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Southeast Florida and the Keys


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  • 3 weeks later...

I just got back from 4 days centered around Marathon and thought I'd do the short review. Sorry for lack of due diligence in looking up the mile markers, but I think the restaurant names are mostly correct.

Started out at Whale Harbor (upstairs deck with a wide open oceanview, not the downstairs buffet) with a blackened dolphin sandwich- the generous portion of fish was fresh and cooked just right, although one side of the fish was almost too seasoned and the fries were a little bit cool. Conch fritters convinced me that I just don't like conch fritters, which is weird b/c I really really enjoy fried food. They always just seem doughy. Service was barely there, but we followed up with a nice key lime pie.

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At the Hurricane Grill on Marathon, tried another blackened dolphin sandwich that arrived on a kaiser roll. The fish portion was pretty wussy, but cooked right. Crinkle fries were good. Sliders or mini sandwiches are very cute mini burger/fish/chicken tastes. A grilled shimp dish that arrived with a buttery dipping broth was excellent. Not so interesting atmosphere, but there are pool tables and a funny wall devoted to Elvis.

At the Island Grill, I saw the seafood quesadilla which other people liked (I don't like cheese with my seafood), buffalo shrimp, the shrimp tacos (a pair of soft tacos with a reasonable amount of shrimp, lettuce, tomatoes) with taco chips+medium hot salsa. The blackened dolphin sandwich (kaiser roll) was slightly overcooked but tasty, I would go back. Very busy for dinner, but lots of space.

At Keys Fisheries on Marathon, we split their Famous Lobster Reuben. They should call it the Famous Gigantic Lobster Reuben. While I enjoyed the concept and I like lobster, and I like reubens, the lobster gets a overwhelmed by the thousand island and everything else. Yummy crispy coated fries. All outdoor seating with a view of a little marina and the water. After lunch, we walked by the boats and watched someone clean and fillet the yellowtail snapper they'd caught- beautiful fish.

Probably the best fish sandwich of the entire trip was this garlic grilled snapper po'boy from Fish Cutters (both a market and restaurant, 6 or 7 tables). Grilled long roll, chunks of garlic in the sauce on the fish, juicy and perfectly grilled fish. This is a sloppy hard to eat sandwich which is worth the five paper towels you'll need to clean up with. Homemade thick cut potato chips and a mango coleslaw (mango coleslaw! It was good, even though I'm not a big coleslaw fan) arrive as sides. (We also got the Old Bay shrimp. Don't do it! They were not good.)

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The success of the sandwich led us to get a slice of keylimepie to go, which turned out to look like crap:

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but my friend preferred the truely tart flavour of this slice over the smoother limeyness of a slice from the True Art Bakery.

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On the way up to FLL, went to Snapper's Saloon. Nice waterfront seating, with giant mystery fish swimming around in the water right by the deck. The blackened dolphin sandwich arrived on toast, which was kind of odd, but I found that this actually lets the fish be the focus, rather than the bread part overwhelming the fish.

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Overall, had a yummy time and I'm looking to go back when the water's warmer for some snorkelling and maybe fishing b/c I haven't been. At one of the state park nature centers, I picked up the fish guide for what's ok/not to eat b/c of overfishing/mercury. It turns out that the entire grouper family is out although it's on almost every restaurant menu in the keys, along with red snapper. !

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Probably the best fish sandwich of the entire trip was this garlic grilled snapper po'boy from Fish Cutters (both a market and restaurant, 6 or 7 tables). Grilled long roll, chunks of garlic in the sauce on the fish, juicy and perfectly grilled fish. This is a sloppy hard to eat sandwich which is worth the five paper towels you'll need to clean up with. Homemade thick cut potato chips and a mango coleslaw (mango coleslaw! It was good, even though I'm not a big coleslaw fan) arrive as sides. (We also got the Old Bay shrimp. Don't do it! They were not good.)

I'm not familiar with Fish Cutters but the place sounds like one of my favorite places called Fish Tales Market and Eatery. On the Atlantic side just south of Key Colony Beach and next to Capt Hooks Dive shop.

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On the way up to FLL, went to Snapper's Saloon. Nice waterfront seating, with giant mystery fish swimming around in the water right by the deck. The blackened dolphin sandwich arrived on toast, which was kind of odd, but I found that this actually lets the fish be the focus, rather than the bread part overwhelming the fish.

The giant mystery fish were tarpon. They frequent lots of south Florida marinas and get fed. Fun to watch at Snappers after dark, they have lights under some of the docks.

