Dining Outside the Home: Papa’s Pilar Rum Distillery, Hemingway Rum Company in Key West, Florida! The mystique of the legendary adventurer, Ernest Hemingway, is revealed in Papa’s Pilar premium sipping rum. Visit the island distillery nestled in an original tobacco warehouse built in 1878. “Papa’s Pilar”, named after Hemingway’s private vessel which he often sailed to nearby Cuba in the 1930s, lent its name to the limited edition rums. Tours are certainly encouraged and tastings of both the blonde and dark varieties of rum are available. “Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the romance of the unusual.” ~ Ernest Hemingway.
Dining Outside the Home: Duetto Pizza and Gelato in Key West, Florida! Just a stone’s throw off Duval Street is a cozy Italian eatery that serves New York-style thin crust pizza by the slice. Because a single slice can be bigger than your hand, you may see people folding it in half, especially if they’re peddling toward the beach or heading over to the waterfront pier. No judgement. If it keeps one from burning the roof of their mouth on the gooey cheese, I’m all for it. Whatever you choose, save a little room for fresh gelato. It’s made daily with milk, real fruit, and natural ingredients. No wonder it tastes so good.
Dining Outside the Home: The Green Room in Key West, Florida! When the locals tip you off with their favorite watering holes, you kinda pay attention. The Green Room takes pride in serving up thirst-quenching organic drinks in eco-friendly surroundings. Not only that, they believe is supporting the community as much as possible. It is an island, after all. Environmental sustainability is critical to survival. The bartenders are as laid back as a Florida sunset and the live music is cultural, no matter the performer. Stop by for a few. You’ll walk away feeling like family.
Dining Outside the Home: Paradise Restaurant in Key West, Florida! “Behind every storm, there is a paradise waiting for you,” say owners Christian and Julian Velez. Together they created Paradise Restaurant, specializing in tasty Latin American food. Their hospitality alone embraces everyone who comes to dine here. Sure, the iguanas may come into view over your shoulder, but that only adds to the ambiance of outdoor seating. Sit back, sip on a salty-sugar rimmed margarita for good measure while deciding what to order. Ever tried sweet and succulent fried plantains? You must. They are simply delish caramelized niblets of green bananas. Pair them with pork carnitas and Cuban black beans. Talk about Paradise.
Dining Outside the Home: Nine One Five in Key West, Florida. During the day you may walk by this charming whitewashed Victorian home, with ocean blue accents, thinking it’s a magnificent private residence. What a glorious sight. However once the evening hours roll around, every table seems to be filled with jovial guests on the wrap-around veranda before overflowing into the front yard beyond the white picket fence. Notice how the amber lights soften the mood for intimacy and celebration. Your first thought may be, “How do I get invited to the party?” My advice? Make a reservation because if you don’t, you’ll wish you did. Take time to enjoy every course. For starters, think about the raw Ahi Tuna Gravlax or fig balsamic Burrata. Delectable choices. Homemade pastas like fettuccine, cannot be resisted, especially when mixed with Key West pink shrimp and capers. The menu is varied to appeal to every palate. Go ahead, you’re worth it.
Dining Outside the Home: Key Lime Pie Bakery! Key limes are as popular in the Florida Keys as conch shells on the beach. If you’ve never tasted one, imagine this: Key limes are more aromatic as well as a bit smaller than regular limes, thus making them less acidic and more tart. By adding sugar, eggs, and a graham cracker crust, the results are a tangy, sweet, light, and creamy dessert that may or may not cry out for a delicious dollop of whipped cream. Merengue is definitely not out of the question either. Drop in for a single slice or an entire pie. It’s convenient enough to make a second trip.
Dining Outside the Home: Pinchers Crab Shack in Key West, Florida! Sometimes you need to take a break from the noonday sun to whet your whistle. No worries, Happy Hour runs every day. Sit at the bar, a short distance from the stage where live music is very laid back, for the perfect vantage point for Duval Street commotion. Sip on classic cocktails, some with Cuban rum, and it won’t be long before you’ll be transported to warm southern beaches where ocean waves wash your worries away. When you get hungry, rely on local fishermen to supply the freshest seafood the Gulf has to offer. It’s all good at Pinchers.
Dining Outside the Home: Old Town Mexican Café in Key West, Florida! When a restaurant boasts of an abundance of hatch chiles and fresh, local ingredients, you begin to wonder if Santa Fe style Tex-Mex might be a good choice for dinner. Anytime the weather is hot, and the drinks are cold, it draws a crowd on Duval Street for seafood favorites, like skewered shrimp marinated in lime juice and ginger. Take a swig of on-the-rocks margarita. The salted rim offsets the spicy salsa you can’t resist tasting now and then. If you’re in the neighborhood, take advantage of Happy Hour specials. There’s no rush here.
Dining Outside the Home: Little Room Jazz Club in Key West, Florida! If you prefer to sit on the edge of the party, tuck your legs under a bar stool at a high table in a cozy corner of Little Room Jazz Club. Step back in time to an era of speakeasies and nightclubs. Pay attention as the piano player tickles the ivory keys in the glow of blue neon lights. Every now and then, requests ring out from regular patrons while first-timers absorb the melodic freedom of harmonic jazz enticing a head bob, toe tap, or other bodily motions. For those who like to nibble as they drink, a nice assortment of small bites are available on the menu. Choose an entertaining evening; experience it all.