Seven Places the Locals Eat and Drink in the Lower Keys

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Harpoon Harry's  Photo by Louis Cahill

Harpoon Harry’s Photo by Louis Cahill

It’s tarpon season, and if you have any sense at all, you’re headed to the Florida Keys for some line burns. Since you can’t fish twenty-four hours a day, you might as well have a drink and something good to eat. Here are a few of the places the locals, and the savvy visitors enjoy.


Big Pine Restaurant

Photo Joel Dickey

Photo Joel Dickey

Comfortable and unassuming, the Big Pine offers great food at a reasonable price. It’s a favorite breakfast spot for the local guides but it’s great for dinner too and you won’t feel out of place in your fishing clothes. They’ll even pack you a sandwich to take on the boat. 29943 Overseas Hwy, Big Pine Key, FL (305) 872-2790

The Wharf Bar and Grill

DSC_8319A casual spot where fun is pretty much mandatory, The Wharf serves a great assortment of fresh local seafood and decadent desserts. There’s a full bar sporting daily drink specials and notoriously tasty margaritas. Sit outside under the palms when the weather is nice. 25163 Overseas Hwy, Summerland Key, FL (305) 745-3322

The Square Grouper Bar and Grill

DSC_8327A classy place, in spite of being named after the floating bails of pot that frequent the Florida cost, the Grouper is as close to a white linen table cloth as you’ll find in this part of the Keys. Chef Lynn Bell may serve the best seafood on the keys but there’s plenty of red meat and fowl options, including roast duck as well as some very good vegetarian dishes. Everything at the Grouper is outstanding down to the fabulous desserts and craft cocktails. 22658 Overseas Hwy, Cudjoe Key, FL (305) 745-8880

Baby’s Coffee

DSC_8332If your coffee habit demands something a little more than average, look no farther. The best coffee in the Keys is found under the big red, white and blue eye. But Baby’s is more than a coffee shop. It’s a gourmet market. A one stop shop for the deserving palate with sandwiches, snacks and a great selection of bottled beer and wine. 3108 US1, Key West, FL (305) 744-9866

The Rusty Anchor

DSC_8356Shine up your white patent leather shoes (and matching hair), jump in your time machine and set the dial to “Old Key West” circa Rat Pack. The Rusty Anchor is a unique and authentic experience. The atmosphere is straight from the movie screen as are some of the clientele. There are solid offerings of seafood and prime rib and a classic bar complete with a mounted marlin. 5501 5th Ave., Stock Island, FL (305) 296-2893

Harpoon Harry’s

DSC_8376Colorful and campy, Harry’s is a favorite Key West breakfast spot. Whenever breakfast happens for you. They serve breakfast all day as well as lunch and dinner and wrap it all up with open mic nights. It’s the perfect place to nurse a hangover. Folded into this classic diner is a liquor store. A trick you could only pull off in Key West. 832 Caroline St., Key West, FL (305) 294-8744

El Siboney

DSC_8341Close your eyes and you’ll think you’re in Havana. El Siboney is more than authentic Cuban food, it’s a cultural immersion. It starts with warm Cuban hospitality and ends with strong coffee and a good cigar. The menu is in Spanish and English, if that tells you anything. 900 Catherine St., Key West, FL (305) 296-4184

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Seven Places the Locals Eat and Drink in the Lower Keys

  1. I second your inclusion of El Siboney. Appearance is small and spartan, but in my experience fishermen care less about atmoshere and focus on food. Plus the prices are terrific for Key West. First went there about 30 years ago, and the place has remained real and constant. Excellente, amigo mio.

  2. All good choices! Except for El Siboney: no one goes there anymore, because it’s so crowded. Also try The Hogfish Grill on Stock Island.

  3. No Name Pub is a good one too its on no name key. I am going down there in a couple of weeks and was wondering if anyone had any advice on wading for some sea trout and maybe a bonefish and if it is reasonable to think i could land one on a 6 weight?

    • I’ve heard the no name is good but I haven’t been there. If you have a stout six weight you can land bonefish with it. It’s a blast! There are some good flats with easy access from Bahia Honda State Park.

  4. Check out Coconuts Liquors & Lounge on BPK. Owned by a true pirate. Mo’s is a Haitian-creole place on White (not Whitehead). Not too cheap, but worth it, and off the tourist path. And you have apparently never had the sweet chili wings at Kelly’s during happy hour. Or pizza from the No Name Pub? I’m not telling where that one is.

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