If you’re like me, you’ve had that inevitable conversation with friends while trying to reach a consensus on which restaurant to choose for an evening’s get-together. (“So what are you in the mood for?” … “Oh, I don’t know — what about you?”)
It’s so difficult to decide where to dine in the Florida Keys with our remarkable variety of eateries, stellar food and warm island hospitality.
However, every April one highly anticipated gastronomic event comes to the rescue (no decisions needed, because you can try a little taste of everything). It’s the annual Taste of Key West, and this year’s event takes place from 6-9 p.m. Monday, April 15.
Chefs from over 50 local restaurants and catering companies will join forces, donating their time and expertise to create offerings that include mouthwatering small plates of epicurean delights, casual tidbits and fabulous desserts.
With so many different types of offerings, you can metaphorically eat your way through Europe with everything from Italian to German to Mediterranean fare. Then slowly roll through the tropics (I’m getting full just thinking about it) with Caribbean-influenced cuisine, fresh-off-the-boat local seafood and vegetarian dishes.
It would be remiss of me if I didn’t also mention the endless varieties of beer and international wines that you can pair with your tasty dishes as you take in the stunning Key West sunset.
Gates for Taste of Key West open at 6 p.m. and entry is free. I recommend either biking or walking to the event (you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money on gas) — but in case you want to drive, limited parking may be available at Mallory Square. Also, the complimentary Duval Loop Bus has a stop (#4) just a short walk from Mallory Square (how convenient is that?).
Tickets are sold for $1 apiece and can be exchanged for beverages and “tastes” that usually “cost” three to six tickets each. If you prefer to purchase tickets in advance, the cost is $25 per person and includes $20 in food and beverage tasting tickets and a Taste of Key West plate, commemorative wine glass or pint beer glass. Advance tickets are available online, but you can purchase tickets at the event as well (cash and credit cards are accepted).
Options also include a “date night” package for two people and a company package for five people. And additional food and drink tickets can be purchased during the festivities.
The culinary feast may be quite filling (important tip: wear loose clothing), but it also helps fill the coffers of local charities. Proceeds benefit the Florida Keys’ A.H. of Monroe County that focuses on accessible healthcare, affordable housing and AIDS/HIV services.
The event also supports the SMART Ride, an annual Miami-to-Key-West bicycle trek that benefits Florida agencies providing healthcare and assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS: A.H., Pridelines, Broward House, Children’s Diagnostic and Treatment Center, Metro Wellness and Community Centers, Miracle of Love Inc. and Compass Community Center.
Delicious gourmet food and libations, stunning sunsets and the perfect opportunity to spend quality time outdoors with family and friends … those are just a few reasons why Taste of Key West is one of my favorite events each year. Come down in April and discover it for yourself (trust me, your taste buds will thank you for it).
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