No matter the time of year, Key West is a go-to destination for stellar sunsets and island vibes. Those magnificent, color-streaked skies are best savored over a flavorful meal and refreshing cocktail.
Here are six Key West eateries where you can perch and enjoy tropical tastes and timeless views.
Located on exclusive Sunset Key and accessible only by boat, Sunset Key Cottage’s dining room creates the ultimate romantic backdrop to see the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico while noshing on fresh island cuisine.
Ask to dine alfresco and indulge in the evolving menu that incorporates locally sourced fresh fish. Lobster and crab cakes with mango-habanero-pineapple sauce, and lemon-glazed yellowtail snapper won’t disappoint. Reservations are required and come with a complimentary, eight-minute ferry ride to the restaurant (if you’re staying on the mainland), elevating the mystique even more.
If you’re craving island dining, complete with tiki torches and an ocean views, look no further than this alfresco eatery at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort.
The roster of dinner fare includes plenty of tropical staples (tuna poke, conch chowder), but the private Toes in the Sand menu adds an extra amorous flair. Partake in four courses of elegant eats — conch fritters with Key lime creole mustard, creamy Gulf shrimp and scallop fettucine, and pineapple upside down cake are highlights — while listening to live music and watching the sun set over the sparkling sea.
As an encore to your memorable meal, spend the night and enjoy a sunrise breakfast on Flagler’s Terrace in the morning.
If it’s five o’clock, rest assured you’ll find locals and visitors flocking to unwind at this no-frills spot that was once a shrimp-packing warehouse.
As you head inside, you might glimpse a fisherman unloading the day’s catch, which will be shucked onto your plate shortly. Make your way to one of the wooden picnic tables and order a raw bar sampler of oysters, clams and peel-and-eat shrimp. Take in the cool ocean breeze and glorious views as you savor the day’s bounty.
This classic surf and turf eatery pays homage to playwright Tennessee Williams, a frequent island visitor. The casual-meets-elegant restaurant sits atop Sunset Pier at the end of Mallory Square, enticing with vistas that overlook Key West Harbor and a menu filled with flavor.
Dig into Florida-meets-Caribbean cuisine like lobster mac and cheese, Key West pink shrimp and scallops served over mascarpone tasso risotto, and spiced tuna with coconut rice, while your eyes feast on the waterfront.
The tropical feel also seeps into the décor with teak woods, hand-painted murals, white leather seating and whimsical wire sculptures.
Don’t let the pretty pink Victorian exterior fool you. This Key West staple serves up some high-quality, Caribbean-influenced soul food with glittering ocean vistas, to boot.
The man behind the seasonally changing menu is Doug Shook, who has helmed the kitchen of this local favorite for more than 30 years. Here, you’ll find a menu packed with locally caught grouper, hogfish, snapper and swordfish dressed up with island-sourced greens, exotic fruits and edible flowers.
For a more casual atmosphere, visit The Café, where walk-ins are welcome and the truffle fries with smoked Gouda fonduta are rivaled only by the panoramic peeks of the sea. Be sure to imbibe at Afterdeck Bar for even more unobstructed views and handcrafted martinis.
If you’re looking to explore elsewhere in the Keys, make your way to this adults-only poolside spot at the recently revamped Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key, about halfway back up the archipelago.
Pull up a seat beneath the palm fronds to dine on grilled mahi mahi tacos with green papaya slaw or an alligator po’ boy with fried okra. Either way, be sure to order the Key lime pie for dessert.
Wash it all down with a cocktail like the rum-based Goombay Smash or the sparkling Hibiscus Fizz.