Florida Keys – Key Largo to Key West. Where will you eat?
Even though there is a lot of history in those 120 miles from Homestead to Key West, we are going to talk about entertainment, restaurants, fishing, and fun.
When you get to the last exit of the Florida Turnpike going south, exit 1, you are in Florida City. That means that you even passed the Cambell drive exit for Homestead. You are about to get into the road that will take you to Key West.
Right there, on the corner of Palm Drive and US1 on your left, is the Mutineer Restaurant and Wharf Lounge. If you want to eat something before getting into the Keys, this is the place to go. You will find conch fritters, calamari, grouper, mahi-mahi, ribeye steak, and even sautéed alligator. Mickey, June, and Karen are great at what they do and will take good care of you.
Key Largo, food, drinks
In South Florida when people talk about Key Largo, they refer most of the time to Mile Marker 100 (MM 100), which for some reason is where a lot of entertainment is. For example, the Holiday Inn, which offers many amenities including the Catamaran boat that picks up people who want to play in the Casino aboard “The SanCruz Casino Boat” that according to them, offers the “Best odds and Biggest payback”, plus blackjack, roulette, craps, Let-it-Ride and hottest and loosest Slots.
Coconuts Restaurant and Night Club
Also behind the Holiday Inn in Key Largo is Coconuts Restaurant and Night Club. During the day it’s a wonderful place to enjoy a few drinks and eat. At night, they have the best music in the Keys. They are also famous in the area for “Coconuts Dolphin Tournament” which offers $50,000.00 in cash and prizes. Last year, on May 16, in the 29 Annual Coconuts Dolphin Tournament, Audie Lim Sang of Miami won with a fish that weighed in at 61.5 lbs., nearly breaking a tournament record of 63.9 lbs.
Islamorada is one of those places that you always want to comeback
From Key Largo, you just want to get to Islamorada. Enjoy the Tiki-Bar and visit some of the restaurants in the area. Like The Green Turtle Inn, in MM 81.2 by the ocean side, or Lazy Days which is an oceanfront restaurant that was voted Best Overall Restaurant People’s Choice Award. It is located by the ocean side at MM 79.9.
An obligatory stop is Lor-e-Lei Restaurant where you can dance, eat and relax in a casual style. They were voted “Best Sunset in the upper Keys many years in a row. Also, the bikini contest every year in Islamorada is a must-see.
Marathon Key, Sombrero Beach & The Seven Mile Bridge
Marathon Key’s Sombrero Beach is one of the best beaches in Florida. They are not only famous for having a great beach, but they also have The Seven Mile Bridge, an architectonic piece of art. Restaurants like The 7 Miles Bridge are proud to bear that name. They are on MM 47.5 on the bayside, and is a family restaurant. The Siboney Restaurant with fine Cuban cuisine is also one of the best in Marathon Key.
Then comes Bahia Honda Key, and then Boca Chica which is an island in the lower Florida Keys, approximately 3 miles east of the island of Key West. This is the home of the largest Naval Air Station in South Florida, and after that, you are in MM1, you just arrived in Key West.
Key West is a great city, down to earth, and a Bikers Paradise
These days, when people relate Cubans and Key West, they think of the Mariel boatlift, or how they escaped from Cuba and came to the nearest point. But reality and History say something else. Cubans and Key West, or “Cayo Hueso” like Cubans call it, and as with Tampa, have a very long relationship.
The earliest cigar factory in Key West dates back to 1831, but the industry really took off during Cuba’s Ten Year War (1868 – 1878), when Cubans fled to the United States. It was really the first Cuban exodus to the US.
Many Cubans resettled in Key West and Tampa, bringing the art of cigar making with them. By 1876 the city’s 29 cigar factories were producing a staggering 62 million cigars annually. Key West boomed, and the population grew to more than 18,000 people by 1890, creating, believe it or not, the largest and wealthiest city in Florida. In Key West today, several local hand-made cigar stores keep the tradition of hand rolling alive. They stand in glass-fronted storefronts or behind crudely constructed wooden kiosks on Duval Street, patiently hand rolling cigars for curious spectators and cigar fans alike. It’s just as they do in Tampa, but this is just tourism-oriented.
Where to eat and enjoy a good bottle of wine in Key West
Key West has good restaurants and great nightlife. Many years ago, this island was a retirement paradise, but these days, it is a booming city full of places to eat and drink and dance, and enjoy life. Bikers love Key West, and several times a year, when you see US1 full of them going south, you know where they are going.
Key West is not a retirement place anymore, it is just a very down-to-earth city that is feeling younger than ever.
We hope that in this imaginary trip, you are not hungry anymore, and of course, you did not exceed your limits of alcohol. Happy trip back to the mainland.