Easter Week in Key West April 16 – 23rd, 2022

I couldn’t believe we were headed back to Key West again after just a few months. However this time, felt like it was a much needed break and so did my husband. With our arrival day nearing I was getting super excited watching the weather forecast. 80s during the day all week and 70s in the evenings. It was a welcoming sight to see after our cold trip back in January. (That is why the month of April is my favorite time to visit Key West. The weather is usually very warm, but not too warm and pretty much on the drier side.)

Saturday – April 16th – Arrival Day

Our direct flight to Key West was scheduled to depart at 8:50am from Newark Liberty International Airport. The car service picked us up right on time at 5:45am. It was a cool morning but not too bad. We arrived at the airport about an hour later. When we walked in, we noticed there was barely anyone in the TSA pre lines. Then I looked further down and didn’t see that many people in the regular lines which I was quite surprised. I thought due to the fact it was a holiday weekend it would be busier then what I saw. We still had the Clear Pass. We quickly walked to the kiosk to get scanned and easily went through security. I think the entire process took about 5 minutes if even that. Once we got through security we grabbed our bags and walked down to the United Club lounge for a bite to eat. I checked my phone and we were still scheduled to leave on time.
Eventually it was time to walk down to the Gate and it was a full flight which wasn’t a surprise. Soon the boarding process began and we all quickly got on to the plane. After everyone boarded, the captain got on the Intercom and welcomed us on to the “Conch Republic Plane”. Then I new we had a fun crew. Even our flight attendant was so nice and friendly.

I wish all flight crews could be that way, but I get it, you can get disgruntled passengers, etc. but it was a refreshing experience. 
Roughly about two hours had passed and then I could start to see the various hues of blues below. 
It always makes me so excited to see even though we have been lucky enough to go so many times since 2006. This marked our 26th time, but who’s keeping track?

Our flight landed a little bit sooner than expected so that was an added bonus. We deplaned and walked the tarmac into the airport as another flight was walking to their plane.

Luckily there was no line outside of the airport, so we were able to grab one of the first taxis. Soon we were on our way to the Gardens hotel.

(You can read my review of the Gardens Hotel here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d227346-r835996964-The_Gardens_Hotel-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html)

I always love the drive along A1A to the hotel. It puts me in such a happy mindset. Then I started to see the yellow wall that surrounds the Gardens Hotel.  “We’re almost home” I thought to myself. 

We walked in and check-in was a breeze as usual. When you stay at the same place over and over like we do, it can’t get any easier than that. . 

Our room wasn’t ready yet so we brought our bags to the spare bathroom located in the back by the bar area. I find it to be one of the best bathrooms in all of Key West. After we changed into our Key West wear we sat down and talked to the bartender at the Gardens Phil, whom we have become friendly with. 
He was so happy to see us and vice versa. He mentioned how the Gardens Hotel was partaking in an Easter event the following afternoon so we made sure we would make an appearance for it. Even the pool was all prepped for it.
After having a welcoming us to Key West beverage, George from the front desk came out and gave us our keys to our room. Hooray it was ready!

Then came the infamous turn. Our typical right turn onto Duval. My husband and I always joke about it, how once you make that turn all the energy from Duval St. comes to life. 

We carried our luggage up one flight to our usual room. Once we unpacked all our things we headed down to Duval. We told Phil thank you and we would see him later.

While we were walking down Duval St. we noticed that some of Duval St. was completely closed. It turned out they were having a flea market.

It was neat to walk down the street and not have to worry about traffic, etc. It reminded me when they used to close parts of Duval during the evenings several years ago.

During our stroll, I remembered Gabriel Wright was playing at Captain Tony’s that afternoon. My husband and I felt bad that we didn’t get a chance to see him last time we were in town, except for when we ran into him while we was riding his bicycle.

We walked in and Gabriel saw us right away and welcomed us. We grabbed a couple of seats at the bar and ordered a few drinks. It was a beautiful afternoon listening to him sing some of our usual favorite requested songs that he always remembers. 

It was nearing 4 o’clock so I wanted to be sure to see our friend, Zack Seemiller at Rick’s before his set ended. We said goodbye to Gabriel and told him we would most likely see him again. 

We walked right around the corner to Rick’s and noticed that Zack wasn’t playing. Then I checked my phone and completely missed his message that he wasn’t playing that afternoon. I was a bit disappointed but realized we should probably just walk back to the Gardens and get ready for dinner at that point.

A few months back I called Blue Heaven for dinner reservations. We had been trying for the past several trips to get there early for breakfast, but the wait times have been so long and not worth it. I did miss going there, so I thought let’s try for dinner. So when I called they did have two seatings available for that Saturday night, 5:30 or 8:30. I prefer to eat earlier so I booked the 5:30 reservation. And this was about two months in advance mind you.

