Key West is one of those end-of-the-world places that attract both those who are looking to get away from it all — and those who are looking to get away to something special. Besides lovely hotels, museums and architecture, Key West has many dining options. Here are four restaurants I particularly liked.
At this lively and congenial place, I rejoiced in a dish I’d never encountered before: conch carpaccio. The conch is pounded paper-thin and served with sweet red pepper, capers, Bermuda onions and a sprinkling of Asiago cheese. An entrée of hogfish — a reef fish that is succulent and almost sweet due to its diet of crustaceans — came with a red bell pepper Hollandaise.
1029 Southard Street. Tel. (305) 294-0230
As the name might suggest, the prime tables are at the back, right on the ocean. I tried the conch fritters, a Key West favorite, and enjoyed them here with a spicy dipping sauce. I also gave in to the shrimp and grits, which were creamy and beautifully seasoned.
700 Waddell Avenue. Tel. (305) 294-1061
The food at Michaels ranked among the best we had on our entire trip. The most impressive dishes were fried oysters served in individual spoons atop an avocado purée and crowned with shaved egg, remoulade and fried capers. I finished every bite of the snapper meunière with artichoke hearts, roasted red bell pepper and a lemony brown butter. The Key lime pie was exemplary.
532 Margaret Street. Tel. (305) 295-1300
This longtime favorite recently moved into a striking new building, where the interior has a huge video screen showing soothing aquatic scenes. Excellent crabcakes came with a ginger-garlic sauce, and the Thai snapper was topped with a well-balanced curry and lots of crisp, fresh vegetables.
921 Truman Avenue. Tel. (305) 296-2777