The oldest eatery in the Keys (a Cuban fisherman opened it in 1909), Pepe's is worth a visit for the history alone. While it's still a local's place, visitors have gotten hip to this tiny gem despite its unassuming frontage. Their motto, "A fairly good place, for quite a long while," says it all. People line up each weekend for a brunch filled with good-old-fashioned Chock Full O' Nuts coffee, homemade bread, fresh orange juice, chipped beef on toast and eggs Benedict. Their outside patio is charming, but the walls inside are packed with flotsam and jetsam from the past decades that will keep you entertained.
Recommended for Brunch because: The oldest eatery in the Keys, brunch at Pepe's is traditional--right down to the Chock Full O' Nuts coffee.
Claudia's expert tip: Ask for a mimosa or a greyhound. Both are made with fresh squeezed juices.
A household name in New York City, Sarabeth's in Key West has gained its own loyal following as a go-to breakfast stop. Located in a historic clapboard house on Simonton Street, the restaurant has a charming garden in the back with shaded seating. People line up early to get one of those tables, so expect a wait. The menu at this James Beard award winner consists of items like lemon ricotta pancakes topped with strawberries and wheat berries and pumpkin waffles paired with sour cream, raisins, pumpkin seeds and honey. Their Key West shrimp and bacon omelet with scallions, herbs and smoked mozzarella is more savory fare. For something completely different, try their homemade porridge served with sweet cream and fruit. Start with their Four Flowers Juice--orange and pomegranate juices blended with fresh pineapple and banana. No breakfast here would be complete without topping off a freshly-baked muffin with Sarabeth's signature marmalade.
Recommended for Brunch because: Known for their signature marmalades and outpost in New York City, Sarabeth's Key West has earned its own reputation as a go-to breakfast spot.
Claudia's expert tip: They close in the Fall for off-season, so make sure to call ahead.
An upscale Caribbean-American restaurant, Louie's Backyard has been a go-to spot for al fresco dining since 1971. Their weekend brunch menu offers something for every palate starting with coconut-lime eclairs and ending with Key West pink shrimp Benedict. In between, you can roam the culinary world with Cuban pork cemitas, Bahamian conch chowder and Asian chicken salad. Check out their brunch cocktail menu, which not only features the usual suspects, like bloody marys and mimosas, but also sangria, mojitos and Louie's lemonade. Their extended deck overlooking the Atlantic will tempt you to linger over just one more mimosa.
Recommended for Brunch because: The weekend brunch at Louie's Backyard is always hopping with its Caribbean-American menu and ocean views.
Claudia's expert tip: The word is out on Louie's; make a reservation well in advance.
Tucked away in the charming Bahama Village, many visitors stumble across this quaint French cafe while waiting in line at the popular Blue Heaven Restaurant across the street. Once they've tried the scrumptious crepes, turned out by the owners from the Morbihan region in France, La Creperie becomes a regular addition to their vacation itineraries. You can sit at the bar and watch authentic crepes being made from scratch, or you can enjoy the island breezes and dine al fresco. Perfect for a mellow brunch, La Creperie has the best Croque Monsieur/ Croque Madame on the island. Homemade ice cream, fresh grilled paninis and espresso round out the menu. Many items are organic and free of GMOs.
Recommended for Brunch because: At this delightful French cafe, you can watch your crepe being made from scratch.
Claudia's expert tip: La Creperie is perfect for people with special diet needs from whole vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.
In Key West, this restaurant needs little introduction. The private courtyard (once home to Hemingway's boxing matches) is filled with roaming chickens and lounging cats soaking in the sun. Grab a seat outdoors under the shaded canopy or indoors in the "tree house" or dining room. Southern and Caribbean fare is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but brunch is always jam-packed. The Lobster Benedict is a customer fave, followed closely by the Shrimp and Grits. Their famed key lime pie has been featured on many a TV show and is country-star Kenny Chesney's favorite. Parking is extremely limited, so walking or biking is encouraged.
Recommended for Brunch because: Kick back in the shady courtyard for brunch with the roosters. Try the Shrimp and Grits or Lobster Benedict.
Claudia's expert tip: Key lime pie for breakfast? With its mile-high meringue, this treat is a must any time of the day.
