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Thanks - Key West trip report

shopgirl | Jan 17, 200605:15 PM

Chicago 'hound thanks those who post here and helped us make our Key West vacation eats top notch.

1. En route bw MIA and Key West, stopped for a late dinner at Craig's, MM 90.5. Service was fun and friendly. Really unique (not to mention our best) fish sandwich of the trip: toasted wheat bread, just loaded with fresh blackened yellow tail, served with tartar, cheese and tomatoes. Fries were good too and the beer was cold. What a great welcome to the Keys.

2. A lovely lunch at Latitudes on Sunset Key right on the beach. Ahhh, vacation. Started with the stone crab claws. Seafood quesadillas were nothing to write home about, ahi tuna sandwich was quite good. They didn't have any of the fish entrees listed, only specials and the sandwiches/salads which was sort of weird. Our server was new; it showed. We enjoyed ourselves however; here it was really more about the view and atmosphere.

3. Dinner at El Meson de Pepe near Mallory Square. Staff at our inn recommended it since we were looking for Cuban food and downplayed El Ciboney since it was on the other side of the island so we chose Pepe for its proximity to doing the sunset watch. Overall it was only passable, not the most memorable meal. Have had much better Cuban here in Chicago. Our appetizer was good tho simple (fried cheese, chorizo and plantain chips), and we split one of the combo dinners. The picadillo was good, the ropa vieja was dry and the pork was OK. The mojito was poor and I had to send it back to ask them to add more mint and lime.

4. Breakfast at Blue Heaven. YUM. We loved this place. Vgood bloody mary. Split the smoothie, cheese grits and lobster benedict bc we didn't want to overeat but afterwards I was wishing I had kept the lobster benedict to myself! Lots of fun watching the roosters and chickies.

5. Late aft snack at 5 Brothers Grocery. Vgood cuban sandwich! YUM. Fun place. We were sad that when we tried to stop in again on our way home Sunday, they were still closed.

6. Drinks at 915 Duval followed by dinner at Seven Fish. 915 had a nice selection, and the devils on horseback were tasty. Really Loved Seven Fish. So much so that we canceled Sat rsvtns at Antonia's to return to Seven Fish! The sesame grouper roll was good and we both ordered the barjack. It didn't disappoint. It was so good and so fresh. I had the wahoo the next night and it was good, but not as good - perhaps it was the preparation.

7. Lunch at BO's Fish Wagon. Loved the Key West "ambience" if you can call it that. And yes I know this place gets rave reviews for the food, and don't get me wrong, it was a good, fresh sandwich with really great fries and tasty black beans/rice, but our preference ended up being for the fish sandwich at Craig's. I felt like I needed to eat most bites of the sandwich with a bit of tabasco since it was so bready...

8. Happy hours & cocktails. We hit Alonzo's (which was rather mellow on a Thurs), Conch Republic (somewhat disappointing that they didn't follow others with 1/2price happy hour drinks/snacks) and Schooner Wharf. We liked Schooner's Wharf best. Visited Grand Vin based on the recommendations but didn't think they offered enough selection for tasting and struck us as more of a storefront. Avoided most of Duval St aside from a nightcap one evening at Flying Monkeys (?) where within 10 minutes of sitting down a fight broke out on the street. ;)

9. On the way back to MIA, found The Blue Marlin Restaurant in Key Largo to be great and cheap on top of that! The garlic chicken was good, but the shredded beef with carmelized onions was really good. I wish I'd had room for empanadas.

Next trip we'd hit Blue Heaven, 5 Brothers, Seven Fish, Craig's again for sure and add Louie's Backyard, El Siboney and Antonia's to the agenda...thanks to all for the great ideas and suggestions!

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