♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫

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2013/02/17 18:45:44 (permalink)

♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫

-as seen on chibbqking
What's up Roadfood? Long time, no post. I was down in the Sunshine State for 12 days in December and got around while there. My parents have a place in Boynton Beach that my grandpa built when he started going down there in the 80's. So we stayed there a couple nights but you can only take so much country club living when you're not even 32 years old yet and dont golf. We spent a few nights in Miami and then headed to Key West to live young. Here we go.

Sheila's Famous BBQ & Conch

West Palm Beach

First off let me say we went to WPB one night for eat and drinks and the central square place or whatever it is was a freaking madhouse. It took almost an hour to get a spot in the garage and all the Lambo's and Bentley's are double parked by valet so you gotta squeeze thru them too. Away from the glitz and glamor is this great little place. Sheila is from the Bahamas and cooks like her mom used to. I didn't try the BBQ but her fried cracked conch is outstanding.

Specialty of the House: Cracked Conch

La Granja

Our first night in we needed to get over to Wal-Mart for a few things and I passed by this hopping Peruvian spot in the same shopping center. It was packed with people of all races and class and the drive thru was buzzing so I said why not. I almost walked out when I saw the horrible "professional" photos of each dish but I'm glad I didn't. The spit roasted chicken was juicy and full of flavor and the seafood fried rice was fantastic. It turns out this is a local chain in South Florida and for a little while they had an outlet in Palatine of all places. Get the garlic potatoes as your side.

Popular Peruvian Eats in Boynton Beach

Big Al's Steaks

Del Ray Beach

First off, wow! Del Ray Beach is a whole lot different then when I was hanging there as a kid. Atlantic Avenue is a pretty hopping spot these days huh? We enjoyed fresh oysters from City Oyster and drinks at a place whose names escapes me. Anyone who's been at a bar in a country club in Florida on NFL Sunday's knows theres tons of east coast transplants in South FLA. So theres a few cheese steak places and Big Al's was pretty good. Fresh thick sliced ribeye with good bread did the trick in the wee hours, it's open until 4a Thurs-Sat. Better than Checkers and Miami Subs. Oh and the public beach here is still one of the best in state.

Popular After Drinks Eat in Del Ray Beach

LaSpada's Hoagies

Chester PA Style: Fresh Sliced Meats Piled High on East Coast Bread drowning in Oil

Speaking of subs or hoagies as they're called in PA here's another Pennsylvania transplant. By way of Chester this place is a popular sandwich shop with spots throughout South Florida. I stopped into one in Boca Raton and appreciated the fact the sandwich meat was sliced to order and as is key in the Sandwich state the seasoning and oils on this baby made for a required shower after eating. The large sandwich ($10) can feed four, I couldn't finish but half of mine. Some great east coast style hot cherry peppers too and I liked how they wrapped the meats, cheese and toppings with more meat. It all held together good.

East Coast Style Subs in Boca Raton

The Whales Rib

Deerfield Beach

The big LOL of the food world came this past year came with Pete Wells' review of Guy Fieri's monstrosity in Times Square. I dont doubt its bad but theres plenty of other celeb food folk who have done alot less for small mom and pop shops than Fieri he could of bashed. I dont watch the DDD but I do find he's been to and brought attention to some great places I've been thru. Another example here. We came twice in four nights including our final meal the night before heading home.

I'm a BIG, BIG fan of steamed rock shrimp and these were perfect

Deerfield Beach is another fun little town with some stuff going down when the sun does. The crowd here seemed to be a little more down to earth than WPM and Del Ray with alot of surfers and younger newly transplanted couples. The Whales Rib is a popular place to eat and drink for folks from all walks. They have lots of fresh seafood on special including those beautiful rock shrimp up above. We got those both times and also their famous blackened dolphin (mahi mahi) sandwich. It comes on an amazingly soft bun and is as good of a fish sandwich I've ate.

Famous Dolphin Sandwich

Kelly's Landing

New England Style Seafood in Fort Lauderdale

We rode up from South Beach to meet a friend of mine from college. He's from Boston and thus a big Patriots fan so we met up with him at his local watering hole on gameday that Sunday night. Kelly's is located in a strip mall but dont let that deter you. Alot of places down here are. It's got the vibe of what you'd picture a popular place to eat and drink in New England has. Hell even the waitress was from NE and had the thick accent to prove it. The place was hopping with older folks from the area that transplant down there for winter.

Connecticut Style Lobster Roll (served hot)

She went with the roll and I went with a favorite of mine you dont find everywhere, the fried clams. I got a bite of the roll which was good. The bun just ok but they didn't skimp on the meat and it was sweet. It had been forever since I had fried clams again after the first time I tried them at Woodman's in Essex, MA back in college. But with the opening of New England Seafood Company in Chicago I've been eating them alot more of late. These from Kelly's were comparable to theirs and cost a little less since they're just down the coast.

Ipswich Fried Clam Dinner

Southport Raw Bar

Fort Lauderdale

Located in the strip mall next to the strip mall where Kelly's is at is Southport Raw Bar. We stopped into here afterwards on my friends rec of it being the cheapest raw bar in the city and thus one of the freshest since they have constant traffic. The oysters and steamed little necks were a nice dessert cap after dinner.

