Treat Yo’Self, Fool!
1105 Duval St
An ice cream parlor serving up tropical flavors.
The average temperature during our week in Key West was around 70° F, which hardly warrants cooling off with ice cream. But when you’re on vacation, you don’t really need an excuse to eat ice cream. I’ve found the best place to indulge in a scoop or four is at Flamingo’s Crossing on upper Duval. This Chicagoan-owned parlor creates each of their flavors in house. Varieties include everything from guava to Florida honey nut and a couple classics in between. Be sure to sample a couple different flavors before making your choice. I enjoyed an intensely refreshing chardonnay sorbet with a scoop of key lime frozen yogurt. Jacob went for two scoop of mint chocolate chip, doused in chocolate jimmies. All three flavors were silky smooth and utterly delicious, but at the high price of $11.50 together.
729 Thomas St.
A full-service restaurant with a tiki bar that stays open late for drinks and dessert.
My dwindling budget and sluggish “island-time” pace kept me from ever dining at Blue Heaven, but one bite of their key lime pie encourages me to visit if I’m ever back on the island. A crisp graham cracker crust cradles a freshly-squeezed lime filling and mile-high toasted meringue. While the meringue skin is a little gummy, all in all Blue Heaven’s pie is the best key lime pie that I tried. Considering the modest Winn Dixie version is actually delicious, this is saying a lot. I recommend stopping by for some live music and a slice of pie.
930 Eaton Street
A bakery with an enchanting assortment of cheese and pastries.
My experience with Old Town Bakery hardly goes beyond window shopping. On a daily basis, I marveled at the sign that listed frozen coffee and a charming pun, “Get your buns in here!” I visited on my second day on the island and drooled over the selection of familiar artisanal cheeses. Regrettably, I never enjoyed their fudgy brownies or flaky croissants. Rather, my only true experience is with their baguettes, which were terrible. These loaves weren’t even worth buttering: a dense, tough crumb with a chewy crust that was a little burnt at the end. I don’t think this speaks about the bakery as much as it does the lack of baguette culture in the US. However, this place still intrigues me. If I were to go back, I would tear up their pastry case and a large frozen coffee.
926 Simonton St
An all dessert restaurant in a sexy, intimate setting.
I never got to experience this restaurant, but I’m still drooling over the menu. Desserts include Young’s Chocolate Stout cake with irish cream as well as a grilled cheese with Brie and Belgian chocolate alongside strawberry champagne soup. Enjoy a bottle of cabernet with two chocolate rimmed glasses or a Prosecco cocktail with lavender and honey. If you have a large group, be aware: in order to keep the setting intimate, they do not cater to parties larger than four. I’d recommend going with a date for a sensual experience.
713 Caroline Street
A coffee shop near the water front.
This coffee shop was located just steps from the house we were renting. Their espresso is pretty good and their quiche looks yummy, but I do wish they were a little more inviting. You only get 1 hour of wifi use for each $6 purchase. Jacob stopped in to write a paper, with out planning on using the wifi, and they were reluctant to let him stay with a $4.50 purchase. In my opinion, coffee shops should be places where you can concentrate on work or studying. It’s large enough to accommodate several people and it never got busy while we were there. Anyway, they have good coffee and if you’re taking it on the go it’s worth a visit.
The Coffee and Tea Store
505 Southard Street
Amazing iced coffee.
I didn’t try all of the coffee on the island so I can’t say this is the best, but the iced coffee was damn good. It was cold brewed and then poured over frozen cubes of coffee. It was delicious and completely refreshed me of my hangover.The pastries also looked pretty tasty. If you’re wandering along Duval, I recommend stopping in for an iced coffee drink.
Treats for the Body:
1075 Duval St C4
If you’re a city dweller escaping winter in the tropics, odds are you are in need of a pedicure. Why not throw in a glass of bubbly or a beer for the treatment? Nail Bar & Lounge will not only provide you with an excellant pedicure, but they’ll also booze you up. You’re in Key West, after all. Why not?
It’s not an impressive drink menu, but they’ve covered their bases. Not only did I receive a detailed pedicure and warm hospitality, they also directed me towards my new pair of Kino sandals. At $45, it’s an expensive pedicure, but that’s what you’ll get on Duval.
Best Value: Kino Sandal Factory
107 Fitzpatrick Street
Handmade leather sandals at an incredible value.
If you’re shopping on Duval, or even on a side street close by, chances are you’re going to get ripped off. If you forgot a pair of sandals, you probably won’t be able to find a decent pair for under $40, unless you know about Kino Sandal Factory.
Kino designs and makes all of their sandals by hand. You can even watch as they assemble each shoe using all-natural leather and rubber souls. The sandals are $14 each on average, which is an absolute steal. There was a woman getting a pedicure next to me at Nail Bar and she was wearing her Kino’s. She told me that she had worn the sandals every day for two years and they were still in great shape. Not only are they a sturdy sandal, but they’re also really cute. Even if you’re a flipflop hater like myself, the variety of styles and colors will certainly suit your needs. No half sizes available, I recommend rounding up.
3201 Flagler Avenue
A junk shop with a whole lot of personality
A junk shop is always a fantastic place to capture the true spirit of any town and that’s exactly why I biked across the island to Neat Stuff. While the majority of thrift stores are filled with clothing best suited for the eldery, this place has all of the eccentric, colorful costuming you’d hope to find on an island like this. The sign on the door immediately captured my heart: “Controlled canines welcome. Out of control children, not so much.”
I loved browsing through the vintage sequined dresses, thrifty sun hats and crystal costume jewelry. The real charm is in the campy household items, especially a particular rhinestone panther that caught my eye. I recommend biking up here and then taking S Roosevelt Rd for a gorgeous view of the ocean.
315 Petronia St
A lovely apothecary shop in Bahama Village
If you’re feeling fancy and looking to splurge on yourself, visit Key West’s apothecary shop in Bahama Village. You can find linen table cloths, sophisticated aprons, satin house slippers and all sorts of fragrances, lotions, scents and soaps. It’s a little outrageous how expensive everything is, but their selection is breathtaking. You’ll feel like you left the island for an hour in Paris as you sample the various perfumes or browse the candy selections. Even if you’re like me and can’t afford to spend $50 on napkins for your blog, you’ll enjoy the trip.