The Best Restaurants In Key West

For when you're in need of Cuban sandwiches, lobster rolls, and key lime pie on a stick.
The Best Restaurants In Key West image

photo credit: Iris Moore

If South Florida is where you go to escape from the struggles of adult life, then Key West is where you go to escape from the very concept of reality itself. They do things differently in the southernmost city in the United States. Life down here operates at a leisurely pace, nothing is too formal for sandals, and sunsets are applauded daily at Mallory Square.

Food is a huge part of the Key West personality, too. This is the land of fresh seafood pulled straight off a boat and enough key lime pie to feed a stadium full of manatees. The following guide has our favorite picks for the usual Keys food suspects: conch fritters, grouper sandwiches, and the one key lime pie to rule them all. But it’s also got phenomenal Trinidadian restaurants, Jamaican spots, and more places that are well worth straying from Duval Street, the island’s tourist headquarters and Key West’s own version of Bourbon Street in New Orleans

If you're looking for the city's best bars, or just some excellent places to stop and eat if you're driving down from South Florida, we've also got you covered.


photo credit: Iris Moore


Key West

$$$$Perfect For:Classic EstablishmentLiterally EveryoneOutdoor/Patio Situation
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Welcome to Key West, where every man, woman, child, and rooster claims to make the best or most unique version of key lime pie. This is a good problem to have, but they can’t all be telling the truth. So if you’re going to prioritize just one classic key lime pie spot, make it the one from Kermit’s. This place is a Key West classic that makes a very delicious (and unique) chocolate-dipped version on a popsicle stick. It’s a manageable size, easy to eat while walking around, and overall a pitch-perfect slice of key lime pie. There’s some cute garden seating in the back too, in case you don’t want to eat this on the run.

photo credit: Iris Moore



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So many of the nicer sit-down dinner spots in Key West have menus that feel just a tad outdated, with resort food we don’t necessarily find exciting. But at A&B Lobster House, the history is kind of the point. This waterfront spot has been around for over 70 years, and is still one of the best upscale dinner options, with one caveat: You’ve got to sit outside. The waterfront view from the patio seating really makes the experience of sipping $17 martinis and cracking $50-plus lobster worth it. So make a reservation, and make it early. You might have a tough time getting a table during busy season, although their bar is walk-in friendly and has a lounge area with a nice waterfront view.

If you’ve done even a tiny amount of research on where to eat in Key West, you’ve probably seen the words Blue Heaven. And this classic is worth a visit. That’s not because of the seafood-heavy menu—which is fine, if a little antiquated—but because there’s just something about the outdoor space that channels the very essence of Key West. Tables are scattered beneath a huge tree that hangs over the entire restaurant, and there’s usually live music playing at the ideal volume. If nothing on the menu is speaking to you, just get the cheeseburger and a slice of their famous key lime pie with a ridiculously tall hat of meringue. There will be a wait during busy season, but if you’re just here for the pie, you can buy a slice at Blue Heaven’s outdoor bar across the street and watch someone sing cover songs.

This little spot does one thing better than anyone else on the island: fritas. This Cuban version of a burger, with a patty that’s a blend of beef, pork, and chorizo, glows red with spices, and is topped with little fried potato sticks. Don’t leave without one, but know their menu is big and also has a Cuban coffee affogato and really great conch fritters served salchipapa-style with cherry peppers and slices of chorizo. There’s some seating inside the small space, but sit on the colorful patio, where there are tables good for groups and a couple roosters on crumb patrol.

Barbecue, like closed toe shoes and winter, is not really a thing on Key West, but Eaton Good changed that. This outdoor spot is making some really good smoked meat alongside rotisserie jerk chicken, curry cauliflower, and bánh mì in sandwich form or wrapped in a housemade roti. We appreciate how the menu adds some diversity to an area of the island dense with fried seafood. But it’s their standard barbecue stuff—ribs, brisket, and pulled pork—that’s worth prioritizing here. Weekend specials like burgers and Detroit-style pizza happen often, too. It’s a great spot for a change of pace if you’ve consumed three pounds of conch fritters in the last 48 hours.

There comes a point in every vacation where all food conversations end at pizza. If that happens while you’re in Key West, go to Onlywood. There’s an Onlywood Pizzeria on Duval Street, but Onlywood Grill is more spacious, has an expanded menu, and is good for large groups or families who want to sit down in a dining room that doesn’t look like it was made from flotsam. The pizza here is closer to Neapolitan style, with a fluffy crust and toppings that range from a simple margherita to slightly more adventurous options like pistacchio sauce, parmacotto ham, and mushrooms. It won’t blow you away, but it’s satisfying if every sunburnt tourist is suddenly making you think about pepperoni pizza.