Oysters on the Half Shell and Steamed Clams

Jamaica Kitchen


This another spot which that guy from Food Network has been too. I actually remember seeing that episode and I wanted to check it out when heading back. This is a Jamaican Chinese restaurant. ICYDK Jamaica has a decent Chinese population and the owners of this places parents went to Jamaica from China. So the owners are Chinese but born and raised in the Jamrock. They speak in a patois slang and it's just kind of funny at first, especially if not expecting it. Like the Southern slang used by the people with Chinese ancestors in the Mississippi Delta. I tried their extra hot spicy beef patty and the heat was real. Also one of their signature Jamaican/Chinese eats the pork belly and ham choy. Excellent.

Pork and Ham Choy with Red Beans & Rice and a Red Dot Hot Beef Patty
Chef Creole Seafood Takeout

Little Haiti (Miami)

Another place I've seen on TV (No Reservations) and was told by my friend who lives in Miami to go. There are several Chef Creole locations in Miami as the owner has built a name brand for himself but the original seafood takeout in the Little Haiti neighborhood is best. It feels like a seafood shack in the Caribbean and while its takeout they have a shaded outdoor area with tables and chairs to sit down and eat at. We went with the whole fried fresh snapper and their famous seasoned shrimp.

Whole Fried Snapper

This picture was taken before I dumped my cup of sauce and fresh sliced onions and pikliz, a hot Haitian relish, on it. So it may look plain from here but with all that added on it was pretty heavenly and "hella" fresh man. Their shrimp and its seasoned batter was even better. I think I paid a little over $20 for all that and the people working the place were great. The man himself, Chef Creole was there making sure we were happy. I'll be back when I return.

Famous Creole Seasoned Shrimp


Little Haiti (Miami)

Not far from Chef Creole is Fritay. I said "what the hey" and decided to try this place too. It's indoors but they one table. From behind the glass they have a steam table of whats on their small menu. Fritay means fried and their fried chicken was named best in Miami by the Miami New Times. I guess that was before Yardbird, it was ok. The fried pork was ok too but the fried acre and sides with them were great. the acre tasted like potato pancakes to me. This place too was super cheap and they sold their pikliz by the bottle so I got a few of those to go home with. 

Fried Pork with Acre and Beans and Rice

El Mago de las Fritas

Little Havana (Miami)

Long on my radar I've actually never had a frita cubana in Florida. I've made them but now can come to understand that just like a good Cuban sandwich, you need a certain type of bread for these. This place is a popular pick for many including the President. Mago himself was there and he made my frita which is a Cuban take on the hamburger. It comes with a seasoned beef/pork blended patty with shoestring potatoes and onions added on in between some really good bread. I loved it.

Frita Cubana with Cheese

The Yardbird

South Beach

Well after three days (with a GF) in South Beach, I was about ready to leave. It's like Vegas in that it's fun for a couple days but that's all you need. There's all sorts of people trying to get you to come in to their happy hour deals which they say is 2 for 1 but that's by the round. So you end up paying $32 for four super sweet drinks. The crafted cocktail scene hasn't really hit South Beach but Yardbird is the exception. Its not up to the levels of Violet Hour, Barrelhouse etc... but they mix some good drinks and at $11 your paying that everywhere here. Might as well be good.

One of the only spots to get a decent cocktail South Beach

Anything with peach and bourbon is good by me so I was sipping down on a concoction with those on both visits. I had camera problems as mine jammed while down here and I didn't get it fixed until the last night when I played rough with it. But we ordered the chicken biscuits drizzled in honey twice because they were as good as hyped. The fried chicken here is also really good and that talk has got them a location coming in NYC. We had a cornmeal crusted catfish on special that day which was quite piquant.

Chicken Biscuits as good as those in Nashville

While my camera was down I tried the NYC transplant Shake Shack with my friend and thought it was just ok. I had pelmeni in Little Moscow (Sunny Isles) and we also had some really fresh ceviche at a great little place called My Ceviche. Also enjoyed grouper chowder and fresh fish at Garcia's, a great locally loved spot on the river my friend brought us too. Dinner our last night in town was at Tap Tap and that was really fun and tasty too. 

Better go walk some of this off...See y'all in the morning.
So I'm a big fan of the Caribbean lifestyle especially when it's cold where I'm from. I'm also a big fan of Key West. It has that that laid back Caribbean vibe going on. this was first trip here since we rode down here on an epic journey in college.

Merry Christmas

A Key West Foodventure for y'all

Enjoy the ride

While it's possible to fly into Key West it's most certainly not cheap. If you're staying for a few days or going with family, a car can come in handy though they rent electric cars, bikes and scooters everywhere on the island. Most people just fly into Miami and rent a car and take the wonderful 160 mile drive down A1A which ends in Key West. I was already in Florida on an extended stay and took off for the Keys after spending a couple nights in Miami.

Knaus Berry Farm

there's a place called Robert's Last Stand that's supposed to be great and I really wanted to stop there but failed to en route back. My buddy who lives in Miami told me I must stop at another Homestead farm for their cinnamon buns before heading down. The best "by far" he told me and he wasn't lying. They go thru them like its nothing so they're baking them fresh and served hot all day. Don't miss this place for breakfast.

Knaus Berry Farm is a popular South Florida Family Stop

An amazing strawberry shake and the worlds greatest cinnamon buns are a must

As always I went prepared. This wasn't my first rodeo down there as I fell in love with the vibe when we went on a family vaca's a few times in my grade school years. I also stopped thru on Spring Break but back then it was all about drinking and seeing, maybe getting. This time around I wanted to see what else was out there for the ride down there and back. I used this wonderful Florida Rambler Website to find some great stops on their Mile Marker guide.

