Recently I started daydreaming about my marathon family get-togethers with endless mouthwatering food during the Thanksgiving holidays. Then hunger pangs quickly ensued and motivated me to get together with my dinner cohort and “bestie” Mike for a decadent dinner at one of my favorite restaurants.

Flaming Buoy Filet Co. Key West

Happy diner Mike Kunkel (center) thanks Flaming Buoy co-owner Fred Isch (left) and server Kyle for a fantastic meal. (All photos by Greg Tromba)

With so many incredible eateries in Key West, choosing a restaurant can be quite the conundrum. I decided on a gay owned and operated restaurant, the Flaming Buoy Filet Co.

Partners and co-owners Fred Isch and Richard Scot Forste have delighted dinners in Key West for over 10 years and have always received rave reviews — including one from the New York Times.

The “new American” restaurant serves up scrumptious dishes inspired by the owners’ mothers’ and grandmothers’ favorite recipes featuring local seafood, meats, tropical fruits and Cuban flavors.

The restaurant’s interior space is just as pleasing as the food, with its beautiful artwork, table decor and an elegant bar area. All the tables are socially distanced and they do a great job of adhering to the CDC’s COVID guidelines for indoor dining.

Mike and I chose to go with an outdoor table for two just in case we had any juicy stories to catch up on in private.

The restaurant, located only two doors down from the Tropic Cinema, is the perfect spot for a dinner-and-movie night out (FYI, show your movie ticket receipt and receive a 10 percent discount on food).

Caprese flatbread Key West restaurant

Caprese flatbread, anyone? The savory concoction is one of the Flaming Buoy’s popular appetizers.

You can also get special values at over a dozen Key West restaurants by joining Tropic’s premium membership program.

In perfect “bestie” fashion, Mike and I decided to share appetizers, a main course and even dessert this time around.

Our fantastic server Kyle helped us choose a bottle of wine that we could both agree on by providing a few sample sips of select wines. We selected a Macedonian white Jordanov Rkaciteli, which had a delightful crisp citrus flavor.

We started out with two appetizers: the tomato basil bisque and the caprese flatbread.

“OMG,” Mike commented. “This is the best bisque I’ve ever had!”

The flatbread was melt-in-your-mouth delicious and even better when dipped in the creamy goodness of the tomato basil masterpiece.

After much back-and-forth banter, we decided on the Filet Co. Three-Way for our main course. The dish consisted of a ground beef chili with dark chocolate and delightfully unique spices over an al dente spaghetti with cheddar cheese and sour cream.

Flaming Buoy Co. dessert Key West

What’s the perfect ending to a perfect meal? Greg and Mike chose avocado Key lime cheesecake.

The piping hot dish was the perfect choice for the gorgeous cool evening with pleasant island breezes.

Then after I loosened my belt a notch, we both agreed not to let the culinary experience end quite yet — and ordered the avocado Key lime cheesecake.

I let Mike have first dibs and watched as his eyes seemed to pop out of his head and he appeared to be slipping into a happy food coma after his first bite (so yummy!).

The Flaming Buoy, located at 424 Eaton St., is open daily from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.   Please note only beer and wine are served, and reservations are recommended.

If this blog whets your appetite for exploring Key West’s dining scene on your next island getaway, start by checking out some of these tasty spots.

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