I find that I eat almost all Florida fish sandwiches open faced, ditching half the bun. As you said, all that bread drowns out the fish. That Po Boy from Fish Cutters looks great. Do you have a mile marker number for them?

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Between Homestead and Key Largo is Roberts.... Maybe Roberts at the Keys? Not sure of the exact name.

Its a large fruit stand. The Keylime Milkshake is superb.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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I find that I eat almost all Florida fish sandwiches open faced, ditching half the bun.  As you said, all that bread drowns out the fish.  That Po Boy from Fish Cutters looks great.  Do you have a mile marker number for them?

I took their little paper menu with me: Key West Fishcutters Restaurant & Fish Market, Mile Marker 25. Summerland Key, 305.744.3335. They also have a gator cheese steak, a BLT where L=lobster, coconut fried lobster, and po' boy fillers include (fried) dolphin, grouper, oyster and shrimp.

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  • 1 month later...

I strongly suggest Scuba Quest, which has a shop at the corner of Tamiami Tr. and Bahia Vista. Great staff and crew and their boats are docked close by at Marina Jack.

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  • 8 months later...

We just returned from a timely trip to south Florida and Key West as we deftly avoided what will probably be the coldest week of the winter.

Enjoyed some good food as usual

Michy's in Miami was great as described in the adjacent thread.

On the way to Key West, we stopped at Fishcutter's at mile marker 25 on Summerland key. We had noticed the fish market there but didn't know about the restaurant until an egulleter posted about it last year. Based on their recommendation, we had a grilled garlic snapper po' boy and it was an outstanding sandwich. Wife had fried snapper that was excellent as well. They make a mango cole slaw that really complements the fish.

I don't think you can go wrong there, everything I saw come over the counter looked good.

Enjoyed meals at old favorites in Key West like B.O.'s fish wagon http://hollyeats.com/BOsFishWagon.htm and Opera http://www.operarestaurant.com/.

Had delicious tapas at 915 Duval http://www.915duval.com/ the signature tuna dome was fantastic.

After walking by a couple of times and smelling good smells and seeing good pies, we tried Upper Crust pizza http://www.uppercrustkeywest.com/pizza.htm The crust was thin, blistered and flavorful, the sauce was very nice. Really good pizza in Key West. 611 Duval next door to Opera.

Finished with a birthday splurge at Joe's Stone Crab in South Beach. Yeah, it's touristy and pricy, but the service is impeccable, the Lyonnaise potatoes are decadent and the stone crabs are the best anywhere. They oughta be for the price!

http://www.joesstonecrab.com/

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Hubby had two tuna domes to himself at 915 Duval last time we went. I enjoyed the Devil's on horseback and the steak frites was very nice. B.O.'s has my favorite fish sandwich.

Haven't brought myself to try the pizza in the Keys yet. I am too focused on the seafood I suppose.

Didn't stop by the Fish House in Key Largo? That's our tradition on the way down.

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Hubby had two tuna domes to himself at 915 Duval last time we went. I enjoyed the Devil's on horseback and the steak frites was very nice. B.O.'s has my favorite fish sandwich.

Haven't brought myself to try the pizza in the Keys yet. I am too focused on the seafood I suppose.

Didn't stop by the Fish House in Key Largo? That's our tradition on the way down.

First time in 4 years we didn't do Fish House, we love the smoked fish there We were a little earlier this year and it wasn't lunch time until Fishcutters. Can't go wrong either place.

Stayed longer in Key West this year (6 days). That gives you enough time to get around to pizza!

Edited by DTBarton (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

I forgot to add a new find from this year's trip to Key West that we enjoyed.

Monsoon Cafe is on the corner of Margaret and Fleming streets. It's an eclectic place run by a nutty Boston ex-patriot. Half Indian/Asian restaurant, half laundromat in what appears to be an old gas station possibly. A few outdoor tables to sit and eat at while your shorts dry.

The chef (and I believe owner, the guy from Boston) waited on us and cooked our food to order. Said he really enjoyed running the place when he wasn't smoking Ganja :laugh: . Everything was fresh and interesting and mostly delicious. It was great to find an informal place in the keys with an eclectic menu, not just conch fritters and fish sandwiches (which I like, BTW).

The menu on the web site is somewhat different than the one we had. My panang curry was delicious and fiery.

There was a scooter that looks like a camel parked outside. The camel appears to be the mascot of the place, it appears in the phone number and bellows at you when you open the web site.

