One of the most commonly-associated foods with the Florida Keys is key lime pie. While key limes have given this pie its deliciously tart and sweet flavor, this region of Florida is known for more than just that. Similar to how the Cuban is often associated with Miami but isn't the only food this city is known for, the Keys also have plenty to offer foodies.

Visitors might come to the Keys to try this exceptional dessert but along the way, these dishes should also be on the list. So prepare those tastebuds and get ready for all the flavors this stunning Florida destination has to offer!

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Cuban Food In Key West

While this cuisine is often heavily associated with Miami, it can also be found throughout the Florida Keys. The thing that the Keys have going for them is their proximity to Cuba, and the distance in between only spans about 90 miles. That makes them closer than Miami, thus, it could be argued that the Keys are actually the better option for Cuban food. Obviously, the must-try item is the Cuban sandwich, but restaurants in Key West are also serving up ropa vieja and camarones al ajillo. The flavors of Cuba are strong in Key West and it doesn't take much to find a restaurant serving up authentic dishes.

  • Where To Go: El Mesen de Pepe

Fresh Seafood And Shellfish

Interestingly enough, the Florida Keys are known for many of the same fresh seafood dishes that the Caribbean is known for. With their close proximity to the islands, it's easy to see how the cuisines have influenced the Southeastern coast of the U.S. One of the most popular types of shellfish that will be found on menus throughout the Keys is its famed pink shrimp. These tender pink shrimps are caught just off the coast of Key West and are often served simply steamed with cocktail sauce, or as part of a sandwich or pasta dish.

  • Where To Go: Conch Republic Seafood Restaurant, Half Shell Raw Bar, Alonzo's, Jack Flats

Spiny lobster is another Key West favorite and it's one that many people don't realize can be found quite easily outside of the Bahamas. The spiny lobster not only plates beautifully but also possesses meat that's tender and buttery, and best eaten when it's served simply with butter and light seasonings. During the month of July, visitors to Key West might even have the chance to catch their own lobster if they time their visit right!

  • Where To Go: Blue Heaven, Latitudes (in Sunset Key)

One of the most abundant seafood menu items, though, is definitely the conch. The pink shells that hold this shellfish are easily found off the shores throughout the Keys. This makes it a special on nearly every seafood restaurant's menu, and the succulent meat lends itself well to a variety of dishes, with the most popular being conch fritters and conch chowder. While the conch in the Keys is protected under law, they are farmed throughout Florida and some are even imported from the Bahamas. Conch is so popular that it can even be found in ceviche, or served simply steamed or deep-fried. It's said that the history of conch dates far back in history with influences from the nearby Bahamas, and they remain a Key West staple to this day.

  • Where To Go: Conch Republic Seafood Company, Mallory Square stand during the Sunset Celebration, Sharkey's, Sunset Grille & Raw Bar

The Classic: Key Lime Pie

While there's a heavy emphasis here on foods to try that aren't key lime pie, it's worth mentioning that no trip to the Keys is complete without finding a slice. Those seeking out an authentic key lime pie, though, will have to work a bit harder at finding a place, as it's not made traditionally everywhere. Supposedly, key lime pie started in Florida in the 20th century and has remained a staple ever since. It's believed that the original recipe made use of cooked eggs and limes because neither one of them spoiled immediately, which made it a great option for sailors going on long journeys. Additionally, the pie didn't need to be cooked, which made it convenient. Visitors to the Keys will find this pie in two forms: with a regular pie crust and a Meringue topping, or with a graham cracker crust and whipped cream topping. While this pie is the official state pie of Florida, it must be made with key limes, otherwise, it's not considered to be the traditional version of the dish.

  • Where To Go: Midway Café, Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe, Mrs. Mac's Kitchen, Latitudes, Blue Heaven, Pepe's Cafe

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