Key West

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Choose from Key West's 240 dining spots ranging from simple diner-style joints and old Conch (as the locals are called) hangouts to cutting-edge kitchens. Duval Street restaurants are largely a touristy bunch, with the best meals found tucked away from its bustle. Check out the burgeoning international restaurant scene in Bahama Village, and don't miss sampling island staples like conch fritters and key lime pie.

Top Restaurants in Key West

Blue Heaven

Live roosters wander among outdoor tables in this artsy joint and former whorehouse (Ernest Hemingway used to referee boxing matches here), the much-beloved veteran of the now-blossoming Bahama Village restaurant scene. Caribbean influenced seafood and vegetarian dishes star, and everything tastes farm-to-table fresh. If you can nab a spot for weekend brunch, order the pecan pancakes.

729 Thomas St., FL, 305-296-8666, blueheavenkw.homestead.com/Blue_Heaven_Restaurant_Key_West.html
Tags: moderate | seafood

El Siboney

Step off the well-worn tourist path and head south of Truman Avenue for solid Cuban home cooking: chicken, black beans and rice, tangy roast pork, paella, and island sandwich classics like boliche (chorizo-stuffed roast) or Cuban mix (pressed ham/cheese/pork). Inside the casual, red-brick restaurant the decor is basic diner, with the locals bellied up to the counter or stopping by to grab takeout. Be sure to review the changing array of daily specials. Dishes are inexpensive but stick-to-the-ribs substantial – definitely not for calorie counters!

900 Catherine St., FL, 305-296-4184, www.elsiboneyrestaurant.com
Tags: family | budget | cuban

La Creperie

A 2009 fire destroyed this tiny Duval Street favorite, but it's found new life (and more space) in Bahama Village. Homemade French crepes are the stars of the show, with all dishes inspired by the French owners' native Brittany. Dessert crepes and savory buckwheat varieties stuffed with cheese and herbs are prepared in full view behind the rustic log counter. Dine in and watch the creative process or outside at one of the sunny sidewalk tables.

300 Petronia St., FL, 305-517-6799, www.lacreperiekeywest.com
Tags: budget | local favorite | french | breakfast

Louie's Backyard

Chef Doug Shook blends Florida, Caribbean, and world cuisine with dishes like his stew of Mediterranean fish, shellfish, tomatoes, olives, and preserved lemon. Set in a historic Victorian home, this local favorite has oceanfront views that vie with the cuisine for top draw. Two bars, one at water's edge, and one upstairs that is open evenings for wine and tapas-size plates, allow for soaking in the sea air without the full-meal splurge.

700 Waddell Ave., FL, 305-294-1061, www.louiesbackyard.com
Tags: family | expensive | global fusion

Pepe's Café

Established in 1909, this venerable Conch stalwart owns the title of oldest restaurant in Key West. The casual dining vibe extends from its dark-wood pews in the rustic, boathouse-inspired interior to the tables scattered in the leafy brick courtyard. Order oysters or one of their tasty fish sandwiches, or make like a local and come early for breakfast, complete with a build-your-own omelet option. In a sea of seafood restaurants, this is also a menu that carnivores can sink their teeth into: think burgers, steak, and barbecue.

806 Caroline St., FL, 305-294-7192, www.pepescafe.net
Tags: family | moderate | cuban

Santiago's Bodega

Further removed from Duval than its Bahama Village compatriots, this 12-table tapas spot has become a dining destination. A makeshift sign urges you on about the time it seems you've gone too far into the well-worn neighborhood. Keep walking for tasty dishes like avocado pear salad, spicy shrimp bisque, and pork skewers with apple-mango chutney. Dining is a lively affair inside, where the sangria flows freely from the corner bar; sit outside on the tiny porch for a more sedate meal. Reservations are recommended.

207 Petronia St., FL, 305-296-7691, www.santiagosbodega.com
Tags: moderate | modern | patio | small plates | mediterranean

Seven Fish

Check out this snug little favorite in Old Town for its quality Asian-fusion cuisine, which includes crab and shitake mushroom pasta and banana chicken with caramelized walnuts. Fish naturally plays a leading role, with dishes updated daily based on the fresh catch. Reservations are recommended; when the sun sets, the tables go fast. The minimalist contemporary design stands out in the Keys’ crowd, reading more Miami than Margaritaville.

632 Olivia St., FL, 305-296-2777, www.7fish.com
Tags: moderate | seafood | editor pick

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