American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
Good Eats in Key West
Two months ago, I highlighted a few notable destinations in the Florida Keys. Although I mentioned my favorite spot for key lime pie, I thought you might be curious about more substantial meals in Key West. While the island boasts a lot of eateries, three in particular have always satisfied me.
Although the Banana Cafe (1215 Duval St., 305/294-7227, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, $8-15), which hopped locations last year, offers breakfast and lunch, its specialty is definitely breakfast. In fact, don’t be surprised to find a line of waiting tourists and residents in the morning. While the Banana Cafe, a two-story joint with a Caribbean-style ambience and a French-style menu, serves excellent omelets, croissants, bagels, egg dishes, and fruit bowls, most diners go for the crepes – which have fillings as varied as sausage, key lime, eggplant, strawberry, bananas and rum, salmon and caramelized onion, and (my favorite) Swiss, goat, and Roquefort cheeses. If you have the choice (and the weather’s cooperative), be sure to eat on the upper terrace. Just be advised that the servers are often slow and testy – but what the café might lack in service, it makes up for with tasty food and a pleasant (if often crowded) atmosphere.
For a midday meal in the heart of Key West, stop by Sloppy Joe’s Bar (201 Duval St., 305/294-5717, 9 a.m.-4 a.m. daily, $5-17), a legendary watering hole that has stood in the same spot since 1937. Though the menu contains all manner of bar favorites, from nachos to burgers, I prefer the seafood selections, including fried calamari, conch chowder, crab cake sandwiches, and peel-and-eat shrimp, which are steamed in beer, chilled, and served with cocktail sauce. Mmm! Naturally, Sloppy Joe’s also offers key lime pie – with or without raspberry or chocolate sauce – not to mention an array of wine, beer, and specialty drinks. Although Sloppy Joe’s is almost always a bustling place, it’s especially lively during annual events like the Toga Party in October, Dropping of the Conch Shell on New Year’s Eve, Put-In-Bay Music Festival in February, and Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in July. If you plan your visit around those, you surely won’t be disappointed.
Though not as old as Sloppy Joe’s, the family-owned Two Friends Patio Restaurant (512 Front St., 305/296-3124, 8 a.m.-close daily, $9-35) is still a spirited choice for dinner (as well as breakfast and lunch). Established in 1967, this open-air eatery prepares terrific (though pricey) “chargrilled” steaks, fresh seafood dishes, and tropical drinks – just steps from Mallory Square. As a bonus, you’ll find early-bird specials from 4 to 7 p.m. daily, plus live karaoke nightly. While I’ve never worked up the nerve to take the stage, I certainly enjoy the show – it’s a hoot and a half, and the food is excellent, too. If you’re a seafood fan, you can’t go wrong at Two Friends, which offers everything from conch fritters and raw oysters to a lobster combo platter that includes grilled gulf shrimp, broiled scallops, and a whole Florida lobster tail.
No matter when you visit Key West, you’re bound to find something tasty. Given that it’s a touristy town, though, you’ll need to watch out for pricey disappointments. So, when in doubt about a particular restaurant, ask a local!
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me at laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.