On our walk back I saw that our friend Terri was bar tending at the Tree Bar and I wanted to stop in and say a quick hello. So much for going back to the Gardens. There were two seats open and we sat down and ordered a couple of fresh squeezed orange juice and Titos. I must have to say those drinks are super refreshing and I could drink more then one, but it wouldn’t be a good idea with dinner on the near horizon. We talked to Terri for a few, along with a couple of people sitting at the bar. It was kind of funny because I heard one of the guys talking and I mentioned to my husband that his voice sounded familiar. And then my husband said ‘yes’, he just said he did voice overs. Go figure?

We thanked Terri for the couple drinks and started walking back down Duvala. It was getting closer to the time of our reservation, so we walked down to Blue Heaven instead of stopping at the Gardens first. There were already a few people lined up and I thought to myself now we are going to have to wait even though I made reservations.

When I walked up to the hostess, she said our table was ready. I was so relieved that we didn’t have to wait. I know technically it was still very early in the evening, but both of us hadn’t eaten since at the airport .

Our server came over and recited their specials. They had stone crabs as a special and in addition grouper for one of the main dishes. I was so happy that both sounded appealing to me. My husband ordered a caesar salad for his appetizer and I of course ordered the stone crabs. Unfortunately they only served two, but they were ample in size. Once I tasted one, I realized what all the hype was about. They were so sweet and flavorful. 
Then our main courses came out. My husband ordered the burger and he really enjoyed it. The grouper special I had was absolutely delicious. 
As an added bonus there was live entertainment which set a nice chill vibe. It was an enjoyable way to spend our first night in Key West. 

We were both full after our meals, however several years ago we saw the episode of the show with Andrew Zimmern when he visited Key West and went to Blue Heaven. I remembered him ordering a piece of key lime pie and watched behind the scenes of the baker making it – with that huge pile of meringue on top. When our server asked us if we would like anything else, I said yes a piece of key lime pie please.

And it looked exactly like it did on tv – delicious!

We finished up the pie and we didn’t have much energy left to do anything else, especially after a day of travel. As a result we walked back down to Angela St. to the Gardens. The bar was still open so we talked to Phil while having a night cap and then went to get some much needed sleep.

You can read my review of Blue Heaven here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d447631-r835997980-Blue_Heaven-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

Sunday – April 17th – Easter

We woke up to a beautiful morning. This was our first time back for Easter in Key West since before covid. In the past we have had Easter Brunch at Louie’s Backyard and Latitudes. I really enjoyed Louie’s Backyard for brunch but I prefer to eat earlier in the morning and the first seating at Louie’s isn’t until 11am.

A few months ago I made reservations on line for breakfast at Latitudes. I was able to book the ferry at 9:15am. Once we freshened up we walked down to Cuban Coffee Queen for our first cup of coffee of the week. We remembered to take the little short cut this time which cuts off a lot of time, even though it isn’t that far of a walk at all, but when you really need that first cup of coffee, the quicker you can get there the better.

We walked in and the line wasn’t too long. For some reason we always wind up getting behind someone who doesn’t know what they want and wind up asking a hundred questions about every item on the menu. Sometimes I wish they could have a separate line for coffee orders only, but I know it is a small place and they do the best they can.

Eventually we got our coffees in hand and walked down towards the Opal Resort (which used to be the Margaritaville Resort, and the Westin before that). It was nearing 9:15am and I noticed that the ferry was already there and loaded with people. We tried to drink all of our coffee before boarding, but sadly had to throw reset of it away.

Then as we walked onto the ferry we saw a few people holding coffee cups. Darn it I thought. I didn’t think beverages were allowed. All well. Good to know for next time.

The outside seating was fully occupied, so we opted to sit inside which was nice and air conditioned. I always enjoy the inside too because the smell of the teak wood reminds of taking the Caneel Bay Ferry from St. Thomas to St. John years ago.

It was a quick little ride over to Sunset Key. We all disembarked and walked up to the restaurant. The grounds are so well kept and beautiful. It makes you feel like you are on your own little Caribbean island not in Key West. 
We walked in and were seated at a table outside near the water which I requested.

We were given menus and water. I started to take a few photos while we waited for our server. And waited…. and we noticed no one was coming over. Finally we did get one of the server’s attention and he said he would get someone to come over. After a few minutes someone did come over. He apologized and said he usually works dinner and not breakfast (I assume he was filling in for someone). 

We told him that it wasn’t a problem and ordered a few Easter brunch cocktails. I decided to go with the smoked salmon eggs benedict and my husband went with the old reliable american breakfast of two eggs and bacon with the regular accompaniments.
Our breakfast was delicious but found mine a little bit on the cooler side. I didn’t mind too much especially with that view.

