If you're headed to Key West for a few days to enjoy the laid-back vibe and delicious island cuisine, here are eight hot spots to keep on your radar.
Ocean Grill & Bar
Set in the iconic Duval Street space that previously housed Square One, Ocean Grill & Bar opened its doors this past fall. The coastal chic indoor/outdoor place focuses on seafood reflecting a wide range of global influences, such as macadamia-encrusted cobia and black grouper in a Pernod saffron broth.
Insider tip: The popular shrimp and grits is available for breakfast (till late afternoon) and as a small plate at dinner.
1075 Duval St.; 305-296-4300
This longtime Key West favorite underwent a major renovation last summer. It still offers an impressive outdoor patio and prime opportunities for people-watching, but now boasts a fresh look and updated island-inspired seafood like Bahamian-style snapper, Cuban seafood stew and multiple preparations of conch.
Insider tip: Request a seat on the Duval Street side of the restaurant to watch passers-by.
700 Duval St.; 305-294-8002
Overlooking Key West Historic Seaport and Bight, this brewpub probably offers the best view of the entire Florida craft-beer scene. Anticipate a wide selection of Caribbean-inspired salads, sandwiches, land-based proteins and tons of fresh fish, including whole fried hogfish and Key West shrimp, to go with the suds. A game room, happy hour and twice-weekly tours of the brewery are extra perks.
Insider tip: The fish dip is top-notch.
201 William St.; 305-440-2270
This food cart developed a cult following when it started dishing up fish tacos, burgers and conch salad several years back. Recently Garbo’s got a major upgrade with a new location (behind Grunts Bar), a retro Airstream kitchen and ample seating under shade.
Insider tip: Adult beverages can be purchased at Grunts.
409 Caroline St.; 305-304-3004
Stoned Crab’s Eco-Bar
Last year the Stoned Crab elevated Key West’s cocktail scene when it debuted Eco-Bar, serving sustainable wine and spirits, craft beers and organic cocktails made from Florida produce and the restaurant’s own garden. You're not going to find any concentrated juices or mixes here.
Insider tip: Do a full-day booze immersion with the “Chef’s Distilled” package, including an educational trip to Key West Legal Rum, followed by drinks at Eco-Bar and a four-course prix fixe at Stoned Crab.
3101 North Roosevelt Blvd.; 305-296-1043
The Thirsty Mermaid
Tommy Quartararo and Kristen Onderdonk, the couple behind Blackfin Bistro and Antonia’s, opened this raw bar and seafood spot early last year. Since its debut, executive chef Ryan Shapiro has been racking up the praise for high-quality plates like a Maine lobster BLT, sautéed Bahamian conch and seared diver scallops with yuzu vinaigrette.
Insider tip: Arrive early (reservations are not accepted).
521 Fleming St.; 305-204-4828
It's not often that you get to travel to a restaurant by boat. You do at Latitudes. Part of the Westin Key West Resort on secluded Sunset Key, it offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico, complete with swaying palms and tiki torches. Dishes range from Florida lobster tail and coconut-crusted grouper to grilled meats like marinated lamb.
Insider tip: Hit the patio for spectacular views at sunset.
245 Front St.; 305-292-5300
Bliss Restaurant Key West
Sample excellent homestyle Colombian food away from the hustle of Duval. Zelma Segura, owner of the now-defunct Colombian Grace, prepares family recipes passed down from her mother, like arepas and empanadas, plus dishes like sautéed shrimp and calamari in tomato basil broth. The signature is pan-seared yellowtail snapper encrusted in panko in a light cream caper sauce.
Insider tip: Both the red and white sangria are killer.
411 Petronia St.; 305-240-1281