Key West Food Tour Spotlight: Petronia Street
If you’re a first-timer to Key West, or a “virgin” as some of the locals have termed it, then you get a free pass to spend your entire vacation strolling, boozing, and people watching your way up and down Duval Street. But, as a “repeat offender,” you should know Key West offers so much more than bawdy drinking songs, spray painted tank tops, and free sunburns… we are home to a culinary melting pot jam-packed with side streets full of vibrant foodie delights.
One such street is the pride and joy of Key West’s Bahama Village: Petronia Street. Marked as the main drag of the historical neighborhood, Petronia houses a selection of bistros, cafes, and restaurants so scrumptious, you’d not be balked at by any local if you decided to take every meal on it! So why am I still going on and on? Here are the top 5 spots on Petronia…
1. Blue Heaven
If the fact that Hemingway himself used to referee pop-up boxing matches at this historic location isn’t enough to draw you in, then the smell of the daily baked key lime pie and loaves of banana bread surely will! This escape from the real world serves up brunch favorites such as lobster benedicts with key lime hollandaise to dinner specials with fusion twists. No meal is amiss at Blue Heaven or complete without its famous key lime pie. Talented local musicians and spot-on concoctions from the bar will help distract from the wait times you will more than likely face since they don’t take reservations. Or, skip the wait and join the tour! It’s our Southernmost Food Tour’s dessert stop, and it’s clear why…
2. Santiago’s Bodega
This flavor goldmine has something for everyone. With a romantic atmosphere, a killer wine list, and small plates with big flavors, I dare a tapas-hater to leave without being converted! The menu holds such gems as thick cut tuna ceviche, beef tenderloin with blue cheese butter, and goat cheese filled dates wrapped in crispy prosciutto. Their happy hour is just as enchanting with wine and menu specials, but don’t make the mistake of going without a reservation, you’ll be laughed at in the most polite way. They book out sometimes weeks in advance. That’s because it’s worth it.
If finger-lick’n chicken is your thing, look no further. Firefly has all the uppity class of fine dining without an ounce of pretentiousness. This upscale southern bistro slays the genre with items such as skillet mac n’ cheese, jalapeño agave pork rinds, and low-country gumbo. If chicken and waffles blows your skirt up, head over for brunch and pair it with one of their creative adult beverages. You’ll most likely leave singing “Sweet Home Alabama” with your unavoidable leftovers in hand.
4. Blue Macaw
Blue Macaw may be the newcomer to the neighborhood, but it’s not to be ignored! The menu nods to the latin and caribbean influence that makes up the island. The food is as solid as their calypso performer’s steel drum, and the drinks even more so! Blue Macaw’s brunch bloody mary from their “Build-Your-Own-Bloody” Bar is a meal on its own. Serving up a vodka selection that includes Key West Distilling’s (another stop on the Southernmost Food Tour) Horseradish Vodka, they are home to just about every accoutrements known to the drink from pickled-anything to bacon strips, and would ya look at that hot sauce wall!!! They have quite the collection of domestic and caribbean chili and pepper sauces, so I hope you come ready to turn up the heat.
5. La Creperie
With a charming atmosphere, laid back staff, and a menu that transports you, La Creperie makes you feel as if you are, in fact, in France. Sidled next to Blue Heaven, the sidewalk bistro tables are packed every morning with wide-brimmed hat wearers sipping coffee beverages and mimosas while the staff floats around delivering lusciously proportioned galettes and crepes to its patrons. Don’t go too hungry, as the wait times are sometimes “Parisian,” but the food is worth it. Their Croque Madam and La Mer omlette are just two non-crepe items the sweet and savory menu boasts of.