Just off Cow Key Channel at Mile Marker 4.5 at the entrance to Key West, Hurricane Hole restaurant is part of Hurricane Hole Marina. Arrive by boat or by car (or bike or moped) and dine waterside under the sun. It’s an eating experience all about the Florida Keys.
A blackboard in the al fresco dining area lists the fish that’s in that morning. Have it grilled, fried, blackened, cornmeal- or panko-crusted, in a bowl with lemon caper sauce, or spicy Buffaloed. Or have it blackened as the basis of fish tacos. If the featured fish doesn’t float your boat, feel free to take advantage of the “You hook it, we cook it” policy: Bring what you’ve reeled in that day (already filleted, please) and the kitchen will prepare it the way you like and serve it family style, with cole slaw and a side dish, for $12.95 per person.
When I visited, the catch of the day was yellowtail — fine and flaky, milk-sweet, needing nothing more than a sprinkle of spice and a turn on the grill to attain Caribbean wonderment. Like all house flatfish, it comes with yellow rice, black beans, and a square of freshly-baked cornbread.
Shrimp always are available — fried or as a featured attraction in jambalaya along with chicken, andouille sausage, vegetables and spice on a bed of rice.
Despite Hurricane Hole’s extreme nautical ambience and fish-focused menu, red meat eaters will do fine ordering a hamburger. They are 10-ounce behemoths cooked to the degree of doneness you specify, available dressed every which way, the top of the line being a Cat 5 burger topped with fried jalapenos, pepperjack cheese, zesty Conch turbo sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Crisp-edge, hand-cut fries come alongside.
Stock Island is Key West, so mention must be made of the drinks menu. Of course, familiar cocktails are available, but so is a list of such tropical libations as a Thirsty Pelican (Southern Comfort, vodka, lime juice, fruit juice, etc., etc.), an Island Splash (which promises “the feeling of enjoying the sandbar at Snipes”), and a Sunburn (“Take your margarita to a whole new level”).
Note: The name of the restaurant comes from the fact that deep, narrow, tree-lined lagoons on the property are good places to moor a boat during a hurricane. Such safe berths are known as hurricane holes.