During our stay in Key West, we called the Key West Bight Marina home. The historic harbor here is lined with restaurants and bars that offer great views of the many charter boats, catamarans and schooners and their constant comings and goings.
Just a few blocks off of the bustle of Duval Street, the harbor walk area feels completely different than being along the “main drag.” Sadly, most visitors don’t venture off of Duval. Don’t get me wrong, it offers plenty of fun bars and restaurants to spend time in, and there are days and days of stores for browsing and shopping. However, it’s definitely worth a turn to the right or left. If you have time and spare cash, rent a bike or scooter and explore the many quiet side streets and lanes. There are endless houses to catch your eye, and places to eat and drink in, or tour along the way.
We visited some of our regular spots, and found several new ones. I thought I’d share some of our favorites places to eat and visit.
2 Cents Pub:
A relatively new place just off of Duval, and new for us as well, they offer endless bacon during happy hour!
We thoroughly tested this..we kept eating, and it kept coming! You roll dice to determine you drink price: 1 = 1.00. 2 = 2.00, 3 = half price and 4, 5 or 6 = full price. This is good toward any drink or cocktail in the place. We made out pretty well. Our 1.00s balanced out our 4s and such, averaging out to half price drinks and fun along the way. They also offer happy hour snacks.
Half Shell Raw Bar:
Located at the far end of the harbor walk, they offer happy hour seven days a week, which is a plus! All types and brands of beer are half price, as are rail drinks, house wines and bar food. It’s a popular spot with locals, so go early for a seat at the bar.
Conch Republic Seafood Company:
Along the harbor walk, they offer 2 for 1 beer and rail drinks. Meaning, if you buy one, you have a second one coming for free. You cannot share your free one with a friend, so you’re on your own for both. Outside of happy hour, they make great mojitos! Sadly, I have not been the happiest with their food, so we usually choose to stick to drinks here.
The Lazy Gecko:
Just down from Sloppy Joe’s, they have offer a longer happy hour, from 4-8pm. 2 for 1 beer and rail drinks. They also offer specials each day, and Scott and I are especially fond of Taco Tuesday…cheap tacos and 5.00 margaritas! The music during happy hour is always good, too.
The Smokin’ Tuna:
Another new one for us. Cocktails are 5.00, and they’re not limited to rail (which makes Scott happy!). They don’t skimp on alcohol in their drink.. and, they have COKE!! This is something that very important to Scott. He’s a not a Pepsi person, and we have discovered that Key West is a very, very Pepsi town (apparently, the Coke supplier isn’t reliable, which cannot be profitable for them here). Beer is half price. Happy hour munchies and music are pretty good.
The Boathouse has been around for years, but we just heard of the great happy hour. It took some trying to find the darned place! Located under the Commodore Restaurant, along the harbor walk, it has no outside sign. As you might imagine, it’s another locals favorite. All beer and rail drinks half price. The half price food menu is great! We also met some new friends here. Locals by way of Baltimore!
Food and Drink:
Cuban Coffee Queen:
Scott and I aren’t coffee drinkers, but we found this little place behind the harbor walk, and went there often for their sandwiches and smoothies. However, all of our visitors LOVED their coffee! Our friend Ted even threw away a cup that he’d purchased somewhere else, and headed back to the Queen for theirs. Go early, or be prepared to be patient. This place is popular, but worth it.
McConnell’s Irish Pub:
We watched the Christmas parade from their elevated patio, and loved the Irish nachos! A yummy plate of crispy, homemade potato chips, topped with either chicken or corned beef (who wouldn’t choose corned beef?!?!??) topped with cheese, tomatoes, etc. We dreamed of eating them again, but sadly never had time to go back.
Easy to spot along Duval, as it is covered in 1.00 bills..covered. We have never eaten here, but love their mojitos. The list of flavors is extensive, and all that we tried were good. Their music is always entertaining….not always the best, but definitely entertaining!
Key West Bait & Tackle:
Our beloved tackle shop! Tucked in near the Half Shell Raw Bar, they have a small indoor and outdoor bar, with friendly people and cheap, cold beer. We made many many stop-ins, on our way out for the night, after running errands or just because.
The owner was raised in Napoli, Italy. The atmosphere is great. It’s intimate both inside and on the outside patio, but still great for a group of friends to gather and eat. We had pizza all three times that we visited here, and it was great. The pasta dishes looked terrific, but we never had a chance to go back and try them. They only offer beer and wine.
Sadly, Scott and I discovered this place on our last night in town. Located just off of Duval Street, and on our way back to the boat, they have awesome New York-style pizza…and, they’re open daily until 4am!
This off-the-beaten-path place came very highly recommended from our slip neighbor, Alex, and it did not disappoint! We went for a holiday dinner, and had a great meal. Their menu is made up of tapas, or small plates that your share. A wonderful change from fish sandwiches and pizza!
B.O.s Fish Wagon:
Probably in the top five for atmosphere, B.O.s is terrific! It looks like a shell of a place, until you look closer and see that it’s a quirky, cool location for the freshest fish! It ain’t the cheapest, but it’s well worth the dollars! They have live music on Thursday evenings (I was surprised to see that they could fit three people and instruments in there!), and half price beer every day at happy hour….GO!
Schooner Wharf Bar:
This place wins hands down for old-school Key West character. It sits along the harbor walk and is somewhat hard to spot. The bar and surrounding tables are almost completely covered with umbrellas and canvass, shielding patrons from the hot keys sun. If you feel like some vitamin D, or want to get a better night view of the harbor area, they have a rooftop deck as well.
There is live music everyday that usually starts around noon, and you can hear all types of musicians and bands. We have come to love Michael McCloud’s mellow sound and quick, dry whit. The happy hour isn’t great, and their food isn’t stellar, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. You can’t walk by and not want to go in. Seriously, this place is great. If you don’t go, you can’t say you’ve been to Key West.
Places to visit:
Truman’s Little White House:
Most people are familiar with, and visit the Hemmingway Museum, and it is definitely a must-see. However, far less know about the Little White House. It’s located in a neighborhood blocks off of Duval, where you would never expect to find such a place. I toured it for the first time with my friend, Karen. We would both highly recommend it! If you missed my post about it, you can read it here.
Most everyone who comes to Key West is told about the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. In my humble opinion, Key West isn’t a “beach” town. Yes, it’s an island, but I feel that what makes the town special are it’s many neat restaurants, bars and houses. However, if I get the urge for beach time when I’m in town, I head for Smather’s Beach. The largest public beach in Key West, it’s sandy, versus Ft. Zachary’s rocky shoreline, and there is no admission fee. There are also several food trucks to grab a bite or a drink while you’re there, and chair, floats, kyaks and hobie cats are available for rent.
Turtle Races at Turtle Krawls Restaurant:
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Turtle Krawls holds turtle races. You get a ticket with a food or drink purchase, and those with the winning turtle ticket get a chance to open a chest full of cash. An original and fun idea. If you haven’t already, read my post about it here.
Sunset at Mallory Square:
Although this is something that attracts many many people, it’s still a must do. Head to the water’s edge at Mallory Square and check out the many performers. They all have a crazy talent, and are very entertaining. There are also many food and craft vendors. The edge of the pier attracts quite a crowd as sunset nears, so go early if you want a front row seat. I suggest you go a second time, to just wander the scene.
There you have it, just some of our favorite haunts and sights!
“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”