South Florida Sunshine

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Dining category.

Key West and a Local’s Favorite Bars

We are happy to present our good friend & Key West local Laura Murphy with another guest post on our blog.  After much begging on her part we finally caved in and agreed to have her write another article for us.  Local flavor is what we want to present so why not?!  Plus she is a pretty darn good writer as well!  Please share your thoughts by leaving us a comment after reading.

Back home we all have our favorite bars.  We fall in love with them for the great location, warm atmosphere, cheap appetizers and great selection of beer! But you’re not at home…you’re in Key West.  Now what?

Well; you’re in luck!  There are more bars in Key West per capita than in the entire USA (and churches too; figure that one out).  As someone who appreciates a nice bar to frequent, I’ve compiled a list of great places for you to enjoy while visiting this island paradise.  Even better, I offer you this comparative; we’re not made of money, and so we try to keep our outings reasonable.  Here are some of the places we frequent:

If you’re a music lover, The Bottle Cap Lounge and Liquor is the spot for you!  This hotspot is like getting three in one: a standard pub complete with pool table, an outside patio and, my personal favorite, the lounge.  It hosts dim lighting, couches and chairs for that night club feel.  If you come before 9 pm, you’re likely to find music videos playing on the bar TVs.  After 9 the live music or DJ kicks in.  You can find micro brews here as well as great martinis.

Looking for cheap domestic beer?  Guy Harvey’s is the spot for you.  It’s a short step away from Duval Street and offers $2 taps.  The food here is good, though quite ‘spendy’.  Guy Harvey’s own artwork covers the walls and you can almost always catch a game on their flat screens.

Beer connoisseurs: look no further than The Rum Barrel.  They have an outstanding selection of brews, both on tap and in the bottle.  If you arrive by ship, it’s just a few short steps away from port and the food is fantastic!  I highly recommend any menu selection containing fish.  On a warm night you can sit on the quarter deck and enjoy some fabulous live music.

Half Shell License Plates

Half Shell License Plate Collection

If you’re looking for oysters you won’t find a better deal than at Half Shell Raw Bar.  You can order them steamed or raw at less than $1/oyster and the seafood doesn’t stop there.  They also offer clams, shrimp, crab, lobsters and lots more.  We like to treat ourselves with a special combo of lobster, clams and shrimp.  And don’t pass up the potato salad; it’s fantastic!

Just mere steps away from Half Shell you’ll find Turtle Kraals.  My personal favorite on the island is home to a wood fire grill and The Tower Bar which overlooks the Historic Seaport and offers a great view of the sunset.

Tower Bar Sunset

Tower Bar Sunset

Daily happy hour appetizers are inexpensive and taste delicious; just be sure you’re sitting at the bar or in The Tower Bar, or you won’t get happy hour pricing.  You’ll find a good selection of brews here as well, though only a few are on tap.  You can sometimes catch live music, though if you’re upstairs you’ll miss out.  TK’s is becoming a Friday ritual for my husband and me.  I greatly enjoy some happy hour nachos or wings, a fresh crisp side salad and that fantastic view of the sunset from The Tower Bar.

These are just a few of my personal favorites…there are plenty of great places in Key West to drink and be merry. Thanks for choosing to come to our island!

If you’d like to see and read more of Key West from a local’s perspective, check out my blog at, or if you need quick local advice and @SunshineMichele isn’t available, feel free to tweet me @TheMrsMurphy.

Laura & her husband moved to Key West last summer from some place up north called Minnesota and have no plans on leaving any time soon.  If not watching a game on a big screen or taking a well deserved break at one her favorite spots, Laura can sometimes be heard singing backup for some of the bands in town.  Be sure to ask for her autograph – it will be worth a fortune one day!

Please take a moment to leave us your thoughts on this article, or perhaps on something you would like to learn more about from down here in our little part of paradise called Key West.


Following up Books and Coffee Shops

Sunshine Girl at Island Joe's

It’s been a very busy day here in Key West. Like most any given day there is a lot going on. I spent the day checking in on the art galleries all along Duval Street. That post is coming very soon!

But since I was downtown, I stopped in at Island Joe’s Coffee for a quick bite.

Joe was there himself and highly recommended the Chicken Florentine.  Wow, but it was so YUM! 

He took a moment from his busy roasting day to snap this picture of me noshing on his grilled wrap.

If you aren’t familiar with Key West you might not be aware that Key West Island Books is just a couple of doors up from Island Joe’s.  Since I was already there, I dropped in to say hi for a moment.  If I had started browsing I would have been there all afternoon!

Key West: Coffee Island Style

Mmmmmmm, coffee. . . .

