2014 Key West Restaurant Recap (A Comprehensive List)

I eat a lot (as you may know), and I write about what I eat. The last time I did a restaurant recap, two and a half years ago, I had written about 44 restaurants in Key West. Now I am over seventy. I am limiting this particular list to Key West (including Stock Island), as beyond that becomes unmanageable for one post. Here you will find, in a few short words, the current standings of all Key West restaurants previously reviewed on the blog.

The bad news: Several restaurants have closed down, which in the case of some of this is not really bad news, but nonetheless… (in no particular order)

  • Havana 1 (replaced by Lupita’s, which I have yet to try).
  • Colombian Grace (although it is rumored that they will be reopening in the former home of Better Than Sex. I will not be frequenting the new version.)
  • Kyushu (massive fire; nothing has replaced it yet)
  • Out of the Blue (then replaced by Vito’s Piazza, also now closed, now replaced by Bistro Sole. As I am not a fan of Cafe Sole, I don’t see myself at the bistro version, either.)
  • Vito’s Piazza (see above)
  • Fin (now replaced by Onlywood, which is fantastic.)
  • Sweet Tea’s (location is still empty)
  • Bobalu’s (replaced by Charlie Mac’s, which I will have to try soon. The Big Coppitt location of Bobalu’s is still open.)

Which leaves the rest of them all still open. Here is my current take on matters, again, in no particular order:

