Let me say this first. I love it when two great foods are combined to make an excellent dish. Example; the “El Cubano Burger”. Take a cuban mix sandwich and slap it with a burger… what you have now is, well, pretty darn tasty! I have always been a fan of the cuban mix sandwich. Ham, roast pork, swiss cheese, and pickles on great cuban bread, its a favorite among many south Florida tastebuds. And a burger, well, thats a favorite among billions of people around the globe. So when I had the chance to try the El Cubano Burger at Turtle Kraals restaurant in Key West, I took no time in diving into this recipe. There truly is nothing like it, a burger patty, with ham, true roasted pulled pork, swiss cheese, on Cuban bread, and a side of the mojo au jus from the pork. This is one delightful treat. Take it from me you have to try this one!. Do yourself a favor and go upstairs to the Tower bar and have your burger as you overlook Key West Bight and the Historic Harbor Walk. It truly is a great experience only 90 miles from Cuba
Ok, as stated many times on this blog, I love a good burger. So much so, that I write these posts about great burger stops all over the lower and middle Keys. I am however, very dissatisfied with the greater 90% of all restaurant burgers here in the Keys. The reason being that the fact is most of the patty that are served are pre-made, pre-packaged, previously soaked, frozen, taste-less, pieces of what once was beef, now made to hopefully be covered up with so much lettuce, onion, pickle, cheese, ext. that you are sure to not know the difference between what is fresh ground beef or not. Sad, really, because when I started this BurgerBlog I was excited to say the least, to find some great burgers that I had never tried, and I have tried just about all of them. Truth is: unless it is stated that the burger is hand pressed, never frozen, it more than likely is not. If you happen to drive through most of Key West and the Lower Key on practically any given morning and take a good look you will notice more food distribution trucks than actual pedestrians on the streets. Companies like Sysco, Cheney Bros., GFS, and a few others, supply almost every burger slinging establishment in town. The truth is that just about every place you sit down to eat a burger its going to come from one of these food distributers. Dont get me wrong, its not like these burgers are going to stop me from having one, its just I’m pretty sure I know what I am getting. Most people don’t know the difference anyway, and even most of those don’t really care. Each and every restaurant just does something a little different in the way the patty is cooked, dressed, and served. Some are flame grilled, some fried on a flat grill, and others even baked. Take your pick.
So, this now being said, I have taken a turn in this BurgerBlog, to now focusing on the cool, unique, and somewhat diverse burger presentations in the Lower Keys. Rather than rate each place as to how the burger was cooked, dressed, presented, and all the other little things, Not anymore. Now I will hopefully show you the best of what a Cheeseburger in Paradise has become. Ok, Let’s Eat!
You’ve gotta love it when a plan comes together. On a recent rip aboard the Outer Limits, angler Dave Saladino, from Venice, FL, celebrated his birthday in Key West. Along with his girlfriend Katie, the two had a great morning fishing at the “end of the bar”. The day started out a bit on the slow side with some Bonito and Barracuda action, but we were really targeting Wahoo or Tuna. Working the depths between 120 and 250 feet of water, we finally got what we came for as the down rigger went off like a stick of dynamite and the drag peeled out. After a great job by Dave handling the fish, Cory put the gaff into a nice Wahoo. Catching Wahoo on light tackle is always a blast and is sure to put your arms to work.
Once on ice, we quickly went back to working the same depths hoping for another good bite like the last. The bite we were looking for got even better as soon enough the long rigger had a big Sailfish slashing at the Ballyhoo. As the line came tight this fish decided to take Dave for a ride, screaming off no less than 200 yards of line. While the majestic fish went airborne numerous times, Dave made sure to keep a good bend in the rod ensuring that the fish stayed connected. As the Sailfish came close we were able to get some great shots boat side, and the fish was given a healthy release in hopes that somebody else will get the same great experience once again. Celebrating your birthday in Key West is great, but getting world class fishing all the while is priceless. Great job Dave and Katie, and Happy Birthday!!
