[Florida, Key Largo] April 2022

We’re visiting the Keys (well, really just Key Largo) for a few days.

Tonight, we wanted a restaurant with outdoor seating and not far from where we’re staying. Ended up at Hobo’s Cafe and was pleasantly surprised.

We walked in and we’re able to get seated right away around 19:30 but it was fairly busy for a Tuesday. The menu is quite large! The fans were going full blast but you could still make conversation and enjoy the recorded blues music.

My SO doesn’t eat large portions so we decided to split a small Caesar and the broiled seafood platter. There’s a small wine list and beer list with a few local Florida brews.

Salad was decent: real shredded Parmesan, well toasted croutons, crisp romaine, but dressing didn’t taste homemade. Not enough garlic or lemon or anchovy for me though.

The platter was a bit of a mixed bag: shrimp and scallops (three of each) were great, the mahi mahi (which I only learned recently refers to dolphin fish) was a tad over cooked, the crab cake was covered in some kind of sauce, and the poor lobster tail was broiled to oblivion. The vegetable side we chose was fantastic: crisp tender carrots, broccoli, red peppers, zucchini, and summer squash with loads of minced garlic.

Everything was fine until I decided to dip my fork in the tiny cup of melted “butter”: OMG, was this artificial butter popcorn topping? It had a strong tropical flavour, some kind of coconut oil based grossness. Then I started questioning whether the seafood had all been fried in this fat, and I hadn’t noticed before.

We didn’t have room for the obligatory Key lime pie so we took it back to our hotel. I’m eating it right now and it’s very, very sweet and creamy. Not enough lime flavour for me, and barely a hint of tartness.

This place is alright, reasonably priced, and its huge menu would be good for a group.


Looking forward to reading your further reports. We had a three week holiday in Florida in 2015 and stayed for a couple of days in Key Largo, before heading down to Key West for a few days.

So happy to get some Florida intel!

Sol by the Sea, the seafood restaurant in the Playa Largo resort is good, and not real expensive. And we had a good lunch at Shipwreck’s Bar and Grill.

On Day 2, we looked for something a little healthier to start our day. We paid a visit to Coco Plum Place. It’s a cute roadside food truck selling vegan smoothies, bowls, wraps and boba, with a small building with coffee, baked goods and crafts for sale. The place is nestled in a charming garden with lots of pleasant shade.

We sampled the Power Bowl ($10) which had a mix of farro, vegetables, black beans, and avocado all tossed in a tomatillo-avocado dressing, with a sprinkle of chia and flax on top. It was hearty and delicious. The Chia Parfait ($10) was not as tasty: the granola suffered in the Florida humidity and wasn’t crisp enough. I also wished the chia pudding was a tad sweeter. Before we left, we also grabbed coffees and a “raw donut”, essentially a cookie dough-like ring, coated in a blueberry icing. A nice treat.

For lunch, we tried another food truck, this time a Cuban one called La Guajira Cafeteria, located next to a shuttered dance school. We were still a bit full from breakfast, so shared one of the day’s specials, fricase de pollo. The chicken was meltingly tender, with similarly soft potatoes. It wasn’t very salty, and I should have added some hot sauce. A side of black beans completed our lunch. In total, with a bottle of water, it came to $14.

For dinner, we had planned to drive 25 minutes to Islamorada, but thanks to @johntannerbbq for the tip about Sol by the Sea, we went there instead, as it was very close to where we were staying.

The restaurant is located in the Playa Largo resort, newly built in 2016. The views are stunning, as Sol occupies the 2nd level of a building and is open-air, no walls to obstruct the views of the water and sunset. The menu is small, with just a handful of items in each category.

We made a meal of three appetizers and a salad. The tuna poke ($22) had nice chunks of fish with mango, cucumber, avocado and edamame arranged in piles on the plate, with sesame dressing and crunchy fried wontons on the side. Lobster and shrimp cakes (two for $18) were well made, with very little filler, served with pickled onions and what tasted like wasabi (but the menu said was a macadamia nut pesto). Peel-and-eat shrimp ($22 for one half pound) were perfectly done: barely cooked so they were still tender and sweet, dusted with Old Bay (?) and served with cocktail sauce. The kale and quinoa salad ($14) sounded more interesting than the Caesar, and didn’t disappoint: crunch from pumpkin seeds, and an interesting pea ricotta spread hidden under the salad greens.

