Terra Sigillata

Welcome readers of the It’s Only Key West (IOKW) discussion forum (and thanks to Kategoe for sending you here) – keep your suggestions coming in the comments below the post. I just came from Hogfish tonight where I sat between two people thrown out of the bar by 7:15 pm, one for regular old drunkenness and the other for nearly starting a fight. Cynical me wants to say they were paid actors. But the food was superb.

i-6999100be19191e7995da17c5cf4cee9--greetings-from-quaint-key-west_-florida.jpgSeizing upon our new tradition of getting out of Dodge for the week before Christmas madness, the Family Pharmboy will be broadcasting this week from Key West, Florida, The Conch Republic.

Regular readers know of my fondness for all things Florida, from the Sopchoppy Worm Gruntin’ Festival, manatees, Florida folk music to state’s mostly-superb institutions of higher learning (Go Gators!), the infiltration by San Diego-based research institutes and civil rights legend, Stetson Kennedy (who, incidentally, just finished his own book early 20th century Key West).

With a northern part that just a southern extension of Georgia and Alabama, figuratively and culturally, and a southern part that combines a New York City mentality with opulent beachfront properties, Florida is indeed the paradox of the natural majesty, biological diversity, and unseemly characters and plots that can be found in the writings of Carl Hiaasen. The fringe element of the state has even been evidenced most recently on ScienceBlogs.com by evolution denialists and bizarre religious controversies at state-funded institutions (although Greg’s post reminds me that evolution denialism is sadly not an isolated behavior in the state).

With that all said, I’d love to hear from readers what we should do and where we should go while in Key West.

No doubt that you will find the Pharmboy at the Key West Topical Forest & Botanical Garden where blog colleague and famed conservationist, Dr Stuart Pimm, has a research partnership. I’ve already been to the Rusty Anchor on Stock Island and will certainly head down for some of the best Cuban food in the US at El Siboney.

But I’m also very, very cognizant from Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America account on the Key West working class that those good folks who support our stay face tough economic times every single day, not just during this current downturn. So rest assured that for any place you recommend, the Family Pharmboy will be tipping heavily.


  1. #1 PalMD
    December 14, 2008

    All my Key West info I got from you.

  2. #2 leigh
    December 14, 2008

    i think the coolest thing we did there was the dolphin sightseeing tour- we spent an entire morning on the boat watching dolphins and snorkeling. sorry, i don’t remember which of the operators we went with, but it was a very good time. bring waterproof cameras if you go.

    get a picture of the family pharmboy at the southernmost point marker, that’s classic cheesy fun.

  3. #3 Strider
    December 14, 2008

    For an excellent dinner, go to Michael’s Key West. Fantastic food, an excellent wine list, and a wonderful setting. Blue Heaven is also good.

  4. #4 Abel Pharmboy
    December 15, 2008

    Pal, dude – surely you guys did something else here besides what I told you. In particular, what did little Ms. Pal like. Everyone here has told us we *must* do the butterfly museum.

    In fact, leigh, the butterfly museum is a block or two from the cheesy southernmost point marker (which, I believe, is not the southernmost – the real point is further west on the US Naval Air Station Key West).

    Strider, thanks for the tips on Michael’s and Blue Heaven – I’ve gotten a few other recs for Michael’s.

  5. #5 Flint Worthington
    December 15, 2008

    7 Fish
    BO’s Fishwagon
    Pepe’s (Oldest restauarant in KW)
    Best Cuban Sandwich: 5 Brothers (take out only)
    2nd best Cuban Sandwich: Sandy’s (you can sit on stools and look at the Laundramat)
    Great location (expensive, lunch not so, and the view is better) Louie’s Backyard
    Catch an indy or artfilm at The Tropic Cinema
    Window shop at Fast Buck Freddy’s

  6. #6 key.west.les
    December 15, 2008

    Three Thai restaurants, 3 Mexican, 3 Chinese, a great vegetarian one. Free museums: The Eco center, Reef Relief, The Wildlife Center, the Traveling Viet Nam Memorial Wall is in town, the Cemetery. Ideas? I got a million of ’em!

  7. #7 Isis the Scientist
    December 15, 2008

    I read this post earlier and didn’t comment. Then earlier today when I was outside and it was like -100 I found myself thinking, “Abel’s in Key West. Sigh.”

    I hope you’re having fun dear blog friend.

  8. #8 Bob
    December 15, 2008

    Looks like the restauarants are covered. Pepe’s has a great breakfast. Check out Schooner Wharf Bar between 12 – 5 for a good grouper sandwich and enjoy some of Michael McCloud’s music and entertainment. Also at SWB on Thursday nights catch Carl Peachey 7 – 11. On Monday’s it “Caffein” Carl between 7 – 11. Carl Peachey also plays at Capt. Tony’s on Green St. on Mondays and Thursdays 12 – 4, and Friday and Sat. night 9 – 1. If you want to take a sunset cruise, Capt. Carl will take you out on his 1930’s schooner docked behind SWB. Best entertainment in KW.

