After catching food fish like yellowtail, mahi-mahi or tuna, anglers can take it to one of the area’s many restaurants that “cook the catch,” where it will be prepared and served with tasty side dishes. Whether it’s char-grilled, pan-fried, broiled or blackened, there’s nothing like savoring perfectly prepared fish after personally reeling it in.
While Keys restaurants range from gourmet emporiums to dockside seafood “shacks” and intriguing food trucks, it’s also possible to blend sampling local specialties with enjoying a full-fledged festival experience.
Each January cuisine fans flock to the island chain to enjoy “Uncorked: The Key Largo and Islamorada Food and Wine Festival,” the Florida Keys Seafood Festival showcasing the ocean’s bounty and the fishermen who harvest it, the Key West Food & Wine Festival and the culinarily competitive Master Chefs Classic.
In March every year, the Middle Keys are the site of an eagerly anticipated feast called the Original Marathon Seafood Festival.
Other appetizing offerings traditionally include Key West’s Lobsterfest saluting the opening of the annual Florida lobster season, “taste of” celebrations around the island chain, a wacky stone crab–eating contest in Marathon and the Key Lime Festival inspired by Key lime pie, the Keys’ signature dessert.
Dessert lovers can even learn to make their own authentic Key lime mini-pies during classes at the Key West Key Lime Pie Co. Proving the confection is as enjoyable to make as it is to eat, class participants create their mini–pies of graham cracker crust, Key lime filling and whipped topping at the company’s 511 Greene St. location.
Food tours are popular in the Keys as well — some offered on a regular basis and some by appointment.
Key West Food Tours offers unique, guided small group experiences designed to introduce visitors to authentic Key West flavors from cocktails to southern comfort dishes. In the Upper Keys, Aquaholic Adventures offers Sip and Sup eco-tour experiences where visitors can paddleboard and kayak through Key Largo and Islamorada while enjoying libations from local bars.
Culinary connoisseurs also can concoct their own “moveable feast” by mapping out a group of appealing restaurants and sampling tapas, appetizers and small plates at each one in a “progressive dinner” format.
Florida Keys dining information: fla-keys.com/food-drink/
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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