Island Flavors and Creative Chefs Make Key West Restaurants Shine

Dining in Key West is a multi-cultural adventure for your tastebuds. As people from Cuba, the Bahamas and other locales settled in Key West long ago, there was a natural blending of flavors that formed the beginnings of new world cuisine. While you may find a few chains on the island, most of the restaurants here are small gems with talented chefs using fresh ingredients like hogfish, Florida lobster, Key West pink shrimp, Key lime, passion fruit, pineapple, avocado and mango.

For authentic Cuban cuisine, look no further than El Meson de Pepe off of Mallory Square where the mojitos are strong and the pork spiced to perfection. The upscale Hot Tin Roof  at Ocean Key Resort turns up the heat a little bit more with a Pan-Latin menu and dishes like homemade chorizo and paella. For more Caribbean-inspired items, Blue Heaven in Bahama Village turns out an amazing jerk chicken–not to mention a world-famous Key lime pie. Some top restaurants in Key West are no more than shacks like BO’s Fish Wagon, which has one of the best fish sandwiches in town. At Half Shell Raw Bar, fresh seafood unloaded right there at the docks takes center stage. When you’re ready to cool things down, Duetto has the best gelato on the island made fresh each day. Here are just 10 of the fabulous restaurants that Key West has to offer near the cruise port. Be brave and try something new. You’ll be glad you did.

La Creperie French Cafe
Photo courtesy of La Creperie


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. But once they've tried the scrumptious crepes turned out by the...  Read More



At the Grand Café, a casual Key West atmosphere is mixed with white tablecloths and an impressive wine selection. Located in a stunning Victorian Mansion on Duval St., this spot is prime for people watching. The service is top-notch with...  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 has become a staple in Key West – and with good reason. The fresh fish sandwiches are simple, yet...  Read More



Hidden down a small walkway off Duval, you'll discover the enchanting garden of Onlywood Pizzeria Trattoria. Owners Davide Cremascoli and Alessandro Piazzo, who grew up in a small village in Napoletana Italy, are devoted to bringing you the most...  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



In Key West, this restaurant needs little introduction. Enter a private courtyard to find roaming chickens, lounging cats soaking in the sun, and live music lingering in the air. Grab a seat outdoors under the shaded canopy or indoors in the...  Read More



Located at the Historic Seaport, this no-frills spot is popular with locals and tourists alike for their happy hour specials. From 4:30-6:30 p.m. daily, you can score two-for-one cocktails and discounts on menu items. The restaurant has a...  Read More



This new venue won't be kept a secret for long! The friendly owners, Leonardo and Giancarlo, offer samples of their creamy gelato that is homemade using milk imported from Italy. Once you try their fantastic gelato, you'll be back for more!...  Read More



Cuban food is an integral part of Key West's culinary DNA, and El Meson de Pepe serves up classic dishes like roast pork and plantains in a historic red brick building off of Mallory Square. You can choose to sit inside on the warmer days, or...  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


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