Iconic Key West Restaurants Every Visitor Should Check Out
Some things never change, and some, like these Key West restaurants, never should. Key West always has something new and exciting to try, but these old favorites are landmarks for a reason. Here are the most famous Key West restaurants that everyone should try at least once.
The infamous saloon has captured generations of Key West visitors and locals alike. Sloppy Joe’s history dates as far back as 1933 and has even attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, who became a beloved regular. The old standby is open 365 days a year and offers drinks, live music, dancing, and tasty Floribbean eats like conch fritters with key lime mustard, island smoked fish dip, and the famous Original Sloppy Joe Sandwich.
The “original Key West seafood restaurant” has withstood the test of time - and become an integral part of the Key West dining scene. The laid-back waterfront haunt was originally a shrimp warehouse before becoming a restaurant in 1972. Enjoy Half Shell’s impressive raw bar with fresh oysters and middleneck clams on the half shell, Key West “pink gold” shrimp, clams casino, oysters rockefeller, mussels, and garlic, BBQ, steamed, and baked oysters. Half Shell’s seafood towers include all of the raw bar offerings, plus crab claws and chilled lobster tails. Other favorites include the conch chowder, conch ceviche, coconut shrimp, and the oyster and grouper po’boys. Try select seafood dishes at a discounted price, as well as 50% off well liquors, house wine, and beer during their daily happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The Hog’s Breath Saloon has been one of the most popular establishments on Duval Street for nearly 25 years. You’ll find local favorites like gulf shrimp, stone crab, and garlic shrimp dip at Hog’s Breath, but it’s all about the pork at this Old Town eatery, with menu items like slow braised pulled pork BBQ nachos, pulled pork sandwich, and mini pork shanks with a spicy plum sauce.
Get a true taste of classic Key West at Blue Heaven in the historic Bahama Village. They specialize in Caribbean cuisine and seafood, with dishes like Atlantic sea scallops provençal, spiny lobster, yellowtail snapper, and Jamaican jerk chicken. They also host a spectacular Sunday brunch with unique items like lobster and grits, a Florida shrimp omelette, and Key West shrimp benedict. While Blue Heaven’s menu is always top notch, their whimsical outdoor space is worth a visit alone. Roosters and cats roam the grounds, while colorful art and canopies of tropical foliage create a fun ambiance for al fresco dining.
Two Friends is one of the oldest bars on the island. They employed Key West’s first female bartender (the legendary Barabara Smith) and were the first bar to serve draft beer. The restaurant specializes in local seafood dishes like fried lobster, drunken mussels, seafood pastas, and mahi-mahi tacos, as well as savory breakfast items like smoked salmon hash browns and shrimp and crabmeat quiche. Seafood restaurants many come and go in Key West, but Two Friends will outlive us all.
An island institution since 1984, the open-air bar is located on the site of the old Singleton Shrimp factory overlooking the Historic Seaport. The outdoor ambiance is classic Key West, and dishes like the fried fish melt and raw sashimi grade tuna nachos are out of this world. Don't let these eats sit by themselves: Schooner Wharf’s drinks are just as much a draw as the food. Favorites include the key lime pie martini, rum runner, key lime colada, and Key West mai wai.
The Cuban eatery will whet your appetite with dishes like roasted pork tostones rellenos, cayo hueso Cuban (Key West's version of the traditional Cuban sandwich), and a delicious rabirubia frita entera (fired yellowtail marinated with fresh key lime, garlic, and onions). El Meson de Pepe can be found in Mallory Square, making it the perfect spot to grab a mojito and catch the sunset celebration. The family owned and operated restaurant has been slinging Cuban food and preserving the Cuban Conch Heritage in Key West for over 30 years.
Looking for more iconic places to eat in Key West? Keep up to date with our Food & Dining Guide for the best places to dine local and eat fresh across Key West.
The Gates Hotel Key West is recognized by Condé Nast as one of the best hotels in Florida. Located in New Town, our regular shuttle services to Old Town make your trip laid-back, relaxed, and easy. Enjoy a day by the pool with bites from our food truck or a drink from our onsite bar and cigar lounge. Choose from our best rates and special offers when you book direct.