In Key West, Duval Street is the heartbeat of Old Town. It is a destination that is definitely on the tourist radar. On Duval, there are numerous bars, restaurants, shops, and galleries to keep people busy. Unfortunately, prices tend to be higher here because of all this activity. To help you seek out more dining options off the strip, here are a few Key West restaurants not on Duval street recommended by a local.
Sangria and Small Plates
Santiago’s Bodega Key West is a tapas-style restaurant that offers hot and cold plates, a vast wine menu, and delicious fresh sangria. Two and a half blocks from Duval makes this location easily accessible. Tucked away on Petronia street, you will find this charming neighborhood eatery.
We typically go during Santiago’s happy hour, which begins at 3 pm and goes until 6 pm during the week. Wine and beer are half off, there are discounted sangrias, and they offer a $6 tapa menu that changes daily.
Enjoy the vibe with family or friends and sample the different tapas and other choices on the menu. Making a reservation would be helpful. I have seen people turned away at times. At Santiago’s Bodega in Key West, you will find a good mix of locals and visitors. Come and see why Santiago’s is one of the best places to eat in Key West.
Our favorites include the Saganaki, Beef Tenderloin, Spicy Shrimp Bisque, Spinach Salad, and Roman Meatballs. The Saganaki is an experience in itself not to be missed both visually and in flavor!
Santiagos’ Bodega should always be on your list of places to eat in Key West!
Seafood and Sea Views Since 1947
Since moving to Key West, I have been on quite the seafood kick. I guess that’s what happens when you live on an island.
At Alonzo’s Oyster Bar, I have worked through most of the food offerings and some specials. Alonzo’s is our go-to once a month, typically on the first Tuesday for local appreciation day. It is a fantastic deal in a beautiful setting worthy of a family outing. The lunch and dinner menus are the same, so you won’t miss out depending on what hour you visit.
Visiting Alonzo’s for Happy Hour is also a great idea, with ample food and drink specials. Go ahead and order up some oysters; as the staff’s shirts proclaim, they are “Fresh as Shuck!” My wife loves their soft pretzels with beer cheese dip and chicken wings. I normally have some Bluepoint oysters, steamed clams, and then a fish dish to complete my seafood trifecta. Happy to see the former special blackened Mahi Mahi has been added to the menu.
Sitting outside and watching people stroll about on the dock makes for a beautiful day down by the water. Moreso when the sun shines and there is a light breeze. Fish are usually being cleaned around the corner, and tarpons are fed on the other. Roosters, hens, and nuggets dart under the dining tables for any scraps that may have fallen.
If you require something sweet after eating, I would highly recommend the sea salt caramel cheesecake. Alonzo’s Oyster Bar should get onto your Key West restaurants off Duval Street dining list.
Old Clothes Never Tasted This Good
El Siboney has two locations. One in Key West and the other on Stock Island. Being only 90 miles from Cuba, one would expect to enjoy some of that Island nation’s cuisine. You are in luck!
The restaurant offers up traditional Cuban home cooking and favorites to its guests. The sangria is homemade on the spot, and the beers are cold. The downtown location on Catherine Street is about four blocks or so from Duval. El Siboney serves up fresh, authentic food in a local neighborhood to those in the know. Drop in for a meal and taste some of the best food in Key West.
The roast pork is some of the best I have had. Amazing flavor! Picadillo, Siboney Steak, Ropa Vieja (shredded beef, which translates to old clothes), Empanadas, Albondigas (meatballs), and more have graced our plates. Well-seasoned, hearty comfort food. Keep an eye out for the daily lunch special if going earlier in the day.
Let The Good Times Roll
On South Street, a stone’s throw from Duval, you’ll discover The Lobster Shack. Home of what I consider one of the best lobster rolls in Key West. They are fairly expensive, yet so delicious! Sometimes you just have to roll with it. If you want to treat yourself, you can find several wonderful lobster rolls in Key West.
I am a big fan of The Lobster Shack and their Key West Lobster Roll. The Lobster meat is sauteed with hot butter and a hint of key lime juice. I prefer this method way over one made with mayonnaise any day. It is one of the best lobster rolls I have had in Florida. You should definitely try one!
At The Lobster Shack, you can also order a traditional New England Roll, a Diablo Lobster Roll (siracha mayo & jalapeno), and even a Lobster BLT Roll with applewood smoked bacon. The menu also features Lobster Grilled Cheese and even a Key West Pink Shrimp Roll prepared with a hint of key lime and hot butter.
They have been known to sell out of lobster (isn’t that a crime?), so don’t wait until the end of the day for your chance to devour this tasty crustacean.
Off Duval, you could also visit some other Key West restaurants, such as the Eaton Street Seafood Market, Garbos Grill, or Alonzo’s Oyster Bar, to find a Lobstah Roll.
Down By The Historic Seaport
The Boat House reopened its doors in a new location at the end of Margaret Street across from the Raw Bar. Housed where Turtle Kraals used to be on the waterfront, they are back open and ready for business.
A popular place for tourists and locals alike, the Boat House is known for its daily happy hour and has been a favorite for years. From 4 – 6:30 pm during happy hour, well drinks, beer, wine, and appetizers (small plates) on the menu are all 50% off.
How much would you expect to pay to be down by the water and enjoy a meal in Key West? You will find the Boat House a refreshing alternative and easy on your wallet. Yes, that is why everyone else is there too. Get there early!