(You can read my review of Latitudes here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d680742-r835998950-Latitude_s_Restaurant-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html )

Once we were done, we walked back to the dock to catch the ferry back. We timed it exactly right because the ferry just arrived. We only had to wait a few minutes to load back onto the ferry. I noticed this time the ferry was almost full. It was around 10:30am so most likely it is a popular time with hotel guests to go to the main island.

We walked around to Mallory Square. I couldn’t get over how gorgeous the sky was. The weather was absolutely perfect. 

Eventually we made our way to the Sunset Tiki Bar at the Galleon to see our friends Phil (the owner) and Ramsey (one of the bartenders that works there). We chatted for a bit and it was nice to see them both. (I always love it when it is the beginning of the trip and people ask you how long you are in town and when you say for the week it seems like forever.)

We remembered the day before that the Gardens Hotel was partaking in some Easter events so we wanted to get back and check it out.

We said our goodbyes and walked down back to the Gardens. They were still setting up so we secured two seats at the bar while we watched all the guests and locals alike arrive. Then I noticed the owner of the Gardens Hotel Kate was dressed in her Easter finest. 

They were having an Easter Bonnet contest. Many people were wearing different kinds of bonnets making it very festive. Then they announced that they were going to start their Easter egg hunt. However, instead of eggs it was champagne. (They were the mini size bottles of champagne, plus I think the regular size would be difficult to hide.)
It was quite comical to see all these people walking around the gardens searching for the bottles.

I wound up trying to look myself but came up empty. However, one of the locals I was talking to, came back with several bottles of champagne and give one to us. I thought that was really nice. 

Once the festivities concluded it was time for Jazz at the Gardens. As a result, we stayed. I made dinner reservations, again ahead of time, this time at Firefly. I figured that we would be at the Gardens for Jazz anyway and being that Firefly is located not to far from the Gardens and thought it would be convenient.

After Jazz ended we walked down to Firefly. We had always walked by it but never tried it. This time I was determined to give it a try. When we walked in, the hostess asked us if we wanted to sit inside or outside and I suggested outside. So we walked up the stairs (the restaurant is basically a transformed house) and through a dining area onto the outside porch. 

We ordered our appetizers and main meals. While we were sitting there, the winds started to pick up quite a bit. So when our server came back over I asked if we could move inside and apologized for the inconvenience. She said it wasn’t a problem and we walked back inside, downstairs and wound up sitting at the bar since the tables were all occupied.

As we were settling into our new location, our appetizers arrived. My husband ordered the mac and cheese which was served in a cute little cast iron skillet. I don’t know what made me order it, but I wanted to try it and be somewhat daring. I wound up ordering the buffalo pig ears. Actually the first few weren’t so bad, but after I started realizing what they were, I had enough. At least I can say I tried it.

Then for our main courses I ordered the shrimp and grits and my husband had the bacon wrapped meatloaf. 
The shrimp and grits almost had like a gumbo like sauce to it with the grits. The combination was delicious and the grits were outstanding and creamy. My husband thoroughly enjoyed his meatloaf. I was glad that we finally tried Firefly. I would also like to go back and try their brunch, but I believe they don’t open until 10am and we tend to have breakfast before then. Maybe if we decide to sleep in one morning we would give it a try.

You can read my review of Firefly here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d4867469-r835999547-Firefly_Key_West-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

We were both quite tired so we headed back towards the Garden, but first stopped to grab a bottle of white wine for our room. It was nice to sit out on our porch/balcony with a glass of wine before retiring for the evening.

Monday – April 18th – La Te Da, Hogsbreath, Cafe Sole

It was another picture perfect morning to wake up to. After we freshened up we were both ready to venture out for the day. We made our usual first stop to Cuban Coffee Queen before returning to one of our favorite breakfast spots, La Te Da. I love sitting at the bar and talking to the locals that tend to go there. Plus it is fun to see all the people go by along the street. 
We walked in and there were two seats open at the bar so we sat down and ordered something to eat. My husband had the half order of sausage and biscuits (which we learned last time that you can order it that way which is ideal because the portion is huge). I didn’t feel like anything fancy so I opted for the usual 3 eggs over medium with sausage.

The food came out in a timely matter and was as always very good. Once we were fueled up we walked back to the Gardens to relax for a little bit.

