Renowned for mouthwatering Key lime pie and an abundance of fresh locally-caught fish and seafood, the Florida Keys offer an array of memorable dining experiences for visitors.
With more than 500 eateries to choose from, taste buds can be tempted in each of the five regions that make up the subtropical island chain. Many establishments also manage to capture not just the flavours but the unique, laid-back Florida Keys vibe. Here are five foodie ‘finds’ to give visitors a true taste of the Keys:
Key Largo: To experience a real locals’ café, stop by Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen to enjoy the signature breakfast. ‘Mrs. Mac’s Famous Mornwich’ is a pitta stuffed with eggs, cheese, tomato and mayo, served with a choice of steak, bacon, sausage, ham or vegetables, alongside homemade hashbrown casserole, home fries, grits or tomatoes. Guests with a sweet tooth can fuel themselves for a day of sightseeing with freshly-made waffles, crepes or French toast. Quirky and original, décor at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen features wall-to-wall car license plates. www.mrsmacskitchen.com
Islamorada: To dine on a natural beach in the Keys, head for Marker 88. Set on the waterfront on the Florida Bay, it has been a local tradition since 1967. Specialising in freshly caught seafood, the restaurant serves catches from Keys waters including yellowtail snapper, mahi, shrimp and lobster – and diners are even allowed to bring their own catch to be cooked on-site. Reservations are recommended. www.marker88.info
Marathon: Location is key for the perfect meal. At the Sunset Grille & Raw Bar on the southern banks of Knights Key in Marathon, diners are treated to sweeping views of the Keys’ iconic Seven Mile Bridge. Watch the sunset while sipping on cocktails such as the ‘Tiki Parrot’ and ‘Electric Margarita’ – the latter is served in a special lighted glass – and choose between mouthwatering menu offerings including homemade sushi, 7 Mile Lobster Bites, stone crab claws and conch fritters. www.sunsetgrille7milebridge.com
Big Pine Key: For an understated yet historic eatery that offers a taste of the ‘old’ Florida Keys atmosphere, try No Name Pub on Big Pine Key. Dating from 1936, it serves simple food on paper plates in a rustic bar that’s plastered with autographed dollar bills – and it’s famous for having some of the best pizza anywhere, created from a real Italian recipe that’s been inscribed on the wall since the 1960s. www.nonamepub.com
Key West: A truly unique foodie spot in the continental USA’s southernmost city is the award-winning dessert café Better Than Sex. Book a table here to enjoy sinful concoctions like ‘Cookie Nookie Pie’, ‘Between My Red Velvet Sheets Cheesecake’ and ‘Choco-Cab’ – cabernet served in a chocolate-rimmed wine glass. The tongue-in-cheek café features different themed dining areas including the ‘Red Room’ and new ‘nookEbar’. www.betterthansexkeywest.com
Top tip: If the Florida Keys cuisine is just too good to leave behind, pick up some local Key lime pie goodies at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. Find everything from traditional pie slices and sweets to Key lime jelly and salsas – all locally made in the Florida Keys. www.keylimeshop.com
Take a trip to the Florida Keys and save up to £250 per couple: Purely America (0844 80 444 80 / email@example.com) has seven nights in the Florida Keys from £1,139 per person based on two adults sharing. The price includes four nights at the La Siesta Key Resort & Marina in Islamorada followed by three nights at The Reach, A Waldorf Astoria Resort in Key West, return flights from London Heathrow to Miami and car hire for the duration. All accommodation is room-only and includes taxes and resort fees. Valid for departures during June 2016.
For further information on the Florida Keys & Key West, visit: www.fla-keys.co.uk