2000s Archive

Counting Sheep

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Best Key lime pie:

Manny is a true Keys character, and even if he didn’t bake the best Key lime pies on the planet, it would be worth stopping by his little Cuban-American diner, Manny & Isa’s Kitchen. Everyone loves Manny, from the three-legged dog who comes along when he picks Key limes from a neighbor’s yard to the kids who come to watch as he squeezes them on a broken juicer. (MM 81.6, Oceanside, Islamorada; 305-664-5019)

Best seafood:

Barracuda Grill is a low-key spot run by Lance Hill and his wife, Jan, a former sous-chef at Little Palm Island. The emphasis here is not on the décor, but on the food, especially mangrove snapper, spicy calamari, and tuna fillets so pink and fresh they almost make sushi seem old. (MM 49.5, Bayside, Marathon; 305-743-3314)

Hook, line, and sinker:

Among the joys of the Keys are the many dockside restaurants where local color mixes with local catch.The ChikiTiki Bar & Grille at Burdines Waterfront serves blackened dolphin (that’s mahimahi, not Flipper) sandwiches and a deep-fried catch of the day with french fries and hush puppies in a basket. (MM 48, Oceanside, Marathon; 305-743-5317) Calypso’s Seafood Grille offers she-crab soup and crabmeat quesadillas washed down with homemade sangria. (1 Seagate Boulevard, MM 99.5, Oceanside, Key Largo; 305-451-0600) But for one of the rarest treats available in the Keys—warm stone-crab claws—visit Keys Fisheries Market & Marina, where they cook up shrimp, Florida lobster, clams, and conch and serve them to you on the dock. On celebrity theme day, instead of your own name, leave the name of someone famous: “Ernest Hemingway, your stone crabs are ready!” (MM 49, Bayside, Marathon; 305-743-4353) —B.F.

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