Zack Seemiller was playing at Hogsbreath that afternoon so I wanted to be sure we would catch part of his show at least. So we gathered ourselves and headed back on Duval. 
We hadn’t been to First Flight in a while so we agreed to stop in for a beer. They had a nice selection of seasonal beers on the menu but i just went with their amber ale. My husband ordered one the Maverick IPA. The place was pretty quiet but we didn’t mind at all. Another couple eventually walked in and we chatted for a little bit. They mentioned that they were from the cruise ship. I had no idea there as a ship in town.
Our next stop was obviously Hogsbreath. We walked in and I was happy to see that Zack’s son Kai was playing with him. We were able to get a couple of seats at the bar which tends to be a challenge depending what time you get to Hogsbreath. 
It was nice to see them both again and enjoy the show. We wound up staying until the end so I was able to get a few pictures before leaving.
Then I remembered that Gabriel Wright was playing at Captain Tony’s. So after we said our goodbyes to Zack and Kai we walked around the corner to Captain Tony’s. 
We listened to Gabriel for a little bit before we had to make it back to the Gardens to freshen up for dinner. I had made reservations at 6:00 at Cafe Sole.

We thanked Gabriel for playing our usual requests and he mentioned that he was playing at the Salty Frog (formerly Red Fish Blue Fish – ate there once….no comment) the following evening, so we told him we would stop by.

At this point, I was getting quite hungry. We made it back to the Gardens for a quick shower and a change of clothes. We walked back down Simonton onto Southard. It was such a nice evening for a walk. I love walking off of Duval down the side streets. Everything seems to get quieter.
I looked at my fitbit and noticed it was just after 6pm. We walked up to the restaurant and I saw that they now have tables outside along the sidewalk. Interesting, I thought, but I would rather sit inside. We walked in and were seated right away in the “outside” covered area. The place was very busy. I was glad I made the reservations. 
We ordered each a glass of white wine. I was in the mood for a caesar salad and my husband had the escargot. And (no surprise) we each ordered the hogfish snapper special. There has been speculation in my mind about if it is really hogfish. The last time we ate there I could have sworn it was tilapia. This time however, it was definitely hogfish and it was delicious.

You can read my review of Cafe Sole here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d495527-r836001571-Cafe_Sole-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

When we were done with our meals we walked down towards the Galleon. It turned out that friends of ours, Will and Lynda, (that used to come down from NY to Key West for the winter months – and were the ones that talked us into coming down to Key Wests back in 2006) were in town the same week as us. Will plays with the Hippie Band every year for Earth Day at the Schooner Wharf. 

We hadn’t seen them in a while, so we were both excited to see them. We walked into the Sunset Tiki Bar and Will was already playing. Lynda was sitting down, so we sat next to her along with a few of her friends. I noticed however, the winds started to pick up. And I mean pick up. At least it wasn’t too cold out our anything.

Will was only playing until 9pm so we wound up staying until the end. After he was done we sat and chatted for a little bit, catching up on things. It was so nice to seem them both again in Key West.

It was getting late so we said our goodbyes and told them we would see them again at the Schooner Wharf later on that week.

We walked back to the Gardens and turned in for the night.

Tuesday – April 19th – Breakfast Club Too, Smokin’ Tuna, Red Shoe Bistro and Salty Frog

It was another beautiful morning. Perfect to walk down to Breakfast Club Too to meet Zack and his son Kai for breakfast. We first stopped at Cuban Coffee Queen for coffee but the line, I mean the LINE… it was too long so we wound up walking down Duval in hopes of finding another place grab coffee.
We never wound up finding a place, so we just went to Breakfast Club Too. Zack and Kai weren’t there yet, so we grabbed a table inside towardsd the back. We ordered coffee while we waited. The coffee was actually very good there.
Then I saw Zack and Kai walk in and waved them over. We all ordered our breakfast and had a nice morning just hanging out and talking. 
After breakfast we told Zack we would catch him at the Tuna later on. We thanked him for breakfast and started our usual walk around Key West. It was such a nice day that we decided to walk around the Bight.

The winds started to pick up a bit again but it was welcoming because it was getting a bit warm in that sun, especially with no clouds in the sky. 

As usual, we wound up at the Sunset Tiki bar for a cold beverage. It is always so nice to sit there and take in the view of the water. 
Our next stop was the Tuna. It was nearing the time that Zack and Carl were going to start. We made our way back down Duval to the Tuna. The place wasn’t busy at all so we were able to secure a couple of seats at one of the tables in front of the stage. Phil was bar tending and recognized us right away. 

We ordered a couple beers and settled in to watch Zack and Carl. It was a nice afternoon to hear them play. I kind of prefer just seeming them before instead of the band. However, I enjoy the full band as well, but it is just a little different.

No surprise we wound up staying for the entire show. At that point we were feeling pretty good. We said goodbye to Zack and Carl and headed towards the Gardens hotel.

I had made dinner reservations that evening at one of our new favorite places, Red Shoe Bistro. We made it back to the Gardens to get ready for dinner.

