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Restaurants & Bars

Report on First Visit to Forida Keys (Long)

Steve in Austin | Aug 25, 200204:03 PM

First of all, thanks to all the Fla. ChowHounds suggestions on seafood from Lauderdale to Key West. Here's a Texan's take while searching for a weeks worth of fresh seafood, casual atmosphere and bang for the buck.

Key Largo:
The Fish House-Yellowtail Matecumbe style/Good flavor and sauce, Conch Chowder/wasn't impressed. Cracked conch/very good.
Cracked Conch Cafe-Cracked conch/OK.

Green Turtle Inn-Turtle soup/Very good, liked it a lot. Alligator steak/Very good, also liked it a lot.
Easily the "coolest" restaurant atmosphere, kind of a throwback to the forties or fifties feel to the place. Highly recommend for dinner. You can also order their soups/chowders on their website for about $3/can, we did.
Squid Row-Boullibaise/Excellent, best meal and service on trip. (Both Presidents Bush like this place and the owner greets you at the door, always a good sign). Best for dinner.
Ziggys' Crabshack and Gumbo-Gator Tails/very good.
Whale Harbor Seafood Buffet-Walked in, took one look at the food and atmosphere and immediately left. (This would qualify as one of the worst seafood buffets in Las Vegas, much less in a location with fresh seafood all around).

Cracked Conch Cafe-Walked in at 12:30pm on a weekday and there was NO ONE there except waitstaff, not a good sign, we left.

Key West:
Bo' Fish House-My favorite for "atmosphere" with a little attitude and good (but slow) service. Broiled dolphin was very good. Fried was below average. No grouper that day. A must visit for at least one sandwich. Closes early.
Two Friend's Patio Restaurant-Fried grouper sandwich was excellent and best sandwich of trip. Really liked the Cuban bread. Grilled dolphin was also very good and better than Bo's because sauce was on the side and the tomatoes were actually vine ripened. Another good lunch spot.
Crabby Bill's-Flounder sandwich special (lots of fish broiled or fried) for $5.00 and add fries and slaw for $5.90 total. Add a dozen good sized oysters for $2.99 and you have the best meal deal of the trip. It appears they offer different $5 fish sandwiches daily and oysters always at $2.99. Also had the best service from a bartender here from the bald guy.
Half Shell Raw Bar-"Bucket" of steamed clams for $15 was actually more of a bowl of very small clams. Conch sandwich for $10.00 was only OK. One place I can say was overpriced for the quality and quantity of food that we had. Maybe other choices would have been better here.

Ft. Lauderdale:
Rustic Inn-Crabs, what else? This place was great! Thanks to two local couple/familes at the adjoining tables for showing Texan man how to whack those bad boys up. Had a great time with the big blue steamed crabs as well as the garlic ones. A few cold beers, a mallet, a stack of crabs and newly acquired friends laughing at the guy from Texas trying to figure out crabwhacking, doesn't get any better than that. My wife had fried shrimp (good sized) and was pleased. Very enjoyable evening.

Now back to Texas for BBQ and Tex-Mex. Thanks again...

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