Where the locals eat in Key West

Where the locals eat in Key West

Get off the eaten path with these best-kept secret restaurants

Even in popular destinations, it’s possible to get away from the crowds and uncover hidden gems where locals and savvy travelers enjoy better food at better prices. Here are my favorite secret eats in Key West.

Key West local places to eat

  • Hogfish Bar and Grill
  • Mo’s Restaurant
  • Sandy’s Cafe
  • El Siboney
  • Half Shell Raw Bar
Hogfish Bar and Grill on Stock Island near Key West

You’ll need your GPS to find this place, and you will consider turning around more than once – but stay the course! Situated on the docks amongst the fishing fleet, is a place where, not so long ago, tourists were rare and the locals enjoyed the best fresh seafood at a reasonable price. It’s catching on with the tourists, but still a spot I visit every time I’m in Key West. Come casual. Enjoy the food, drink and views.

Mo's Restaurant in Key West

This is away from the crowds at Mallory Square and Duval Street, and definitely worth seeking out. Never eaten Haitian food before? No worries. The owners are always on site cooking and serving, and are happy to make recommendations. Creole/Caribbean food choices range from local seafood to oxtail. I couldn’t find a website … but you’ll find plenty of positive comments online.

Sandy’s Café in Key West

If you’ve found M&M Laundry you’re at the right place. Next door, this tiny kitchen cranks out delicious eats from 5 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. If you’re lucky you can snag one of a handful of sidewalk stools to enjoy your meal. Half the fun is watching the chickens scurry about and people from all walks of life pull up and grab their order. What to eat? The Cuban or Sandy’s Sandwich. If you don’t like those, you’re on your own. I eat here often and always stick to the proven winners. Too much with rum and sun to make it out? They deliver anywhere on the island for $3.

El Siboney Cuban restaurant in Key West

Tucked in the middle of a neighborhood, this is the spot for Cuban food. They claim to have won Key West’s Best Cuban Restaurant award each year since 1993, and I take them at their word. Sampling from nearly 40 pork, chicken, seafood and beef dishes is proof enough for me. Even on winter weeknights there may still be long waits, so the best option may be getting food to go. Further proof this is off the beaten path, but well worth finding. They also have a location on Stock Island.

Half Shell Raw Bar in KeyWest

This one almost did not make the list because its popularity is leaking out beyond the locals. But you have to walk to the very end of the wharf area and most tourists never make it that far, so I want to give it a plug. Originally a shrimp warehouse, it became a restaurant and seafood market when shrimping moved to Stock Island. You can watch the boats come and go and might even spy a fisherman delivering the day’s catch. Everything is good. Get a variety and share. And get a shirt.

Updated: September 2019.

Looking for more great places to eat in Key West. Check out Best Restaurants: Key West.


Hogfish Bar and Grill: Cayobo / (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Looking for a biking adventure while in the Keys, check out our post on 100 miles of biking bliss!