If you follow me at all on Twitter, you already know that I am never good and awake in the mornings until I have had a strong cup of coffee. Truth be told, I’m pretty much useless until about 11:00 with or without it but . . . that’s a story for another day.

I know that I am one among many with this sort of coffee addiction. The most difficult part of it is traveling and not knowing where to find a good cup o’ Joe. Vacationers and Cruisers rejoice, for I know where to find the java and some great Key West atmosphere to enjoy it.

First off let me say that YES, Key West has a great Starbucks located right in the middle of it all on Duval Street. So if you need the familiar and you need it quick, that’s the place to go. But, if you want to really sit, sip, and drink in Key West you need to check out some or all of the following:

Coffee Plantation

This coffee house is Key West at its best. My dear friend and photographer, Laura Murphy, highly recommends it. They serve their fresh brewed house blend in a historic home that was built around 1890. Located in the heart of Old Town near Schooner Wharf at 713 Caroline Street, Coffee Plantation is a favorite of the locals. There is never a lack of good local gossip floating about, and the shop eagerly supports local musicians, writers, and artists. They offer fresh coffee, tea, espresso, baked goods, and a homey Conch atmosphere that is uniquely Key West.

Island Joe’s

This little place just off Duval at 519 Fleming Street is not just a coffee shop. Island Joe’s is actually a coffee roasting company that offers a great spot to sit and enjoy their handy work. Once you walk in, you are transported from the hustle and bustle to an oasis of old world charm. This place is all gourmet. Sit near a 300 year old tapestry under a gorgeous Baccarat Crystal Chandelier and enjoy an Island Joe’s signature Cafe con Leche. They also serve fresh baked French pastries and an outstanding gourmet breakfast and lunch. Even when you’ve gone home again, you can enjoy a part of Key West because Island Joe’s Coffee is shipped all around the world.

Cuban Coffee Queen

Just a scant 90 miles from Cuba at 284 Margaret Street, the Cuban Coffee Queen not only offers authentic Cuban coffee, but will deliver it to you! Also in the Historic Sea Port of Old Town with Coffee Plantation, this little walk up offers handmade Cuban sandwiches, smoothies, and coffee. It’s a perfect place to grab a quick cup while you shop.

Coffee and Tea House of Key West

If you want to sit back and relax with your coffee, the Coffee and Tea House of Key West is the place to go. Located on the southern, more quiet end, of Duval, this place is a favorite for a relaxing cup of morning coffee. The house offers a front porch to sit and read the paper as you sip. Stop by 1218 Duval and enjoy coffee on island time.

Sippin’ Internet Cafe

Just as the name says, Sippin’ is an Internet hot spot. If you need to reconnect with the world beyond Key West, this is the place to be. They offer wireless and T1 line access, fax & copy services, and can even print digital photos or copy to CD. They also serve up some fantastic espresso, coffee, tea, and baked goods, including Key Lime Pie. Located at 424 Eaton Street, they are just steps off Duval.

Key West Tea and Spice Company

For those that would rather have tea instead of coffee, Key West Tea & Spice is for you. This little place just opened in March and has the best old time market atmosphere. Foodies will enjoy the exotic spices offered, while others can pick up luxury soaps, potpourri, and all things TEA. You’ll want to stop in at 614 Greene Street just to enjoy the aromas.

All you caffeine addicts can thank me by chipping in for my next cup, because this one went cold while I was writing this.

Key West – My Top Ten Eateries

My good friend, Key West local, and fellow blogger, Laura Murphy put together a fabulous blog on some of the amazing restaurants in Key West. I am so happy to host her guest post here.

Laura’s Favorite Places to Eat Out and Why

It’s no secret; hubby and I like to go out. There’s something fun about winding down from a stressful week with a meal and some drinks out of the house. Okay: sometimes we go out more than that…but who’s counting?

We’ve scoped out many new places to eat here on the rock of Key West. During this culinary adventure we’ve gained some favorite places. Here’s our top ten eateries (and a little memory of places come and gone that we miss terribly) in the city of Key West.

*Disclaimer* These are in no way listed in order of favorite. To do so would be the impossible; each place has something different to offer!

1 Turtle Kraals

My favorite thing about this place is the tower bar! It sits above the entire restaurant and overlooks the historic seaport. This fantastic view sets the perfect mood on a sunny Friday night. Happy hour appetizers are fantastic, though you have to sit in the bar or tower bar to enjoy these specials. The staff is very friendly. Any meat you order here is fabulous thanks to the wood-fire grill. Their salads are generous and oh-so-delicious with fresh veggies! Easily, one of my ultimate favorite places to eat in Key West!