Phil was bar tending so we stopped and talked to him before we went back out to dinner. 

The Red Shoe Bistro is located not too far from the Gardens, like Firefly. We walked down Duval onto Petronia. The place was quite busy. I recognized one of the owners and he asked us where we would like to sit, and we prefer the bar so he seated us there.

For our appetizers I decided to go with their crab cakes and my husband and had the special which were lobster crepes. When our appetizers came out they looked so good. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was so hungry but wow, the crab cakes were delicious. They were served with a light tomato sauce which isn’t a normal pairing with crab cakes but it worked beautifully. My husband absolutely loved his lobster crepes. I even had to try a taste and they too were amazing.

My husband wound up ordering what I usually get, the yellowtail snapper with shrimp and I tried their catch of the day which was tilefish. Both dishes were outstanding. That is why we keep coming back to this place. It is always consistently good.
You can read my review of Red Shoe Bistro here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d21141783-r836002156-Red_Shoe_Island_Bistro-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

After dinner we walked down to Ramshead where Zack was playing. Unfortunately there weren’t enough seats at the bar for the two of us and it was pretty crowded. We saw Zack’s friends, Ron, Natalie and Stephanie so we talked to them for a couple of minutes. Then we decided to check out the Salty Frog where Gabriel Wright was playing. Plus I wanted to walk off all that food we just had. I was stuffed.

We walked down towards Mallory Square into the Salty Frog. The place is a decent size. Gabriel was playing towards the back. My husband ordered us a couple of drinks (that I really didn’t need) while I grabbed a table. 

Gabriel saw us and we said hello. His wife Kim was doing the video so we said hello to her as well. It was a fun night listening to him at a new place instead of Captain Tony’s. Don’t get me wrong I like Captain Tony’s, but it was a nice change.

It was getting late and I couldn’t drink anymore. Gabriel was ending his set so once he finished we said our goodbyes and made the long walk back to the Gardens and passed out for the night.

Wednesday – April 20th – Bagatelle’s, Smokin’ Tuna, Willie T’s, Martin’s

We woke up and the sun was brightly shining again. After a much needed shower, I felt revived enough to get some coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen and have a nice breakfast at Bagatelle’s. 
We took the short cut again to Cuban Coffee Queen. This time the line wasn’t too bad so we were able to get some much needed coffee to have in hand for our walk down Duval.

It is always so pleasant to walk down Duval in the morning. No crowds, no traffic, just a quiet street unlike at night – especially on the weekends.

We walked in to Bagatelle’s and were seated right on the front porch, which like La Te Da, is a perfect place to watch the world of Key West go by.

I was in the mood for something different, so I had their lobster omelette with mushrooms and swiss cheese AND topped with a Key Lime Hollandaise sauce. Yes it was decadent but oh so good. My husband ordered just a regular breakfast of fried eggs.

Once we were done with our breakfast we went back out to do our usual walking around. I needed to walk off that breakfast too. Like the day before the sky was so beautiful. It was still windy as well but not too cold or anything.
We wound up walking back to the Gardens to relax for a little bit. I remember checking the schedule for the Smokin’ Tuna about a month before we were coming down and saw that one of my favorite musicians to see was back the same week we were there, Joal Rush for the 5pm slot. However due to the Conch Republic Celebration festivities that were going on he was moved up to play at 1pm that day.

So we regrouped and walked down to the Tuna. Joal was already playing and he recognized us. I can’t even remember the last time we saw him but it was nice to see him again and listen to him sing.

While we were listening to him I noticed a rack on the stage. Now I work for an AV company that is known for this type of equipment. I immediately recognized it. I knew this was one of our products. So my determination came out and I wound up searching online and found it. It was indeed this rack that I did a lot of graphic work for years ago promoting the product line. How funny is that? Now it is sitting pretty on the stage at the Tuna. (well when you work for a company for over 23 years things like that make me smile)
When Joal was done with his show I wound up getting one of his t-shirts he was selling. We chatted for a bit and I congratulated him on his recent engagement. We told him that we would most likely see him again and thanked him for a great show.
Then of course I had to go and see Zack. He was playing at Willie T’s so it was a quick walk down Duval. The place as usual, was quite packed but we managed to find a table to sit at. Donna was working and it was nice to see her again. (We are both Nascar Drive Kevin Harvick fans and always joke around about how bad he is doing lately)

Not before we long we saw Ron and Natalie walk in. They joined us at our table and we had a fun time hanging out and listening to Zack. While he was finishing up we saw John LaMere walk in. He was scheduled to play after Zack so he came over and welcomed us back in town.

