Dining in the Florida Keys is a adventure in its self. In fact, you can map out
the culinary delights all the way to Key West, and try something new each time.
Then there is the Key Lime pie, which is as unique as the restaurants along the
Overseas Highway. Sometimes it is a bit tart, other times a little sweeter, and
some restaurants use a creamy topping. Our suggestion is to buy as piece and let
everyone with you enjoy just a bite, so you experience the variety of sweet
temptations offered in the Keys. To start your trip it is easier to fly into the
Miami International Airport that is surprisingly easy to get through for as big
as it is and the amount of flights that come in and depart daily.
After checking in at the Pines and Palms Resort head over to the Lazy Days Restaurant, which a friend suggested. Located at Mile Marker 79.9, Lazy Days offers spectacular oceanfront dinning and a tasty variety of fresh local seafood. It's a great place for a casual evening enjoying the company of friends and family! Ask about the Happy Hour special from 4 to 6 pm or try the 3 for $1.00 Appetizers at The Bar. They have fresh seafood specials, vegetarian pastas, steaks, sandwiches, and Chef Lupe & Michelle Ledesma will cook up your catch as many of the restaurant will in the Florida Keys. This is a beautiful setting for a evening in the Keys. Enjoy a specialty drink as the sun sets, and don't forget to sample the Key Lime Pie.
In the morning drop by the Midway Cafe - Mile Marker 80 just around the corner a short walk away from the Pines and Palms Resort for a cup of coffee and choose from a mix of breakfast specialties on the menu to start your day. The Midway Cafe has pastries, and other goodies to get you started on your way as well.
For lunch drive down to the Green Turtle Inn, located at Mile Marker 81.5 - 81219 Overseas Hwy. Islamorada, FL. As for breakfast, the Green Turtle Inn that has fluffy muffins, and offers a many breakfast favorites that keep the locals coming back for more. Menu items include omelets, pancakes and the traditional eggs, sausage, along with Snapper, eggs, and grits, and Eggs Benedict served with crab cakes. Love the crab cakes! Lunch and dinner are just a delicious with amazing selection of fresh fish and local specials like the turtle steak and gourmet soups. Do not fret, the turtles are not caught off the Keys; they're farm raised. While waiting for your meal check out all the photos that relive the history of the restaurant that opened in 1947, including photos of a hurricane the hit the Keys. (305-664-2006)
Of course a trip to the Florida Keys is filled with opportunities to go fishing and enjoy a variety of outdoor recreation. The Green Turtle Inn a perfect spot for a meal because right next door you can meet Sandy Moret at Florida Keys Outfitters, who has been a fishing guide at the Florida Keys Fly Fishing School since 1989. If you're looking for fishing equipment there's plenty of it here, and a assortment of hand-made fly's to help you reel in a big one. Sandy Moret is a great guy, who not only offers advice about the best fishing locations, he can also show you a casting demonstration. Along with winning many awards, and being a expert on fly-fishing for over 30 years, Sandy is one of the Character of the Keys, who has many tales to share, and can help you plan your fishing trip. (305-664-5423)
After a day out trying your luck flying fishing enjoy dinner at Morada Bay Beach Café, Mile Marker 81.6 - 81600 Overseas Highway in Islamorada, FL. This bayside restaurant has a dock where you can pull in your boat and offers fresh seafood with a tropical flare along with traditional fare such as chicken salad, fajitas, and hamburgers. Here, we tried our first taste of a Conch Fritter, which was really great, and the Key Lime Pie had a sweet, yet tart snap to it that enhanced the flavor. Morada Bay Beach Café is a fun place to catch a band or hang out and talk with locals about fishing as well. (305-864-7200)
If you love cinnamon buns then you must stop in for breakfast at the Islamorada Restaurant & Bakery/Bob’s Bunz at Mile Marker 81.6 - 81620 Overseas Hwy., Islamorada. The cinnamon buns at Bob’s are huge; enough to feed a whole group! We also sampled their fresh baked pastries and muffins, and they offer fresh baked cookies, pies, but they are “famous” for their cinnamon bunz and sticky bunz. The funny thing about us eating our way from one end of the Keys to the other is that we really don't eat much, so we shared most of our meals with our friends. This is a great idea at the Islamorada Restaurant & Bakery/Bob’s Bunz since the cinnamon bunz are so big. Once you go along you'll find that these restaurants are local hang outs, and if the local eat there, then you know the foods good! (305-664-8363)
For those seeking a new culinary experience visit the Keys Fisheries, which is famous for two selections: Key Lime Pie and the Lobster Reuben. The Key Lim Pie has a nice tartness to it, and the Reuben, well I'm sorry to say I am not a fan of Lobster, so Leroy and I shared the shrimp meal, although everyone's else in our party enjoyed the Reuben. The Key Fisheries keeps a running number of how many Lobster Reuben's are sold, and it's more than you imagine.
For a bite to eat while in the Lower Keys visit the Big Pine Restaurant & Coffee Shop, located in the Big Pine Key at Mile Marker 30, just down the road from the National Key Deer Refuge. Along with great Key Lime pie they have a tasty selection of menu items. From BBQ to catfish nuggets, Big Pine Restaurant and Coffee Shop has a home-town feel that welcomes you when you walk through the door. It is one of our favorite stop over along the way to Key West for a taste of local favorites and good conversation, and who knows, you might just catch Chris Robinson of Big Kahuna Charters there enjoying a meal as well!
As you drive along and notice the Mile Marker's we want to point out the number 24 is especially a favorite number for fans of Howard Livingston & the Mile Marker 24 Band. Howard and the band are often seen in Summerland Key, which he calls home. If you have a chance to see one of his shows you'll be amazed when you watch him as he uses a Johnson outboard motor to blend margaritas onstage when they perform their hit song, “Blame It On The Margaritas”.
One of the places to grab bite to eat in Key West where you may spot Will is BO's Fish Wagon. Located on the corner at 801 Caroline St. BO's Fish Wagon is another local restaurant offering variety of menu choices. from fish to burgers and beers, it's a great little spot for a bite to eat before or after the Sunset Celebration. BO's hard working, friendly staff is one of the reasons we visited often while in the Key West; the food is great, and the service is some of the best in the Keys! If you're in Key West, you'll need a place to stay that's close to all the action and celebrations, yet offers a bit of solitude when you want to relax, and we have three suggestions: The Old Town Manor, Island City House, and Lighthouse Court Bed & Breakfasts. Each offers a unique setting and fabulous amenities, and all are close to Key West attractions and festivities.
By Melody Schubert
To explore more restaurants, attractions, events to enjoy, fishing destinations, and recreation options in the Florida Keys visit the Florida Keys and Key West Visitors Bureau at www.fla-keys.com or call 1-800-FLA-KEYS.