Royal red shrimp in key west at the conch farm

Royal Red Shrimp: A Key West Love Affair

Love Is in the Air

I have an affair every time I go to Key West. I don’t imagine my wife will approve of these seductive interludes for much longer. When I’m around the Conch Republic Seafood Company (Conch Farm), I get weak in the knees, trembling with anticipation. A shameful feeling washes over me, and I’m always yearning for the next chance and left desiring more. Hot, steamy, and luscious are the only words to describe how these magnificent Royal Red Shrimp look on my plate.

Where to Find Royal Red Shrimp in Key West

The Conch Republic Seafood Company has a dirty little secret, not on the restaurant menu. So it is worth your time to investigate further and discover more if you are a seafood lover. Before to find out what the undisclosed information was, you had to find those in the know or be lucky enough to hear about it by word of mouth.

Thankfully, many people have shared with others and revealed to the world one of the most fantastic shrimp platters I’ve ever had. For many, the Conch Farm is a mandatory first stop once they arrive in Key West. I can only agree and find no fault with swinging by for a plate of Royal Reds and a Conch-A-Rita or two.

A plate of royal red shrimp
A plate of Royal Reds

Seasonal Delights in Key West

Key West is a seafood haven with abundant mouth-watering bites throughout the seasons. Stone Crab, Spiny Lobster, Hogfish, Grouper, Yellowtail Snapper, and Key West Pinks are all sought after and should find their way onto your plate. All you have to do is choose between blackened, grilled, broiled, steamed, or fried.

Royal Reds the Shrimp of the Gulf

As alluded to earlier, my love affair is with a variety of shrimp called Royal Reds. Sultry and seductive, more so than any shrimp should ever be. These meaty morsels have a smooth, buttery flavor similar to a scallop or lobster. These scarlet-colored delights are deep, cooler water shrimp prized for their savory taste. Royal Red shrimp are lovely, and I think you will agree—a gift from Neptune himself.

Thinking back to my first plate of Royal Reds is a joyful one. Without question, these shrimp have left their mark as one of my top Key West seafood memories. I’m sure they will be one of yours too.

Royal red shrimp in key west
A serving of Royal Reds at the Conch Republic Seafood Company

Time to Dig In

My one-pound order of Royal Reds arrives on a white scorching hot plate. The tantalizing aroma of Old Bay seasoning invades my personal space, and I don’t mind. A brief smile flashes across my mouth, and then it’s down to business.

The shrimp are still hot, I can barely grasp one firmly, but there is no stopping now. Ahh, peel and eat bliss; the moment has arrived. Expertly I remove the shell and eat the first one savoring each bite. Next, I explore the various dipping options provided on the platter one by one.

Messy Is Good

My fingers become covered in a wet and sticky seasoning mixture that is dripping equal parts: butter, lemon juice, horseradish, and cocktail sauce. The shell fragments cling to me tightly, not wanting to break our sticky embrace. Nevertheless, I don’t mind the mess developing on my hands, laser-focused on the current task, the battle waged between myself and this mountainous pile of Royal Reds.

How can I perform best when my wife watches and scrutinizes my every move? (Pointing and mainly laughing from behind her large-sized Conch Republic Burger. Please remind me to cut her off after two Piña Coladas.)

A hefty stack of extra napkins is warranted. The few wet wipes offered on the plate are appreciated but not enough. I will have to visit the facilities once done to wash up thoroughly. I understand now! It all makes sense you have to go past the gift shop to reach the restroom. Brilliant!

Somehow I avoid soiling my shirt and shorts with shrimp juice and fragments, thus not earning any contemptuous looks from my wife on this day (yay, for small victories). Of course, if I were to pass at this very moment, “Death by shellfish, they would proclaim,” but if it involves these beauties, I think it’s a great way to go.

shrimp with a view
Dig in while they are hot

Why You Should Visit the Conch Farm

If you enjoy excellent seafood, especially shellfish, it would be a sin to come to Key West and not have an order of these exquisite Royal Red shrimp.

Remember, you can only get royal red shrimp prepared for you at one restaurant in Key West, and that is The Conch Republic Seafood Company!

The Conch Farm has 2-for-1 happy hour drink specials every day from 4 until 7 pm if you want to combine food and drink. The frozen rum runners are a personal favorite. (don’t forget the dark rum floater on top) In addition, there is a varied menu and a great beer selection.

