Best Eating in the Florida Keys

One of the things I loved most about The Florida Keys is that it’s not home to a million chain restaurants. In fact, you’re hard pressed to find one. You know what this means, right? It means that real food is everywhere. It means that there are people who pour their heart and souls in to serving you a good meal every single day. It means that the menu is determined by the catch of the day and not the head office thousands of miles away. It means that good food stretches from Key Largo to Key West, and I intend to take one for the team and try as many as I can for you. Without a doubt though, I can tell you that these four restaurants are worth stopping for!

Hogfish Bar & Grill

This restaurant list was supposed to a list of five but when our last night came, we decided that we had to go back to Hogfish for just one more meal. What? There was no guarantee that last restaurant would have made the cut anyway. Hogfish is not located in Old Key West, but rather off the beaten path a little on Stock Island. It can be a little difficult to find but is TOTALLY worth the effort. This is where the locals go and you won’t regret it. Try the Marinated Skirt Steak with a chimichuri sauce so good, that my mouth is watering just typing this. I can also highly recommend the lobster bisque, corn chowder, coconut shrimp, Shrimp Po’ Boy and the house specialty, The Killer Hogfish Sandwich. No one’s plate is safe when I’m around. You’ll also love the relaxed atmosphere here. Nothing stuffy, just good atmosphere, good people and great food.

best restaurants in the florida keys

Pepe’s Cafe

This restaurant is just over 100 years old, and is officially Key West’s oldest restaurant. You don’t get to be that old by serving bad food and that’s a fact Jack. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day since 1984, Pepe’s Cafe is known for it’s fresh bread, homemade desserts (especially Key Lime Pie), delicious steaks and it’s oysters. The restaurant is small with an eclectic vibe. My husband would tell you the oysters were divine (I can’t do oysters), and I can tell you that my steak was exceptional. Yum. We’ll be heading back here to try more off it’s incredible menu.

best restaurants in the florida keys

Keys Fisheries

The Keys Fisheries is located in Marathon, about an hour north of Key West. We made a day trip of this, stopping at Bahia Honda State Park, visiting The Turtle Hospital and then pulling in here for something to eat. Located in a marina, The Keys Fisheries is a laid back eatery. Place your order at the window, pick up your food, then kick back and enjoy at one of the picnic tables. A full service bar is available with cold beer and delicious frozen concoctions. As you’d expect, being in a marina, the menu is primarily seafood, but there are options for landlubbers. This is very popular restaurant, especially with the locals. You know what this means, right? You should go. Highly recommended: The Lobster Reuben.

best restaurants in the florida keys

Caroline’s Cafe

Located right on Duval Street in Key West, Caroline’s Cafe is a great place to stop and enjoy the atmosphere of Key West while eating delicious food. I was a little “fished” out when we stopped here and I thoroughly enjoyed the Chicken Broccolini, my husband raved about his Jerk Chicken and my daughter, well my daughter can’t get enough seafood and devoured her entire Shrimp Po’Boy. You need to know that everyone in Key West is going to tell you that their Key Lime Pie is the best. It is up to you to try as many as you can to be responsible guest. In my humble opinion though, the Key Lime Pie at Caroline’s is second to none. Tell me if you don’t agree.

best restaurants in the florida keys

The Turtle Hospital

Have you ever seen a sea turtle out in it’s natural environment? Not on a TV monitor or movie screen, but in the ocean? As a scuba diver and snorkeler I often say that being under the water is the closest you’ll get to God (or whatever higher being you believe in) on earth. If you’re lucky enough to see a sea turtle swim by ever so gracefully, you’ll know what I mean. They’re truly breathtaking. When we were planning our trip to the Florida Keys, we knew we had to visit The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida.

The Turtle Hospital is run out of an old hotel and was established in 1986. Since then they have saved countless turtles that are usually, but not always, injured by human influences. All turtles rescued are called into the hospital by residents of The Keys. A turtle ambulance is then rushed to the scene and employees of the hospital bring it back for medical attention. The most common ailment is impaction. This is when the turtle has ingested something it can’t properly digest (plastic, fishing line) and it causes stoppage in their intestinal tract. This then causes the turtle to float, where it is now susceptible to being hit by a boat or grabbed by a predator.

The tour of the facility takes about 90 minutes and it’s worth every second. Expect your emotions to run the gamut from sad to angry to hopeful. When I saw this picture of how one of the sea turtles arrived at the hospital, I wanted to hunt down the spear fisherman. Grrrr. Thankfully, this turtle survived.

When I saw this little, itty bitty, baby turtle I wanted to crawl in the tank and cuddle with it. How does one cuddle with a turtle anyway? Awwwwww.

If you’re planning a trip to The Florida Keys, make sure you work in a stop to The Turtle Hospital. Reservations are highly recommended. If you can’t make it there quite yet, consider adopting a sea turtle who stays permanently at their facility.

We left The Turtle Hospital, with t-shirts and necklaces, the proceeds of which will help the non-profit hospital keep going. But we also left with a renewed commitment to our environment and a profound respect for these gentle creatures. My girls are now full-fledged sea turtle protectors. I may need to sew them capes.

The Florida Keys

Hmmmmmm. What do you need to know about the Florida Keys? Well, how about it’s composed of characters, of which you play a starring role. Young, old, gay, straight, conservative, liberal, American, Canadian, European, the Florida Keys attracts them all. And I don’t know if it’s the warm breezes, the salty air or the attitude of the latitude, but they all get along in perfect harmony. It’s roaming roosters, tall libations and seafood so fresh, it practically flops on your plate. It’s cool too, in a Hemingway sort of way. You can’t help but feel a little bit hip walking Duval Street or riding a cruiser bike beside the ocean. It’s brightly painted bungalows, crystal blue waters and fishing off of bridges. It’s boating, snorkelling, and swimming. It’s go-go-go or slow-slow-slow. The Keys are eager to suit your mood. The Florida Keys stretch 120 spectacular miles and if you go, you’re going to want to check out every single one of them.