From shrimp to traditional Cuban food to Key lime pie, the Florida Keys have a wealth of unique culinary treats to sample. Fish and seafood dishes are a standout on many restaurant menus, for good reason: the incredibly fresh fish diners are served at night was probably unloaded at the docks that morning!
It’s likely to get messy in Key West on July 4 — at least for everyone who steps into the “limelight” to participate in the annual Key Lime Pie Eating Championship. Up to 25 contestants with an appetite for the Florida Keys’ luscious signature dessert will vie for top honors in the quirky challenge.
Visitors can discover Stock Island’s seafaring heritage, culinary diversity, community and unpretentious charm June 15-19 at the annual I Love Stock Island Festival. The family-friendly Father’s Day weekend fest is to blend food and libation offerings including the enticing ShrimpStock, art strolls, “dad-focused” fun, live music, a “dive-in” poolside movie and other events.
Few people visit the Florida Keys without sampling a few pieces of Key lime pie, renowned as the island chain’s signature dessert. Millions of slices of the tart, creamy treat — voted the official pie of Florida by the state legislature in 2006 (yes, really!) — are savored every year by Keys visitors and locals.
Attendees at the Key West Food and Wine Festival can enjoy gourmet galas and tastings, art and wine experiences, wine dinners, seminars and activities that spotlight the Florida Keys’ culinary scene and talented chefs. Equally appealing are the glimpses the festival offers into the island chain’s unique heritage, culture and warmly welcoming vibe.
Visitors can enjoy the indigenous flavors of the Florida Keys, and even take home mouthwatering “souvenirs” to help sustain them until their next vacation escape. For example, any traveler in the Upper Keys who craves sweets can stop at several spots along the Overseas Highway to discover unforgettable goodies with an island flair.
Indigenous Florida Keys cuisine typically means fresh fish and seafood harvested from local waters, headlining nearly every restaurant menu. To tempt the taste buds, check out some small, off-the-grid and new-location eateries — including a Key Largo spot with “toes in the sand” sunset dining — that Keys locals favor for their flavors.
Florida Keys restaurants range from gourmet hotspots to dockside seafood “shacks” and trendy food trucks where guests can choose from a variety of fish, seafood and other options. Many eateries along the historic Florida Keys Overseas Highway provide tasty temptations — but if diners venture into less-explored areas, the culinary possibilities become virtually endless.
Key West’s intriguing character becomes more apparent with each new exploration. Taking the time to experience the island is like savoring a plate of Cuban food, recognizing and appreciating each individual flavor. And identifying newfound favorite spots leads to even deeper enjoyment — whether staying for a few days, a season or a lifetime.
The largest lobster in the Florida Keys is “Betsy,” a sculpture measuring 30 feet tall and 40 feet long. Of course, lobsters in local waters are far smaller (and far tastier!) than Betsy. The Keys' lobster season runs from Aug. 6 through March 31, offering plenty of time to savor the seafood sensation.