Dreaming of Dock-to-Dish Flavors in the Florida Keys

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February 17, 2020

Mussels are popular at the Hogfish Bar & Grill on Stock Island.

RV travel is restricted nowadays, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of fun new destinations. Although you’re limited in travel freedom, you can still plan your dream vacation for the future. And Florida Keys cuisine is a great place to start.

The Florida Keys stretch for 70 miles southwest of Miami, yet this chain of islands somehow feels like a completely different world. The bustling city life of the mainland gives way to topaz waters, mangrove-lined shores and easygoing towns filled with laidback and eccentric locals serving up Florida Keys cuisine.

The dining scene here is just as vibrant as the scenery. From upscale restaurants with stunning oceanfront views to honky-tonk establishments that bring you back to old Key West, you’ll find all sorts of dining options serving dock-to-dish delights. Ready to unlock the flavor of the Keys? Here are some of the most popular restaurants and bars in the area.

Connected by the Overseas Highway, the Florida Keys are home to several RV parks that put you close to all the dining action.

Boats docked to a dining patio.

Boats moor right next to Hogfish Bar and Grill on Stock Island.

1) Hogfish Bar and Grill, Stock Island

Hidden away on tranquil Stock Island, this locals’ only seafood joint at Safe Harbor Marina harks back to old Key West with its retro signs and license plates. There’s a ton of memorabilia hanging on the walls too, including photos of Fidel Castro and Ernest Hemingway fishing in the Florida Keys. Grab a picnic table inside the open-air tiki hut to get a better look at the vintage décor or pull up a chair by the bar to rub shoulders with regulars. You can also ask for a spot along the dock for fantastic views of Key West’s last working waterfront.

After you’re seated, follow the locals and order the “killer” hogfish sandwich which comes slathered in swiss cheese, onions and mushrooms on fresh Cuban bread. The creamy lobster bisque, fried grouper cheeks and conch fritters are also said to be out of this world. Wash it all down with an ice-cold beer and make sure to save room for a slice of key lime pie.

If you like live music, come on the weekends to watch local bands perform. You’ll also find great drink deals during happy hour from 4 pm to 6 pm daily.

Orange umbrellas on a sunny dining patio.

A laidback vibe prevails at the No Name Pub in Big Pine Key.

2) No Name Pub, Big Pine Key

Pizza and Beer

The No Name Pub’s famous pizza.

The building housing No Name Pub has quite the colorful past. It was once a general store, bait shop and even a brothel until it was converted into a casual eatery in the late 1940s. Today, No Name Pub is a popular pitstop for road trippers heading to Key West. The restaurant’s quirky décor is a huge draw, especially the ceiling carpeted in hanging dollar bills. Tucked away near Doctor’s Arm peninsula, the place isn’t the easiest to locate, but previous visitors say you’ll be rewarded with the best pizza in the Keys when you find it.

Salad and beer with crackers

Delicious salad and beer at the No Name Pub

The secret pizza recipe came from two Italian cooks who worked here during the 1960s and hasn’t changed in over 50 years. Try the red shrimp pizza along with the smoked fish dip, made with yellowfin tuna that’s marinated and smoked fresh daily. Other must-try menu items include the coconut shrimp, grouper sandwich and silver dollar fries. Before you head out, add a signed dollar bill to the ceiling and pick up a t-shirt at the souvenir shop to commemorate your visit.

Sunset over boats docked in a marina.

The view from the Yellowfin Bar and Kitchen in Key West.

3) Yellowfin Bar and Kitchen, Key West

Located in Key West’s latest luxury resort, this restaurant at Ocean’s Edge will impress with its sweeping ocean views and poolside setting. It’s an ideal destination for a lazy brunch or relaxing afternoon spent watching boats sail in the harbor. If you’re lucky, you may even spot dolphins playing right in front of your table.

Elegant dining area with fish on the walls.

Dining at Yellowfin Bar & Kitchen.

Service is impeccable and the food is as classy as the atmosphere. Fresh seafood caught right from the marina is prepared with a blend of local flavors and East Asian influences. You can sample this tasty fusion cuisine with creative dishes like the crab wontons and coriander crusted yellowfin tuna. Be sure to order the cook and peel shrimp which is simmered in ginger, lemongrass, soy sauce and red chili.

If nothing on the menu catches your eye, consider bringing in your catch and ask the chef to cook it just the way you like. There is also a wide selection of cocktails and wines so you’ll find the perfect pairing for your meal.

Brunch Buffet with oysters.

Brunch Buffet at Matt’s Stock ISland Kitchen & Bar.

4) Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen and Bar, Stock Island

Experience coastal comfort food with a modern twist at this award-winning restaurant inside the swanky Perry Hotel. The kitchen focuses on fresh, local ingredients and is famous for its fried chicken and crab beignets.

Matt’s is open for every meal of the day so it’s always an excellent time to drop by. Come at breakfast to feast on mouth-watering plates such as the crab benedict and guava and cream cheese French toast. There is also a buffet brunch offered every Sunday which includes three buffets, unlimited small plates and all-you-can-drink mimosas and Bloody Marys. For dinner, regulars highly recommend the grilled octopus, black grouper and pink shrimp and grits. You won’t go thirsty here either – the drink menu has 15 craft beers on tap and a variety of specialty cocktails including the key lime martini and pineapple jalapeno mojito.

Frid Chicken with Fixins

Fried chicken is one of the specialties at Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen and Bar.

The restaurant rests right along the Stock Harbor Marina so you can dine dockside with unobstructed views of the waterfront. There are also spacious communal tables inside if you prefer to mingle with other guests.

A diner digs into cheesecake topped with whipped cream.

Delicious cheesecake is a specialty at Square Grouper Bar & Grill.

5) Square Grouper Bar and Grill, Cudjoe Key

Lynn and her team have been taking care of guests and serving delicious ocean-to-table fare for over 15 years. Her neighborhood restaurant at Mile Marker 22.5 Oceanside on Cudjoe Key specializes in unique small plates and homemade desserts. Dig into local favorites such as the flash-fried conch, buffalo shrimp and sesame seared tuna. There are also a variety of land options available ranging from grilled ribeye steak to roasted duck breast topped with tamarind garlic sauce. Craving something sweet? Treat yourself to chocolate fondue, bread pudding or the “magical” brownie.

What sets this eatery apart from others is its commitment to the environment. All straws and paper items are made with biodegradable products like corn. It also has an upstairs lounge with live music and a retail store selling souvenir shirts and hats.

Fully stocked bar with beer taps.

Mixologists await at Square Grouper Bar and Grill.

With its vibrant food scene and plenty of oceanfront dining opportunities, the Florida Keys is the perfect destination for your next culinary adventure. Start planning your foodie escape today by checking out the RV resorts and campgrounds in Marathon, Big Pine Key and more.