a.k.a., How I ate my way across Key West in 4 days.
01.07.2011 - 05.07.2011
We woke to another beautiful day in Key West.
Breakfast was at Pepe's, which doesn't look like much from the outside.
The inside, however, is freakin' adorable. A rustic old interior with lots of artwork and polished wood opens to a great garden patio with a nice bar. The food is also pretty great. I wanted the french toast with blueberries, strawberries, and coconut, but my stomach was suffering from Rectal Rocketfuel Afterburn, so I took it easy.
Because our snorkel trip to Looe Key had been snatched from us so harshly, we decided to make a second attempt. Besides, I was now a superfan of the Fury Catamaran. How could I not go again?
We did an early morning snorkel trip that included 2 stops. We wanted to snorkel because we have done a great deal of snorkeling and diving throughout the Caribbean and we love it. We'd heard the snorkeling in the Keys was great. We didn't want to miss it.
I'll be frank. I don't want to discourage anyone that wants to snorkel in Key West, but I wish I had passed. It was okay, but on a scale of one to 10, I'd give it about a 3. Maybe we just went on a bad day. Maybe our boat went to a lousy location. Maybe I am just trying to compare it to some of the really phenomenal places I have seen.
But it was just....meh.
We'd passed by Bo's Fish Wagon on the way to the boat, so we stopped in for lunch on the way back.
I really liked Bo's. It's the kind of place that your mom wouldn't let you eat in when you were a kid because she was certain no one washed their hands. It's the kind of place you feel like you need a tetanus shot before entering and that seems impossibly held together by rope, old signs, and spit. The wine cooler is a large, gray, plastic garbage can and none of the tables or chairs match.
The food is good too and the portions are large. I had the Famous Fried Grouper Sandwich with hand cut fries.
I liked the atmosphere. I liked the décor. I liked the food. The only complaint I have is the price. Four of us ate here and we each got a sandwich, we split 2 orders of fries, and we each got a soda. It was $80. Even though the food was good, $80 is a big much for 4 sandwiches, 4 cokes, and 2 fries.
Oh well. Maybe Bo is saving up for a new wine cooler.
I grabbed a frozen chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick from Kermit's before heading back to the house because..well..because everyone told me I had to.
Yes, it was good, but I like plain old key lime pie on a plate better.
We enjoyed some downtime, nap time, and pool time and it was time to hit the streets again.
Just one block over from our house was the 801 Bourbon Bar. Yeah, I know it's a drag bar. That was obvious by the giant color "DRAG SHOW" sign on the door and the neon circus sign that stretched the entire length of the bar that said, "Dragasylum."
But it had a sand floor.
How could we not go in?
We each grabbed a vinyl bar stool depicting a different drag queen, toes in the sand, and the bartender sauntered over and asked what we'd like.
I asked him what the best thing they had was.
"You mean other than me?" he responded as he proceeded to pour us all a tall glass of frozen red something something with a heavy poured dark rum floater.
The drink. Not the bartender.
My only regret here was that I didn't make it for Sunday night Drag Queen Bingo.
There is always a next time, right?
We had dinner at Salute on the Beach. What a cute little place was this????
We sat out back, overlooking the beach. Brightly colored tables greeted us along with the incredible smells of garlic and sea breeze.
We all thought it was some of the best pasta we'd ever had. I spent 10 days in Italy and I don't remember anything tasting better.
They also had a key lime pie that was out of this world.
You didn't think I was going to leave Key West without a piece of pie, now did you?
We had to leave early the next morning, so we spent a relatively tame night enjoying the sunset, grabbing a cocktail or two along Duval Street, talking our friends out of buying a $595 hammock, and just enjoying our last night.
We woke early the next morning to head out. It seemed like we had just gotten here and it was already time to leave.
We had to head out early to beat the summer weather, but I didn't mind. As I looked down at Key West, an ever fading dot on the horizon, I knew I'd be back. There were too many things I missed: renting bikes, drag queen bingo, getting to see the crazy cat man at Mallory Square, salsa dancing at El Meson de Pepe, a meal at El Siboney, getting off Duval Street and seeing some of the other sites, sunset cocktails at Louie's Afterdeck, the french toast at Pepe's, seeing the Ernest Hemingway Home and catching a glimpse of a six toed cat, Schooner Wharf Bar for a 7 a.m. happy hour, the 6 p.m. turtle race at Turtle Kraals, or having some Cuban toast with my café con leche.
There were also things that I know I have to experience again: a cheap glass of champagne on a crowded catamaran while watching a fiery Key West sunset, Key West pink shrimp, an Amigo's square taco with shredded beef, more than one piece of key lime pie, a garbage pie at Bobalu's or spaghetti at Salute, and a sniff inside Besame Mucho.
Key West was unique. It was a place all its own. It's like someone took an island in the Caribbean and mixed it with a coastal Florida town; tossed in a little dash of Havana, Cuba; sprinkled it with some Bourbon Street; added a cup of sand, palm trees, and seawater; then dumped in some Tennessee Valley Fair, Ringling Brothers Circus, and Vaudeville; blended well, and poured it into a tall, frosty glass.
I think one day I'll take another sip.