For dessert, the choice was Key lime pie, or a cheesecake. The server convinced us to try the pie, and I was pleased that it was better than the previous night’s rendition. The plate came with a small, 6" tart, cut in half, with some kind of creamy lime sauce poured over the whole thing. The texture of the filling was quite soft, and was quite possibly frozen and thawed. Lots of lime zest and tartness. But why, oh why, is there a berry coulis drizzle on the plate?


I’m glad you liked it – the dessert sounds sketchy, but then I rarely order desserts.

Oh, and from meal 1 – crab cakes tend to be over-breaded in the South, so I rarely get them. Actually, I never order crab cakes except near the Chesapeake Bay.

It may be too late, but if you get further down south the Cuban Sandwiches at La Nina are pretty darned good, they serve them with these little “french fry’ettes”. The Cafe Cubano, unfortunately, is only fair here. Outdoor picnic tables are pretty rustic. I got the gimlet eyed glare of a rooster while I was there. 1571 Overseas Hwy so all the way down in Marathon. Gets you down close to where you can see the Key deer, who are kind of cool locals.
Another spot that I really liked was Harriette’s at 95710 in Key Largo. I had a Key Lime Muffin that was simply outstanding. Their muffin selection is epic. Their breakfasts are really good all the way around, but I don’t think their lead cooks get there until 7am. My results before 7am were only so-so while 7am until noon were uniformly outstanding.
If you like casual with a water view, the Hideout is pretty darned good. I got the Key Largo fish sandwich which is grilled cheese sandwich with a good sized chunk of fried grouper, simply a delicious sandwich! I got mine with onion rings and a sweet tea.
And you got to get a photo with Betty the Lobster in the background! LOL!

![IMG_2531|579x700](upload://7Ymbmbr6nyL6MKkr67O8YottGrP.jpeg) ![IMG_2541|605x700](upload://wOJWo5wjDuWJFhU6yeQrVE5Ftco.jpeg) ![IMG_2535|700x525](upload://mvm0qNlpyxMBLM0UJAKrLQFQhsr.jpeg)

Whoops, forgot the photo of the Key Lime Muffin.

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Ha ha, I realize now, in looking at the Hobo’s Cafe menu description, that it was actually the stuffing from the lobster, so probably wasn’t even crab!

Ah, got this tip too late. I love muffins (hence the name of my blog). Harriette’s came up a few times in my research.

On our last day in Key Largo, we went to The Hideout for breakfast. It’s located at the end of a road facing Largo Sound, and provides a great view of the sun rising over the water (they open at 06:00!). The outdoor seating on the side is cute, with faded posters of dogs and cheesy sayings. It’s far enough from the main roads that you can enjoy the wonderful view in relative quiet.

The Thu special was pancakes, bacon, and eggs ($9). My wife had the Nova Benedict ($15.50). The food was decent, typical diner-style stuff. No maple syrup (I’m from Canada, and always have several litres in the house) for the flapjacks, so I made do with strawberry jam packets.

At lunch, we paid a visit to Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Cafe. I had read a while ago that they are a wholesale supplier to lots of restaurants. They opened at 11:00 for lunch and are located near the water, in an area with marinas, and homes with backyard docks.

The seating is all outdoor, with a large covered tent on an upper level, and some tables at ground level next to the docks. There was a large menu board with sandwiches, “boats”, appetizers, soups, and sides. The daily specials board had a $60 combo plate with 2 jumbo stone crabs, a lobster tail, and shrimp. Dear reader, let me tell you, I regret not getting this plate.

What we did get was far less exciting: the fish ceviche ($13) came in a taco bowl, and featured large chunks of fish (not sure what kind), in a tomato, green pepper, onion, and lime mixture. Lots of bright acidity, but lacking in textural contrast, salt, and bold hits of flavour.

My wife’s tropical salad ($10) had a mound of spring mix, topped with mango, tomato, onion and sweetened coconut shreds. The dressing was something quite sweet, maybe mango and mustard? It was underwhelming.

The lobster roll ($24) with tostones on the side was much better. Lots of firm chunks of lobster, with bits of celery, and not too heavily dressed. It lacked salt, but I drizzled lots of the melted butter (real this time!) enhanced with garlic and lemon.


I’m a big believer in eating locally, especially with seafood. While I like lobster as much as anyone, I never get it when there’s local grouper, snapper, hogfish, etc available. They’re so much better in southern waters than anywhere else – grouper and hogfish especially lose a lot when they travels, so grab it while you can.
Just my 2 cents


I agree but local Florida lobsters are good too.