Key West is filled with top-quality casual eateries that offer everything from fresh locally caught seafood to classic Cuban fare. So, the challenge for visitors isn’t finding a restaurant that serves mouthwatering meals — it’s choosing from among the bewilderingly large array of possibilities.
Local residents, of course, have their favorite go-to spots and aren’t shy about making recommendations. Here, in no particular order, are some universal favorites.
B.O.’s Fish Wagonis a small, old-fashioned thatched-roof place that looks like a hangout for quintessential island characters. Its funky atmosphere and weathered tables are uniquely Key West, and its fried fish sandwiches are a specialty. Handcut french fries, huge hamburgers, conch fritters and cracked conch are other menu highlights. Beer and wine are also served. 801 Caroline St., bosfishwagon.com/.
El Siboney, a family-friendly eatery in operation since 1984, is tucked awayin a quiet residential Key West neighborhood. The menu features Cuban specialties such as traditional ropa vieja and picadillo, savory roast pork and roast chicken, and dishes marinated in garlicky mojo criollo — most accompanied by black beans and yellow rice, Cuban bread and sweet plantains. Other attractions include large portions and fast, no-nonsense service. 900 Catherine St. (plus a newer location on Stock Island), elsiboneyrestaurant.com.
Blue Heaven,located in Key West’s Bahama Village neighborhood, stands on the site of a boxing ring where Ernest Hemingway once refereed matches. Today diners enjoy Caribbean and seafood specialties in a lively courtyard or indoors in a funky, picturesque historic building. The historic spot is known for its towering meringue-topped Key lime pie.Breakfast with the roosters — free-range Key West poultry — is popular as well (think lobster eggs benedict and homemade banana bread). 729 Thomas St., blueheavenkw.com.
Conch Republic Seafood Company is a 10,000-square-foot restaurant located in a former fish house building in the Key West Historic Seaport district, overlooking the seaport’s working marina. The menu is based on local and Caribbean seafood, with specialties such as conch chowder, Keys-caught grouper and mahi-mahi, blackened shrimp and baked oysters callaloo. Portions are pleasantly ample; a full bar is also available, and the restaurant features live music. 631 Greene St., conchrepublicseafood.com.
The Schooner Wharf Bar can also be found on the waterfront in the Historic Seaport. It's the kind of laid-back open-air place where patrons bring their dogs, girlfriends and fishing buddies for a brew and high-quality live music — and it also serves good food in a cheerfully colorful setting. Breakfasts include Gulf shrimp omelets and palomilla steak and eggs; lunch and dinner dishes range from tuna nachos to fresh mahi-mahi plates and jerk chicken. 202 William St., schoonerwharf.com.
Want to know more about Key West’s enticing eateries? Tantalize your tastebuds by clicking here (https://fla-keys.com/key-west/listings/restaurants-bars/).