Ahh, we’re finally getting the to the Key West posts! It was a long eight hour drive down to Key West from Tampa. Sarasota was about an hour away so after blunch we still had about seven hours ahead of us. Hoo boy. I didn’t do any of the driving, I just sat in the back seat and chilled out reading my books.
We drove through lots of swampland, which you pretty much can’t see. There’s a lot of green, then the highway, and very tall fences with barbed wire at the time. No sneaking into the Everglades, okay? In the middle of nowhere, we stopped at a gas station and got some very expensive road snacks and I saw this sign above. Gee, only 19 miles deeper into the swampland? Yeah, I think I’ll pass.
Once we actually started to hit the Keys, it was a lot of driving through little towns on the various islands. It’s basically a series of bridges that takes you through and after a while you just see lots of ocean (the Gulf of Mexico on the right and the Atlantic Ocean on the left). Off in the distance you can see other little islands like the one above.
There are a bunch of little islands very close to the bridge, too, that are only accessible by boat and they all had tons of trees on them. A few had docks and some just looked like a cluster of trees in the water.
This was one of the first things I saw when we actually got into Key West. SEADUCTION! Looked like it had long been closed/boarded up. Apparently used to be a free dive place that sucked hard (according to Yelp reviews).
We got into Key West just as the sun was about to set and I snapped a few photos from the car as we drove in.
We stayed at the Best Western Plus Hibiscus Motel. This was near Duval Street and just two blocks from the beach and the Southernmost Point – basically, within walking distance of the main part of Key West. Our motel and room felt very lush and tropical and Jake and I spent some time in that pool! Jake mostly let me hang onto him and floated me around the pool since uh, I can’t swim (yeah, yeah, I know).
This is the Southernmost Beach in the USA which was about two blocks from our motel! And this is what it looks like at night! It’s not really very large – this photo practically encompasses the entire beach. There’s a lot of weird seagrass that was lingering right at the shoreline and we didn’t want to muddle through it. We had talked about getting up early one morning and coming over here to watch the sunrise… but that didn’t happen. Sleep won out.
For our first meal in Key West, we went to the Southernmost Beach Cafe which is right next to the Southernmost Beach. At a certain point you see a lot of things named “Southernmost” – “Southernmost Liquor Store”, “Southernmost Gift Shop”, “Southernmost blah blah blah”. We didn’t experience THAT until our first full day in Key West so it was still a novelty at this point.
The Southernmost Beach Cafe is an open air restaurant. It made you feel like you were outdoors – like, in the back of an open patio but with a roof over your head. Open ceiling would have been cool, too, but I bet they get a lot of rain showers unlike here in San Diego so they need that roof.
You can see to the left of Chris the open wall and there’s a fence right there, which you can also see through. It was very warm and very breezy – this was probably around 9PM. It was humid but the warm breeze made it feel nice.
[key lime pie martini]
We had finally made it to Key West so I celebrated with a Key Lime Pie Martini – which was a blend of Key Lime spices/flavors, some kind of alcohol and ice cream (what). It was sweet with a touch of Key Lime tart and a bit creamy – and well, it got me pretty buzzed pretty quickly, not that THAT is hard to do.
Chris had a mojito and Jake had a Key Lime Margarita, but man, my photos turned out blurry. I preferred the martini to the margarita since I’m not too keen on tequila.
[cuban egg rolls – slow roasted pork, black beans, sweet corn salsa, & goat cheese, wrapped in a crispy wonton, with chipotle BBQ / $11]
I apologize for the terribly blurry photo. The images looks better on my camera’s viewfinder and I was still getting used to the new setup. Needz more light! Despite the terrible photo, I assure you the Cuban Egg Rolls turned out to be quite delicious. It was like Cuban and Chinese infused together with the crispy wonton outside and the delicious pork inside. The goat cheese gave it a nice little tang and the bbq sauce gave it a nice little kick of spice. So yummy!
[conch fritters with sweet & spicy dipping sauce / $10]
I wasn’t really feeling just an entree for dinner so I ended up ordering sides. One of them included these conch fritters which I really wanted to try. The fritters were soft (I was hoping for a little crunch on the outside, but nope) and it was mostly fritter with bits and pieces of conch in it. A few times I caught something a little hard in my fritter – kind of shell/pebble like – but I’ve no idea what it was. The conch itself was really mild in taste and slightly rubbery in the conch fritters. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting since the flavor seemed so mild and mostly I just tasted the fritter. The dipping sauce that came with the fritters was quite tasty and gave the fritter a little extra contrast in flavor.
[truffle lobster macaroni and cheese / $13]
I honed in this – it sounded so good to me that night! The macaroni and cheese was very creamy. The photo makes it looks like it’s not very saucy but it was mostly under the noodles and with a little stir you got more of the creamy sauce with it. The truffle was light and not overpowering. It added another layer of delicate flavor to the dish. The lobster was tender and sweet and tasted so good with the macaroni and cheese – I was very happy with this choice!
[filet mignon – 8oz steak over roasted garlic mash potatoes, finished with a peppercorn cream sauce / $32]
Chris decided to get himself a steak! The filet mignon to be exact. I know I had a little bite and it tasted fine, but Chris likes to order his stuff well done which isn’t my preference but it was a good cut of meat. The garlic mashed potatoes were quite yummy and had a good punch of garlic. I loved the flower garnishes! It made our dishes feel extra tropical and fancy.
[sobe burger – 8oz burger, smoked bacon, gouda & fried onions on a toasted brioche bun, with truffle parmesan fries / $13]
Jake was unsure what to order and ended up getting a burger. The fried onion strips on top were a delicious addition to a very nicely cooked burger (medium rare) and the smoked bacon was nice and crispy with it. What I really loved off Jake’s plate though were the truffle Parmesan fries – goodness, those were tasty! The fries were cut on the thicker side with a light crispy coating to them and a dusting of Parmesan and that distinct truffle taste. Jake liked the fries so much he ordered another side of them for all of us to share. YUM. Also – how cute is that little fry holder?!
After dinner we walked along the tiny beach and out on this pier that jutted out into the ocean. Funny to think that on this side it’s the Atlantic but walk around the island and you’ll hit the Gulf of Mexico! On the left is the Southernmost House, a boutique hotel that I really wanted to stay at but was really out of our price range. Our motel ended up being pretty nice though so I was still happy! On the right is the restaurant we ate at.
We strolled up Duval Street for a little bit admiring the houses and the warm breezes. We stopped in at a place called “The Rum Bar” so Jake could see if they had this rum he really really likes (
that I don’t remember the name of called One Barrel Rum from Belize).
We sat for a bit outside of the Rum Bar while Jake enjoyed his straight rum (!). It was such a beautiful night out and we were so happy to have finally made it to Key West!
Southernmost Beach Cafe
1405 Duval St
Key West, FL 33040