Driving and Dining Through the Florida Keys

By: Rachelle Lucas

ADD TO FAVORITES

One of the most scenic drives in the United States is peppered with great restaurants to try.

Starting from the mainland down to Key West, the mile markers count down as you get closer to the Southernmost point. Since you’re bound to work up an appetite traveling a little over a 100 miles, here’s a guide to the best places to stop for photos and refreshment. 

KEY LARGO

MM 119    Alabama Jacks

There's no official mile marker to indicate you’ve arrived, but Alabama Jacks is the furthest restaurant from Key West before the mainland. Just off of Card Sound Road, it’s a local secret nestled in the swamp and famous for its conch fritters. Despite its off-the-beaten path location, it’s always packed.

58000 Card Sound Rd., Key Largo/Homestead, Fla., 33037

(305) 248-8741

MM 102.4    The Fish House

A Key Largo tradition for over 25 years, The Fish House is a whimsical place where you can get your first taste of conch-style cooking and fresh, locally-caught Florida seafood including grouper, mahi-mahi, and lobster.

102401 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, Fla., 33037

(305) 451-4665

Fishhouse.com

 


MM 100.5    Key Largo Chocolates

This is a must-stop for road trip treats or delicious souvenirs to bring home.  Master chocolatier Kristie Thomas, creates handmade           chocolates with island flavors such as key lime pistachio fudge, pirate’s coconut rum, and banana daiquiri truffles.  There are even cute chocodiles, a tasty alligator-shaped chocolate.

100470 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, Fla., 33037

(305) 453-6613

KeyLargoChocolates.com

                   

MM 101    The Blue Cow Cafe

If you’re craving some caffeine during the long drive, this is a good place to stop. They’re known for having strong Cuban coffee and array of ice cream flavors and other sweets such as banana walnut waffles.  There’s also free wifi if you’d like to upload some pictures from the scenic Florida Keys.

101431 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, Fla., 33037          

(305) 451-3334

TheBlueCowCafe.com

 

ISLAMORADA

 

MM  81.6     Morada Bay Beach Cafe

Upon arriving at this tropical oasis, you’ll want to kick off your flip flops and sink your toes in the sand.  Barefoot dining at its best, here you’ll find Adirondack chairs nestled underneath tall swaying palms and a menu that is just as awesome as the water view.  Morada Bay Beach Cafe is best known for its tapas and raw bar, including conch fritters, oysters, clams, and grouper ceviche. Give yourself a little extra time here for postcard-worthy photos.

81600 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, Fla., 33036

(305) 664-0604

MoradaBay-Restaurant.com       

                   

MM 80    Outback Steakhouse

Don’t be fooled when you pull into the parking lot of Hampton Inn & Suites because tucked away behind the hotel is one of the best tiki bars in the keys. This is Outback Steakhouse, Florida Keys style.  There’s a huge outdoor deck overlooking the ocean, hammocks swaying in the palm trees, and fruity umbrella drinks served at the Billabong Outback Tiki Bar.

79999 Overseas Hwy. Islamorada, Fla., 33036

(305) 664-3344

KeysDining.com/outback

                   

MARATHON

MM 54    Leigh Ann’s Coffee House

This coffee house is easily found by the gigantic pink coffee cup sign located next to the highway. I stopped here for breakfast on my way back to the mainland from Key West and was blown away by their sinful French toast souffle. They’re also famous for fresh pastries made in-house and eggs benedict.

301 Sadowski Hwy, Key Colony Beach, Fla., 33050

(305) 743-2001

LeighAnnsCoffeeHouse.com

 

BIG PINE KEY

MM 30.5    No Name Pub

Yes, it’s really called No Name.  A popular place where locals and fishermen have gathered for a cold brew since 1931 (or 1935 depending on who you talk to), this rustic pub is the oldest bar in Big Pine Key.  They’re famous for their pizza, a recipe that’s so good it’s been around a couple of decades. Be sure to autograph a dollar bill and tack it to their wall!

North Watson Blvd, Big Pine Key, Fla., 33043, three miles off the highway

(305) 872-9115

NoNamePub.com

 

KEY WEST

MM 4.5     Chico’s Cantina

Named  "Best Mexican Restaurant in Key West”  by Florida Living Magazine, the menu offers traditional Mexican dishes with a conch-cooking twist, including fish tacos and seafood enchiladas. Stop here for a margarita to celebrate arriving in Key West.

5230 U.S. 1, Stock Island, Fla., 33040

(305) 296-4714

ChicosCantina.com


 

MM 0    Blue Mojito Pool Bar & Grill

Down the street from the “official” mile marker zero sign, you’ll want to head to this open-air bar at the Hyatt to watch the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.  The swaying palm trees and luxurious pool offer a more relaxed vibe than the dives on Duval Street.  Order their famous blue mojito and raise a toast to the sunset, a daily celebration that’s tradition in Key West.

601 Front St, Key West, Fla., 33040

(305) 809-1234

keywest.hyatt.com

 

 

 

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8 comments
janie
janie April 24, 2013 4:46 PM
Florida keys has nice places to eat!!
hey...................
Outback Steakhouse....you are joking? That is a recommendation for great eating in the Florida Keys...I might as well stay home!!! Obviously this is more advertising than authentic advise. Thanks, but no thanks!!!
If you want a really tasty treat, stop by The Islands restaurant on Marathon. I had the Key West Shrimp Diane and it was totally amazing. You really have to try it. It's right on Kings Highway across from the Holiday Inn. You won't be sorry!!!
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driving time time how long does it take to drive form ST petersburg to Walt disney World