops, tarpon feeding, and the Hungry Tarpon restaurant. The menu has various options to please all appetites, and they will also cook anglers’ catch.
When we visited, I enjoyed the coconut shrimp.
Not only is the food exceptional, but they have delicious libations to enjoy.
Pro Tip: Purchase a bucket of fish to feed the tarpon or watch others. It is an experience!
5. Chef Michael’s
My favorite meal in the Keys was at the exceptional Chef Michael’s. The food and service were over the top. They serve high-quality “fresh from the boat” seafood including lionfish, hogfish, and other supreme delights.
When we visited, I tried the conch ceviche served in a coconut shell as an appetizer. My main entree was hogfish prepared with a pistachio, cashew, and macadamia nut crust, topped with mango sauce, and served with sticky rice and grilled vegetables. For dessert, I enjoyed the decadent chocolate torte. The entire meal was sinfully delicious.
Located oceanside, Chef Michael’s is at mile marker 81.6.
Pro Tip: You absolutely need reservations for this always-busy eatery.
6. Keys Fisheries
This rustic waterfront restaurant in Marathon is known for its lobster Rueben. All the tasty seafood dishes served at Keys Fisheries are clearly “fresh off the boat.”
You order at the window, and they call you when your order is prepared. Picnic tables are available overlooking the water.
We enjoyed a generous helping of steamed peel-and-eat succulent pink shrimp during our lunch visit. They serve seasoned conch chowder along with many other seafood dishes. Don’t forget their smooth and creamy Key lime pie to top off your meal.
Pro Tip: This is a local hotspot for watching the sunset.
7. Half Shell Raw Bar
The casual Half Shell Raw Bar serves fresh seafood from conch ceviche to fish and chips. Located in the historic seaport of Key West, diners enjoy eating at picnic-style tables as they watch boats come and go.
When we visited, my husband enjoyed steamed clams, and I had fish, baked potato, and coleslaw. When we were eating, a gentleman beside us ordered a seafood boat, which was literally a 4-foot boat filled with steamed seafood. It was huge.
Pro Tip: The Half Shell is decorated in old and unusual license plates from all over the United States.
8. Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen & Bar
Serving American coastal comfort food, Matt’s Stock Island whips up simple, comforting, and delicious dishes in a way you’d never expect.
I delighted in another ceviche appetizer and enjoyed chicken kabobs with rice and a mango relish for my main entree. Dessert was a molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream.
They have outdoor patio dining and indoor dining available. Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen & Bar is located in the Perry Hotel in Key West.
Pro Tip: They also offer a fabulous Sunday brunch.
9. Conch Republic Seafood Company
For freshly caught seafood, check out Conch Republic Seafood Company, located in the building that used to house the Singleton Fish House and Ice Plant. The building used to be a hub of processing for literal tons of Key West pink shrimp. The remnants of the original business can be found in the building materials and branding.
This is a great place to grab a sandwich or any seafood dish. They have an extensive menu and list of frozen specialty drinks.
Conch Republic Seafood Company is located in the harbor and is often busy. You can watch boats come and go as you enjoy your meal.
Pro Tip: Happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m.
10. Blue Heaven
One of the most unusual restaurants in Key West, Blue Heaven, serves a “heavenly” breakfast (and lunch and dinner, too). Homemade banana bread, seafood eggs Benedict, pancakes the size of plates, and more are served.
The entry is a shuttered blue building. Inside, there are a number of buildings and shack-type areas and tables out in the yard area.
Over the years, the venue has hosted gambling, cockfighting, and boxing matches once refereed by Ernest Hemingway.
Diners can enjoy Caribbean, Keys, and seafood specialties at this eatery.
Pro Tip: Portions are huge. One pancake is a meal!
11. South Of The Seven
Specializing in Mediterranean-inspired dishes, South of the Seven at the Sugarloaf Lodge is known for their locally caught fresh seafood, traditional Cuban dishes, along with steaks and chops. The amazing sunset views and a delicious cocktail compliment your meal.
Focussing on freshly sourced ingredients, the South of the Seven menu offerings are a creative mix of the land and sea. Two notable dishes are the Thai-style fish with a saki-infused Thai chili sauce and the huge 40-ounce “Tomahawk” ribeye steak.
Nestled along the Florida Keys Overseas Highway, the South of the Seven is at mile marker 17 on the Gulfside.
12. El Siboney
Cuban heritage is abundant in the Keys. When visiting Key West’s southernmost point, Cuba is only 90 miles away. El Siboney, is a family-owned and operated restaurant, serving the Keys since the mid-80s.
Located in the Old Town neighborhood at 900 Catherine Street, the restaurant offers authentic Cuban dishes including picadillo, roast pork, and ropa vieja served with sticky yellow rice, black beans, and sweet plantains. Highlight your evening with a glass of homemade sangria in their casual atmosphere.
Your tastebuds will be delighted when you eat at any of the above restaurants along the 125-miles of islands in the Keys.