Best Seafood Dishes in Key West

Best Seafood Dishes in Key West

Last Updated on January 29, 2023

When many people think of food from Key West, the first thing that might come to mind is their world renowned key lime pie. However, that’s not all they do. Most of Key West’s best dishes are seafood-related. Why? Because the seafood in Florida is absolutely divine. It is flavorful, fresh and high caliber cuisine.

Since the fish and seafood is locally sourced, you can be assured that you can get fresh, high quality seafood on a regular basis without the need to get something frozen or imported.

But where should you go for the best seafood in the area? What are Key West’s specialties? 

Let’s take a walk through all the seafood that Key West has to offer and see what you can get, what’s the best, and where to get it.

Key West’s Best Seafood Dishes

Though stating what is “the best” is highly subjective to an individual’s preferences, we can certainly walk you through some of our favorites and some of the most popular dishes for which Key West has become famous. 



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This hardy mollusk is a famous delicacy within the Key West area. In fact, the conches have been so popular here that Florida Fish and Wildlife had to make them a protected species, and now all the conches come from the Bahamas.

Though conch are not locally sourced, they are still delicious and the locals have perfected their preparation to make a sumptuous Conch chowder. The secret lies in simmering the conch for an additional 1-2 hours after it has been cooked. The result? A tender conch that melts away in your mouth.

In Key West they also love to make Conch fritters and even Conch sandwiches. If you have never tried it, Key West is definitely the best place to do so.


Though an exorbitant amount of fish are available to try, some of the best fish in the area are the mahi mahi (type of dolphin), and the hogfish. Additionally you should also try the grouper, red snapper, mackerel and wahoo.

Though there are a million ways you could prepare each of them, something Key West is especially known for are its mouthwatering fish sandwiches. We would definitely recommend the fried hogfish on cuban bread with onions, mushrooms and melted swiss cheese that can be found at the Hogfish Bar & Grill. Additionally the “Seawich” found at B.O’s Fish wagon is a sandwich that offers locally caught grouper that is grilled or fried in an open air environment. This is usually accompanied by black beans and rice and is a true Key West experience.

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Pink Shrimp


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Now we come to one of the most delectable food items in all of Florida: key west pink shrimp. These are well known delicacies of Key West that are held to a high expectation that rarely disappoints.

There are many ways to prepare these shrimp. Some favorite ways to cook them include: Pan seared with lemon, boiled and served with a mustard dip or grilled on a kebab stick over an open flame. 

Whichever way you prefer to eat Key West shrimp, they are extremely sweet, highly tender, and can be almost addictive. 

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Spiny Lobster


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When people think of lobster they think of Maine lobster which is what you would find in a Red Lobster restaurant. However, Key West has a different variety of lobster that is equal to, if not superior to that of which you can find elsewhere. 

The only edible part of these spiny lobsters are their juicy tails and they are even sweeter than those you find up north. These spiny lobsters spend their life in the warm waters of the Caribbean hiding away in caverns and coral reefs feasting on crabs, which likely adds to their rich flavor. 

The Key West spiny lobster is traditionally served with butter. However, the lobster rolls are one of the best sandwiches available and if you like pasta dishes then Key West has some great seafood pasta options made with fresh lobster. 

Stone Crabs

These little beauties are harvested from mid-October to May and you should definitely try them out. They will surprise and impress you. With a slightly different flavor from most crabs, these crustaceans have a taste that is somewhere between a shrimp and a lobster. So if you can’t decide what seafood to try, why not just buy some stone crab?

These crab claws are served as finger food and taste best with a hint of lemon or a dip into some mustard sauce. The lemon or mustard serves as a sharpness to accentuate the already gorgeous taste of the ocean that these stone crabs offer.

Where is the Best Seafood in Key West?

With so many options to choose from it is important to know where you can find the best of the best of the best?

The freshest food is always at the source. Though many restaurants serve scrumptious meals of fish and seafood, the best you can find is going to be in two main locations. 

Firstly, there are the fish and seafood markets of Key West. If you go nice and early, you are going to get the freshest seafood for sale. The selection is impressive and the prices are pretty reasonable too. 

If you are in the main town you should try the Eaton Street Seafood Market that is only a 3 minute walk from the water and has one of the most diverse ranges of fish and seafood available. On the other side of the island by the docks and marina is the Keys Fresh Seafood Market. This market is adjacent to the water and has some of the best hogfish and mahi mahi on the island. 

As a side note, if you are looking for the best restaurants, then you should check some locations close to the fish market as they are more likely to have fresh seafood and first dibs on the optimum quality.

The second location is the true source of all seafood. Where is fresher than the ocean itself? If you go out on a boat and catch the seafood yourself, then you are going right to the original source and getting yourself the absolute best seafood that Key West has to offer. 

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Why You Should Visit Key West

Key West is the optimum location for the best locally caught fresh seafood. The entire island has its culture molded around its love for the water and for those ocean delicacies that they eat on a regular basis.

Having spent their lives catching and preparing fish and seafood, the locals know what they are doing, catch the best quality, and make it taste out of this world.

If you want somewhere where you can experience everything that the ocean has to offer, go to Key West and enjoy some of the best seafood you have ever tried.

About Maria Kennedy

Maria Kennedy is the managing editor at Travel for Food Hub. Maria is on a full-tilt mission to share local food and travel inspiration. When she is not writing about food and travel, startups or social media, she is enjoying her time with her boys in sunny Spain.

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