A fusion of Native American Taino food, Spanish, African and Caribbean cooking, Cuban cuisine has been a staple on the island of Key West for over a century. Being located so close to Cuba has naturally influenced the local restaurants to cook with traditional flavors and ingredients. Planning to sample a variety of entrees should be at the forefront of every Key West vacation itinerary. We’ve compiled a list of favorites gathered from locals and visitors that you should definitely consider.
Pan Con Ropa Vieja- sandwich with shredded beef marinated in creole sauce
Emparedado de Pollo- mojo marinated grilled chicken sandwich
Cayo Hueso Cuban Mix- sugar glazed ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese and all of the fixings, a traditional Cuban sandwich with a Key West twist.
Frituras de Cobo- corn meal fritters with cracked conch
Antojitos- fried cheese and chorizo over plantain chips
Camarones de Coco- fried coconut shrimp with pineapple marmalade
Masitas de Cero Frita- marinated pork cubes golden fried with onions and parsley
Cuban Nachos- homemade plantain chips topped w/Ropa Vieja, Picadillo, Guacamole, cheese, diced tomatoes, and onions
Rabirubia Frita Entera- fried whole yellowtail with fresh key lime, garlic and onions Churrasco- grilled skirt steak with a tangy chimichurri sauce
Vaca Frita- shredded flank meat with garlic, lime, and onions
Lechon Asado- traditional roasted pork marinated in cumin-mojo sauce
Mojito- muddled lime and mint with light rum, bitters, sugar, and club soda.
Caipirnhia- fresh lime and sugar mixed with Cahcaca
Cuba Libre- Old Havana rum with cola and lime
Rum Runner- Blend of rums, juices, banana and blackberry brandy
Homemade Sangria- Blend of wine, sugar, and assorted fruit
Café Con Leche- Cuban coffee with milk and sugar
Cortadito- Cuban espresso with steamed milk
Colada- Large glass of Cuban espresso with sugar (enough to share)
After spending a few days in Key West, you’ll know why the island is considered one of the best places in America for Cuban cuisine. There’s a food truck, shack, or casual restaurant serving up great Cuban food throughout the island. When you’re near Mallory Square, be sure to stop by El Meson de Pepe and try one of these Cuban favorites with your friends and family.