Check it out.

http://monsooncafe.net/

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm going to be in Key West for the food festival in late

April for one night, and am looking for great restaurants for lunch and dinner. Does anyone have recommendations? Locals only places are preferred.

Kevin J. Adey

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I'm going to be in Key West for the food festival in late

April for one night, and am looking for great restaurants for lunch and dinner.  Does anyone have recommendations? Locals only places are preferred.

915 Duval is only open for dinner, and a big locals place. Its a tapas and wine bar, but does have regular portions. The name is the address, and it is very easy to find.

BO's Fishwagon and Opera are always favorites.

What kind of festival is going on down there in April? Aren't you afraid you will fill up at the festival, and not have room for more food? :biggrin:

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  • 1 month later...

We went to Key West at Thanksgiving and were stunned that there were so many FANTASTIC restaurants. We ate exceptionally well (it was chilly out so great food became the focus of our trip), and were rarely disappointed. Here's our list of excellent Key West finds--most of which were "locals" kinds of places.

Louie's Backyard: Love the outdoor setting, with multi-level decks looking over the water. Food's great, too!

Pisces: Fabulous fine dining. Just thinking of the lobster bisque I enjoyed there makes me want to jump in the car and drive 8 hours. Hmmmm. (I understand that this used to be "Cafe de Artistes")

Michaels: Excellent wine list and dinner spot.

Sarabeth's: The best breakfast spot EVER. I suspect they do well with other meals as well, but didn't have the pleasure. Next time!

Blue Heaven: Great outdoor atmosphere. A little touristy, but excellent. Actually Richard, the owner, is the one who turned us on to many of the other great places we ate.

Seven Fish: Minimalist decor--not our TOP pick but it was very good. Lots of pasta and fish; a bit less pricey than most of the others.

Alice's: Liked this enough to eat here twice--lunch and dinner. Both were fabulous.

915 Duval: We actually just stopped in here for some wine, but had a great time. Met some very nice people and a cute dog, as I recall.

Can't wait to go back!

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We went to Key West at Thanksgiving and were stunned that there were so many FANTASTIC restaurants.  We ate exceptionally well (it was chilly out so great food became the focus of our trip), and were rarely disappointed.  Here's our list of excellent Key West finds--most of which were "locals" kinds of places. 

Snip of some excellent places..

Blue Heaven: Great outdoor atmosphere.  A little touristy, but excellent.  Actually Richard, the owner, is the one who turned us on to many of the other great places we ate.

Snip of some excellent places...

Can't wait to go back!

Oh I wanna go! I only have 3 to 4 hours to drive!

Blue Heaven - that one is a sentimental favorite of mine. That's where my hubby and I went to eat on our first trip to Key West together, and our first trip together without a crowd of kids (blended family). We only go there when we can go alone. Love the place, and over the years never had a miss for us.

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  • 9 months later...

Once again took our annual pilgrimage to south Florida and the Keys. Had some good eats, but not as good as past years. Michy's in Miami was the highlight (see post in Michy's thread).

Noticed on the way to Key West that the building that houses Fishcutters (mile 25, Summerland Key) was for sale. Don't know if they're still open, but would be sorry to see them go.

Highlights in Key West were both breakfasts. First was at Blue Heaven on Patagonia, our first visit. We both had specials, shrimp and grits and an avacado and onion omelette with salsa and black bean sauce. Both superb. Returned a few days later with friends and got somewhat indifferent eggs benedict (good, but cold, had been sitting, seemed that upstairs is not the place to sit for service) and undercooked, doughy blueberry pancakes. Always happens when you rave and take someone, eh? Our other great breakfast was at Pepe's on Caroline, excellent BLT and corned beef hash and poached eggs. Simple but good and wonderful fresh squeezed OJ.

Went to the highly acclaimed Mangia Mangia pasta cafe http://www.mangia-mangia.com/ and for the life of us couldn't figure out where the acclaim came from. Not being famished, we ordered salad and simple pasta with marinara and meat sauces. Wife's was just OK, mine was nearly inedible (the meat sauce) overly sweet AND salty. This is homemade? Ragu would have given this sauce a serious challenge. Maybe we hit a terrible night? Running on reputation? Oddly, the wine list is huge and weighty and totally out of proportion with the modest menu and surroundings (vertical tasting of Chateau Latour at a pasta bar?), so the owner is writing off his own wine cellar with the restaurant.

Went to Camille's http://www.camilleskeywest.com/ on a few local recommendations.