Holiday Isle Tiki Bar

Where the Rum Runner was born (Islamorada)

Keys Fisheries

Just off A1A halfway between MIA & KW a sign leads you past truckloads of lobster traps...

...to some of the freshest fish in the Florida Keys (Marathon)

This was actually a spot we stopped in at on the way back but had I known on the way down how much I was going to enjoy this family run fish business in Marathon. Its about the halfway point, I should have stopped both times. You can walk up to a window to order your seafood and they call you when its ready. Eating options are alongside the water at the tables or upstairs at the bar area which also has a raw bar. This is the way to go.

Raw Bar Upstairs (21+)

It doesn't get much better for a local watering hole

My View from the Bar

We got some lobster bisque and lobster fra diavolo from downstairs but the almost all day special upstairs is where its at. Grab an ice cold beer and kick back on some super fresh seafood while you stare at the blue waters ahead. I've come to learn I'll never have a lobster fra diavolo like that from this place in Providence until I get there again but enjoyed this version which was enough for two. The soup was pretty good and if you're there from 5-8p they cook stone crab hot to order. If not no worries, they offer them up by the 1's and 2's upstairs as well as some super tuna sashimi.

Lobster Fra Diavolo

All Day Happy Hour (1-9p) $1.50 Stone Crab Claws and $4 Tuna Sashimi

There's also a fish market on site, I had them put 3 pounds on ice to take back to South FLA

Bahia Honda State Park

We didn't stop here on the way there or back but drove here one of days I was down there for some rest and relaxation. It's about 40 minutes from Key West and well worth the visit. Easily one of the best state parks I've set foot in. It's the top ranked beach in-state at the reliable Florida Rambler Website. There's two beaches and one has the feel of your typical Florida oceanside beach while the other sits below the bridge in a tropical Caribbean setting with crystal clear waters.

You can walk up to the end of whats left of one part of the old Bahia Honda Bridge which was started in 1905 and completed in 1912. Built by oil mogul Henry Flagler it's was also called "Flaglers' Folly" We saw an amazing sea turtle from up above, it must of been at least 300 pounds, it was huge even from far way. great views and not a long walk up at all.

View of the park from the old bridge

Hogfish Bar & Grill

I had the pleasure of staying at a place owned by a friend of mine and was very lucky in that we had a chef for breakfast and dinner and an amazing place to stay with everything one could need. But that didn't keep us from getting around to finding the real gems and this Florida Rambler rec'd bar and restaurant was so good I went there three times. Located on Stock Island which is where the local commercial shrimp boats used to sail out of. Located off the beaten path past some trailer homes, hey if you're going to live in one it might as well be here. Hogfish is near the beginning of town and well worth finding. Not all that hard either, if you have a GPS in your car or phone.

The Famous Hogfish Bar & Grill on Stock Island

This is a great local watering hole with some stereotypical fitting Key West characters lurking inside, especially during the night. They had a great mom and daughter bartending team and they specialize in hogfish. It's spear-caught and available when they have it so when they do make sure to get some. The house sandwich was sensational. Blackened hogfish smothered with Swiss Cheese, Onions and Mushrooms on fresh Cuban Bread. So good I had it twice.

Specialty of the House: "KILLER" Hogfish Sandwich

Fried Hogfish Tacos

Sights from Key West

Happy Hour

Happy Hour is a big part of the lifestyle down here so you might as well embrace it. Key West always has that chillaxed vibe going for it and there's quite a few places to take advantage of the food and drink deals.

Alonzo's is my pick for best food and drink Happy Hour in Key West

The best of the bunch is Alonzo's Oyster Bar. The entire appetizer page as well as drinks are half off. I tried them all. Their famous Key Lime Martini isn't a bad way to end a meal of their addictive beer steamed shrimp and mussels in marinara which were my faves. I prefer cold water oysters and their $2 ones from Vancouver and Martha's Vineyard were really good too. get there early to take advantage of the bars seats.

Happy Hour Eats

Right next door to Alonzo's is a place that serves ice cold bottles of beer for $2/3 and freshly shucked gulf oysters for 50 cents a piece, all day everyday. Just be sure to tip your shucker. We had some great chats about his homeland Jamaica, another favorite Caribbean getaway of mine. Also a popular happy hour stop is Half Shell Raw Bar but I didn't think the food or drink specials were nearly as good as Alonzo's. The coconut fried shrimp were tasty and the rum punch did its job but we ended up back at Alonzo's the next day. 

The Raw Bar next door to Alonzo's (Left) Half Shell Raw Bar and their Coconut Shrimp (Right)

B.O's Fish Wagon

This place has long been a popular spot run by a longtime Key West character. It's a no frills open air bar where they make a mean groper sandwich. It comes perfectly fried with a light cornmeal breading served on some really fresh bread. Their handcut fries show you they dont mind taking the little extra time to serve a superior product even though Key West is a place where you can get away with doing half assed things as far as food goes. Though I was told it's getting alot better.

An amazing little open air fish shack in town

BO's Famous Fried Grouper Sandwich and their fantastic fresh cut fries


In case you didn't know Key West has a big gay community. But that's just one part of it. It's a partying and drinking town enjoyed by folks from all walks of life. I was really surprised this trip by how international of a destination it is. There were visitors from all over the globe. Asia, Spain, Ireland, England. Families, couples, college kids, you name it. It's a must visit for anyone who likes to travel and explore the different cultures of our world.

