Last month we introduced you to some of the Florida Keys' local characters and their tips for visiting the area. If you follow their suggestions for ghost tours, paddleboarding, making new friends in local bars, and more, you'll likely work up an appetite. Here are some of the best place across the Keys to fill up on brunch, seafood, and, of course, Key lime pie.
A Big Brunch or Breakfast on the Run
Mrs. Mac's Kitchen first opened in 1976 and has recently expanded to include two different locations in Key Largo. The sign out front claims that Mrs. Mac's Key lime pie is "world famous," but most people stop in here for the generously sized breakfast dishes that include egg plates, lobster and grits, the "famous Mornwich," sandwich, and a selection of daily specials that come with a large (and complimentary) glass of Champagne. (Dishes range from $5-$15).
If you are traveling from Key West to the Upper Keys and don't have time for a sit-down breakfast, you can grab a coffee and snack from Baby's Coffee on the Overseas Highway, Mile Marker 15. The Baby's Coffee company was established in Key West in 1991 and proudly calls itself the "Southernmost Coffee Roaster in America." While picking up your to-go cup of joe, you can also grab a bag of their gourmet beans – like the high-caffeine "Hemingway's Hair of the Dog" ($14.95 per bag).
Dinner with a Sunset
Both set on the bay in Islamorada, Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar and Morada Bay Beach Café are perfectly positioned for watching the sunset. Morada Bay Beach Café offers dining on the beach and a menu that fuses Caribbean and American cuisine (mains $11-$39). If you're lucky enough to visit during a full moon, don't miss the Morada Bay full moon party, which can feature anything from capoeira dancers, to a Bahamian Junkanoo parade, or a circus ($20 cover). Lorelei, which is such a center of local gossip that it's known as Islamorada's unofficial "City Hall," has live music each night and a seafood-focused menu (mains $7-$22).
Located on a canal and working marina on Stock Island, Hogfish Bar and Grill is a low-key local favorite that's far from the Key West crowds and serves fresh, local seafood caught right off the docks. The house specialty is grilled hogfish (a diver-caught fish with a light, scallop-like flavor) sandwiched between two slices of Cuban bread and smothered with Swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms ($14.95).
At the famous Key West seaport, Half Shell Raw Bar is a livelier seafood restaurant serving up garlic oysters, fish n' chips, middleneck clams, the signature conch ceviche, and much more. The restaurant runs a happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily with specials that include $5.50 conch fritters, $3 for a half-dozen raw Gulf oysters, and $6.50 for a half-dozen beer-steamed shrimp.
Leave Room for Dessert
What's a visit to the Keys without ordering a slice of Key lime pie, or two, or three? The title of best pie in the Keys is a hotly debated topic, but one place you shouldn't miss ordering a slice is at Blue Heaven in Key West. The quirkily decorated property is notable for having hosted Friday-night boxing matches refereed by Ernest Hemingway, and its Key Lime Pie sits apart from all others in the Keys for the pile of fluffy meringue it is topped with.
With thanks to the Florida Keys Tourism Development Council for introducing us to all the best foodie spots.