If you have never been on one of my charters, let me paint a picture for you. You’ve just spent the day fishing aboard the Outer Limits, and the crew is preparing to back the boat into the slip. A great day of fishing has just ended and now its time to clean up the catch. As the boat backs in, the sounds of live music in the background makes you realize it is “happy hour” and the dock is very busy. On the right, Alonzo’s Oyster Bar, on the left, the Conch Republic Seafood Co., and 25 feet behind the boat is the Boathouse Restaurant, all of which are packed. You step off the boat and an outside table just feet away from the boat opens up and your group sits down. As the fish are being cleaned you get a show from the resident Tarpon as they almost “fight” each other for the filleting scraps. Minutes later, as you snack on delicious appetizers, the catch of the day is given to the waitress, and is taken to be prepared. As the spread of food comes out, everyone’s mouths water from the sight of the presentation. What a bonus!, to be able to step right off the boat and be so close to such great cuisine and libations. This truly is the “place to be” when it comes to the best fishing experience that Key West has to offer.
If you have experienced this, odds are that you are one of our many return clients who come back time and time again to take advantage of such a bonus.
The truth is that many restaurants around the island will cook your catch, each giving their own style to the dish. Yet, no waterfront area of the island is so lively than the surroundings of A&B Marina. Located on the Historic Seaport Harbor Walk, the marina is surrounded by great restaurants and bars for all tastes. From fine dining like the famous A&B Lobster House and the Commodore Steakhouse, to bars with live music like the world renowned Schooner Wharf Bar and the Conch Republic Seafood Co.. Almost all of these establishments offer some amazing “happy hour” specials such as 2 for 1 drinks, and half priced appetizers. The cook your catch is awesome to say the least though. These places really know how to make your experience that much sweeter, by offering different ways to have the fish cooked, such as blackened, grilled, or fired, and a multitude of different sauces and side dishes. Some will even do certain fish like Tuna or Wahoo, in a sashimi or sesame seared presentation, which is out of sight delicious. Believe me I am a big fan of this style.
If dinner isn’t going to work, or you can’t wait until the evening, lunch is served! From noon until happy hour each of these restaurants will cook your catch for lunch as well. More times than not, our clients who fish with us for a 1/2 day charter step off the boat just in time to set down for a fresh catch lunch.
Whether its lunch, dinner, or “happy hour”, you need to experience the added bonus of fishing out of such a spectacular marina with the best charter outfit in Key West.
Capt. Jay Miller
It didn’t take too long. The Gulfstream current is back to bringing new life to offshore fishing in the Lower Keys. Just in the last few days east bound currents have created a color change just outside of the reef, bringing with it a host of gamefish that have been away for most of the summer. Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna, Kingfish, and Wahoo have been showing up in good numbers. These pushes of east current have also pulled many large schools of Ballyhoo to the reef and deeper giving the oceanic predator’s plenty to forage on. Whether trolling or live baiting, you can bet our boats will be fully stocked with these fresh bait fish. The reef fishing will also start to become action central as many bottom fish such as Grouper and Snapper, and Mackerels and Jacks will take advantage of the Ballyhoo as well. Along with the currents comes a slightly cooler water temperature as well. This change in water temp. is our precursor to fall as summer comes to a close. Offshore yesterday also showed us many different types of migratory birds making the trek south to their winter home. These migrations are always a welcoming sight as autumn is just around the corner. Along with these east currents bring back good billfish fishing. Blue Marlin and Sailfish will start to move back into Key’s waters in the next few oncoming weeks and months offering anglers many opportunities for catch-of a-lifetime experiences. The full moon tends to be a great time to target Marlin in the fall so try to time your Marlin fishing a few days before or a few days after. Along with Marlin, Swordfish start to become more active during the upcoming months. Whether fishing at night, or deep dropping during the day, expect to see some really nice Swordfish.
If you are looking for an awesome fishing experience, make Key West your fall destination. Oh, and take advantage of offseason rates as well.