Fresh Seafood Restaurant in Key West: Under the Radar Favorites

margarita and conch fritters on plate overlooking harbor scene in key west

Conch fritters and a harbor view…just one of the fresh seafood restaurant in Key West to enjoy!

Looking for a fresh seafood restaurant in Key West?

First, you know that when you’re in Key West, Florida the chance of eating a great plate of fresh fish is pretty good. After all, you’re in the Keys! Home to Hemingway, author of Old Man and the Sea, and what some believe is the perfect fish nursery because the Gulf of Mexico mixes with the Atlantic Ocean for the ideal blend of waters.

As a result, my third trip to the Florida Keys involved a quest for great seafood. While any place along the chain of islands is great, this trip led us to the point where Key West touches the ends of the earth. Well, the end of Florida anyhow!

There is a lot to love in this storied little fishing town, and fresh seafood is one of them. The fishermen in Key West are passionate about fishing and passionate about sustainable practices that allow you and me to enjoy great meals for generations to come.

Here are three hidden treasures teeming with seafood-lover menus! Plus, a couple of other dining stops you must try during your next Key West getaway.

Let’s get started!

Fresh Seafood Restaurant in Key West: Found!

tiki style restaurant exterior geiger marine fresh seafood restaurant in key west

The vibe at Geiger Marina is casual and fun…be sure to add this low-key restaurant to your Key West itinerary.

Geiger Marine, RV Park, and Fish Camp Restaurants

In a million years, I wouldn’t think of going to an RV park for dinner. However, one of my favorite fresh fish restaurants closer to home is at a marina.  So, I guess this local gem isn’t too far-fetched!

The RV park has 36 sites, many are waterfront, and since they are located 10 miles from Key West, you are close enough to enjoy downtown with the added benefit of getting a taste of what the Florida Keys was like “back in the day.”

The Fish Camp Restaurant is right on calm waters tucked away among groups of trees on Geiger Key. The location is a stone’s throw from Boca Chica Beach Park and the Naval Air Station Key West, but you’ll quickly see why they refer to themselves as the backside of paradise.

We started with Conch Fritters and margaritas, then enjoyed the Hogfish and Chips. You’ll find hogfish on the menu throughout Key West and if you haven’t tried it yet, and love flaky white fish, give it a taste!

The restaurant has a tiki bar beach vibe with live music from a local musician. It’s casual and fun and the views cannot be beat. A great way to start your stay at Key West!

Location: 5 Geiger Road, Key West, FL  33040

fresh seafood restaurant in key west

D.J.’s clam shack was highlighted on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives for good reason.

D.J.’s Clam Shack

Featured on the Food Network’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives, D.J.’s Clam Shack is a little seafood spot with a lovely back patio where you can enjoy your meal. They have several locations including three in Florida (Key West, Indian Shores, and St. Augustine).

The Main Lobster Rolls are a fan favorite; however, I’m not a big fan of lobster rolls so I ordered Mahi Mahi tacos, onion rings, and an Islamorada Ale. It was the perfect combination for a casual stop while exploring Key West’s main street.

I loved the back patio! It was cozy, fun, and casual, tucked away from the street, with a beachy decor you would expect in the Keys.

Location: 629 Duval Street, Key West, FL  33040

sunflower in field Food Lovers Guide to St Augustine in May

This hidden Key West restaurant gem is worth the little drive away from the main section of downtown.

The Docks Restaurant & Rawbar

They boast serving dock-to-dish seafood hand-selected daily from the Keys Fresh Seafood Market. As if to convince you, you’ll pass by a shallow cement pool filled with live lobsters as you approach the hostess stand. As you look over the boats in the small harbor, you’ll be tempted to reach down and select your own lobster!

However, before you get that far, you’ll enter this industrial-feeling location by passing through a high-density neighborhood of modest homes and parking in a dirt parking lot with a mix of boats on trailers, trucks, and cargo trailers. For a minute, you might wonder if you’re at the right place. 

