Absolutely Authentic Key West
Key West Home
My Key West - A Guide For Jerry
A friend of mine is coming to Key West to visit just after I leave for the cooler Spring and Summer months in Asheville. Since I can’t be here to show him around, I promised a personal guide to Key West.
Most mornings, I head down to Duval – just a couple of blocks from my cottage – and sit on the open verandah with a cup of espresso at the Coffee & Tea House.
1211 Duval Street
I like it there because it attracts an intelligent, convivial group of people and their dogs. Yes, our best friends are welcome at Coffee and Tea. And as the sign says, what happens at C &T stays at … but I will tell you this. It’s the best coffee in town and the pastries are divine – especially the ones by Jimmy, who also bakes for Louie’s Backyard. People do come for the camaraderie, too. There’s no wireless and we like it that way; it’s friendly. It’s a hang out sort of place and the same people tend to go at the same time very day so you can get to know the locals.
If you just want coffee, there are several good Cuban spots. Sandy’s Café on White Street right across from Fausto’s (your closest grocery store) serves up a great café con leche. And there’s another hole in the wall Cuban café two blocks to the south (also part of a Laundromat) that’s also good.
NB: The Cuban café on South Street between Simonton and Duval is a no-go. Their coffee tasted like it was made the day before and it was 7 am when I stopped in. I won’t go back and I don’t recommend the convenience store next door.
Another great spot for coffee, tea and pastries is Sippin’s on Eaton Street a couple of doors down from the Tropic Cinema. It’s also an Internet café, and attracts a very young, somewhat eclectic crowd. Check out their open mic night on Sunday. The local musicians are excellent and the poetry isn’t bad either. You can check out the show online: it's broadcast live.
While we’re on Eaton, if you’re in the mood for a movie, the Tropic Cinema is great for art and the best of mainstream movies. There are 4 screens and they stagger show times, so you’ll usually find 6 films running there in a given week. Here's the movie schedule.
On the mornings that don’t find me at Coffee and Tea, or if I get up early enough, I like to walk over to ‘dog beach’ … with the dog, of course. It’s just a few blocks south of the cottage. Dog Beach sits next to Louie’s Backyard, one of the finer and pricier restaurants in town. What makes Louie’s great is as much the spot on the ocean as the cuisine and service. If you do go request an outside table, and if you don’t care to spend the $$ or can’t get a reservation, you can always have a drink on the After Deck, right on the ocean. During the winter months, when the sun sets in the more southerly direction, this is a perfect place to enjoy a cocktail and watch the setting paint the sky in tropical tones.
The beach at Louie's is not where I would send you to swim ... but it's not a bad spot for a morning walk. For swimming, you must go to Fort Zachary State Park. There are public beaches at the other end of the island, but the state park is SO much nicer. There's a concession there for snacks and beverages. You can rent an chair and umbrella for $20/day. Pricey, but comfortable. Or grab a $20 lounge chair at the drugstore and drag it to the shade when you're red enough.
I love to have stop in for lunch at the Sugar Apple’s Juice Bar. Sugar Apple is a local health food store, just a few blocks away. Wonderful salads ( I love the tahini dressing) and yummy veggie burgers with a spicy mayo.
Sunset is a Way of Life Here
From wherever you watch it, the sun puts on a great show most evenings as it drops into the emerald green waters And every evening , the locals put on their own show to celebrate it. Sunset Celebration starts every afternoon two hours before sunset in Mallory Square. Extraordinary jugglers, feasome fire eater, escape artists and a host of wild and wily street performers share the space with artists and crafters who sell locally made goods.
Other great places to watch the Sunset include Louie's Backyward, as I mentioned above, the top of La Concha (400 block of Duval Street) and Fort Zach Park.
Care to Make Key West's Island Style your way of life? The allure of Key West means you may need a guide to Living In Key West.