Blue Heaven | The Best Magical Meal In Key West

Review by: Michael Stern

Dine With Chickens

Wild chickens run among streets and gardens over much of Key West. Even al fresco restaurants manage to keep them away from dining tables. Blue Heaven virtually invites them to the table. And the birds feel right at home. In this supremely laid-back restaurant in old Bahama Village, cocks, hens, and chicks roam along the dirt-floored patio. They peck for bugs or the occasional scrap of pancake offered by a diner. On occasion a particularly bold rooster hops onto the back of an unoccupied chair at YOUR table. He puffs up and crows loud to wake you up better than a triple espresso. A magical meal in this restaurant always includes the company of roaming birds.

Delightfully Disheveled

An incredibly colorful place to eat, Blue Heaven long ago hosted a boxing ring where Ernest Hemingway sparred. It has been a bordello, a bookmaking parlor, and a cockfighting pit. (Heroic roosters once were laid to rest in a little graveyard behind the dining area.). Legend says that this restaurant inspired Jimmy Buffett to write “Blue Heaven Rendezvous.” Delightfully disheveled, casual in the extreme, it offers one of Key West’s most evocative dining experiences.

Caribbean Meals

You can come for three meals a day. Dinner features such local treasures as an Island plate (vegetarian), on which you get a honking-big sliced Portobello mushroom wallowing in buttered curry sauce. Big, sweet blackened Key West shrimp star in a Caribbean presentation, deglazed with beer and finished with butter. Jerk chicken and yellowtail snapper earn raves, too.

Breakfast Is Best

Breakfast, Blue Heaven’s most magical meal, starts at 8am, when neighborhood roosters greet the sun with gusto. I love to sit out under the shade of the banyan trees and fork into banana pancakes with maple syrup. Or I will spoon into nutty-flavored granola with fresh fruit. Coffee comes in mugs inscribed with the house motto: Blue Heaven: you don’t have to die to get there.

One other reason I like early breakfast best is that you can more easily find a seat. In the evenings and on weekends, expect to wait for a table.

What To Eat

Banana Pancakes

DISH
Pork Tenderloin

DISH
Key Lime pie

DISH
Island Plate

DISH
Caribbean BBQ Shrimp

DISH
Margarita

DISH

Blue Heaven | The Best Magical Meal In Key West Recipes

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What do you think of Blue Heaven | The Best Magical Meal In Key West?

One Response to “Blue Heaven | The Best Magical Meal In Key West”

Randolph Becker

December 12th, 2008

Blue Heaven is about 300 feet from my front porch. It has taken me 61 years to get to this position, but the wait has been worth it! OK, why?

First of all there’s the ambiance: the canopy of trees, the floor of recycled pool table slates on which Hemingway probably lost a few bucks, the chickens, the cats, the amazing tables. You are always on vacation in (Blue) Heaven.

Second, the food: I was going to write that breakfast is my favorite meal here (I can smell it each morning from home) with the pancakes and the lobster benedict, but then I considered the other meals of the day. Fresh fish without any deep-frying in sight! So fresh! Never been disappointed.

Third, there are the owners, Ricky and Suanne, who are the greatest people in the community (yes, I am speaking of community here). I joined Ricky in the march with kids around the neighborhood for the next president of the USA. I meet Suanne at the city commission meetings every two weeks. They give back way, way more to the community (of Key West, of Florida, of the US, of humanity) than they take in.

And here is a quick tip to the wise: they recently became the operators of Salute, the only real, genuine, Euro-style on-the-beach ristorante in Key West. So, watch out for fresh, local ingredients in a setting with sand-between-the-toes. The other night (OK, election night) my wife ordered the yellowtail there (done up in a neo-Med setting in a bowl with broth and olives and . . .) and I saw her finish an entree for the first time in years. Yep, she licked the bowl.

It is all good!

Reply

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