Originally I was thinking about going to this event that the Tuna was hosting that evening called Hot Havana Nights. Then I was reading more about it and decided that we should probably go some place for dinner instead. Unfortunately that meant though, Caffeine Carl and Zack (with the band), were pushed back to start at 10:30pm that night instead of 9pm. And I knew I wouldn’t make it that late. 

We stayed for a few John LaMere songs before making our way back out. We were both getting pretty hungry and needed to grab something to eat. We said goodbye to Ron and Natalie and decided to give Martin’s a shot.

Unfortunately when we walked in, it was just after 6pm. We just missed happy hour. The host asked us if we had reservations but obviously we didn’t. Luckily two people just left that were seated at the bar and told us that we could have those two seats, perfect! 

Once we sat down, my husband ordered a martini and I had a glass of white wine. There’s no way I could have had a martini after drinking all afternoon, but it did look good.

Our appetizers consisted of tuna poke and the calamari ceviche. Both were delicious. My husband decided to go for it and ordered the beef wellington. Martin’s had a grouper special wrapped in bacon so I decided to go with that. 

My husband’s beef wellington looked amazing. I even had to try a taste even though I don’t eat beef and it tasted as good as it looked. My grouper, on the other hand, wasn’t what I had hoped for. Unfortunately it was overcooked which dried the fish out. All well, not every meal can be a top ten. It still tasted very good but just too dry for my liking.

My review of Martin’s is here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d779473-r836003023-Martin_s-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

After dinner we agreed to just walk back to the Gardens. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the Tuna. We still had the bottle of white wine in our room, so we walked back shared a glass and called it a night.

Thursday – April 21st – White Tarpon, Mallory Square, The Roost, Willie T’s, Berlin’s, Smokin’ Tuna

Like the previous mornings, this one was another spectacular morning. We did the usual freshening up, Cuban Coffee Queen stop and then we weren’t sure where to go for breakfast. So we just started to walk around. Eventually we wound up by the Bight and then I remembered that the White Tarpon has breakfast. We tried it during our January trip and enjoyed it so why not? Plus you are right on the water which makes a nice backdrop.

We walked in and sat at the bar. This morning, however I was not in the mood for eggs. I think I reached my limit of eggs for breakfast several days in a row. I saw on the menu that they had some nontraditional breakfast items, such as a BLT. For some reason it just sounded so good to me, so I wound up ordering. My husband ordered the huervos rancheros. 

His breakfast came out in a cute little cast iron skilled. Then when my BLT came out, I could not believe size of it, but boy did it taste good and hit spot. I definitely recommend trying the White Tarpon for breakfast.

When were done with breakfast we wound up walking around and did a little shopping. We walked through all the shops near Mallory Square like we usually do. 

A couple visits ago I found this sign that said “Key West is my happy place”. I never bought it and always regretted not getting it. So I was determined to find it or something similar.
A couple visits ago I found this sign that said “Key West is my happy place”. I never bought it and always regretting not getting it. So I was determined to find it or something similar. While walking around my husband spotted a sign that said “Key West is Our Happy Place”. It wasn’t exactly the same but even better. And this time I bought it.
A few days earlier when we saw the bartender Ramsey working at the Sunset Tiki Bar, she mentioned Grubby (he was a bartender that we used to talk to a lot back when he worked at the Tiki Bar) now works at this placed called the Roost. She said it was located right near Fausto’s which isn’t too far from the Gardens. 

It wasn’t too hard to find and we walked in. It was such a cute little place. No one was in there but then the bartender came out from the back. She told us to sit anywhere and that they make their own ginger beer. They had a special Key West lime mule on hand so we both thought to give it a try. It was a good decision because it tasted nice and refreshing after all our shopping. The bartender introduced herself, Annette, from Dublin. Boy was she a hoot to talk to. I could have stayed there for a while just listen to her tell us these stories, but I knew we still had the rest of the day ahead. 

Then the next order of business was to find this store for my husband’s friend. Last time we were in Key West, my husband’s friend asked him to pick up this hat, but both of us totally forgot about it. So this time he wanted to make sure he picked one up. Apparently when my husband’s friend and wife visited Key West last year, they saw this rooster hat at a place called Tucker’s and like my sign, regretted that he never got one.

Ironically the Tucker store was located really close to the Gardens. We must have walked past the store countless times and never noticed it and/or walked in. We walked in and the place was so cute. All their clothing, hats, accessories…. I even had to get a hat. They were too cute to pass up. So instead of one hat purchase, it was three. Yes my husband got one too.

