This Spring Break, The Key West Weekly wanted to make sure you threw on your swimsuit to hit a fabulous Old Town favorite that features fabulous fresh food, frozen cocktails to cure any lasting hangover and a unbeatable crowd which will have you cravin’ more ‘til Christmas!
This watering hole and island eatery is centered on a gigantic kidney-shaped pool perfect for frolicking with your friends. An art-deco fish fountain sets the scene in the four-foot area of the pool.
“Then there’s the waterfall as well,” manager Nicole Reynolds pointed out.
Feel free to drink and eat in your swimsuit!
“The locals and the pool are what I like most about Dantes,” bartender Lauren McLaughlin attested. She pours the drinks and is also the owner of a favorite local pup, a pug named “Juice”.
Lauren is in the midst of her third seasonal migration from the Jersey Shore and is sold on the Spring Break drink specials she mixes without mercy for the more “inexperienced.”
“We have $2.50 Bud Light Drafts and $9 Cruzan Rum Buckets for the entire month of March!”
At Dante’s there aren’t any shortages of ice cold beverages to wash the salt-water specialties down.
Take for instance, the Cruzan Rum Bucket, sporting the theme: “Grab a Straw until You Run out of Friends!” Three different flavored rums plus orange and pineapple juice topped with grenadine makeup part of the pool party fun.
With one of my friends, Spring Breakin’ in the Southernmost City from the shores of Lake Michigan near his home in Chicago, we bought a bucket o’Cruzan rum and a plate of Key West Peel and Eat Shrimp. They were brought to us in less than five minutes on a plate full of ice with fresh limes and lemon. If you love horseradish, Dante’s will make your nose burn. After a few Cruzan Rum Buckets and 20 peel and eat shrimp, our bill was only $35. Ok, maybe we had more than a few buckets. Not only are the specials at Dante’s great, the prices are perfect for your wallet.
Monday through Friday, this poolside playground offers Happy Hour specials from 4 – 8 pm on drinks and raw bar fare. Enjoy oysters, peel and eat shrimp and raw clams…three pieces for $2! That makes a dozen just around $8.50. Don’t forget stone crab is still in season until May. You can catch a claw for as little as $4 around Happy Hour while savoring all the local delicacies in the sun.
If you aren’t a fan of the raw bar, try these menu items. The Shea Crab Soup, consisting of lump crabmeat with Sherry wine and a white, creamy base, is a crowd pleaser. The Fresh Catch Sandwich can be prepared fried, blackened, or grilled; and, if you don’t want hand cut fries, substitute for their Mac n’ cheese! It’s swimming in their American cheese sauce and is delicious. If you went out on the Tortuga earlier and caught your own fresh catch, they’ll cook it for you for just $7.95 per pound.
Chef Tony Walker prepares a list of more than appetizing lunch specials that run until about 3 pm daily. Enjoy the Burger O’ the Day or a special a staff member suggests. On any given day, a Dante’s employee has indulged in one of Tony’s creations.
“I’ve managed for the last two and half years at Dante’s. I enjoy the staff, the regular customers and the scenery,” manager Kim Quach expresses. The consistency of customers is amazing. Not only do they come to socialize and have a drink or two after work, they also come on their days off and sit by the pool to soak up the sun!”
You can avoid the rays under one of three, large covered areas to relax, all of which are equipped with televisions. Not that you’ll need to watch with the pool, marina and waterfall surrounding you, but if you are a sports fan or Spring Breaker wanting to check up on your school for March Madness, you might as well take in the hoop action poolside.
While we were there, “Caffeine Carl,” an island favorite, was performing. His rock sound carried from the front door, to the other end of the waterfront eatery. There is entertainment Friday through Sunday and a D.J. a few times this month. When there isn’t live entertainment, the satellite radio is on full blast!
“This is a family environment. We as workers are all friends,” Jonathan Bolduc, a seasoned server tells us.
The truth is, I noticed during ONE of our Cruzan Buckets that the staff is always laughing with each other, while still being efficient and taking care of their customers.
Sporting a “Local- I can drink more than you,” t-shirt,” Maryland native, Richie Early says he loves the place because, “everyone knows my name!”
Richie bartends at the neighboring Half Shell Raw Bar during the week but spends some of his down time at Dante’s. It’s safe to say he, like the other patrons, likes to play poolside!
Dante’s is located at 951 Caroline Street in the Conch Harbor Marina on the corner of Grinnell Street. The pool is for restaurant patrons and NO there is NOT a hotel or resort there! Just Fresh Fish, Frozen Drinks and Fresh Staff! They are open at 11 am every day, and the kitchen is open until 10 pm. The bars stay open depending on the crowd and of course, the weather!
Bartender, Lauren McLaughlin, has bartended at Dante’s for three years. Her infectious laugh and outstanding personality make her a favorite for locals to come and visit.
The Key West Weekly’s Kristin Hansen enjoys a Cruzan Rum Bucket. During all of March, these delightful Cruzan buckets full of rum punch, are $9 or two for $16. Listen to the bucket and “Keep adding straws until you run out of friends” or sip it slowly on your day off.
Jeff, a visitor from Chicago, enjoys fresh Key West Pinks. He is “salty” about the peeling process, but says in the end the local fare is worth it. In fact, he ordered them two days in a row! During happy hour you can indulge yourself with three pieces for $2.
If the Florida sun is shining and the weather is warm, people of all ages are lured to Dante’s for relaxing by the fabulous pool. As long as you’re a patron of the restaurant, you can dive right in!
Located at 951 Caroline Street, Dante’s serves fresh fish, frozen drinks and has a more than friendly staff. Enjoy a Fresh Catch Sandwich and a Cruzan Rum Coconut Pina Colada or book a private party your friends will never forget!