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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

We flew into the Miami airport and decided to drive to Key West-but there is an option of taking a small plane to Key West. I have never driven the overseas highway, or been on the 7 mile bridge, so we decided to give it a shot.

On the way down we stopped at the Key largo Conch House. I had seen it on the Food Network-but if you didn’t remember where you saw it…they have a sign that says “as seen on the Food Network”. You might drive right by it if you weren’t looking for it, we sure did. It is on the ocean side so you have to go down and turn around if you are coming from the Miami area.

It’s a cute Victorian house with a porch you can eat on, but really it looked cuter on television.

We had the steak sandwich ($12.95) and the fajita chicken wrap ($7.95).

The steak sandwich was really good-grilled steak, melted cheese and mushrooms!

We had the key lime pie for dessert (3.95) which was super tart-the one thing that I didn’t like about it was the key lime syrup that was flourescent green drizzle all over my pie.

Key Largo Conch House on Urbanspoon

We continue the drive down to Key West and head to our hotel-the Reach Resort, a Waldorf Astoria hotel. I had been here about 5 years ago when it was a Marriott-and it was kind of icky. It was old with a tropical theme, there were lots of ants-it was humid and damp (in that way that places in Florida can be because of the ocean air). When we checked in, they told us the hotel had gone through an 80 million dollar renovation. You could tell. While the structure was the same-the insides of the rooms were like night and day.

The hotel is located at 1435 Simonton Street-near the Southernmost point. It’s a little bit of a walk to get to the bars on Duval Street, but it’s a great location. The best part about Key West is that you can walk everywhere you need to go. They do have those bike taxis-but it’s nice to walk to work off all the booze you consume while in Key West.

We get upgraded to a suite with an ‘ocean view’. See above.

So you walk into the room and are greeted by a nice bar area. The room is quite spacious. They have a fridge in the bar so that is nice to have-we bought drinks and stored them instead of paying 5 bucks for a bottle of water at the hotel. There was a convenience store across the street so that was great!

The king size bed was actually really comfortable.

The seating area was nice-there were two big sliding glass doors that led out onto the balcony that let in a ton of natural light which was great!

It was nice to have a flat screen television-you could watch while in bed or hanging out on the couch.

The bathroom was really nice-reminded you of a spa. Everything was super new, modern and clean. The weird part about the bathroom was that that was where the closet was for the room.

Here was the best part-a huge stand up shower. I think all hotel rooms should have these-I’m not a tub fan myself.

So we walk to see the southernmost point, take some touristy pictures and head down to see what’s new on Duval Street. Pretty much the same old same old-there are some good galleries, a great french bakery, two pet stores that have the cutest little puppies in the window, the $5 t-shirt stores and the bars. I love Key West-everything is laid back and casual, and the live music at the bars reminds me of New Orleans. Maybe we will discover the next American Idol while we are here.

We grab an ice cream at Polar Bear Ice Cream, a cute little outdoor ice cream spot. We should have know better though-ice cream and super hot weather do not mix.

This is the ice cream right after she scooped it-more like soup wouldn’t you say?

For dinner we went to La Trattoria and Virgilio’s at 524 Duval Street 305-296-1975.  I had been here before and not much had changed. The restaurant was dim and it was pretty empty since we ate early- it usually gets crowded after the sun goes down. We had the antipasto ($14) which was really great, the virgilio ($18) and the bolognese ($15). The bolognese was just a meat sauce-tasted like ground beef in red sauce but it was good.

Virgilio's on Urbanspoon

On the way back to the hotel we stop off at the Key West Key Lime Pie Co. for a slice of pie. Not half bad! I’m a crust gal-I like lots of it. The pie is sweet and yet tangy at the same time, super creamy and you can get it with whipped cream or creme fraiche.

We went to Camille’s a restaurant I had been to before-just a block from the hotel (1202 Simonton Street, 305-296-4811).

We ordered the Godiva french toast ($8.99) and the egg and sausage sandwich ($7.79). The french toast is unreal. You just want to lick your plate it’s that good.

A large orange juice ran us $3.45, while a large apple juice ran us $2.29.

The restaurant is super casual and the decor is Key West artsy-note the statues and figurines in the windows, but know that they aren’t for the prude 🙂

Camille's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

We grab a quick lunch at Upper Crust-a familiar place from home. The place is empty and the waitress is reading a book at the counter…sort of weird but ok.

We get a tomato basil with fresh mozzarella slice-and it’s just what the doctor ordered. Quick and easy eating.

We went for dinner on our last night to the Conch republic Seafood restaurant. It’s a huge place that is open air and has a good bar scene.

We scored a seat by the boardwalk overlooking the water. People were constantly walking by so this was a great people watching spot.

We had the cracked conch appetizer ($13) which was really good-it really did ‘taste like chicken’ It was really good-I was worried that it was going to be rubbery in texture but it wasn’t at all.

Grilled Shrimp above and stuffed shrimp below.

We had the stuffed shrimp ($25) and the grilled shrimp ($21). The stuffed shrimp were really good-nice stuffing, and they were wrapped in bacon to top it off-oh yum! The mango salsa of sorts of top was a really nice touch. I was so full after eating this meal.