Key West’s popular breakfast and brunch spots can be a bit chaotic during tourist season. So if you really don’t want to wait for a table (or spend a lot of money), walk over to Fisherman’s Cafe. The sidewalk restaurant has minimal seating, but coming here is a delicious, low-stress way to get some food and caffeine in your system. They serve breakfast until the afternoon and make some really great things with Cuban bread, including a simple but tasty egg and cheese sandwich and pressed guava toast that pairs perfectly with their colada. They do a few lunch dishes too, like a fish sandwich with a papaya and mango slaw on a potato bun. 

photo credit: Iris Moore

This spot is Permanently Closed.

If you’re getting a little tired of the usual seafood, Italian, and Cuban options that dominate Key West, go to Pepper Pot. The small Trinidadian restaurant on a quiet residential street makes buttery, warm roti with curry chicken, curry goat, curry shrimp, vegetables, and more. They also serve a really delicious geera pork sandwich that comes on a soft roll with tender cubes of meat and diced Florida avocado. It’s perfect for a little beach picnic or inhaling alone inside the quiet dining room, which is a great place to hide from the loud bars a few blocks away on Duval.

Our favorite kind of Key West restaurant is an open-air spot mostly made of wood that smells like fried fish. BO's Fish Wagon is the best example of this genre. The little shack serves our favorite seafood sandwiches on the island—cracked conch, fried shrimp, grouper, and more options that all come on soft Cuban bread. One of those and the excellent conch fritters are exactly what you should focus on here. We like this place for lunch since it’s quick and casual, but it’s also worth stopping by for some beers, snacks, and live music on Friday night.

The Conch Shack is, like the name implies, a great place to get one of Key West’s greatest dishes: conch fritters. They’re big, not too greasy, and come with a wonderful key lime aioli for dipping. But this small, cash-only sidewalk stand also serves one of the better Maine lobster rolls on the island, with a generous amount of meat. Other options include fried shrimp, a fried mahi sandwich, burgers, hot dogs, and more food you’ll want after several drinks, which is when a lot of folks end up here thanks to its Duval Street location. The Conch Shack is open until midnight on the weekend too, so keep this place in mind after bar hopping.

You’ll pass this place on your way in and out of Key West, and it’s worth a stop if you want a styrofoam box full of outrageously good Jamaican food. The takeout operation has bounced around in the last few years, but is currently operating from a strip mall on North Roosevelt Boulevard. They have classics like an excellent jerk chicken with a perfect smoky heat, but also some unique options like their own version of a Cuban sandwich (called a “Jamaicano”) with tender jerk pork, swiss cheese, and pickled peppers. It sort of feels like the sandwich equivalent of hearing a great cover of your favorite song. Because Yahman’s is such a small operation, check their Instagram before you visit for the latest info on hours and location.

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Where To Stop & Eat On Your Way To The Keys

If you told us we had exactly one hour to eat as much of the best local seafood in Key West, we’d just go to Eaton Street and order the entire menu. This little seafood market has an impressive selection of local options: hogfish, shrimp, fish dip, lobster, stone crab, conch, grouper, and what feels like a thousand other choices. You can take any of it home to cook yourself, but (no offense) they’ll do a much better job. They turn all that fresh stuff into one of the best lobster rolls in town, fried or grilled fish sandwiches, beautiful little fried shrimp, grilled lobster tails, and more. You can eat it all on their shaded patio with a beer, and since the restaurant isn’t in a particularly crowded area, it’s a great option for a somewhat quiet lunch or dinner.

The Cuban sandwich—and Cuban food in general—is a huge part of the Key West food identity, and our favorite comes from Sandy’s. The little sidewalk ventanita (a Cuban term for a little takeout window) attached to a laundromat has been around since the ‘80s, and the family that owns it has been making Cuban food in Key West for much longer. Sandy's does things with the sandwich that would get you some strange looks in Miami, like adding salami, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise, but it all works great together—and you can always just stick to the basics. Sandy's is located a bit north of most of the hotel and tourist action, so if you're looking for a closer (and more classic) Cuban sandwich option, go to Ana's Cuban Cafe.

La Grignote is where you want to go for a sit-down brunch involving some combination of bread and eggs. The cute French bakery has indoor and outdoor seating, alcohol options, and a big menu with benedicts, a croque monsieur, and an excellent crispy-on-the-outside, tender-inside belgian waffle. You’ll probably encounter a wait, especially on the weekends, but you can also order some stuff to go from their pastry case if you’re in a rush. It has bunch of things that are easy to eat while walking around, like a circular disk of key lime pie, a deluxe version of pigs in a blanket, and great croissants.

Hogfish isn’t technically in Key West—it’s just north on Stock Island. But it’s only a 20-minute drive, and if you came here to eat local seafood by the water against a backsplash of rusted license plates, it’s worth the short commute. The specialty here is the hogfish sandwich, and you’re ordering it whether it’s your first or 50th time here. The fish is cooked perfectly, and comes on pillowy Cuban bread with swiss cheese and mushrooms. But Hogfish isn’t a one-hit wonder. There are other good things on the menu like a fried grouper reuben, shrimp corn dogs, and more stuff that was probably very recently swimming in the adjacent ocean.

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