Top Five Places for Key Lime Pie (in Key West)

FullSizeRender
Key Lime Pie Company

 

Creating a top five list of the best key lime pie in Key West is a tough job but someone had to do it, so it may as well have been me.  Just a couple of provisos regarding this list:

This is based upon my likes. I like to taste the lime, not to be overpowered by it but I do think it should be the primary flavor I taste. The crust needs to be good but honestly, most of the pie that I tasted had virtually the same style graham cracker crust.  Last but not least I like a thick and consistent texture.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list! It is nearly impossible to try every restaurant’s version of the world famous key lime pie. So if you’ve been to the Keys, you may ask ‘how could you miss this place or that place?’ so it will take loads of additional research before I can complete this task.  I encourage you to let me know if you have a favorite key lime pie and I will be happy to check it out.

Price is not a factor in any of the decisions here. I have based my decisions only what I think matches my tastes. It is not for me to decide how much is worth it to you to pay for a slice of pie.

So here it is, the Native Trekker ‘Top Five Places for Key Lime Pie in Key West’

 

5. Key Lime Pie Company

The Key Lime Pie Company had a really good pie. The pies are made behind a glass window so you can see the magic as it happens. This pie had very good texture along with a standard pie crust. The only disappointing trait of this pie was the lime flavor was slight, almost hard to detect.  This was one of the larger proportioned slices sampled and was the lowest priced among the top five.

4. El Meson de Pepe

This place has really got it going on! With great Cuban food and the best live music we heard while in Key West, the only thing it needed to make it even better was a great slice of Key Lime. It delivered with a meringue style pie with a lime syrup drizzle that made it one of the more unique flavors we tried. This pie had one of the strongest lime flavors on the list which was great.  The texture wasn’t quite as thick as some but overall this was a very good pie and you can have it in perhaps the best atmosphere in Key West.

3. Blue Heaven

This place is another Key West locale with a great vibe.  The outdoor seating area resembles some of the great courtyard restaurants in Santa Fe but with a tropical theme.  Blue Heaven has a great combination of lights, trees, and even wild roosters to go along with their version of how to do Key Lime Pie.  Theirs is another of the Lime meringue style and it didn’t disappoint. It had a great blend of lime flavor, with a good crust and texture.

2. Margaritaville

Jimmy Buffet’s entry on this list may come as a surprise to some but we have consistently had really good Key Lime Pie every time we’ve been there. The atmosphere at Margaritaville is very different than the others on this list and has more of a cheeseburger in paradise feel to it, with music videos playing on a giant screen with a pirate like decor.  The pie had a nice thick texture with a really good crust. The only thing that could have made this pie any better would be for a slightly stronger lime flavor. They even get double bonus points for giving you your margarita in a to-go cup!

1. Banana Cafe

The Banana Cafe ended up being a real surprise to us as the number one Key Lime Pie in Key West.  Despite its name, this is primarily a French style restaurant and it made the best Key Lime Pie of anywhere we tried.  Although Key Lime Pie is not often associated with French food, it is a ‘must have’ if you want to have a restaurant in the Keys. So if you look at the criteria I mentioned in the beginning, the Banana Cafe checks all of the boxes.  Great crust, texture, and most important to me, I want to taste the lime and I certainly did.

So there you have it! The Native Trekker Top Five Places for Key Lime Pie in Key West.  I plan on returning to try more and turn this list into a Top 10 someday. Maybe the next list will be a comprehensive Key Lime Pie list of the entire Florida Keys, who knows. The research has exhausted me and I need time to recover.

Cheers

P.S. – I’d love to hear if you have any suggestions to check out for next time!

 

Advertisements

Hike: Lost Dutchman State Park

When I thought about my first hike in Arizona this past spring, I knew I was prepared for the environment. I had lots of water, sunscreen, and a wide brimmed hat, just like everyone reads about desert hikes.  I also knew that it would be comparatively hot as I was coming from Colorado where spring is just a snowier extension of winter, to the Phoenix area where the temperature was in the low 80’s.  Hiking in temperatures in the 80’s is not too bad, if you’re used to it but I hadn’t hiked in temperatures that high in months.

image
One of the feeder trails, Jacob’s Crosscut

So when I decided to hike in Lost Dutchman State Park near Apache Junction, Arizona, I felt that I was ready for the challenge of a desert hike.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how steep the trek would be and, maybe most surprising of all, how high the altitude would be at the top, 4,861′ which is only slightly less than the elevation of my home near Boulder Colorado.  I was hiking the Siphon Draw Trail, which didn’t ‘look’ that tough on the map or even when I drove into the park, but I definitely misjudged this one. The first 1/2 or so of the trail is relatively flat with saguaro cacti all around and great views of the Superstition Mountains looming above. After a short while, the trail officially leaves Lost Dutchman State Park proper and enters the Tonto National Forest and the climb really begins from here.  About every 30 minutes or so during the hike I could hear a steam whistle from a train that runs through the Goldfield Ghost Town.  Normally man-made noises would detract from a hike, but here it added a bit of an old west feel to the area.

image
No switchbacks here!