Salad of greens, pears, and gorgonzola was very nice. Entrees were mediocre and too large. Delicate snapper overwhelmed by other flavors on the plate and chewy lamb chops on a ridiculously large bed of tasty spinach in balsamic dressing. Enough spinach for a table of 6.

Stopped at our old standby the Fish House in Key Largo for lunch on the way back north. A little disappointing there as well. We had grilled grouper and fried dolphin sandwiches. The fish was nicely fresh as always, but both were overcooked, something we had never had there. I also got some smoked fish to take out, which had been very good in previous years. This time it was so oversmoked and dry I threw it out. Oh well.

One last interesting note. Had barbecue at a hole in the wall in Hobe Sound (south of Stuart) called CW's on route 1. http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2005/jul/27/bth...nd-offers-ribs/

The food was very good, especially the beef brisket. Zero atmosphere, zero service, incredibly slow, huge portions. I recommend this place for take out. Stop by, get a menu. phone in your order and go get it in an hour or something.

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This is our favorite stop along the way to Key West. Fish Tails Market and Eatery in Marathon. We like to stay near Marathon as a rule. It's a small place but the fish is super fresh. We often get yellow tail snapper sandwiches and buy fresh fish to take to our resting stop to cook. I always like a place with a kitchen in the Keys. The abundance of fresh local seafood is amazing but I'am not thrilled with the restaurants in most of the Keys. The turn over is very quick and I have been there more than once after an afternoon dive at the end of the day when they had just sold their last fillet of snapper :sad: but I love the place. Just get there early.

http://www.floridalobster.com/

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Thanks for the ideas. I've heard others say Uncle's is good, have to make a point to be in Islamorada for dinner.

Have heard some other recommendations for Marathon, but they were short on specifics (name, location, little things like that!). Fish Tails sounds like it's right up our alley.

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Thanks for the ideas.  I've heard others say Uncle's is good, have to make a point to be in Islamorada for dinner.

Have heard some other recommendations for Marathon, but they were short on specifics (name, location, little things like that!).  Fish Tails sounds like it's right up our alley.

If do, try to find time for a late afternoon/sunset drink on the back porch of the "Zane Grey Lounge" which is upstairs in the Worldwide Sportsman (right on the overseas highway). It's close to Uncle's, so you could have a drink at Zane Grey and then dinner at Uncle's. It has a beautiful view of the bayside, and it's a fun place to watch the sunset. Food is so-so, but drinks are good and the view is hard to beat (there is also a marina below, so you can watch the goings-on there, and see the tarpon as well).

(Not food related, but there is a replica of Hemingway's fishing boat, the "Pilar", inside the Worldwide Sportsman that is also neat to see, and an aquarium filled with Florida sealife).

PS A few more Islamorada recommendations are here.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We were only in Key West for 2 days but had two wonderful dinners. Seven Fishes was superb - the food and service. Went to El Siboney for some really great Cuban. Stopped at the Islamorada Fish Market on the way down and had a great lunch.

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  • 1 month later...

Just got back from a few days in Key West. 915 Duval, Hot Tin Roof, and Louie's Backyard were all very good. Seven Fishes is no better than diner food. Worse Bananas Foster I've ever eaten (actually not eaten). All three of the recommended restaurants had great views, service and food. Wine lists in Key West need work.

I made an online reservation at 915 Duval and they lost my contact info. They booked a wedding that night so we were out of luck but they asked us to come another night and comped us a bottle of wine (our choice) which was quite decent.

Went to Grand Cafe for lunch which was quite good and had the best wine list I saw. Definitely would try for dinner next time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just back from 5 days in Largo. Mandalay's has just opened oceanside (mm 99?). We had two meals there and enjoyed both. Oysters were cold and briney, sautéed conch was rich and came with key lime butter, and the grilled grouper sandwich on a freshly steamed bun allowed the fish to shine. Here as I find true at most places in the keys simple is better. The restaurant itself is a tiny shack with lime green tables and chairs out on the patio, super cute and somewhat chic, for the keys anyway.

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  • 5 years later...

I visit SE Florida a lot and haven't eaten well there in ages .. All my old Caribbean haunts are gone, the Cuban places are all but a few and fish? Where??? Breadfruit? I see trees heavy with fruit but none for sale? My budget is limited but I am interested in eating well on a budget

Help me find food in SE Florida? where do we eat in the Keys?

I have access to a beautiful kitchen so I can cook.

Thank you for any ideas and help. I couldn't find a decent patty my last trip? , also the Middle Eastern bakeries? Are they gone?

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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  • 1 month later...
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