Where Hemingway used to drink

Duval Street is where most of the bars and many restaurants and shops are located at. You can walk with drinks and most places stay open until 4am. Sloppy Joe's is a longtime mainstay and there are drag shows if that's your thing and regular dance shows with girls in no clothes if you swing on that side. Be not afraid single straight guys, it's a very popular bachelorette weekend getaway destination and that just means theres more you know what for you. My GF said she didn't even recognize the rainbow community. Everyone's there for the weather and great times. Be not afraid.

Chaos erupted at the original on Duval Street when the namesake himself did a pop up show

Sandy's Cafe

24 hour eats in town

If you find yourself hungry after a few too many rum runners and it's 3 in the morning you need not worry. Sandy's Cafe is attached to a laundry mat and it's a 24 hour walk up window with a few seats outside surrounding it. I had a very tasty Medianoche (Midnight) sandwich that hit the spot in the early wee hours of the morn. A medianoche is a close cousin of the Cuban sandwich with the difference being the bread. It uses a soft sweet egg dough bread not too different from challah.

Medianoche Sandwich
Kim's Kuban

One morning and early afternoon was spent on my friends yacht whom he had someone take us around in. Instead of getting stuffed before we even set foot on the boat I ran over to Kim's Kuban which isn't far from the harbor. They make a tasty Cuban sandwich and some very good toasted bread with butter. In the pic you can see the pepperoni which isn't all that unusual as in Tampa (where the sandwich was born) they add salami. These were perfect for a snack later on the water.

Cuban Sandwiches or other options from Kim's Kuban are great for boat trips

Higgs Beach

"Life's a beach and then you fry"

Quite a few folks I talked to mentioned how they thought Key West has no beaches but that's not the case. Higgs Beach in the southeast corner of town is a great place to catch some rays. They have chairs and umbrellas that can be rented for $25/day. That's a pretty good deal which I found was the case with drinks in KW too. They could hike up the prices but they dont so cheers to them for not doing so. Aside from the chickens you might have to walk around a few Key West beach bums as well, dont worry they dont bite.

"Jersey Strong"

Freshly Caught Seafood for Sale

Seeing as though we had a chef at our service at the wonderful Truman Annex where my bosses house is located we ate some great locally caught fish each day I was there. He mentioned both Fausto's Grocery and Eaton Street Seafood Market as places he gets his fish from. Fausto's is the Keys oldest grocery store and a very good one I'd be happy with here. Started by Fausto himself he came over in 1910 to work the old cigar factory in town and eventually started his market.

Eaton Street isnt nearly as old but they make a point to buy their fish from only local fisherman. They also sell food to order like fish sandwiches and have cracked stone crab for your consumption on the bench outside. Wahoo, cobia, snapper and so on were a few of the local fish species we ate.

Fausto's Grocery (Top) and Eaton Street Seafood Market (Bottom) are great for fresh fish

Garbo's Grill

Garbo's Grill is ranked as the top rated place on TripAdvisor to eat at. This is the type of spot you're going to remember eating at in the Key's. Nothing fancy here but the mahi mahi fish tacos with mango and jalapeno were some most amazing fish tacos you'll ever have. This is what Key West is all about as far as food goes. Nothing fancy but oh so fresh and so good.

Some of the best eats on the island come from this cart

Mahi Mahi Tacos are almost worth the trip alone

Peppers of Key West

Across the street from Garbo's is Peppers. Its a shop that sells all sorts of different hot sauces and allows you to try whichever ones you want before you buy any. They have a bunch of their offerings across the street for you to use on your fish tacos. I ended up trying Dat'l Do It with my tacos. Its a brew made with Datil peppers in St. Augustine that loved it so much I bought three bottles from Peppers to take home with me.

Amazing selection of hot sauce and a chip bar for you to try them

More sights in Key West

A walk around the town is a must for anyone who likes to see some amazing old homes and great old Colonial architecture to boot. Key West is as friendly of a place you're ever going to visit and everyone leaves their door open and hangs on the porch at some point during their day. The other not misses are of course Ernest Hemingway's old home, the haunted cemetery where some great stories are told and sunsets at Mallory Square. The Square is where you'll find many of the Key West weirdos doing their freak shows for a few bucks. Some fun stuff to watch.

Unique architecture seen along the walks & sunsets at Mallory Square are classic Key West

A Key West Sunset

Seven Fish

I had read and been told by my boss to get to this place located just off the chaos of Duval street. Even though I had just ate an hour before and wasn't all that hungry, I squeezed it in on my last night in town. Its small and reservations are most always required. We didn't make them but were able to get a seat around 9p after putting our name in. The menu focuses on simple fresh good food with an emphasis on fish.

Just off Duval Street this little stop is a must

The folks running this place from the waitresses to the owners were really friendly and warm welcoming. Me and her were sharing and started with another excellent example of a fish taco, this one made with local cobia fish. The plan was to share a seafood dish made with some homemade pasta but our waitress asked if we were sure we didn't want to try their signature dish. It wasn't hard to convince us especially seeing her enthusiasm for it.

Cobia Fish Taco Appetizer Special

Holy **** am I glad she did. One of the best dishes I ate all year. The snapper was sauteed with fresh garlic and ginger and served with a creamy curry coconut sauce over sticky rice with fresh local veggies. Fan-flipping-tastic. On top of that she split our plates up for us and I would of been satisfied with the portion I got as a whole. Well worth the few extra bucks in my book. Don't miss this place.

