Old school fish shacks offer fresh seafood in funky settings

When visiting the Florida Keys and Key West, you must seek out a classic fish shack for at least one of your meals. It’s an experience you won’t forget. Most of these eateries like Hogfish Bar & Grill and Half Shell Raw Bar offer open-air dining on rustic picnic tables with waterside views. The large thatched tiki, Sunset Grille, even has a stellar sunset view in the shadow of the Seven Mile Bridge. Expect casual service, plastic silverware and a minimal dress code.

One of the most important features of these Old Florida Keys throwbacks--they serve the freshest seafood at great prices. Often this means a close relationship with the local fishermen. MA’s Fish Camp’s two founding owners were both former professional fishermen with strong ties down at the docks. At the Hungry Tarpon at Robbie’s Marina, you can even catch your meal on one of their fishing charters, and Keys Fisheries is truly boat-to-table dining. 

BO’s Fish Wagon, tucked underneath a junker car, is the epitome of fish shack decor. While it may look as if their ceiling will collapse at any moment, their cracked conch sandwich is a delightful surprise. Some of these low-key spots like the Conch Shack and Garbo’s Grill aren’t even quite restaurants. They’re hidden gems with specialties such as conch fritters and fish tacos that will have you coming back for more.

Perfectly situated at the halfway between Key West and Miami, this Marathon fishery has a no-frills outdoor cafe serving lunch and dinner. Don't expect table service; this is a strictly do-it-yourself type of place. Walk up to the window to...  Read More

Tucked in between the upscale restaurants of Islamorada, this low-key fish shack is devoted to the freshest fish at reasonable prices. With a nondescript frontage, the simple yellow building on Old U.S. Highway 1 offers family-friendly dining...  Read More

As you walk up to the Hungry Tarpon in Robbie's Marina, you'll feel like you've taken a step back in time to the "real" Keys. This rustic little fish shack in Islamorada has been standing since 1947. It's the perfect spot to for cooking your...  Read More

The Sunset Grille and Raw Bar in Marathon is popular for its killer location next to the Seven Mile Bridge and stellar sunset views. It's heated pool, beach area, large oceanfront deck and boat docks don't hurt either. It's the ultimate place to...  Read More

This seafood shack may look like it's barley standing, but the food certainly holds its own. What began as makeshift food truck in the 70s, opened by local legend Buddy Owen, has become a staple in Key West. The fresh fish sandwiches are simple,...  Read More

Duval Street
DJ's Clam Shack
Photo courtesy of Foodspotting.com

This funky venue is the brainchild of two "Yankees" from Massachusetts and New York who had over 40 years of experience living in the Keys. As they put it, the result is a restaurant where "Northern and Southern Seafood meet." The menu features...  Read More

For a taste of a true local's joint just five minutes away from Old Town, follow the signs to the Hogfish Bar and Grill, located in Safe Harbor Marina on Stock Island. Try anything that's made with their namesake specialty like the "Killer"...  Read More

Duval Street
The Conch Shack
Photo courtesy of The Conch Shack

This blink-and-you'll-miss-it corner stand doesn't look like much, but they have some of the best conch fritters in Key West. You may have to wait a few minutes if there's a line, but it's worth it. The fritters are made to order, perfectly...  Read More

This fab food truck just got an upgrade, moving from their small corner on Greene Street to a bona fide restaurant on near Mallory Square. Since the beginning, the owners grew a cult following for their authentic island-style tacos and burritos....  Read More

Half Shell Raw Bar
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Raw Bar

Just like the classic waterfront joints of Key West past, the Half Shell Raw Bar serves the freshest seafood in a casual atmosphere. You can actually watch your dinner being unloaded from the boats at the docks, while looking out over the...  Read More


Meet Claudia Miller

Claudia Miller has been writing about South Florida for over 17 years--seven from Key Largo. A budding photographer, she can usually be found stalking a sunset. Despite being a tad...  More About Claudia

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