In most places that I’ve hiked steep grades are usually lessened by switchbacks, but there weren’t too many switchbacks on this trail! The Siphon Draw Trail is mainly a vertical trail! I only managed to make it to the area known as ‘The Basin’ and only then realized how tough of a hike this really was. The final mile or so has, according to the park brochure, a 2,000′ elevation gain over the last mile! That would make it the steepest hike I’ve ever done, but today was not the day for me to pull that steep of an ascent off.  I may try it again some day and maybe make up that one mile, 2,000′ ascent.

image
The flat part
image
The Superstitions
image
Phoenix in the distance 

 

Hike: Tsankawi Trail – Bandelier National Monument

Hiking the Tsankawi Trail in Bandelier National Monument is truly a unique trek.  It is located in the high desert of New Mexico near the city of Los Alamos in the Tsankawi section of the park.  This is a less traveled area than the more famous section of the park proper and it made for an interesting, unexpected side trip.

Part of the appeal of this area of the park, to be honest, is that there are far fewer people here.  This means that you can really take your time exploring this relatively short 1.5 mile hiking trail.  Not long after you leave the trailhead, you get to climb a wooden ladder (fun) to get up onto a ridge that leads you to the Ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi. There isn’t much left of the village itself but the area is littered with pottery shards, one of the very few places left where you can actually touch history. The pieces are small but you can clearly see the colored lines that were painted onto the pots.

After leaving the pottery shards of the village behind, it was onto some of the most unique aspects of any hike anywhere in the world. The Ancestral Pueblo villagers walked the same paths so often that they ended up wearing out the rocks to the point where it looks like a bobsled course winding its way through an Olympic venue. I can’t describe how totally awestruck I was by this and by the fact that the National Park Service still allows people to hike on it (thank you NPS).

imageimage

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m just going to keep the words at a minimum here and let all of the photographs speak.  If you’re ever in Northern New Mexico and want a truly unique hike, without many people, some Native American history, and stunning high desert scenery, check this place out.  It is such an interesting, and very easy walk.

If you’re looking for a great place to eat après hike, Tomasitas in Santa Fe is the perfect locale to refuel. The food is consistently outstanding and the location at the Railyard District is just minutes away from the famous plaza. Try the roast beef burrito and be sure to eat the sopapillas with honey butter.  After that, consider finishing off the evening with a cold one at the Second Street Brewery, just right around the corner.

image
Editor in Chief, Kimberly, posing with a strawberry quark at the Second Street Brewery

 

Beer Trekker – Kona Brewing Company

Let’s get this out of the way right away: Kona Brewing Company (KBC) has a huge advantage just by being located in one of the best places anyone could ever think to have a brewery, the Big Island of Hawaii. But this brewery is more than just a place that brews beer in an idyllic setting: it brews very good beer, has excellent cuisine, and the atmosphere is unrivaled.

It is hard to separate Kona Brewing from Hawaii itself.  Both have so much in common. The ambiance of the brewery mirrors that of its surroundings very well with palm trees, tiki torches, and the relaxed Hawaii island vibe that comes with it.  Breweries generally have a relaxed feel to them anyway but add a tropical twist to it and relaxed gets taken to a whole new level.  If you’re wearing socks, you’re overdressed. If you’re staying south of the airport, this is a great place to get acclimated to island life after the long flight from the mainland.

On to the food, which was excellent.  The menu has a number of different starters that you might consider to be standard pub fare but some items had a uniquely Hawaiian twist such as sliders on Taro rolls or nachos with Kalua pork. We chose wisely with the pretzel bites, which are made with spent grain dough and Wailua Wheat Ale as well as cheese sauce made with Fire Rock Pale Ale. It was excellent.  For entrees, most of the menu was pizza and sandwiches but again, there were uniquely Hawaiian takes on most of the offerings. At our table, pizza and flatbreads were the most popular choices while I opted for an Imu pork sandwich which has Kalua pork, cabbage, cheese, and a house made Black Sand Porter BBQ sauce.  All of the food items were outstanding!

And last but certainly not least, the beer.  I tried a few different ones but really settled on two favorites: the Wailua Wheat which is a light wheat ale with a slight fruit flavor and hints of passion fruit (known locally as lilliko’i) and the Hula Hef which is a traditional hefeweizen with banana undertones (and I don’t even like bananas!). Both beers were extremely good!  Other popular choices include Pipeline Porter which is made with local Kona coffee  (my wife’s top pick), Longboard Island Lager which is a very ‘island’ kind of beer (my daughters favorite), and Lemongrass Lu’au which is a light blond ale with notes of lemongrass and ginger. All in all, a wide variety of beers with local influences in most, if not all of them.

KBC is also very involved in helping to protect the environment by partnering with organizations such as the Surfrider Foundation, Malama Maunalua, and the Blue Planet Foundation. They are also pioneering energy conservationists, they go to great lengths to minimize waste, they use solar energy to help power their brewery, source locally whenever possible and are very involved with the local community.

All in all, if you’re looking for some great beer, great food, and a super chill vibe, this is the place to go when your visiting the Big Island or you can buy their beers in many places on the mainland and at least get a taste of island life.  Either way…you won’t be disappointed.

Aloha