The Signature Snapper Curry Dish is one of the best plates I've ate all year

On our last night both before and after the fantastic dinner at Seven I had realized I hadn't even tried two of the signature local eats on the island. So while we waited for our table at dinner I over indulged in some conch fritters from the Conch Shack.

The Conch Shack

Sitting amidst the bars of Duval Street is some tasty food to get you thru the night

We chatted with one of the owners who started this place up in 2009. He and his partners worked in catering and use the same recipe one of the caterers 90 year old Bahamian grandmother used. The old family recipe is a fantastic rendition and brought me back to the Abaco Islands where we went on a family vacation years ago. These seemed to be the most popular in town and I could taste why. After dinner I grabbed a slice of Key Lime pie at Kermit's because it was open and near. It was a nice treat to have when I got back home and popped open one last cold one in the open warm air. 

Kermit's Key Lime Pie Shoppe

Another popular stop on Duval Street for the islands signature dish

It's the end of the road...

...See y'all next time

Sheila's Famous BBQ, Conch, & More
406 Southern Blvd
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
(561) 951-2723

La Granja Restaurants
Locations throughout Florida

Big Al's Steaks
450 East Atlantic Avenue 
Delray Beach, FL 33483
(561) 819-1888

LaSpada's Original Hoagies
Locations throughout South Florida

The Whales Rib Raw Bar
2031 Northeast 2nd Street 
Deerfield Beach, FL 33441
(954) 421-8880

Kelly's Landing
1305 Southeast 17th Street 
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954) 760-7009

Southport Raw Bar
1536 Cordova Road 
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
(954) 525-2526

Jamaica Kitchen
8736 Southwest 72nd Street 
Miami, FL 33173
(305) 596-2585

Chef Creole Seafood Takeout
200 Northwest 54th Street 
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 754-2223

Fritay Restaurant
12143 Northwest 7th Avenue 
North Miami, FL 33168
(786) 866-9674

El Mago de las Fritas
5828 Southwest 8th Street 
Miami, FL 33144
(305) 266-8486

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
1600 Lenox Avenue 
Miami Beach, FL 33139
(305) 538-5220
Knaus Berry Farm
15980 Southwest 248th Street 
Homestead, FL 33031
(305) 247-0668

Holiday Isle Tiki Bar
84001 Overseas Highway 
Islamorada, FL 33036
(305) 664-2321

Keys Fisheries
3502 Gulfview Avenue 
Marathon, FL 33050
(305) 743-4353

Bahia Honda State Park
36850 Overseas Highway 
Big Pine Key, FL 33043
(305) 872-2353

Hogfish Bar & Grill
6810 Front Street 
Stock Island, FL 33040
(305) 293-4041

Alonzo's Oyster Bar*
700 Front Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 294-5880

*Random Raw Bar with .50 oysters all day next door

Half Shell Raw Bar
231 Margaret Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 294-7496

BO's Fish Wagon
801 Caroline Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 294-9272

Sandy's Cafe
1026 White Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 295-0159

Kim's Kuban
2300 North Roosevelt Boulevard 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 296-2878

Fausto's Food Palace
1105 White Street
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 294-5221

Eaton Street Seafood Market
801 Eaton Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 295-3474

Garbo's Grill
603 Greene Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 304-3004

Peppers of Key West
602 Greene Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 295-9333

Seven Fish
632 Olivia Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 296-2777

The Conch Shack
118 Duval Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 295-2494

Kermit's Key Lime Shoppe*
200 Elizabeth Street 
Key West, FL 33040
(305) 296-0806
*2nd location on Duval Street
post edited by KingT - 2013/02/17 18:55:39

22 Replies Related Threads

    • Total Posts : 7778
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/02/18 09:18:03 (permalink)
    Beautiful report KingT!
    I don't think I've ever seen the filling placement style of La Spada's.
    They drop a little salad down there.
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/02/18 17:43:45 (permalink)
    KingT, welcome back! What a wonderful report!! So delicious looking and beautiful too!!
    Double Cheeseburger
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/02/18 18:57:09 (permalink)
    Great report, KingT. I lived in Key West for two years back in the 70's and it remains one of my favorite US cities. Great hunting for a hetrosexual male, btw! All the straight women are definitely on the prowl. You covered most of my haunts except for the Green Parrot and Capt. Tony's, which by the way is where Hemingway drank....it used to be called Sloppy Joes, and the one on Duval St. simply capitalizes on the name. Did you get to see a sunset at Mallory Square? I think I might have missed a total of five or six in two years. No mention of conch fritters, either. The were probably my major food source while there. I'd kill for a real Cuban sandwich about now.
    post edited by Pancho - 2013/02/18 18:59:09
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/02/18 19:01:08 (permalink)
    Great report on one of my favorite spots Key West,Fl----Love Bo's fish house another good place is Blue Heaven.
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/02/18 19:20:23 (permalink)
    Great report. Thanks for sharing.
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/03/01 23:01:41 (permalink)
    Great timing for me. We are going to Miami, Key Largo and Key West April 13-20.
    Thanks for all of the tips!
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/03/01 23:07:59 (permalink)
    Extra credit for the cute musical notes!
    ann peeples
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/03/02 03:47:34 (permalink)
    Double Cheeseburger
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/03/02 18:08:38 (permalink)
    just dont miss the huge conch fritter served at alabama jacks on card sound road, go for the expierience to, north key largo on card sound road at the toll bridge
    Double Cheeseburger
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/03/02 20:01:04 (permalink)
    A, great report...one of the best, with quality pics.  You didn't miss many spots, and I have eaten in many of the ones you have reported on.
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/04/02 22:16:31 (permalink)
    10 days and counting before our trip to the Keys. I will retrace some of KingT's joints and the other suggestions. Like Captain Tony's and Alabama Jack's conch fritters!
    Think we will go to Joe's Stone crab for our Anniversary. My wife has never been.
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/04/03 07:37:43 (permalink)
    what a great report!!! Key West one of my favorite cities the other being Austin went every year to the offshore boat races but have not been in a couple of years it's time to go back.
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/04/04 07:47:15 (permalink)
    http://www.floridarambler.com Get aways to the authentic Florida. This site is another good tip. Thanks KingT
    ♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫
    "Way down to Kokomo "
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2013/04/04 16:46:34 (permalink)
    Incredible report!.............And the memories of Kelly's when I worked in FTL for 3 years will always be of some of the best seafood served NE style in FL!  The original Kelly's was in Hingham MA I think, although ownership of both has changed over the years
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2016/01/12 19:43:41 (permalink)
    -as seen on chibbqking
    Was back down in the Sunshine State this past Thanksgiving. Same base as before and basically the same itinerary as far as exploring. I can only sit around doing nothing at the pool for so long, so we were down in Miami a couple nights and also did the Keys. Some people will tell you there's lots of hot garbage when it comes to the food in Florida but those are the same people who seek out Gibsons and Pizzeria Uno when in Chicago. I agree that most of the nicer higher end restaurants are very vanilla and don't get me started on the cocktails I could've mixed back in grade school, but the strip mall eats are strong. Because of the weather and what not Florida attracts people from all over the globe so there's lots of different options as far as food but it's the Caribbean and South American eats you really want to seek out. Those and the places slanging fresh seafood bought off the boat that morning. Lets roll.