Then, the moment you walk up to the waterfront, pass by the well-stocked bar, and see the indoor and outdoor seating, you’ll be glad you came. If you’re there around sunset, even better!

The location overlooks Stock Island’s commercial fishing harbor, thus explaining why the parking lot feels so industrial. Yet fishermen know fish, and The Docks Restaurant and Raw Bar knows exactly how to serve them! We all agreed that this was our new top favorite Key West restaurant.

The bar includes hand-crafted cocktails and an enticing craft beer and wine list. We started with Figs in a Blanket because, well, figs! Served in a puff pastry with brie, sage, and honey it was a delicious starter. My main dish was a Local Sauteed Snapper served over Green Gazpacho Risotto. What a delicious flavor! Red wine and a beautiful sunset topped off a perfect day.

Location: 6840 Front Street, Key West, FL  33040

sunflower in field Food Lovers Guide to St Augustine in May

Pepe’s Cafe has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Key West for over 100 years.

Pepe’s Cafe

They say that Teddy Roosevelt was in the White House when Pepe’s Cafe opened in 1909, and Harry Truman was a regular. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As a result, you can walk in any time of day to get a glimpse of over one hundred years of history. The building’s exterior won’t shout out “great food served here” because it’s modest. But great food is exactly what you’ll get. I enjoyed my blackened fish served over a salad.

And if a little shout-out is what you want, you might get it from the free-roaming roosters on the patio. After all, you are in Key West!

Location: 806 Caroline Street, Key West, FL  33040

Must-Try Drinks in Key West, FL

key west mural fresh seafood restaurant in key west

Cuban Coffee Queen’s original location on the water is the perfect spot to start a morning walk along the boardwalk.

Man (and woman) may be able to live on fish alone; however, it’s so much better when you mix it up with a hot and cold beverage. Here are two spots we loved:

Cuban Coffee Queen

You’ve probably seen this Instagrammable spot more than once, and for good reason. The coffee is gooood! Cuban Coffee Queen has a couple of locations and we stopped at the original one on the water. 

One sip of this rich-hued bit of heaven and you’ll understand their motto to “Drink more Cuban Coffee and Do Stupid Things Faster!”

In addition to a full-blown coffee menu with all your favorites, and a few new ones to try, you can get breakfast, sandwiches, salads, and smoothies. Yet, while you wait for your order (which will come quickly) be sure to get a Bucci. This Cuban Espresso Shot served with a touch of cane sugar will delight your taste buds with its true taste before we mess it up with all the “stuff” we love in our coffee. Be careful though…it’s served hot.

Even so, it’s worth it! So much so that when the decision came for me to spit it out because it was too hot or suck it in to cool it off, I chose the latter. There was no way I was going to waste one drop of the espresso. It was that good…and I bought some grounds to take home with me.

Original Location: 284 Margaret Street, Key West, FL  33040

Kava Culture Kava Bar

Once we parked our car, most of the trip was navigated on our bikes. It’s a great way to get around Key West without having to find parking or wait in traffic. I remember meeting a woman in Sarasota several years ago who grew up in Key West. She told me she never owned a car and never needed one. So there you go..island life!

We stopped at Kava Culture Kava Bar to enjoy their back patio and take a sip of the botanical beverage. The idea of choosing a drink based on how you want to feel instead of what you want to drink is interesting. 

Because I’m a fan of Maca, an adaptogen root, and other “earthy” flavors, I enjoyed the drink. Although my natural feel-good endorphins are always functioning at high levels so I’m not sure I “felt” anything different. But then again, I was in Key West riding my bicycle in the sunshine surrounded by water…I think life was already pretty darn good.

Location: 901 Fleming Street, Key West, FL  33040

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There are many places to enjoy a meal and a drink in Key West and I hope that I’ve shared a few with you here that you may not have heard of yet, or would like to try the next time you take a trip to the Florida Keys.

If I’ve forgotten one or should add another fresh seafood restaurant in Key West to my dining guide, please let me know! I’m happy to give it a taste.

READ MORE:  2024 Florida Bucket List

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key west mural fresh seafood restaurant in key west