We walked back to the Gardens to drop off our bags, but I wound up wearing my hat. We stopped at the bar at the Garden’s to talk to Phil for a few. It was getting later in the afternoon and I wanted to catch at least part of Zack’s show at Willie T’s, so we walked in and grabbed a table. His friend Lynwood was in town so it was fun to see them play together.
After his show we, again, we were both quite hungry. One of my husband’s favorite places to go to is Berlin’s. I know it is a cigar bar (well used to be, now you have to smoke outside), but you can order off the regular A&B Lobster House menu. The bar itself feels like a throwback when you walk in and the bartenders are always so professional. 
So we walked up the stairs to Berlin’s. When we walked in the bar was filled with people. Thankfully, the majority of them were waiting for their table to be ready, so it wasn’t before long their names were called and we were able to sit down at the bar.
The menu is quite pricey mind you, but we hadn’t had our usual one “splurge” meal, so this was it. For appetizers we shared the oysters rockefeller and the lobster and escargot. It was so rich but so good. Then for our main meals, I had the mahi mahi special and my husband had the sirloin. Everything as usual was spot on and delicious.

My Berlin’s review: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d2390405-r836004112-Berlin_s_Cocktail_Bar_Lounge-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

I think for some reason that meal gave me some energy, enough energy that we walked back down Duval to the Tuna. Joal Rush was playing so it was fun to catch him again.

Carl’s wife Erin was working so we sat at the bar. We wound up staying for Caffeine Carl and the Band. This time Just George was playing. I was kind of disappointed that Zack wasn’t playing that night but George is always solid.

We had a fun time listening to the band. In fact it was probably the latest we had stayed up during our entire trip.

It was getting late and unless I wanted to feel extremely terrible the next day, which was our last full day, then it was that time to head out and get back to the Gardens.

We did make it back and crashed.

Friday – April 22nd – Last Full Day (Always Comes TOO Fast)

Like our last trip, I made plans to have breakfast with Zack and Kai at Sarabeth’s. We usually, in the past would have breakfast the morning we leave, but again like back in January, our flight out the following morning was too early. This time it was 8:50am, not 7:00am like last time, thank goodness.
We woke up and noticed we heard something outside. It was raining. I didn’t think we were supposed to get any rain during this trip when I looked at the initial forecast, but it’s Key West, rain can always happen. Luckily it stopped, so we were able to grab a couple cups of coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen. 
We walked down to Sarabeth’s and Zack already grabbed a table outside. His friend Tim was in town so that was a pleasant surprise to see him join us. Kai was a little late but he made it. It was a nice way to start our last full day in Key West. 

We noticed while we were eating that the rain was starting up again and then it would dissipate. However once we were done with breakfast, the rains started up again. And it was coming down. I thought we were going to be stuck at Sarabeth’s for hours. Eventually the rain stopped momentarily so we were able to make our escape. We side our goodbyes and told Zack we would catch him later at Willie T’s.

My stomach wasn’t feeling so great, probably from the rich dinner the night before and/or maybe all the Deep Eddie Grapefruit and Sodas we had at the Tuna, so we walked back to the Gardens, which in a way was a good thing because once we got back the heavens opened up once more. 
It reminded me when we were stuck during Tropical Storm Elsa last July. That’s how much it rained. We sat out on our porch/balcony watching the rain. Eventually the rain did finally end and my stomach was feeling much better.

Then I checked the front desk regarding the laundry we dropped off the previous morning. They said it would come back later on, so we both wanted to make sure we took care of that later on instead trying to deal with it, in the morning. I also asked for them to call us a taxi for a 7:15am pick up to the airport. 
We wound having to walk out onto Simonton because the road in front of the Gardens was flooded. It tends to do that every time they get a good amount rain, but it eventually recedes. 

I knew that Ramsey was working at the Sunset Tiki Bar so I wanted to be sure we saw her before we left. So we walked back to the Sunset Tiki Bar. This time it was a bit cooler and very windy, so I wound up wearing a hat and long sleeve shirt.
We walked in and Ramsey was indeed working. We talked for a bit and she told us that the Battle of the Conch Republic was canceled because of the high winds. I was a bit disappointed because I really wanted to see it again since it had been a few years. All well. We chatted a little longer, before telling her goodbye and that we would see her again when we come back. I always hate the last day saying goodbye to everyone, but all good things must come to an end.
Then we wound up going back to the Gardens to check on our laundry. It was ready and already delivered to our room. So we used that opportunity to pack up most of our things, so we would be mostly ready to go in the morning.

Next up was of course to see Zack at Willie T’s. Unfortunately this time it was packed, most likely due to the weather so we couldn’t find any open tables. Thankfully a couple of seats at the bar opened up so we were able to sit down.

We stayed until the end of Zack’s show. I told him we would try and catch him later that night at the Tuna, but had previous obligations to see our friends Lynda and Will again at the Schooner Wharf and see the Hippie Band. So we said our goodbyes just in case.
I didn’t make any dinner reservations that night so we were kind of up in the air of where to go for dinner. Then we thought about going to Off The Hook. I was craving pizza and remembered the last time we were there I had their pizza and it was really good.
So we walked down to Off the Hook. We wound up sitting at the back bar because it was less crowded. 