    Kersmon Caribbean Restaurant

    Greenacres, FL

    Aside from Cuban food, Jamaican is probably the most common Island cuisine down here. I didnt get a chance to snap any pics of what might've been the best thing I ate while leaving in a club in Miami in the wee hours of the morning. There was a guy on the sidewalk pushing real deal jerk chicken grilled over pimento branches. Amazing. Then there was this place up in Greenacres. Perfect scores on Yelp with lots of praise heaped upon the food and the ladies cooking it. I agree with all of it. Extra tender oxtail in a deep brown sauce with some of the best rice and peas I can remember. The type of place I could be a regular at.  

    Oxtail With Beans

    Aunty Sue's Roti To Go

    Margate, FL

    I had intents of uncovering a few Trinidadian spots but two of them were closed for athe week due to the Holiday. Luckily for me this place was in the next strip mall over from one of them. Lots of Caribbean-Indian eats in this suburb here. My goal was to finally try a Bake and Shark sandwich which along with Roti and Doubles are the staples of Trinidadian food. Doubles being little sandwiches with fried flat bread filled with channa (curried chickpeas). Usually spots ask if you want "Peppa" which means hot sauce, which usually means straight fire and not for the weak. Love me a double or two and this was a really good but man that peppa sauce was hell.

    A Trinidadian Double

    Bake and Shark sandwiches are hugely popular all over the island but they're especially associated with Maracas Beach. Kind of in the same way jerk chicken is always linked to Boston Beach in Jamaica. The "bake" part of it is fried flatbread which makes as the bread while the shark part is just that. After waiting maybe 40 minutes I was too hungry to ask questions and forgot to inquire abiout what type of fish they were using. Bake and Sharks are typically dressed with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, peppa sauce and other condiments such as ketchup and garlic sauce. I asked for mine with whatever is typical and got this big ass sandwich I could barely finish. I have no other Bake and Sharks to compare it to since the other spots were closed but it was enjoyed.

    Bake n' Shark Sandwich

    Hammond's Bakery

    Lauderhill, FL

    Here's a mostly Jamaican town down the road from Ft. Lauderdale. I know some people from here and they were home for the holidays and took me to their favorite snack spot. It was about 5p when we arrived so there was a line out the door from the after work crowd though it moved surprisingly fast for a Caribbean joint. They had the days Daily Gleaner up on the wall for those wanting to get the current events back home while waiting in line.

    a peek inside

    Pretty typical Jamaican bakery, might as well have been in Jamaica. The patties here come with a much more flaky crust than most others I've tried, which are all flaky but these were so much so Head and Shoulders needed to be called in. Excellent quick snack option for those that live near here.

    Jamaican Beef Patty


    West Palm Beach, FL

    Here's your stop for food at all hours. They have a walk up window for the after hours crowd which I took full advantage of after a holiday party at a local watering hole. Much like Italian beef theres more bad Cuban sandwiches than there are good ones and this one fell somewhere in between. It seems like most everyone that makes them forgot that there's a perfect balance to follow. Too much of one thing takes the flavor profile away from where you want it to be. This sandwich had way too much ham and the mustard was poured on with no regard. That said I'm a Cuban Sandwich elitist so I'm way more pickier than most because this was a damn good sandwich considering what the other options to eat around town were.

    Cuban Sandwich

    Juana La Cubana

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    I'd heard about some top of the chain vaca frita aka fried beef being served here and made a mental note. I rode over for lunch one day and assumed google maps steered me in the wrong direction when it said I was close and all I could see was a lake with homes around it. Then I spotted a sign and sure enough there was a restaurant. I wasn't sure about the vaca frita when I saw the guy take a piece of cooked steak out the fridge but it was all smooth sails from there. They cook the beef and then slice it until it's barely intact. It then goes on the flattop and gets bathed in mojo and other oils before some onions get the same treatment. End Result is a flavor profile similar to corned beef hash which I love so I adored their take on this classic Cuban dish. I'll be back for it next time I'm in town.