  9. #9 Kate
    December 16, 2008

    There are lots of ideas on hotels, restaurants, etc, as well as folks in the know (including locals) at our Key West discussion site in the url above.

    Whatever you do, have a great time!

  10. #10 pilotguy
    December 16, 2008

    If you’re driving down through the keys make sure you stop and smell the water along the way. Don’t get so focused on the destination that you forget the journey.

    Starting in Florida City, stop at “Robert is Here” for wsome fresh fruits and veggies, not to mention a smoothie. Next pull over at Alabama Jacks and have a crab cake or conch fritters.

    A stop at Hog Heaven in Islamorada will also be rewarded by a nice view and good food.

    Sparky’s Landing in Key Colony Beach is also a must see and do.

    Mangorve Mama’s at MM 17. DO IT.

    Want to stop for some shopping? How about Latitude 25 in Islamorada. Some really cool keys type stuff. World Wide Sportsman in Islamorada has EVERYTHING. PERIOD. Everything.

    Things to do? Feed the tarpon at Robbies in Islamorada. Maybe stop and feed the cobia at Aqua Ranch in Grassy Key. Go to the Blue Hole in Big Pine, onthe way to the Blue Hole, look at the key deer walking around.

    Don’t get so focused on Duval. They won’t run out of rum punch before you get there – I promise.

  11. #11 R H
    December 16, 2008

    Rusty Anchor on Stock Island is a great place for seafood & price as it has been for several years as well as El Siboney for Cuban which we go to all the time when in Keys West but ya need to try Hogfish Bar & Grill for some good fresh seafood, locals & waterfront dining. Just down a block is Shrimp Shack of Fishbusterz Fisheries, both places are great for fresh seafood, view, staff & price on Stock Island.

    Chico’s Cantina on Stock Island for some killer homemade Mexican food & stop by Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe for great key lime pie on the corner of Green & Elizabeth Street’s across from Conch Republic Seafood Company which has the best “Reds” or Key West “Pinks” shrimp & Alonzo’s Oyster House located under the A&B Lobster House at happy hour for some half price drinks & appetizers. You already have many recommended places to dine so hope you can visit them all besides the ones you have stated in your Blog.

    Don’t forget to pick-up your handmade Kino’s Sandals at the factory at 107 Fitzpatrick St., Nancy Forrester’s Secret Gardens, Historic Seaport at the Bight, which is called Harbor Walk, walk around the neighborhoods to see all the nice homes & in general, have a great time!

  12. #12 Abel Pharmboy
    December 16, 2008

    Hey folks, thanks so much. Looks like we’ve got enough suggestions that we’ll have to stay another three or four weeks.

    I took Mr Worthington’s idea yesterday for Cuban sandwiches at the 5 Brothers Grocery – spectacular and what a deal! The Cuban mix and the Midnight were both superb but it was the croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes) that really stole the show. PharmKid grooved on the flan.

    @key.west.les, yes, I was just about to run down to the traveling Vietnam Memorial.

    @Isis, hang in there. Glad to hear you’re done with your project and will soon be heading to warmer points.

    @Bob, thanks for the musical tips at the SWB – being an amateur musician I admire people who can make a go of it in a tourist town. You have to be really skilled to immediately grab people, almost like busking. looking forward to seeing Michael McCloud and Carl Peachy.

    @Kate, thanks for the URL – the discussion board is really valuable.

    @pilotguy, all superb recommendations but we flew directly into EYW this time since we had frequent flier miles and a road weary PharmKid. Our first time here, we flew into Miami, rented a convertible, and drove the length of the Keys. It was a fabulous trip and we stayed at a couple of places along the way, including a houseboat in Marathon next to a dock fish market with the best prices on stone crab claws we found during the entire trip. I *loved* Islamorada and could do a whole vacation just there. We’ll try to get to Mangrove Mama’s if we go up to Bahia Honda. Haven’t gotten down to Duval yet because I really need to decompress away from large numbers of people – plus the drinks are much cheaper buying beer and wine at Publix and bringing them back to the pool

    @R H, you’re the second person today who recommended Hogfish – I really like the vibe of Stock Island and you don’t get fresher seafood than that. I’ll have to try Key West “pinks” again – last time I found them to be less flavorful than shrimp up the coast. Perhaps they were not prepared properly. Definitely want to try Alonzo’s to get my raw bivalve/heavy metal fix. Thanks also for the tip on Kino’s – we’re big on supporting local businesses.

  13. #13 PalMD
    December 16, 2008

    7 fish !!!!!

  14. #14 Rianna
    December 18, 2008

    Take a trolley tour, and go to Fort Zachary.

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