Sponsored Post: The Florida Keys is home to five districts, each with their own personality and attractions that make visitors feel like they are a world away. This post is about Chef Bobby Stoky’s favorite ways to experience his hometown of Key Largo.
Chef Bobby Stoky’s family moved to Key Largo in the seventies because they loved to fish and his father became a charter boat captain. In 1982, his parents became the owners of Señor Frijoles Mexican Restaurant and so started Bobby’s path to becoming a chef. A resident of the district for over 35 years, he is sure to be an expert in all that must be done in the area. And today, he is our guide to all things that must be seen and devoured in Key Largo.
Chef Bobby gives us the lowdown on what he would do on a day off in Key Largo. The northernmost district of The Florida Keys, Key Largo, is home to tropical views and beautiful botanicals. The site of the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo is a true outdoor adventurer’s paradise. Because of where it is located, any visitor to Key Largo must spend a considerable amount of time in the clear waters. Bobby suggests paddle boarding in the picturesque Everglades National Park or diving off the coast. Head out on a charter boat and go fishing with the pros. Then you can say you caught your own dinner!
So what kinds of fruits and flavors can one find when they travel to Key Largo? Bobby could give us quite of list of food to be sure to try, but these are some of his favorites. The Keys are famous for their fresh yellowtail snapper and stone crabs. In his own restaurants, Chef Bobby especially loves to cook yellowtail snapper, right off the fishing boat, encrusted in onion and served with mango salsa. And on a hot day, he opts for something lighter like a grilled mahi mahi.
Native to the area, the Florida Keys spiny lobster looks similar to the common lobster we are more familiar with, but the spiny lobster’s antennas are larger and thick. From November to June, have a bite of Key West’s Pink Shrimp. The bright crustaceans have a uniquely sweet taste that is easy to fall in love with. Fresh fish must be made with fresh flavors, and Bobby admits that visitors will find plenty of tropical fruits in dishes, like the Key lime, mangos, pineapples, starfruit, or dragon fruit.
“I often comment that farm to table is not a new phenomenon in the Keys –it has been part of our fishing history..fresh fish from the ocean to your table every night…that’s what the Florida Keys are famous for.”
Before diving into a plate of Key Largo seafood, how about diving down below to see where the fish comes from? As a diver, Chef Bobby has grown up with the stunning reefs of the Florida Keys. His favorite spot to dive or snorkel is in north Key Largo off of Horseshoe Reef. There is so much marine life to be seen on the reefs of Key Largo, so when you come to the area, be sure to dive in and get a closer look. For an above the water experience, take a nature tour by way of kayaks through one of the mangrove channels that line the islands. From a boat you can see colorful fish, impressive manatee, and an array of birds. Keep your eyes open, sometimes you will even see bottlenose dolphins or turtles.
If you are heading out for a dive or a kayak adventure, start your day with a Key Largo breakfast. Chef Bobby likes to go to the Key Largo Conch House for a Key West shrimp, conch, crab or lobster benedict. Another favorite among the locals is The Hideout Restaurant. This hole-in-the-wall eatery serves a fish and grits breakfast, a dish that was once the traditional morning meal of the Conchs.
Don’t forget dessert! In all of the Keys, the local restaurants are fanatical about serving the best Key Lime pie and so visitors will find many different versions of the traditional sweet. At Chef Bobby’s Sundowners restaurant, they serve the pie piled high with meringue, the traditional topping. From frozen key lime pie to chiffon-style or a custard pie that is the original, there are so many different variations. Bobby’s favorite pie, besides the one he makes in his restaurants, can be found at Key Largo Fisheries Bayside Café. Not too sweet, nice and tart, and served plain without meringue, this pie is a classic and can even be shipped around the country.
Thanks to Florida Keys & Key Largo for sponsoring this post!