    Vaca Frita

    Good Eats 33

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    Another gemmer in Ft. Lauderdale, also in an obscure area, this time surrounded by warehouse businesses. We dont have many Venezuelan options in Chicago but I sure wish we do. Well I wish we had more arepa shops anyway. I highly recommend Good Eats 33 for breakfast as their arepas were outstanding. This one has bacon, egg, white cheese, and black beans and if the option to eat it was near me I'd have breakfast more often. I got great service from the family that owns the place and just loved their offerings on the popular Venezuelan snack.

    Arepa with Bacon, Egg, Cheese, and Black Beans

    Los Bobos Cafeteria

    Doral, FL

    The suburb of Doral sits right next to Miami and it's a hub for Latin American eats particularly Venezuelan. Though I'd heard good things about this Cuban cafe and stopped on the way to the Keys. Their Cuban sandwich was ranked in Miami's Top 10 by the Miami New Times and it's picture spoke to me. Said to have some extra flavorful roast pork in their Cuban I ate one for breakfast but couldn't really tell. There was way more ham so that's mostly what I tasted. As always the bread was the best part of it. A suitable snack but nothing to make me think the options here are better than those in Tampa.

    Cuban Sandwich


    Doral, FL

    Post-booze food in Doral. I couldn't believe how many families were eating here around Midnight. Popular spot in a strip mall with a few other Venezuelan businesses including a place that specialized in Tequenos which is a Venezuelan style cheese stick. Here they practice the Pepito sandwich which is basically those crazy South American hot dogs with infinite toppings in steak sandwich form. I asked the beauty working the register which one was her favorite and ordered it. I believe it was called the bistro and I believe I needed about 7-8 more mojitos on top of the 7-8 I drank to really enjoy this. It had as much cheese as a slice of deep dish along with infinite amounts of mayo based sauce and potato chips and everything else on it I couldn't taste including the beef somewhere in there.

    Pepito Sandwich

    Finka Table & Tap

    Miami, FL

    Here we have what's supposed to be one of Miami's hottest restaurants according to the people over at Eater. It's away from the hustle and bustle of South Beach so I thought it would be a good spot to hit up post Keys on our way back to Boynton Beach. Surprisingly the cocktails were pretty good here. The drinks I ordered were well balanced and boozy which is what I want. The food is a mixture of Cuban, Korean, Peruvian and it was good. Nothing to get too excited over though the fried rice did have righteous wok flavor. I'm pretty much done with the trendy dining scene in Miami. Next time in I'll further explore the strip malls of Dade County.

    Cuban Fried Rice


    Popular Italian Spot in WPB: Roasted Pork Sandwich with broccoli rabe and pickled onions (pictured) was very good and the zucchini chips they came with were stellar. A mushroom gnocchi dish was also on point but the cocktails were awful.


    Fort Lauderdale

    Had to stop in to the world famous Mai Kai which was named the best tiki bar in the world by members of Critiki. Florida isnt all that old so they dont have establishments going back a century and what not but Mai Kai is a glimpse into 50 years ago. It opened to the public in 1956 and much of it remains the same, though it has to have grown. The place is huge and they still do dinner shows and all that other hoopla but the best time to go is probably Happy Hour when the drinks are half off from their normal prices which float around $15. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a few boozy albeit fruity drinks. This isnt Lost Lake (Chicago), Smugglers Cove (San Fransisco) or even Foundation Tiki (Milwaukee) but the drinks were better than say Hala Kahiki which I know isn't saying much.

    a peek inside

    Fish Shack

    Pompano Beach, FL

    First time here but it wont be my last. Another hidden spot away from the water but well known with locals and those willing to do a little research. The space is very small with 5 tables and maybe 8 seats at the bar. No wait on this visit but I'm sure they get pretty busy. Fish Shack is a classic Florida style fish shack which is a no frills bar in a beach community with a mainly local seafood menu, cold beer, and wings. The original Hooters up in Clearwater was one before becoming a behemoth.

    Buffalo Tiger Shrimp

    Tempted by their wings, which smelled great, we opted for an order of Buffalo shrimp which is a guilty pleasure of mine at Hooters. These were made with fresh local tiger shrimp and a classic style buffalo sauce that hit the spot with what I was looking for. As soon as I saw Hogfish on the specials board I knew what else I wanted as it's one of my favorite tastes of fish. Two thumbs up for lunch.  

    Blackened Hogfish Sandwich

    Tark's of Dania Beach

    Dania Beach, FL

    Another popular small Florida style seafood shack. I didnt like this place as much as the one up above. The Conch salad was listed as a specialty and it was good when the pieces were tender but when they were chewy not so much.

    Conch Salad

    Wings and Clams are the other often ordered menu items with the flouring station right there in the open. We watched as the guy breaded each belly up and then fried them to a light golden hue. They were tasty but not on the level of the ones we had in Maine and Massachusetts this past summer.

