There are so many restaurants in Key West! It seems we'll never get to all of them-though we've sure been trying! This is our personal Top Ten list based on our preferences-and I've tried to give a short synopsis of why we like it-you may or may not like them as well as we do but this list gives you a place to start!
1. Michael's Restaurant, 532 Margaret St: This is just a charming Old Town restaurant! Set primarily outdoors, it doesn't look like much in the daylight but it's magical in the evenings. The fountain on the patio is good background for dinner, the lighted umbrellas are inviting and the food is great. Our favorite is the fondue, which is only served at the bar.
2. Hurricane Hole, 5111 Overseas Highway: The first place we go when we arrive in Key West, even if it's just for a drink. Wear whatever you want, go whenever you want, go when you've just finished a kayak rental from Lazy Dogs next door or one of the fishing charters or take your own boat and tie up for a meal after snorkeling. Our favorites are the shrimp, the Not Your Normal chicken sandwich and the Cuban. Best Painkillers on the island-go for at least a category 2.
3. Santiago's Bodega, 207 Petronia St: Another Old Town charmer, in an older home towards the end of Petronia St. There's seating on the front porch (and they have heaters in the winter) but we also like sitting inside. The small plate selection has something for everyone. They have white and red sangria "on tap". Make a reservation-it's a very small and very popular restaurant.
4. Bliss, 411 Petronia St: Bliss is just a couple of blocks from Duval and there's a new public parking lot right across the street. We've never seen this restaurant crowded and I don't know why-it's excellent. My favorite is to go here for empanadas and some white wine sangria (I think they have the best) and then go get dessert at Better Than Sex. It's an excellent place for a full dinner too.
5. Commodore Waterfront, 700 Front St: An elegant restaurant with impeccable service, great view of the Historic Seaport marina and fantastic steaks. See if you can reserve a table by one of the windows so you can look right out on the water and the Seaport boardwalk. We enter it from the Seaport boardwalk. Perfect place to go for a celebration.
6. Blue Heaven, 729 Thomas St: I think this restaurant is on everyone's favorite list. We've heard their brunch is amazing but we haven't tried it. We can say that their dinner is "heaven" though! There is a small indoor space for cool nights but we've only eaten outside, where of course you're in a tropical garden. Reservations are a good idea, especially for brunch.
7. Bagatelle, 115 Duval St: This restaurant is right across the street from Hog's Breath Saloon. Our favorite seats are on the upstairs balcony so the people-watching is great. The food is outstanding and the service has always been good.
8. El Meson de Pepe's, 410 Wall St: Pepe's sits between Wall St. and Mallory Square. You can often get an outdoor table with a sunset view, depending on the time of the year. The hostess stand is outside, on the Wall St. end of the restaurant. The inside seating doesn't look as nice as the outdoor seating. There is usually a Cuban band playing across from the outdoor bar and you can find a crowd dancing along most nights. Excellent Cuban food and the best Mojito I've ever had. And I don't even like mojitos!
9. Grand Cafe, 314 Duval St: This impressive restaurant is in a beautiful big white house with a lovely wrap-around porch and lots of outdoor seating. Excellent menu choices and generally good service. We like to make a reservation for a table on the porch, which is elevated and offers good people-watching on Duval.
10. Roostica, 5620 MacDonald Ave: Roostica is just a block or two behind the CVS on the Overseas Highway, not far from the entrance to our neighborhood. Excellent seating both inside and outside but you can bring your dog along if you sit outside and the staff will bring over a bowl of water. Great pizzas and pasta and a comfortably cozy place to go. Very popular with the locals.
Honorable Mention: Martin's, 917 Duval St: We just tried Martin's for the first time in January of 2018 and we really enjoyed it. It's a German restaurant in Key West! The service was very good, and it was a fairly authentic German menu. I lived in Germany for a year in the 70's, so it's been awhile, but I thought their spaetzle was excellent. They had a nice drink menu too and the table next to us was full of local ladies celebrating a birthday-we think that's a good sign!