When we sat down, it was just before 6 o’clock and the bartender said that we can still order off th Happy Hour menu.

We looked at the menu and everything looked so good. We wound up sharing the pizza with pepperoni, tuna poke and the calamari steak.

We probably could have ordered more but after the pizza I was quite stuffed. It was such a great deal. We had a couple of sangrias and all that food and I believe the bill was around $45? I would definitely go back to Off the Hook for their happy hour.

My review of Off the Hook: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g34345-d5565929-r836004629-Off_the_Hook_Grill_Key_West-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

When we were done with dinner we walked down to the Schooner Wharf.

The Hippie Band was already playing. We located Lynda who was sitting at a table near the stage. It was nice to see her again.

We ordered a couple of drinks and listened to the band. 

It was a nice evening but of course I was getting sad knowing we were leaving the next morning. The band eventually went on break so we were able to see Will before we headed out. It was getting later in the evening and I wanted to stop at the Tuna at least to see a couple of songs before we had to get back to the Gardens.

We said our goodbyes to Will and Lynda and we all joked how we have to get together up here in NJ/NY this summer.

We walked back down Duval. Being it was a Friday night, the streets were filled with people. We dodged the crowds and made it to the Tuna. There were no seats to be had. The place was packed. I was debating about sitting at a chair at the end of the bar, but there was only one. And by the time I thought about sitting down, someone beat me to it. All well. 

Then I noticed these two ladies sitting at one of the tables near the stage. It looked like they were leaving, because they only had drinks and no food. I walked up and asked if they were leaving. They weren’t but invited us to join them. I thought that was really sweet so we took them up on their offer. It turned out they were locals and they were waiting to see Caffeine Carl play.

While we were chatting Carl came over to say hello to us. Then Zack spotted us and came over and I gave him one last hug goodbye before the band came on to the stage. We only stayed for several songs. I was hoping to hear Jersey Girl but didn’t get to hear it. And then it came to be that time where we had to motivate ourselves to leave.

We said goodbye to Erin and Big Ed who was also working. Then made our way by the stage and waved goodbye.

And made our last walk down Duval to the Gardens.

Saturday – April 23rd – Going Home

I can never sleep through the night without waking up, especially the night before we have to fly back home. I think I might have looked at the clock ten times throughout the night. 

I did have the alarm set for 6:00am but didn’t even need to do so. We did get up on time and packed up our things after a quick shower. 

We did the dreaded walk of woe dragging our rollable carry-ons past the pool to the front of the Gardens. Our taxi was scheduled to pick us up at 7:15am. Usually they show up on time but this time we had some issues. It was nearing 7:30 and no taxi. 

Thankfully my husband asked the Gardens which taxi company they were using just in case. So my husband called and they said they would be there in a couple of minutes.

Eventually the taxi did show up. Once we were dropped off at the airport we hear someone calling to us. We look over and it was Phil the bartender from the Gardens. He was waiting for us. He had two Dunkin Donut coffees in hand and a couple of egg and cheese croissants. We told him when were leaving the previous day, but I didn’t expect him to do that. We were both beside ourselves. We thought it was so nice of him. We thanked him and told him we would see him soon.

After taking a few sips of coffee and a few bites of the sandwich we had to get to our gate. When we walked in, I was expecting to see a long line at the TSA check point, but there was no one there. I mean no one in line. It was so odd. Then once we breezed through security we walked down to the gate. I thought now we are going to see all the people waiting, but again not many people at all. I couldn’t believe it. It turned out that there were only two flights leaving at that time in the morning. So after the first flight left, it was just our United Flight in the airport. It was nice actually instead of fighting for a spot to sit.
It was then time to board our flight, which is always the furthest plane from the airport on the tarmac. I know eventually there is going to be a new airport, I think the sign said coming in 2024, but until then… it’s a long walk.

Thankfully it wasn’t raining.

Our flight took off on time and actually landed a few minutes earlier. (And as a side note the mask mandate was lifted while we were away, so we didn’t have to wear one in the airport or on the plane and even at Newark airport when we landed.)

I got in touch with our car service and we met the driver outside at the curb. Ironically our car driver, whom we have gotten to know, used to live in the Keys years ago and gave me a welcome home gift.

We got home around 1pm and soon the thoughts of Key West became another distant memory. 

It was another great trip to Key West, seeing our friends, visiting our favorite places and listening to great music. Key West continues to be one of those special places filled with beauty and wonderful people that keeps bringing me back. It’s my happy place.

Thanks again for taking time to read my blog…. until next time!

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