The Florida Keys Restaurants

Seafood rules in the Keys, which is full of chef-owned restaurants with not-too-fancy food. Many restaurants serve cuisine that reflects the proximity of the Bahamas and Caribbean (you’ll see the term "Floribbean" on many menus). Tropical fruits figure prominently—especially on the beverage side of the menu. Florida spiny lobster should be local and fresh from August to March, and stone crabs from mid-October to mid-May. And don't dare leave the islands without sampling conch, be it in a fritter or in ceviche. Keep an eye out for authentic key lime pie—yellow custard in a graham-cracker crust. If it's green, just say "no." Note: Particularly in Key West and particularly during spring break, the more affordable and casual restaurants can get loud and downright rowdy, with young visitors often more interested in drinking than eating. Live music contributes to the decibel levels. If you're more of the quiet, intimate-dining type, avoid such overly exuberant scenes by eating early or choosing a restaurant where the bar isn’t the main focus.

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  • 1. B.O.'s Fish Wagon

    $$ | Seafood

    What started out as a fish house on wheels appears to have broken down on the corner of Caroline and William streets and is today the cornerstone...Read More

  • 2. Ambrosia

    $$ | Japanese

    Ask any savvy local where to get the best sushi on the island and you'll undoubtedly be pointed to this bright and airy dining room with a modern...Read More

  • 3. Dante's Key West Restaurant and Pool Bar

    $$ | Seafood

    With the motto "Come be an aquaholic," Dante's is as unique as Key West itself. Sun loungers, tiki bars, and tables with umbrellas and chairs...Read More

  • 4. El Meson de Pepe

    $$ | Cuban

    If you want to get a taste of the island's Cuban heritage, this is the place. After watching a Mallory Square sunset, you can dine alfresco...Read More

  • 5. Geiger Key Smokehouse Bar & Grill

    $$ | American

    There's a strong hint of the Old Keys at this ocean-side marina restaurant, where local fisherman stop for breakfast before heading out to catch...Read More

  • 6. Half Shell Raw Bar

    $$ | Seafood

    Smack-dab on the docks, this legendary institution gets its name from the oysters, clams, and peel-and-eat shrimp that are a departure point...Read More

  • 7. Hungry Tarpon

    $$ | Lower Matecumbe Key | Seafood

    As part of the colorful, bustling Old Florida scene at Robbie's Marina, you know that the seafood here is fresh and top quality. The extensive...Read More

  • 8. Islamorada Fish Company

    $$ | Windley Key | Seafood

    When a restaurant is owned by Bass Pro Shops, you know the seafood should be as fresh as you can get it. The restaurant is housed in an open...Read More

  • 9. Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Cafe

    $$ | American

    If you must have your cheeseburger in paradise, it may as well be here, where you can chew along with the songs playing on the sound system...Read More

  • 10. Jimmy Johnson's Big Chill

    $$ | Seafood

    Owned by former NFL coach Jimmy Johnson, this waterfront establishment offers three entertaining experiences, and all are big winners. You'll...Read More

  • 11. Key Colony Inn

    $$ | Italian

    The inviting aroma of an Italian kitchen pervades this family-owned favorite known for its Sunday brunch, served November through April. For...Read More

  • 12. Key Largo Conch House

    $$ | American

    Tucked into the trees along the Overseas Highway, this Victorian-style home (family owned since 2004) and its true-to-the-Keys style of cooking...Read More

  • 13. Keys Fisheries Market & Marina

    $$ | Seafood

    From the parking lot, you can't miss the enormous tiki bar on stilts, but the walk-up window on the ground floor is the heart of this warehouse...Read More

  • 14. Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar

    $$ | Upper Matecumbe Key | American

    While local anglers gather here for breakfast, lunch and dinner bring a mix of islanders and visitors for straightforward food and front-row...Read More

  • 15. Mangia Mangia

    $$ | Italian

    This longtime favorite serves large portions of homemade pastas that can be matched with any of their homemade sauces. Tables are arranged in...Read More

  • 16. Mangrove Mama's Restaurant

    $$ | Seafood

    This could be the prototype for a Keys restaurant, given its shanty appearance, lattice trim, and roving sort of indoor-outdoor floor plan....Read More

  • 17. Mrs. Mac's Kitchen

    $$ | Seafood

    Townies pack the counters and booths at this tiny eatery, where license plates are stuck on the walls and made into chandeliers, for everything...Read More

  • 18. No Name Pub

    $$ | American

    This no-frills honky-tonk has been around since 1936, delighting inveterate locals and intrepid vacationers who come for the excellent pizza...Read More

  • 19. Sarabeth's

    $$ | American

    Named for the award-winning jam-maker and pastry chef Sarabeth Levine, who runs the kitchen, it naturally is proclaimed for its all-morning...Read More

  • 20. Snapper's

    $$ | Seafood

    In a lively, mangrove-ringed, waterfront setting, Snapper's has live music, Sunday brunch (including a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar), killer...Read More

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