Key Fisheries is extremely informal. Plates and utensils are disposable, dining is virtually outdoors (with plastic sheeting to keep out wind and rain, if necessary), and the view is fishing boats coming or going. The menu is replete with local seafood delicacies from conch chowder to Key West pink shrimp; and many devotees swear by the lobster Reuben, a locally loved grilled sandwich of lobster meat, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and 1000 Islands dressing on rye.
It’s all well-prepared food that also is beautifully served. But if we come to Keys Fisheries during stone crab season (Mid October through mid-May), that’s all we can think about. Keys boats supply Miami’s exalted high-end Joe’s Stone Crab (which is, in fact, a partner in the restaurant part of the Fisheries operation); and the beautiful pink claws you get here are quite literally cooked and served directly off the boat. Their meat is as buff as seafood can be, packed with ocean sweetness that makes all other shellfish pale. Key offers plates of them by the pound or half-pound in two sizes, medium or the larger select. Stone crab is not cheap: a pound of mediums will run well over $20; selects, closer to $50. (Damon Runyon once quipped that stone crabs are not sold by the dollar, but by the karat.) The rest of the menu is more normally priced.