Saturday, September 15, 2012

I left my heart in Key West part 1: Food and Lodging

As many of you know, my husband and I road-tripped from Michigan to Key West this summer. As someone who normally prefers to travel out of the country, I at first wasn't the most excited for this trip as I have been for past trips we've taken.

That lack of excitement didn't last long. I fell in love with Key West as soon as we pulled into Old Town and checked into our hotel, Island City House.

When I saw that this was the porch reserved especially for our room, I was in heaven.

The hotel also rents bikes right on site so we never had to use our car the entire three days in Key West.

What I was most surprised about, however, was the amazing culinary experiences we had during our trip. I shamefully admit I had low expectations for the food in Key West. I'm happy to report that my expectations were surpassed.

We had three very memorable meals in those three days. The first one was at a Cuban place off of Mallory Square called El Meson de Pepe. I am very glad I disregarded many of the reviews on Yelp that declared the food overpriced, the waitstaff rude gringos, and the restaurant a tourist trap. I found it nothing of the sort.

Our waiter, Augosto, was an enthusiastic Cuban who explained everything that came to the table and what made it traditional Cuban food. My favorite was the mojo, which is similar to a chimichurri but with less herbs and more citrus. I could've eaten just the bread and mojo for my meal and been happy.

But my dinner was also delicious, consisting of black beans, braised pork, plantains, yellow rice, and yuca.

Needless to say, I was elated that I didn't listen to the negative reviews on Yelp, which is strange because I'm usually quite vigilant about taking reviews into account before dining at a restaurant. For some reason, I just had a feeling that it was going to be a great meal despite what others were saying.

The other great meal we had was lunch at La Creperie that was in a beautiful building full of soothing pastel colors that just make you want to sit there all day and people watch.

... but the food wasn't bad either. I ordered this beautiful croque madame and gobbled it all up

But our most memorable meal in Key West had more to do with the ambiance than the food. There's this restaurant, right across the street from La Creperie coincidentally enough, called Blue Heaven. The food was good, albeit overpriced, but it was so worth it for the experience. 


Blue Heaven has a very shabby chic outdoor patio that is already full of character on its own

but they have something to make it even more unique... chickens running free throughout the entire patio.

I think that rooster is stalking my husband

The dinner itself wasn't anything to write home about but they have THE MOST AMAZING key lime pie I have ever eaten in my life. Instead of whipped cream, they top it with a giant meringue (which I am surprised to admit is way better than whipped cream on a key lime pie). One piece was just about the size of my head:

I have to say that I was extremely pleased with both the food and lodging experiences we had in Key West. I really loved the character of the island and I was worried that it was all just going to be one big tourist trap. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while full of tourists, it's still a place where people live and work and has a wonderfully relaxed vibe to it.

Coming soon I'll do another Key West post about all of the things we saw and did.


  1. This looks like a great vacation. My one trip to Miami is the only time I've had Cuban food, a distinctive cuisine. Loved all the surprising citrus flavors.

  2. Those photos make me want vacation right now -- we're experiencing cool cloudiness and there will be much more of that to come.

    That key lime pie is definitely worth writing home about!

  3. I've never been to Key West nor had Cuban food, but these photos make me want to do both. Glad you had a great vacation!

  4. I nave never been to Key West either, but I love Cuban food and it looks like great fun!

  5. Looks like a beautiful place to visit. Have a great week.

  6. I haven't been to Key West but it looks beautiful. I am IN LOVE with your room's porch!

  7. I grew up in FL. and never got to Key West! It does look like a lot of fun. Someday!. I adore Key Lime pie and always meringue, no whipped cream! Glad you had a wonderful time!

  8. That pie looks yummy! And I love the look of the hotel you stayed in. It's beautiful and it looks like it got that historical element. ;)

  9. You do such a wonderful job writing these posts, and the photos are fabulous, I feel like I was there too. I'm looking forward to your next one.