Veg ‘n’ Out: Key West
The Continental U.S. Southernmost Veg Dining at it’s Best
Key West is better known for Fantasy Fest, Duval Street, free roaming chickens, key lime pie, mile marker 0, southernmost point, six toed cats and the Hemingway house, but also among those six square miles of island time are some unique and noteworthy veg cuisine restaurants.
To maximize your Key West experience, I recommend renting a moped, which are available throughout the island. No worries if you’ve never driven one before, the rental staff will provide you with an instant lesson in moped driving on a neighborhood side street. Cruise around the island allowing the breeze to cool you in the tropical air and give you the ultimate personal tour of the area. As you work up an appetite, head over to Southard Street for a tasty lunch at The Café, a mostly vegetarian restaurant.
The Café offers a wide range of vegan and vegetarian menu items including starters, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, daily specials, stir frys and main plates. This casual, full service restaurant has a local, homey atmosphere. They even offer you the opportunity to add to their decor by coloring a 3 x 5 index card with your own artwork, which will be hung among the others on the walls.
The Café has many delightful menu items. During my visit, I enjoyed the baked brown sugar acorn squash stuffed Isreali couscous, quinoa, zucchini, dried cranberries, scallions, pine nuts, served over a bed of sautéed spinach. The dish was an outstanding medley of textures and flavors. It tasted fresh and the sweetness of the squash paired with the tart cranberries was a excellent flavor combination. The baked squash was a one-of-a-kind vegetarian entree offering not found at other restaurants.
My guest enjoyed the grilled portobello sandwich with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, spinach on Ciabatta bread with a side of sweet potato fries. Other highlight veg items recommended:
- BBQ tofu with roasted red potatoes, sautéed spinach
- Kung Pao tofu: crispy tofu and vegetables over organic brown rice
- Fig and gorgonzola pizza: caramelized onion, olive oil, garlic, walnuts and fresh spinach
- Homemade spring rolls served with sweet chili sauce
Although some of the prices seem a bit high for the casualness of the restaurant, in my opinion, it was worth the price for the quality of the meal and the variety of veg offerings which were well balanced, unique and always delicious.
$8–15 an item
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11am — 10pm. Closed Sundays.
Just around the corner from The Café is Sugar Apple Natural Foods, with vegan options a plenty! Sugar Apple is a natural food market with a vegan cafe attached. Their menu offers items such as smoothies, fresh made fruit and vegetable juices, gourmet veg deli items, salads, wraps, and a variety of tempeh and tofu dishes.
The market side offers organic produce, vegan grocery, frozen vegan treats, homeopathic remedies, books, magazines and natural vitamins with notable brands such as: Nature’s Way, Nature’s Plus, Nature’s Herbs, Kyolic.
Sugar Apple Natural Foods
917 Simonton St.
Key West, FL 33040
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$4–8 an item
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am — 6pm. Closed Sundays.
Help Yourself Organic Restaurant is a Key West stand out restaurant with fresh, organic foods that revitalize and nourish the body and palette. Help Yourself makes everything from scratch using organic ingredients. Most items are available in vegan versions. They offer breakfast and lunch items daily and have an organic produce market on Mondays. Tasty veg items to try:
- French toast made with whole wheat bread, served with maple syrup & fresh fruit
- Fruit parfait with organic mixed fruit, homemade granola and house-cultured coconut yogurt
- Super spinach salad: cashew cheese, tempeh, candied walnuts, apple & balsamic dressing
- TLT: marinated tempeh, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chipotle mayo & mixed greens
- Lasagna: a raw foodies delight!Layers of zucchini, brazil nut meat, pesto, fresh tomatoes, marinara, served with a green salad
- Coconut curry with mixed vegetable over udon noodles
Help Yourself Organic Restaurant
829 Fleming Street
Key West, FL 33040
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$5–11 an item
Hours: 7 days, 8am — 4pm
Organic Market Hours: Mondays, 11am — 5pm