10 Best Island Restaurants for Serene Waterfront Dining in Key West

Waterfront restaurants provide a calming ambiance that crowded, indoor venues can't compete with. In the Florida Keys, the carefree environment, pristine weather, and surreal views, can be enjoyed year-round at a number of restaurants around the island. Naturally, much of the cuisine focuses on fresh seafood, but you'll also find international dishes, steaks, sandwiches, and more - particularly during lunch.

Step off the sand for a quick break and enjoy the atmosphere at Salute! On the Beach, or the Southernmost Beach Cafe - two casual eateries that serve up top-notch meals in an open-air, shaded patio. For secluded and romantic on-the-sand dining, hop on the ferry to Sunset Key to Latitudes restaurant, or visit Louie's Backyard, on the quieter southern side of the island.

For a truly unique waterfront experience, the Thai Life Floating restaurant adds a twist to traditional dining.

Down in the historic harbor, visitors can explore the authentic "old Key West" vibe and exquisite seafood dishes at the Schooner Wharf, Half Shell Raw Bar, and the Commodore - a more upscale waterfront restaurant.

Away from the Old Town action, the Hogfish Bar and Grill serves up the catch of the day, while 15 minutes away visitors can dine at the peaceful Kaya Island Eats, a pleasant surprise with sweeping views. We've rounded up the 10 best waterfront restaurants that each offer a different taste of Key West.

Half Shell Raw Bar
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Raw Bar

Once a shrimp packing building, this no-frills spot is popular with local fishermen who stop here for a happy hour snack and beer before they head home (drinks are half off). Don't expect white tablecloths! Patrons sit at communal picnic tables...  Read More

While many parts of Key West have seen modern changes, Schooner Wharf maintains that "old Key West" atmosphere - from the salvage wreckage - to the interesting characters that linger around the waterfront. It is also the home of the largest...  Read More

A romantic lunch (yes, lunch) is possible when it involves taking a ferry to a private island for some gorgeous views and exquisite cuisine. Latitudes on Sunset Key offers on-the-sand dining and upscale service at the Westin Resort. Sailboats...  Read More

Louie's Backyard is hidden a gem that locals try hard to keep secret. The food and the view make for an exquisite dinner - if you can get a reservation - an elegant lunch or relaxing weekend brunch. The menu changes quarterly and highlights the...  Read More

For a taste of a local hangout that is far removed from Old Town, follow the signs to the Hogfish Bar and Grill, located in Safe Harbor on Stock Island. This open-air, casual restaurant is a diamond-in-the-rough with a lunch menu chock-full of...  Read More

Southernmost Beach Cafe
Photo courtesy of Latitudes

You don't have to be staying at the Southernmost Hotel to enjoy the ocean view and atmosphere at the Southernmost Beach Cafe. Stroll in from the sand and have a seat in this ultra-casual, open-air restaurant that offers a wide selection of...  Read More

Duval Street
Hot Tin Roof
Photo courtesy of Hot Tin Roof

For upscale dining with a stellar view of the sunset, head to Hot Tin Roof at Ocean Key Resort and Spa located just off Mallory Square. You can dine alfresco on their patio with the sounds of Jimmy Buffett classics wafting up from the band on...  Read More

The historic seaport offers the quintessential Key West experience: boats tied to the dock, fisherman bringing in the catch of the day, and the sun slowly slipping across the sky. The Commodore has killer views of it all, an upscale environment...  Read More

As the sister restaurant to the famed Blue Heaven, Salute! On the Beach is proving that it delivers the same standards. This charming cafe on Higgs Beach has a laid-back atmosphere and Caribbean-Italian fare with ocean vistas. Stop by in flop...  Read More


Meet Amber Nolan

Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite...  More About Amber