Eaton Street Seafood Market is a retail store with a case full of locally caught seafood to buy, take home, and cook. It also is a Roadfood gem where you can sit and eat some of the most delicious meals in Key West.
There’s nothing deluxe about dining here. On the contrary, it’s as casual as can be. Place your order at the counter, pay, and get a number. Find a seat on the sunny patio and wait for the food to be delivered. It all comes in cardboard boats that you dispose of when you’re done.
The problem is choosing what to eat from a menu of inviting options. Any of the fish in the case are available to be grilled, fried, or blackened and rolled in soft tortillas to become fish tacos. Depending on the catch, these can be grouper, hogfish, snapper, or pink shrimp. Regal lobster rolls always are available: big hunks of sweet meat cosseted in mayonnaise and piled into a buttered and grilled split-top bun. Compelling side dishes include conch fritters that are like grand oceanic hushpuppies, smoked fish dip with Cuban crackers, conch ceviche, and Buffalo shrimp with blue cheese.
Stone crab season begins mid-October; and for those who don’t flinch at spending $40 for a modest one-pound order (as of October, 2019) these formidable pink-and-black claws, served cool and cracked when you buy them, are an incomparable indulgence. The meat is like the tenderest imaginable lump crab, pulling from the claw in big, silken hunks that are moist and ocean-pure. They’re glorious unadorned, but alongside comes a ramekin of sweet/tangy Key lime mustard sauce that is stone crabs’ natural friend. In fact, I like this sauce so much that when the stone crab was gone, I used it as a dip for conch fritters and French fries.
Yes, there are all kinds of fancier, excellent meals in Key West. But there is no seafood that is better.
Note: Eaton Street delivers anywhere in Key West.