Key West has one of the finest restaurants in the country – at least, according to Trips to Discover.
The travel website recently released its list of the 15 Best Restaurants in the United States, and beachfront spot Louie’s Backyard in Key West made the list.
If you’ve been to Louie’s Backyard – and just about everyone has – then you know the view is what makes Louie’s great. The restaurant, which also has indoor seating, is famous for its Afterdeck, which tourists pack into the sunset with a drink in one hand and a cellphone in the other.
Office manager Marco Petkovic, who has worked there since 2016, says Louie’s also attracts its share of locals, though they tend to come for lunch, not dinner, and aren’t looking to snap the perfect sunset shot. .
The restaurant, which opened in 1971 with 12 seats, was originally the Victorian home of a certain Louie Signorelli. A 1983 renovation by new owners Phil and Pat Tenney earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
The menu, overseen by chef Doug Shook, highlights Caribbean-inspired dishes, mostly seafood (you can also find beef tenderloin, lamb, and pork chops). There are small plates for lunch and dinner, and you can eat inside or outside on the back deck.
Louie’s Backyard’s upstairs cafe serves wines by the glass and tapas-style plates like fried artichokes and lemon; truffle fries with smoked gouda fonduta, smoked paprika grilled octopus and bourbon BBQ bacon wrapped shrimp, crab stuffed shrimp.
Trips to Discover writer KC Dermody writes that “the food is as spectacular as the ocean view”, praising the weekend brunch “with everything from eclairs to coconut and Prawn Lime from Key West Benedict”.
She also writes that the restaurant was made famous by the Jimmy Buffett song “Trying to Reason With the Hurricane Season”, which is not true (the lyrics are “I tripped by the bar”, not “I tripped over to Louie’s garden.” YouTube sometimes gets it wrong.) Also, Mr. Buffett spells his name with two ts. We are Floridians. We are required by law to report it.
In any case, only two other restaurants in Florida made the list, nor in Miami: Bayfront Bistro in Fort Myers and Cap’s on the Water in St. Augustine.
Where: 700 Waddell Ave, Key West
Hours: Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily; 6-9:30 p.m. daily; Aft deck bar opening hours 11:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.; The Café at Louie’s Backyard is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and does not take reservations.