The Florida Keys are famous for many reasons. Key Largo is where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall battled mother nature and Edward G. Robinson in the 1948 gangster flick and James Bond literally broke into Ballast Key in ‘License to Kill.’ Considered ‘America’s Caribbean,’ the Keys are where Ernest Hemingway fled to find inspiration, Truman Capote rested and where Jimmy Buffett found paradise. Yes, it was in the form of a cheeseburger, but can you blame him? The food in the Florida Keys is some of the best in the state. Immediate access to super fresh seafood is a big reason why as is the infusion of Caribbean flavors and inspiring views.
Ready to set sail? Here are the best restaurants in the Florida Keys.
139 Seaside Ave, Key Largo, FL 33037
Seafood is a must in Key Largo and Snapper’s has some of the best. The lively and laid-back locale serves up Caribbean-style seafood on a waterfront. Their menu is so fresh they print menu inserts every day based on what’s coming to the docks. Keys’ faves like Yellowtail Snapper, of course, and Stone Crab Claws draw crowds as do their rum-based tropical cocktails, tiki bar and live music evenings.
81600 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, FL 33036
Fine dining doesn’t get any finer than at Pierre’s. The two-story plantation house-turned-restaurants sits on a 20-acre estate lined with palm trees and tropical flowers. Executive chef Ish Toro focuses on local seafood land imported ingredients like Valhrona chocolate, Merguez lamb sausage and Australian lamb to execute a menu that marries French fusion and world influences.
725 11th Street Ocean, Marathon, FL 33050
Here you’ll find a wide range of seafood favorites from Bahamian fried conch to tender fried alligator and sesame seared tuna. They’re also a cook and catch favorite, preparing your fresh caught fish to order and serving it up on their outdoor deck or in a dining room decorated with local art.
Big Pine Key & the Lower Keys
900 Catherine St, Key West, FL 33040
It might take you a minute or two to fine El Siboney (it’s hidden away on a quiet street in Old Town) but once you do, you’ll quickly agree with the crowds waiting for a table that it is well worth the wait. The Cuban menu is as authentic as it gets – roast pork, palomilla steak and ropa vieja. If you want to taste the house specialty – their Paella Valenciana – be sure to call at least an hour in advance to order and reserve.
729 Thomas St, Key West, FL 33040
This outdoor eatery encompasses everything that Key West is: funky, tropical, laid back and loud, without being obnoxious. The Caribbean inspired menu isn’t afraid to mix it up. Think carrot curry soup, scallops provencale, Caribbean shrimp deglazed with Red Stripe beer and seasonal stone crabs. Almost everyone there will be eating their earth-sized Key lime pie for dessert and with good reason. Follow suit and taste why.