  • The Flaming Buoy (still awesome, and actually getting more awesome as they add new menu items.)
  • Azur (still awesome, also have some new and noteworthy menu items. Will review again soon.)
  • Deuce’s Off The Hook Grill (new, and fabulous. They also just got their liquor license so no need to BYO.)
  • 430 Duval (not so inspiring, but try happy hour for $4.30 cocktails and food.)
  • Solo American Bistro (pretty good. I have been a few times, but note that it turns into a bit of a club after 10 or 11, complete with DJ.)
  • Duetto Pizza and Gelato (yes, yes, yes. Wonderful on both diet-busting fronts.)
  • Blackfin Bistro (consistently excellent for any meal of the day. The tuna or salmon tartar are always amazing, as are burgers, fried goat cheese and everything else.)
  • Santiago’s Bodega (always great, but be sure to have a reservation or you will not get in.)
  • Hot Tin Roof (has been good when I have been for lunch; jury is still out on the new brunch. Stay tuned for more.)
  • Square One (new owners, new menu, still OK)
  • nine one five (not a fan, but for some reason, it is always crowded.)
  • Caroline’s Cafe (was good, but had a really bad delivery experience. I have also heard a secondhand account of food poisoning.)
  • Southernmost Beach Cafe (blech; sad, gray tuna served last time I was there.)
  • Strip House (always great, especially that twice baked potato. Now you see why I am on a diet, right?)
  • Mangia Mangia (always reliable for a big plate of pasta and delicious asparagus and Gorgonzola appetizer)
  • Le Petit Paris (still have not been for dinner, but breakfast and lunch are always good and reliable.)
  • Onlywood (awesome pizza, and pasta, and salads, and even tuna tartar.)
  • Louie’s Backyard (it never really occurs to me to go there with any frequency, but it’s still good.)
  • Roostica (Stock Island. Also very good pizza, and salads.)
  • Rooftop Cafe (I like it a lot more now that they have introduced many new menu items and continue to change them. Plus the view is great,)
  • (still really good, especially Sunday brunch and those killer Bloody Marys)
  • Braza Lena (still around, but I have not been back. They are rumored to have a good burger at the bar, but I can neither confirm nor deny.)
  • La Trattoria/La Trattoria Oceanside (both still alive and kicking. I have not been back to Oceanside, for the simple fact that the Duval Street location is closer to me.)
  • Origami (a big YES for sushi!)
  • Latitudes (a big NO for pretty much anything. I even managed to talk a few people out of going there, saving them from a mediocre meal with bad service.)
  • Six Toed Cat (no idea; have only been the one time. Can anyone else comment??? It is still around.)
  • Sandy’s Cafe (they are fast, cheap, open 24 hours and they deliver. Really, do you need more than that?)
  • Schooner Wharf (they have a whole lot of happy hours, but I always find myself eating elsewhere. Last time I was there they had good salads, though.)
  • Amigo’s (delicious, inexpensive and fast delivery. You can also eat there. Either way it is a win.)
  • La Creperie (fantastic. Needs no further commentary, just go grab a nice galette.)
  • Louie’s Upper Deck (same as Louie’s Backyard. In fact, this recap has inspired me to go back soon. Will let you know how it is.)
  • Hog Fish Bar and Grill (Stock Island. They don’t call it the “Killer” hog fish sandwich for nothin’.)
  • El Siboney (there are always hordes of tourists waiting outside, and loads of people lost in my neighborhood looking for El Siboney. Why? The food is good, it is inexpensive, portions are huge, oh, and the plantains are really yummy.)
  • Dante’s (hang by the pool, grab some drinks, and if you are hungry, the food is decent, too.)
  • Croissants de France (I understand that there was a fairly recent change in ownership. As far as I have seen, it is still good.)
  • Paseo (great food, limited seating outside and the hours are a bit weird. They close at 7PM. Despite that, the food is terrific. Try the fish in red sauce.)
  • Martin’s (I was not super impressed the two times I was there and have not been back since. But the garden is really pretty.)
  • The Cafe (consistently good food, mainly vegetarian so no land animals, but they have fish and seafood. And good felafel.)
  • Blue Heaven (good for breakfast, lunch or brunch; less good for dinner. Don’t go hungry as you will wait for a long, long time. Good news is they have excellent Bloody Marys)
  • New York Pasta Garden (giant portions – think Cheesecake Factory size – of decent, but not great, pastas. Good, friendly service.)
  • Ambrosia (stay away. The owner is one of the rudest people I have ever met. She honestly does not care if customers are happy or enjoy the meal, as long as she gets paid.)
  • Camille’s (yes, it feels old and dirty inside, but the food is good for breakfast or dinner. At breakfast time, be prepared for long waits.)
  • Kojin (the noodle bar has only a few seats that fill up quickly. Food is good. Pho, dumplings and more soul-warming goodness.)
  • Pepe’s (around since 1909. Still good, especially for breakfast.)
  • Luigi’s Secret Recipes (need Sicilian pizza?  Yes, you do, and this is the place to get it. They deliver late, too.)
  • point 5 lounge (honestly, there is no reason to think I’d like the upstairs part of nine one five any better than the downstairs, but the truth it s that it is worse. Stay away.)
  • Michael’s (fondue is still good at the bar. One day, I will have to make it to an actual table.)
  • B.O.’s (good fish sandwich, but pretty pricey when you think about it. But it’s good, and kitschy.)
  • Grand Cafe (good, but we go when they have local deals. Food and service are generally good and the wine list is the best on the island.)
  • Bagatelle (good food, good service, but not terribly memorable.)
  • Seven Fish (fabulous, but be sure to have a reservation. Even if it is a random Tuesday. Oh, and get the warm grouper roll. You’re welcome.)
  • Thai Life (great Thai food. Hard to get to with the construction on North Roosevelt Blvd, but worth the effort if you want Thai.)
  • Cafe Marquesa (has been around forever. We have been going for over fifteen years, so that tells you something. Food and service are always good, even if it is not the friendliest place on the island.)
  • Goldman’s Deli (the only place to get a bagel, practically, and they are not great. the other food, though, is good, and the bagels are serviceable.)
  • Chico’s Cantina (Stock Island. Always good. One of my favorite things is the cheese crisp appetizer. And the homemade hot sauce.)
  • Abbondanza (meh. Food is OK, but we have had some bad experiences there. Plenty of better places.)
  • Salute on the Beach (among other things, they have a fantastic ice cream sandwich made with homemade chocolate chip cookies. The real food is quite good, too.)
  • Gelato on Duval (OK, not exactly a restaurant, but since it has been sold they seem to have a lot of food options. I have not been, so no comment.)
  • Cafe Sole (see Bistro Sole above. No thank you.)
  • Banana Cafe (lots of my friends really like it. I should probably try it again soon. Will let you know.)
  • Garbo’s Grill (have not been since new owners took over a while ago), Bad Boy Burrito (totally overrated in my opinion) and DJ’s Clam Shack (surprisingly good) are all going to be featured on an upcoming episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Check ’em out.

You are still reading? That is impressive, indeed. There are a few new places in town, like the food truck at the gas station owned by the Michael’s people and the taco truck off Duval, that we definitely need to check out. As I eat there, I will report back. Also, look for updates to places that haven’t been reviewed in the past three or four years.

Is there someplace specific you want to see reviewed here? Let me know in the comments below!









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