Many folks rave about Captain’s bread as a favorite item. I have tried it several times, but it doesn’t do much for me. We usually order the baby lamb chops, calamari, filet mignon bites, and skirt steak. On my last visit, I ordered the tempura lobster tail and the coconut shrimp. Both were tasty, and I would order them again.
Drop in for the much-talked-about happy hour and see what makes the Boat House one of our frequent visitor’s best restaurants in Key West.
Discover Some International Flair
Kennedy Cafe is tucked away into a strip mall on Kennedy Drive in the New Town area. This Keys Plaza location is a couple of miles from Duval Street and can be busy in its own right with the stores all around.
When you dine here, you can sample cuisines from many different countries. At first, I thought that the menu was too broad and not niche, but it worked.
Enjoy a Czech (Zlata Praha) or Russian beer while eating Italian, Greek, Uzbek, or Turkish favorites. Afterward, finish it off with Limoncello, Baklava, or Key Lime Pie. The menu is extensive, so you should be able to find something for every appetite at any mealtime.
We love the gyro sandwiches and gyro platter. The Mediterranean platter (eggplant dip, stuffed grape leaves, and falafel) is terrific, as are the kebabs. Finally, don’t skip out on the eggplant dip or the Uzbek bread; they are winners.
We haven’t tried the pasta or specialty dinners as of yet. I’ll order the pelmeni soon as I was fond of my first taste of that in St Petersburg, Russia, and again in Riga, Latvia. We love gyros, shwarma, kebabs, doner, etc., so we keep ordering those most of the time. The pizzas are priced right and have a wonderful crust. On occasion, we will order delivery.
Get Off The Rock and Head Over To Stock
Hogfish Bar & Grill on Stock Island is where you want to go to get your fill of hogfish when available. As they say, “A great place if you can find it!” Outdoor dining with waterfront views with plenty of fresh seafood straight off the boat. A local bar and restaurant away from the cray of the next island over. It’s not much of a hidden hole-in-the-wall or off-track anymore, but it is still less touristy and is often spoken about and recommended to those visiting.
Hogfish is a must-try in the keys. You could try the specialty hogfish sandwich or order hogfish and chips. In addition, there is a hogfish taco on the menu and even a stuffed hogfish house special. A mild, delicate fish with comparisons similar to a scallop, depending on who you ask. The burgers are big and bold, and their french fries are cooked perfectly. The local shrimp (Key West Pinks) don’t have to travel very far to make it onto your plate.
You’ll run into some characters and enjoy the vibe. Stroll along the docks and catch some live music on the weekend. If you were out fishing and reeled in a few, they will cook your catch.
Say hi to Shannon (one of those characters), normally out front in his booth. I asked him once what he liked best on the menu. His reply was the Smothered Chili Dogs. So there you have it, that locals’ guilty pleasure.
My Hogfish Order
I like to order the Hogfish & Chips and ask for it to be grilled or blackened rather than fried. On my first visit there years ago, I had their signature Hogfish Sandwich. It is hogfish smothered with swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms on fresh Cuban bread.
To me, although a good sandwich and filling, the fish gets overpowered by the other components, and you can’t taste the star of the show. I would likely order it again to make sure, but I prefer the fish and chips and a cold drink. What are you ordering?
Eat It Raw
The Half Shell Raw Bar on Margaret down at the seaport is a casual, laid-back type of place. Originally a shrimp warehouse, the restaurant began in 1972, and they just celebrated 50 years of shucking awesomeness! They have a fabulous happy hour from 4:30 to 6:30, seven days a week.
Join the locals and a good gathering of visitors at this favorite eatery. During happy hour they offer 50% off well drinks, house wines, and all beers. There is a special-priced happy hour food menu to check out as well. I enjoy going to the Half Shell because I can get fresh Florida seafood that isn’t all fried. It is a raw bar, after all.
So load up on that beer-steamed or chilled peel & eat shrimp, delicious gulf oysters, and clams in a bucket or on the half shell. In addition, you can get calamari, hot lips, conch fritters, and buffalo shrimp for those who like fried menu choices.
If you have a seafood craving, the Half Shell Raw Bar is a fantastic place to get your fix. One of the best Key West restaurants for those that like to eat it raw.
Get Off Duval and Explore Other Key West Restaurants
There are countless places to find good food in the Keys; we are truly blessed indeed. Sadly, a tourist town comes with tourist prices. We ate on Duval the other night, and some of the entrees were nearly $50!!! But that’s part of the game. The budget-conscious foodie in me wants to seek out the good deals, so I’m sharing my findings with you.
Getting off of Duval street will take you away from the crowds and a lot of the noise. A different vibe awaits you when you stray off course and explore away from the main drag. Stop by and pull up a seat at any of these Key West restaurants off of Duval. Perhaps I’ll see you there.
Map Showing Key West Restaurants Off Duval Street
Where To Stay in Key West?
Accommodation will be the main cost of your trip. Florida and especially the Florida keys, have been extremely busy and crowded with visitors. There wasn’t much of an off-season. With all of that activity, prices have increased. Here is a link where you can review hotels and different locations that will best suit your needs.
Find the best deals on Key West hotels here.
Looking for other fun activities to do in Key West?
Here are some of the most popular things to do in Key West.
If you liked this post, you might enjoy some others about Key West below.
- Pepe’s Cafe Key West: No Trip Is Complete Without It!
- Royal Red Shrimp: A Key West Love Affair
- The Key West Bar Card: All You Need to Know
- 22 Things to Do in Key West for 2022
- 10 Key West Restaurants on Duval Street
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