We had the key lime pie for dessert which was pretty good-it had a nice cinnamon crust. Again, with the key lime sauce-which was a little weird for me, but who doesn’t love raspberry coulis?

Conch Republic Seafood on Urbanspoon

We walked around after dinner-going to Mallory Square where they have sunset celebrations and where you can pick up all kinds of bus tours.

Let’s talk bars-there are so many to choose from. My standby is Irish Kevins located at 211 Duval. The music is always pretty great and the guys who are singing razz you a bit which is always kind of funny.

Another choice is Hogs Breath Saloon located at 400 Front Street just off Duval. Their slogan, ‘Hogs Breath is better than no breath at all!” A fun place where a lot of bikers hang out.

Willie T’s has good music and if you’re looking for a bull to ride-head on over to Cowboy Bills where you are sure to find all the craziness that is involved with bull riding.

Two last things I want to mention before we wrap up this Key West Trip-The Grand Cafe. I had been there on my last trip to Key West but didn’t make it there this time. I think it’s just a wonderful place-there is outdoor seating among palm trees strung with white lights and inside is just charming. The food is delicious-make sure to try the fish. The other place is Louie’s Backyard. Louie’s is located right between the Casa Marina Hotel and the Reach Resort. If you stay at the Reach you can use the Casa Marina’s property. Louie’s offers a great brunch-I haven’t been there for other meals. You sit on a large deck right on the ocean-probably a great place to see the sunset. The food is super fresh and they use the finest ingredients-a little on the pricey side but totally worth it.

So we get back in the car and drive up to Key Largo. Quite a difference between here and Key West. If you are planning on hanging out in Key Largo-you need a car.  There is one main strip of road-the Overseas Highway, and you can’t really walk up and down it. So we are staying at the Hilton. I’m thinking that after just staying at the Hilton in Key West-that this place will be equally great. It’s not.

Somehow we are upgraded to a room with two queen beds-not sure how that’s an upgrade but ok. The room is definitely old-there is rust on the curtains, it’s a little mildewy, and there is a huge black stain on the ceiling. It’s clean, it’s just not as nice as the Reach resort.

We were so busy that we didn’t even have a chance to watch television.

The sink was outside of the bathroom and on the other side were the beds. They offered La Source toiletries which are a product of Crabtree and Evelyn.

The actual bathroom was small and the water pressure was non existent.

We did have a nice view of the ocean and the nature trails below. The beach was to the right, but when we went down to check it out-it was TINY.

The hotel was like an outdoor mall. The rooms were along the outside edge and there was an open area in the middle where trees were growing.

Let’s talk pool shall we? The pool is located IN THE PARKING LOT folks. There is an adult side and a family side-but really, if it were noisy-it wouldn’t be quieter on the adult side. The waterfall is the only thing that separates the two pools. There are a lot of  trees on the adult side-and so the chairs were covered with leaves etc when I got out there. There are no attendants at the pool-you get and return your own towels. They do have a bar on the family side where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat.

I think that if we were to do it again, we would have stayed at the Mariners Resort. This was more like townhouse style living and they had a much nicer pool.

We head over to Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, a local favorite and a must stop in kind of place. The decor is funky-things hanging from the ceiling, license plates on the wall etc.

There’s a counter to sit at and a front and back room. The atmosphere is diner like and super casual.

I order the pulled pork sandwich which was wonderful-tangy and sweet, good texture and it came on a soft, warm roll.

We were told afterwards that we should have ordered the key lime freeze-a shake of sorts, and I’m pretty sad we missed out on it.

We did grab a piece of Key Lime Pie, it was definitely the most home made one we have had on this trip-the crust is hand packed, the whipped cream was home made-creamy, smooth, tart, delicious.

Mrs. Mac's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The next morning we have breakfast at the hotel. I order the Belgian waffle and my dining companion orders the continental breakfast. The waffles come with candied nuts, strawberry mush and  syrup. I feel like I’m eating eggos.

The breakfast is a few pieces of pastry, some fruit and a ‘fruit smoothie’. They offer a buffet as well.  If you were a Hilton member at a certain level this breakfast would be free.

There isn’t much going on in Key Largo unless you are a snorkel or scuba type-which we are not. There is a place where you can swim with the dolphins etc. but there isn’t much. If you are looking for a bar-try the Pilot House. The big draw to Key Largo is the John Pennekamp State Park where people flock to see the Jesus statue.

We were in Key Largo for a wedding-I went to Hair in the Tropics to get my nails done and my hair done. My polish change was $5, let’s just leave it at that. My hair, I’m thinking that it will be as cheap as my nails, but it ends up being $60. Two sets of hot rollers, four curling irons and two cans of hairspray later I leave with a snookie poof…not what I was expecting. Which is really too bad because the people there were really friendly. Apparently Artistic Designs is the place to go-that’s where the bridal party got ready. I should have known better when I called the hotel, asked for the concierge, they said that they didn’t have one, and then proceeded to give me the recommendation….live and learn.

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