Part bakery, part bistro, Croissants de France serves up a mix of French food with a Caribbean twist. Their garden patio just off Duval Street offers a tranquil setting under the shade of a sprawling Spanish lime tree. Sip on a luscious cappuccino or make a toast with mimosas (with fresh orange juice). Signature dishes include Cinnamon Brioche French Toast and Seafood Eggs Benedict. Their savory buckwheat crepes are stuffed with hearty fillings like goat cheese, tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, summer squash. Buttery croissants and delectable pastries are baked fresh each night and are on display in the bakery where it's easy to grab some for the road.
Recommended for Brunch because: This bistro serves up a mix of French food with a Caribbean twist next door to their bakery packed with buttery croissants and pastries.
Claudia's expert tip: Feel like staying in for brunch? Croissants de France delivers.
This cozy restaurant has been redefining vegetarian cuisine for over 10 years, but it's the bottomless mimosas that draw a crowd for weekend brunch. From a simple tofu scramble to "chicken" and waffles (made with battered crispy cauliflower), their menu offers morning classics with a healthy twist. They even have vegan pastries. If you're not in the mood for mimosas, they have a variety of homemade drinks like fresh watermelon, cucumber and lime juice and fresh-squeezed limeade with agave and fresh mint. If you have a severe gluten allergy, let the kitchen know, so they can prepare your meal properly.
Recommended for Brunch because: The weekend brunch at The Cafe pairs bottomless mimosas with classic morning dishes with a healthy twist.
Claudia's expert tip: If you have a severe gluten allergy, let the kitchen know, so they can prepare your meal properly.
This classic greasy spoon is a short morning bike ride away from Duval Street and close to the historic seaport. A 50s-style diner, the eatery sports a funky colorful decor complete with ample counter seating. The breakfast menu is available all day and includes traditional comfort food like the Country Po-Boy--country fried steak topped with two eggs any style, smothered in rich sausage gravy. Corned beef hash, biscuits, pancakes and omelets round out the menu. Their famous Spicy Bloody Harry is sure to fix even the worst hangover. Generous portions at reasonable prices (cash only) make it popular with locals and visitors alike. Weekends are especially busy, so expect a wait.
Recommended for Brunch because: This 50s-style diner focuses on comfort foods like country fried steak, biscuits and gravy in generous portions with reasonable prices.
Claudia's expert tip: They only accept cash, but they have an ATM.
Grab a window seat or head for the second-floor veranda for brunch with a view at this charming bistro. You can watch the parade of scooters, bikes and horse-mounted policemen along Duval Street. Their menu features French classics like sweet and savory crepes in so many varieties that it can be hard to choose. The heartier crepes range from a basic egg, ham and Swiss to their La Ratatouille, which combines eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions and tomatoes, topped with a fried egg. The sweet versions wow with simple flavor combinations like banana, sugar and rum or the crowd fave--Key lime sauce with whipped cream. While you can indulge on mimosas, they don't have a liquor license; that means no Bloody Mary's. Check the chalkboard for the specials and fresh quiche of the day.
Recommended for Brunch because: This charming cafe offers French classics like sweet and savory crepes, fresh quiche and airy croissants in a quaint setting.
Claudia's expert tip: This little bistro is always hopping, so expect a wait.
This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant features a shaded terrace with trickling waterfall for dining al fresco, as well as comfortable indoor seating. A popular Sunday brunch destination, they offer dishes like Key Lime Stuffed French Toast and Yellowtail Snapper Benedict. Or try their twist on corned beef hash: slow-braised beef rib, Yukon gold potatoes, poached egg and black truffle hollandaise. If you're craving lunch instead of breakfast favorites, they offer sandwiches like French Dip and an Angus Beef Burger. The Grinnell Street location is refreshingly off-the-beaten path. Reservations are recommended.
Recommended for Brunch because: This Mediterranean-inspired restaurant draws locals and visitors alike with creative brunch dishes like Gnocchi Fritattas and Yellowtail Snapper Benedict.
Claudia's expert tip: Don't miss the olive oil that comes with the bread basket. It's infused with garlic, rosemary and paprika.