I have heard from several people and seen some posts that Antonia’s serves royal reds with different pasta dishes from time to time. However, it is not specifically stated on their menu. It wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Where to Buy Royal Red Shrimp

You can buy them at Eaton Street Seafood Market, but you’ll have to cook them yourself. Nevertheless, that is probably your best bet for finding royal red shrimp for sale.

I Found a Food Truck with Royal Reds

If you are hanging around the Thursday Farmers Market at the Truman Waterfront or the Key West Artisan Market and Amazing Rolls & Eats is there, you can get a nice plate of royal reds served up hot from their lovely food truck stand. They come down from Big Pine Key and have an excellent food menu that you should consider. They also happen to attend other events up the keys, so keep your eyes and ears open if up that way.

amazing rolls and eats food truck plate
Amazing Rolls & Eats royal red shrimp offering

Stock Island: Where to get Royal Red Shrimp

Over on Stock Island at the Hogfish Bar & Grill, a Royal Red Shrimp Roll is on the menu. Their riff of a lobster roll using royal red shrimps. A new restaurant called The Docks Restaurant and Raw Bar has chilled peel-and-eat Royal Reds on its menu as well.

Don’t Miss out on Royal Red Shrimp

I strongly encourage you not to let this seafood opportunity pass! You can enjoy one of Key West’s undisputed favorites by getting your very own plate of Royal Reds. How hungry do you feel? Are you going to order a half or full pound? You will not forget these beauties’ size, texture, and taste.

Key West red shrimp on display at the conch republic seafood company
Royal Red Shrimp on display at the Conch Farm in Key West

Another good thing about Royal Red shrimp is that you can find them throughout the Gulf Coast, so you have more options to track some down.

Key West Pinks: The Other Shrimp

If the Conch Republic Seafood Company happens to be out of reds and you are still craving shrimp, I recommend you order the Key West Pinks. You can find these at many places in the Keys; however, ensure that the menu explicitly states Key West Pink Shrimp, or you could end up with something unauthentic.

Key West Pink Shrimp are local, plentiful, and always an excellent choice. A delicate flavor and a sweet taste leave each bite as good as the first. They are nicely sized and make for a lovely appetizer or meal.

Key West Pinks have a distinct marking, a red dot found on their shell, which signifies that you have the right ones. They are wild-caught and live in the coral shallows nearby.

Have you been to Key West and had a plate of Royal Reds? How did you hear about them?


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Where to Stay in Key West?

If you need a place to stay, review these local hotels and find locations that best suit your needs.
Find the best deals on Key West hotels here.

Are you looking for fun activities to do in Key West?
You could toast the day’s end on a fun-filled Sunset Sail, take your taste buds on an exciting Food Tour, or explore the outdoors at places like the Dry Tortugas. Check out some of the possibilities available to you here.

For more Key West posts, see below.

Get Ready to Book Your Trip: Helpful Links and Resources

Book Your Flight
I use Skyscanner to find and research my airfare needs and to locate the best flight deals. It searches worldwide on many airlines to help you find the best options.

Book Your Stay
Booking.com is my go-to for finding a place to stay anywhere globally. An outstanding company that I trust and have used for many years. Find accommodation from budget to luxury in cities and countries around the world. If you happen to be backpacking and staying in hostels, I recommend Hostelworld to help you find a place to stay.

Get Travel Insurance
Travel is unpredictable. Anything could happen. A trip interruption, flight delay, lost or stolen items, or personal injury, having comprehensive trip insurance will protect you if anything goes wrong. SafetyWing is a solid choice for most travelers. If you are older, want to compare several plans, and to gather more information, look at InsureMyTrip.

Tours, Activities, and Things to Do
Viator (a TripAdvisor company) offers many excellent options to keep you busy wherever you may be. From walking and food tours to sunset cruises and more. Make sure to give them a look and add some fun-filled activities to your itinerary.

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7 Comments

  1. Fun read and Yes, we love RR 🦐 and are easily found throughout the Gulf Coast if you know, you know. We frequent a $20 all you can eat RR in South Alabama 💕

  2. Thanks Aimee! You must be spoiled living where you do and having the opportunity to feast on the royal reds. I have not been to Alabama yet. Clearly, I am missing out.

  3. Stefan, you must have these if you ever make your way to Key West. A plate of royal reds, some key lime pie, and a drink or three. 🙂 I think it would be a great destination for a couple of barbarians to run around.

  4. Great read! If you can’t get the royal reds, head to Sloppy Joe’s Dockside at the Perry Hotel for key west pinks. Lightly breaded, with buffalo sauce on the side. Absolutely delicious. I would also suggest happy hour to make your dollars go further in paradise. Hope to see you out on the town!

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