Although Key lime pie has spread in popularity throughout Florida – where the Key lime tree takes root – and beyond, Key Westers take proud ownership of its invention back in the pioneer days. Unlike the green Persian lime, the ping-pong-sized Key lime packs a more powerful pucker and has a lighter color.
Some of Key West’s best edible uses of its namesake lime think outside of the pie. And because eating in Key West so often means – or least involves – drinking, you'll also find some potent Key lime libations that take advantage of the fruit’s explosive flavor.
Key lime stuffed French toast at Azur Restaurant
Azur's Key lime French toast – it's breakfast decadence — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Key lime pie at breakfast? Sure, as long as you sandwich it between slabs of Texas toast in vanilla custard. Add berry compote, and you have a truly legit excuse to indulge first thing in the morning.
Crackling calamari salad with Key lime vinaigrette at Thirsty Mermaid
Key lime vinaigrette sparks Thirsty Mermaid's calamari salad — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
This sophisticated, off-the-grid little restaurant puts the Key lime to savory use in an olive oil, chili and miso dressing that pairs charmingly with the frisee's bitter bite and crispy-fried rings of lightly breaded calamari.
Key lime peanuts at Kermit’s
Salty-sour treats at Kermit's — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Keeping in a savory vein, wake up your taste buds with these simple little gems. It seems salty-sour is as happy a combo as salty-sweet at Kermit’s Key Lime Key West Shoppe. Kermit Carpenter makes and sells 125 different edible Key lime products from hot sauce to truffles, so don’t be surprised to see his name leap forth again. Apparently, for this Kermit, it really is easy being green(ish).
Lobster Benedict with Key lime hollandaise at Blue Heaven
Key lime hollandaise perfects Blue Heaven's lobster Benedict — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Need we say more? This triumph of local seafood and citrus is almost single-handedly responsible for the restaurant’s popularity. Well, that and its Key lime pie topped with a good four inches of meringue – not an easy feat in the tropical humidity.
Grouper sandwich with Key lime sauce at B.O.’s Fish Wagon
True Key West funk at B.O.'s Fish Wagon — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Colorful and Sanfordesque, B.O’s claims a long tradition of famous grilled or fried grouper sandwiches topped with its tangy tartar-like sauce.
Key lime ice cream at Flamingo Crossing
This popular Duval Street ice cream shop makes the inevitable Key lime ice cream. When it comes to sweets, Key lime adds a nice tang that balances.
Key lime fudge at Kermit’s
Of course, Kermit sells some of the town’s best Key lime pie, including frozen wedges on a stick dipped in chocolate. The Key lime fudge, however, concentrates the flavor of an entire pie into just a few potent, creamy bites and is easier to transport home than a whole pie.
Chef's Real Key Lime rum at Key West First Legal Rum Distillery
Key lime rum chef-made with the real deal — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Key limes are no stranger to beverages – from Key limeade at various venues throughout Old Town to the latest Key Lime WitNess sour beer at Waterfront Brewery. The bite you get from a shot of the rum at this distillery, however, is unique: sharply alcoholic and subtly citrus with a touch of sweetness.
Key Lime Martini at Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen & Bar
Liquid Key lime pie at The Perry Hotel Key West — Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton
Like Key lime pie in a glass, martinis featuring Key limes are easy to find in Key West, but you’ll be hard-pressed to sip one with a better view than at Matt's Stock Island at the new Perry Hotel Key West. It overlooks a harbor filled with yachts, charter boats, shrimp trawlers and the other gritty commercial fishing boats Stock Island is known for.
Fresh squeezed lime and pineapple juices, plus cream of coconut give the martini its stand-out character. And stand-out characters are what make Key West.
Key Lime Krack shooter at Better Than Sex
Of all the sinful indulgences in this suggestive, bordello-like setting, the potent Key lime experience topped with “whip” and “krack” (salty sweet graham crumbs) leaves you most breathless.