    Fried Clam Bellies

    Captain Charlie's Reef Grill

    Juno Beach, FL

    Last night in town we rode up A1A and got dinner at this crowd-pleasing seafood stop mentioned upthread. We got a seat at the bar after about a 20 minute wait a few doors down at A Few Doors Down. If you like to be in on the action the bar is a good place to sit as the open air kitchen extends around it. The menu is ever changing but the staples fished out of local waters are almost always available and served in a few different ways. Lots of people make an entire meal out of the small plates which isnt a bad way to go. We were in good hands with Rusty the owner and also a regular who's name I forget but so I was told eats there a few times a week. Everything pictured below was $92 along with a beer and a wine. Pretty fair pricing I thought, we ate more than most need to.

    Tempura Fried Grouper Cheeks - Some of the best fried fish i;ve ate of it. Loved the pile of acidic cole slaw laying underneath the cheeks.

    Crab Cakes - Basically all meat. We had to get an order of these after seeing another go under the broiler. Just what we wanted.

    Blackened Yellowtail Snapper - This was her choice and it was a good one. I thought the fish was as good as any piece we had this trip.

    Grilled Wahoo - A tad bit undercooked but I didn't really care as I wasn't going to wait for another plate and what it was wasn't going to kill me. Black beans and Rice are a nice side to go with the fresh fish options.

    Peppered Tuna - This was our dessert as recommended by Rusty. Cooked rare as requested it's got both vinegar and blueberries amongst other stuff and man was it good. I never would've thought to order it so I'm glad it was rec'd.

    Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Grill

    Key Largo, FL

    The plan was to make a triumphant return visit to Knaus Berry Farm for a box of their cinnamon buns which remain the greatest baked treat I have ever had. I've seen some absurdly long lines at places like Franklin's Barbecue in Austin and The Clam Box in Ipswich but what I saw at Knaus was insane. At least 300 people in line. We drove by and headed to the Keys. Though I found myself wondering about all the Mexican taco stands alongside the road, usually paired with a fresh juicery as this is citrus and berry country. Something for my next trip in. This trip consisted of a pitstop at Key Largo Fisheries where they have a grill in the back on the water. We hadn't had any grouper yet so a sandwich of it was in order. It hit the spot like they all do down here.

    Blackened Grouper Sandwich

    Of course last but not least is some Florida stone crab as it is the season. I think they were going for $24/lb for the mediums on this day. All sizes taste the same its just a matter of how much work you want to do in getting the sweet luscious meat out of the shell. I ate two pounds there and bought another two on the way back as it was a bit cheaper than the spots in Key West. Speaking of which I almost exclusively did repeat food visits while there. That's it for this trip.

    Florida Stone Crab

    Kersmon Caribbean Restaurant
    4622 Jog Rd
    Greenacres, FL 33463
    (561) 968-5656

    Aunty Sue's Roti To Go
    2718 N State Rd 7
    Margate, FL 33063
    (954) 532-4958

    Hammond's Bakery
    4224 NW 12th St
    Lauderhill, FL 33313
    (954) 583-3554

    6801 S Dixie Hwy
    West Palm Beach, FL 33405
    (561) 547-9799

    Juana La Cubana
    2850 SW 54th St
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312
    (954) 985-8899

    Good Eats 33
    6882 NW 20th Ave
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309
    (954) 956-4480

    Los Bobos Cafeteria
    5600 NW 79th Ave
    Doral, FL 33166
    (305) 592-8774

    5900 NW 102nd Ave
    Doral, FL 33178
    (786) 431-5399

    Finka Table & Tap
    14690 SW 26th St
    Miami, FL 33175
    (305) 227-8818

    517 N Clematis St
    West Palm Beach, FL 33401
    (561) 833-1033

    3599 N Federal Hwy
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
    (954) 563-3272

    Fish Shack
    2862 NE 17th Ave
    Pompano Beach, FL 33064
    (954) 586-4105

    Tark's of Dania Beach
    1317 N Federal Hwy
    Dania Beach, FL 33004
    (954) 925-8275

    Captain Charlie's Reef Grill
    12846 US-1
    Juno Beach, FL 33408
    (561) 624-9924

    Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Grill
    1313 Ocean Bay Dr
    Key Largo, FL 33037
    Phone:(800) 432-4358
    post edited by KingT - 2016/01/12 19:48:12
    Filet Mignon
    • Total Posts : 3008
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2016/01/13 09:51:55 (permalink)
    Great report, great pictures! After seeing this report I wonder what the Sam Hill am I doing in the Pacific Northwest during the winter..........As usual your reports are a work of art!.......Thanks for taking the time........Bill
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2016/01/13 10:15:05 (permalink)
    Holy cow!  Grouper, stone crabs, tuna, wahoo, snapper.......seafood paradise!    Thanks for a great report, beautiful pictures and now making me crave fish!!
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2016/01/13 12:15:49 (permalink)
    Fabulous!  I've been to Key West a couple of times and now I want to spend a couple of months there!
    Your pictures, food choices and write up are top notch! 
    I've never seen rock shrimp before this. 
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2016/01/14 08:55:24 (permalink)
    Thanks for bringing this one back to life.  Just happen to be heading South soon.
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2016/01/14 09:57:46 (permalink)
    Love the Florida keys. Great food in gorgeous surroundings!!!
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2016/01/14 11:14:09 (permalink)
    Wow. Great stuff. Thanks.
    Fire Safety Admin
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    Re:♫ South Florida down into the Keys, that's where I want to be ♫ 2016/02/10 15:37:00 (permalink)
    Great report and I am glad you are back.  Roadfood certainly needs reports like this.  Dr. Roz and I are going to the Keys mid April and will certainly use your report.  Thanks again for the great report and pics.
    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
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