A Short Story with a Few reviews
We’ve lived in Florida for over 4o years and I love this state. I spent much of my life either on the sea or under it and if you’re a water person there’s no better place to be. Beaches, coral reefs, lobsters and for years our favorite getaway place was the Florida Keys. Back a few decades ago the Keys were pretty much half price in the summer months and our destination two or three a month.
Unfortunately nothing stays the same and with the Florida population growing from 8.7 million in 1980 to 21.8 million in 2020 the change has been dramatic.
Some time ago one of our favorite stops in the Keys was the Islamorada Fish Company. It was actually a fish market on the Gulf side of Islamorada. A great place to buy fresh fish, shrimp and lobsters and there wasn’t much in the area around it. Behind the market were docks where fishing boats unloaded their. The docks had a number of picnic tables on the dock and gas grills and we usually timed our visits near sunset if we could, so we could sit on that dock and eat as the Sun went down. They offered fresh lobster, fish, scallops and shrimp – nothing fancy and always cooked on those grills and served on a paper plate with a Greek salad. Life just didn’t get any better than that.
We introduced friends and family to this gem and every visit was a memorable experience.
Just a few miles north of the Islamorada Fish Company was Marker 88, a tiki hut bar on the Gulf that usually had good drinks, food and music after the Sun went down.
On one visit to the Islamorada Fish Company there was construction beginning on the lot just north of them and on the next trip we were amazed at the size of the building going up. A number of months later we returned and Outdoor World was now open on that lot next door. Parking was hard to find and we had to park down the road and walk back. Once we got there we realized there was a line next to the market and we were told that the wait would be over an hour for a table. We never went back to those docks again.
Shortly after that a condo complex was built just South of Marker 88 and a couple of years later the condo residents started complaining about the load music and the traffic at night.
Fortunately you can still find places like the original Islamorada Fish Company and Marker 88 in the Keys. Places where the seafood is fresh and the grilling kept simple and straight forward. Hurricane Hole just north of Key West is one and Ship Wreck in Key Largo another.
A couple of years later an Outdoor World opened in Dania Beach, Florida not far from where we were living and the large attached restaurant was The Islamorada Fish Company. It’s a decent rstaurant but not exactly fresh catches grilled right on the dock. Today in Islamorada it is now a large restaurant attached to Outdoor World* and I would expect that the food, while never as good as what was served on the docks it is probably good.
The Key’s still offer its share of fresh seafood and live music, always with a nod to Jimmy Buffet who left an indelible mark on this narrow strip of islands. Sadly nothing ever stays the same.
Some of our favorite places in the Keys include:
Lorelei’s is still drawing a crowd and The Green Turtle (the originator of Key Lime Pie) both in Islamorada have been institutions in the Keys forever.
Conch Republic Seafood Co. is right in the middle of the action in Key West with a great bar. Be sure and save your tokens.
The Hurricane Hole just north of Key West. Great seafood, good drinks served on the dock. A favorite with the locals.
Shipwreck’s Bar & Grill in Key Largo is nothing fancy but great seafood and drinks at fair prices.
Key West Cuban Coffee in Key West serves great food at remarkable prices.
Capt. Tony’s Bar in Key West is an institution and was Jimmy Buffets favorite hang out when he lived in Key West.
*Actually there are over a dozen Islamorada Fish Company restaurants inside Outdoor World locations.