There are no tropical drink umbrellas, pool tables, thatched tikis, or an easy Overseas Highway address, but Sparky’s Landing on Key Colony Beach has a loyal following that would make Arthur Treacher’s tartar sauce boil.
Locals come for a few simple reasons. The food is always great, the happy hour is the best in town, and the congenial atmosphere created by the establishment’s owners, Matt and Carolyn Anthony, has transformed the rustic restaurant into the neighborhood bar.
The evidence is obvious 7 days a week when thirsty patrons pack into Sparky’s for daily happy hour voted “Best in Marathon’ for three years in a row. From 4 – 6 pm the peel-n-eat shrimp and wings are only a quarter and the drink specials are plentiful. Besides the typical domestic brews, Sparky’s taps always have a seasonal Sam Adams draft, and thanks to Carolyn, the wine list is in a constant state of refinement. Tropical drinks like the mojitos and mango-rita are perfect summer sippers and the Bloody Mary comes with a nice salad bar and premium Mako vodka with just the right amount of seasoning.
Launched in 2006, one of the first orders of business was to post a funky ‘lil dude with shades and flip-flips over the door and call the place Sparky’s Landing: Fish n Cocktails. Now the joint runs with such consistent efficiency that new patrons often mistake Sparky’s for a chain restaurant. That is, until Matt or Carolyn drop by their table to check on their meal.
Tourists flock in for the typical reasons and no matter who’s hungry, the entire family will leave with a new appreciation for Keys cuisine.
Seafood lovers will dig the fishing photos while enjoying specialties like blackened yellowtail with Thai chili sauce, coconut fried snapper with the mango salsa, or Sparky’s famous “Freuben” sandwich (a traditional Reuben with fried grouper instead of corned beef).
Live music fills the dining room several nights a week and will keep the calorie-counting uncle entertained while he indulges in the flatbread steak salad. His finicky wife will be happy with a juicy cheeseburger burger or panko-encrusted fish filets. Sparky’s usually has dolphin, grouper, and snapper, but everyone knows to check the special board because fresh fish arrives daily and often.
“Our fish comes right from our waters,” Matt said. “So if we don’t have it, then it is not fresh.”
Other menu features include warm homemade chips with an herb sauce and soft blue cheese, award-winning West Coast-style fish tacos, pig wings, and a raw bar with fresh oysters and seared tuna.
Even the kids will be delighted with the crispy chicken strips, a real beef hot dog, or the thin-crust pizza available with shrimp and bacon, or sundried tomato and spinach. The gracious staff will also tolerate substitutions because friendly service is a cornerstone of Sparky’s operation and if the youngsters get bored, they can always saunter down the dock and check out the fishing boats returning to port with their catch.
The clear view of the adjoining marina gives a new meaning to the word – “fresh fish.” Some of the Middle Keys most seasoned fishing guides are less than 100 ft. from the restaurant’s entrance and the fillets are barely out of the fish before they are egg-washed and dipped in crispy Japanese breadcrumbs.
Sparky’s is the perfect end to a day of angling, and they are open 7 days for lunch and dinner.