2 Half Shell Raw Bar

This is one of my husband’s favorites; it’s very nostalgic for him! Our favorite thing to eat here are steamed oysters with a side of dill potato salad. If you like potato salad, you must order it here! Fantastic! It’s only a few dollars for a nice serving. We have tried the oysters elsewhere and these taste the best and seem to be one of the best priced options for oysters. They are also located in the historic seaport right on the water. The hundreds of license plates that decorate the walls are fun to gawk at.

3 Rum Barrel

The dark interior of this place makes you feel like you’re aboard a pirate ship. We have yet to experience the quarter deck up top, but it’s definitely on our list! The bar has the best atmosphere in this establishment with plenty of microbrews to sample. The first time we ate here I fell in love with it. Everything we’ve eaten here has been good: from salads , nachos, fish sandwiches, tacos and yes…potato salad.

4 Santiago’s Bodega

This was an incredible dining experience; by far the fanciest place with the best tasting food I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. We were treated to Santiago’s by our previous landlord in Minnesota who did very good research and sent us a gift certificate as a thank you for being good tenants. The key to remember here is that they serve tapas: a light appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. At first glance of the menu you’ll think the place is very inexpensive. But the portions are small, so you’ll want to order several rounds for two people. It is a very small place; our best guess was it seats 40 people maximum. Needless to say, this makes for a very intimate environment. It’s perfect for a romantic date.

I was so moved by the experience of eating here I wrote a blog post about it. You can view it at my other, purposely neglected, blog at:

5 Blue Heaven

A co-worker of mine recommended this place to us; she said it was Heaven. She was right! Described as a local’s favorite, the unique outdoor atmosphere is very relaxing. Chickens wander the lot and will often “beg” for food at your feet. The food here is fantastic! It’s on the more expensive side, but well worth it. We enjoyed our Christmas family dinner here – unforgettable!

6 Angelina’s pizza

We stumbled across Angelina’s, likely on a rum-filled adventure. I instantly fell in love with it. While you can order an entire ‘za here, we often opt for single slices and some wings. The staff is nice, but you have to dig. I was quite shocked when they practically screamed that our order was ready. To complete the 1950’s feel, they have several arcade style games.

7 Jack Flats

Great for football! They claim to have more TV screens than we were able to find, but it’s pretty much wall-to-wall screens. Again, everything we’ve eaten here is good. We discovered they have very yummy sliders and wings! Appetizers and salads are my favorite selections from this Duval St restaurant.

8 China Garden West

I had to include just one delivery place. We’re frequent customers here! They have a very large menu with decent prices; seafood is generally not much more than chicken or beef options. Overall, they are decently priced for the portions you get. Whenever we order, we’re pretty much guaranteed two meals each out of the deal!

9 Old Town Mexican Café

Okay – we’ve eaten here once; in 2007. However, the atmosphere and meal was so good, we’ve vowed to go back. It’s hidden on Duval between Key Lime Square and a building. Trees overhang above you, so you don’t feel smushed, but rather relaxed in this outdoor venue. I recall the shrimp fajitas and guacamole were good! Our favorite feature: bucket of coronas for a very good price!

10 Upper Crust

Tasty pizza indeed! You can order some fantastic specialties here. We had the chicken fajita pizza and were very impressed! They have free delivery! Just be prepared: on any given night you can pretty much guarantee to be shoulder to shoulder in this little shop!

We’ve reviewed all our favorite eateries here on the island. But a blog post about Key West eats wouldn’t be complete without leaving fond memories of a few places that have left us.

Crabby Dick’s

Distinguished by the big white balcony overlooking Duval St, we adored this place so much we visited daily during our 2007 visit to the island. The happy hour appetizers were unbeatable. The statue of Crabby Dick, the pirate, was my good friend (it’s true; do a Google image search on “Crabby Dick’s” and the 2nd photo is myself and Crabby Dick himself. At least that’s what we called him). During our 2007 trip we got engaged and our bartender was kind enough to buy us a few rounds of drinks to celebrate. We were so pumped for our 2009 pre-move visit that we planned to visit Crabby Dick’s every night during our stay. To our great disappointment, they shut their doors some time before we arrived. There was another restaurant that moved in a few months ago, but they too closed their doors after only a few weeks of business.

The Iguana

We met Steve the bartender here! Terrific bartender, wonderful friend, and close neighbor to us! There is a row of bar stools facing Greene Street, which makes for some fun people watching. My absolute favorite food here was the hog wings and tots. Hog wings were tender pork on the bone carved down to look like chicken drummies. So fantastic! However, this past winter they, too, closed their doors. It’s rumored they’ll open their doors again….but the most important question is still unknown. Will they ever serve hog wings in Key West again?

RIP, guys. We miss you terribly!

Now it’s off to find some dinner. What should we eat tonight? 🙂

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