One of my favorite things about Key West is all the amazing food. There is no shortage of fresh local seafood in the Florida Keys. Some of the best seafood restaurants in Key West are a must when visiting.
It is always a good time sitting outside enjoying the catch of the day, enjoying a few happy hour drinks while staring off at the Gulf of Mexico. That actually pretty much sums up our first meal in Key West on every trip.
Trying to pick where to eat in Key West can be hard, with so many great options. If you are on the hunt for Key West pink shrimp, fish tacos, spiny lobster, yellowfin tuna, crab cakes, Mahi Mahi, stone crab claws, and more.
We’ve got you covered. We put together this list of restaurants serving up the best seafood in Key West.
1. Conch Republic Seafood Company
If you only get to visit one seafood restaurant in Key West, let it be the Conch Republic Seafood Company. Located right on the water downtown, you couldn’t ask for a better location for a sunset cocktail and a plate of freshly-shucked raw oysters.
The Conch Republic is one of the best seafood restaurants in Key West and, hands down, the best oyster bar in Key West. It’s open on three sides, with views over the nearby docks and out to sea. They have live music every day of the week, a patio for sunny days, and (bonus) a long-standing relationship with ethical seafood fishing in the region.
They have a raw bar menu that includes peeled shrimp and steamed oysters or clams, a hefty appetizer menu (get your calamari fix here), soups, handhelds, and fresh-grilled red meats. And, of course, seafood! Try the fried shrimp platter, the wild-caught lobster tail, or the blackened jumbo scallops.
2. Louie’s Backyard
Another one of our favorite seafood restaurants in Key West is Louie’s Backyard. We recommend going for a walk on the beach and then stopping into Louie’s Backyard for a meal.
We highly suggest trying their conch chowder. The bird pepper hot sauce is the best! If they have grilled swordfish on the menu, get it!
3. Eaton Street Seafood Market & Restaurant
If you’re looking for one of the freshest seafood restaurants in Key West, you simply have to make time for the Eaton Street Seafood Market & Restaurant. It used to be a gas station and is now a bustling market and restaurant serving a seemingly endless variety of catch-of-the-day seafood.
They’ve been featured in the New York Times and Condé Nast, an impressive feat given that this spot has only been open since 2007. They focus on fresh ingredients and flavors rather than fancy preparation, and all of their seafood is purchased from fishermen’s boats that day.
You can eat here in their laid-back courtyard area, where most dishes are served on classic red-and-white checkered deli paper inside baskets. Think lobster rolls, fish sandwiches, grilled lobster tail, fried shrimp, shrimp tacos, conch ceviche, and crab cake sandwiches. Or, if you’d rather do the cooking yourself, check out the fresh fish market area where they sell fresh raw seafood to go.
Related Article: Where to Find the Best Cuban Food in Key West
4. A&B Lobster House
There’s nothing like a seafood restaurant right on the water, and the A&B Lobster House is perfect for that. The building gives off a riverboat vibe with its two-story patio right on the dock.
What could be more perfect than a sunset dinner with a drink? This is the perfect place for a romantic meal in Key West if you are celebrating an anniversary, out on a date night, or on your honeymoon in Key West.
This is one of Key West’s oldest seafood restaurants, and to this day, it’s still one of the best restaurants in Key West. They’ve been in business for over 70 years in the same spot on a dock where fishermen used to haul in the daily catch. Today, it’s a gathering place for luxury yachts and cruise lines, but the view is no less spectacular.
You can expect a pretty extensive menu here with tons of seafood options. There will be all the classic seafood dishes like grilled lobster tails, freshly shucked oysters on the half shell, grouper, yellowtail snapper, tuna steak, stone crab, and jumbo prawns. But there are some other highly-rated menu items like the roasted pear salad, clam chowder, and beef carpaccio.
5. DJ’s Clam Shack
Originally founded in 2009 right here in Key West, DJ’s Clam Shack has become a popular franchise with six locations in the eastern US. But this one is the original and where the magic began 13 years ago. The Key West location is in a laid-back shack beyond a picket fence, in the kind of place that makes you feel instantly at home.
This isn’t a fine dining kind of place. Expect good food with friendly service. If this is your first time in Key West and you want to try a few popular dishes at a local restaurant, this would be a great place.
This is a restaurant recommended by Guy Fieri, so if you are interested in places that food critics and restaurateurs enjoy, you will definitely want to check out DJ’s Clam Shack. It is hands down one of our favorite places to come for a casual meal with great food for a reasonable price in Key West.
Some of the best things on the menu include conch fritters, fresh lobster rolls, Mahi tacos, garlic shrimp, and fried clams, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the mouthwatering seafood dishes to try at DJ’s Clam Shack.
6. Thirsty Mermaid
Another local favorite, The Thirsty Mermaid, is one of the best places to try seafood in Key West. This popular restaurant is known for taking fresh seafood and making both classic and unique dishes. They’ve been featured in many local and national magazines, with each one singing their praises of this great restaurant.
The menu is pretty long and has many options for a relatively simple-looking, almost café-like interior. They have a full appetizer selection that includes things like poké, littleneck clams, and Bahamian conch, and a raw bar with daily ceviche, caviar service, and market-price oysters.
There’s also an extensive wine list; if you ask, they can recommend a wine that will pair perfectly with whatever seafood you are trying!
Aside from the raw bar and appetizers, another popular choice is the lobster BLT, the mac and cheese croquettes, and fried oysters, and make sure to try the hand-cut french fries too.
7. The Flaming Buoy Filet Co.
The Flaming Buoy Filet Company is another good seafood restaurant located right in the heart of downtown Key West. It’s got very limited opening hours (6-8:30 pm, closed Tuesdays), so reservations are a must for such a popular place. They run daily specials that change seasonally and depending on what seafood has been caught fresh that day.
This restaurant creates a fusion between the comfort of a home-cooked meal and the flavors of a gourmet restaurant. The owners are often on-site running food and engaging with guests, so it’s easy to feel like family immediately.
Start with an appetizer like house specialty rilled Key West shrimp with chutney or the lobster mac and cheese, then dig into a fresh catch with red Thai curry or banana salsa. And no meal is complete without a drink: ask for a wine recommendation to pair with your meal.
After a tasty meal of some of the best seafood in Key West, you’ll probably want to explore the town a little and walk it off. We typically head down to Duval Street, which is home to most of the best bars in Key West. We always stop at Sloppy Joe’s for at least one drink and to listen to some live music.
If we are out in the afternoon, we are often on the hunt for the best key lime pie, and if it is super hot, we head to Kermit’s for the frozen Key Lime pie on a stick.
If we had a little too much fun out the night before, we head straight to Blue Heaven for their Sunday Brunch. Then we start our day all over again, hitting up some of the best things to do in Key West, and then before you know it is dinner time again!
If you are looking for a light lunch, head to these sushi restaurants in Key West. It is our go to light lunch.