When you visit Key West, you’ll learn what beach living is all about. With free-flowing champagne, a buzzing nightlife, and some of the most beautiful tangerine sunsets you’ll ever see in your life, this place is ideal for a vacation away from it all. But here’s the real question: Where should you eat in Key West? Turns out there are plenty of good cheap eats in Key West to go with morning hangovers and afternoon munchies. Here are the best cheap restaurants in Key West.
If you ask around, the locals will tell you the same thing: The Conch Shack has some of the best cheap eats in Key West. There are, of course, the crispy conch fritters with spicy pink sauce for a kick to the tongue. And then there’s the fried fish sandwich with breaded Mahi served on a toasted kaiser roll and crowned with tomato and key lime aioli. If you’re looking for something familiar but naughty, order up a Danger Dog, which is a quarter pound hot dog wrapped in bacon and deep fried. Your doctor may be annoyed with you, but your stomach will be very, very happy.
This local icon along Caroline Street is a top-notch choice for cheap eats in Key West. It has all the usual trappings of a diner: coffee cups heating atop the espresso machine; tall wooden chairs against a bright blue bar table; a wall filled with kitschy decor; and Tiffany lamps that look right at home at grandma’s house or an ironic hipster’s apartment. This is a place that screams familiarity and grits. So eat up! Try the popular Harry’s Special, which is under $9 and includes two eggs, two strips of bacon, two rolls of sausage, ham, toast, and home fries or grits.
What food is Key West famous for? Cuban sandwiches, of course. There are plenty of spots you can find this delicious bite, but if you’re looking to save some cash, head to Cuban Coffee Queen. Their Cuban Mix pressed sandwich includes roasted Mojo pork, ham, Swiss Cheese, mustard, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and sliced pickles with a slathering of mayo, all for under $10. Pair it with a cafe con leche (Cuban coffee with steamed milk) and you’ll feel like you’re right at home along the Cuban shoreline.
Cookies. Sweet, giant cookies the size of your head. Now, if that doesn’t sound like pure heaven to you, we don’t know what will. Make a stop at Mattheessen’s. Their famous cookies are only one reason they’re regarded as one of the best cheap eats in Key West. Try out the sweetly tart Key Lime Pie…or better yet, ask for a frozen key lime pie slice dipped in Belgian dark chocolate. You might also want to take a to-go bag of their fudge. It’s made in a copper kettle and air-whipped with a wooden paddle before getting sliced up into two-third-pound slabs.
With its bright blue and green wallpaper and rustic wooden tables, there’s something equally charming and fresh about Keys Coffee Co. This is one of the top cheap places to eat in Key West, starting with their breakfast dishes. For under ten bucks, you can get anything from breakfast tacos to avocado toast. Lunch is affordable as well, with options like BLTs and lunch wraps stuffed with roasted garlic and red pepper hummus. Their drinks are also on-point. Don’t skip out on the nitro cold brew, the iced coconut breve, or the house-made ginger kombucha.
Blending Mexican and Cuban flavors, Fernandy’s Cafe offers an explosion of flavor without busting your pocketbook. Order up a hot plate of tostones rellenos, shredded pork sandwiches, or a Cuban fiesta wrap. And don’t you dare head out before sampling a few of their desserts. You don’t want to miss the tres leches, natilla custard, rice pudding, and flan. Oh, and if you need something a little more on-the-go, Fernandy’s has a special food truck on Simonton Street. Grab your treats and go enjoy the rest of the sunny afternoon.
When in doubt, you can find the best cheap eats in Key West during happy hour. First Flight Brewery is one of the best options in town. From 4 to 6 p.m. every day, you can order $5 appetizers like beef brisket mac and cheese, tuna poke wontons, deviled eggs, and confit chicken wings. The drinks are affordable, too; house brews will only set you back $3.50 a pint and house wines are $5.
Still looking for some munching options while you’re in town? There are some top-notch food adventures waiting for you in the city. Here are some of the best.
- Climb aboard the Key West Conch Tour Train, which includes a 90-minute tour of the area as you learn about the history and flavors of the region.
- Win points in the romance department when you book a Champagne Sunset Sail. While lounging on a luxurious catamaran, you can sip champagne and check out some of the famous landmarks across the water.
- Can’t get enough seafood? The Seafood Lover’s Food & Cultural Walking Tour takes you along six eateries, where you can sample everything from fish tacos to lobster mac and cheese.
- Enjoy the best craft drinks the city has to offer when you book a Key West Craft Cocktail Crawl. This will take you to five popular drinking holes around town.
Get ready to eat your heart out. When you enjoy Key West on a budget and nosh on some of the best cheap eats, there’s always extra cash for second helpings.
Header image: Via Ramunas Bruzas/Shutterstock.com