Breakfast in Key West: A Local’s Top 5

A close up of food on a plate - Eggs Benedict
The famous crab cake benedict at Camille’s features a citrusy hollandaise sauce.

The Top 5 Places For Breakfast in Key West in order, that’s not really, but kinda is… 

 1. Camille’s

2. Sarabeth’s

3. Goldman’s Deli

4. Pepe’s Cafe

5. Harpoon Harry’s

First, let me start off by saying that the locals, or the ones that I know anyway, don’t wake up and say, “Hey, lets go to [insert top-rated Trip Advisor restaurant here] for breakfast today.” A wise traveler will know that the way to be treated like a local is to act like a local.

If you want to be treated like a tourist then you go to places like Margaritaville and well … let’s just say the type of famouos places where the food is good but diners wait an hour and a half for a table. That is not, I said not, what a local does

 A fresh, made-to-order spinach and goat cheese omelet is served with Sarabeth’s homemade eight-grain bread and peach strawberry jam.
A fresh, made-to-order spinach and goat cheese omelet is served with Sarabeth’s homemade eight-grain bread and peach strawberry jam.


The truth is, there isn’t just one great place to have breakfast in Key West but if I was forced to pick just one place to start the day with I would probably have to say Camille’s. Unless, of course, I have to deal with the bone-crushing disappointment — after I pulled myself out of bed on a lifeless hangover morning, made the journey through the already sweltering 10amish heat to the little pink building on the corner of Simonton and Catherine — of discovering that the crab cake benedict is not on the daily special. More often than not, it’s a chance I’m willing to take because Camille’s full letter-size page of daily specials changes everyday. Among the more notable is a breakfast sandwich loaded with three types of piggy meat, eggs and cheese, an oversized omelet busting with brie and lobster and of course the crab cake benedict.  There is no other on the island like it. The benedict is served sans muffin with only a robustly packed cake patty sitting under two poached eggs and a silky citrus hollandaise sauce, the recipe of which I seriously covet.

On the other hand I have always been very loyal to Sarabeth’s since first trying the New York sister joint in 2008.  I have a soft spot for all matters regarding bread and Sarabeth’s gets my vote by baking their own savory eight grain right in the little cottage-like restaurant kitchen and serving it with homemade jam. Although in Key West we are more than happy to flaunt our differences from the concrete cities like New York, there are some things we can’t really live without like Brooklyn-style pizza and Sarabeth’s.

Goldman’s Deli gets my vote for best Sunday brunch.  By adding a little bit of Beatles music to an American diner tradition you can have your bacon and eggs — or pastrami on rye — while listening to the classics.  And make sure to order one of the bagels so famous that half of the restaurants on the island order them directly from the diner.

And then there’s Caroline Street— home to two note-worthy breakfast joints. Pepe’s and Harpoon Harry’s are both a short walk from Duval.  I say try Pepe’s first.  They come up with the most amazing daily special creations and are known to have one of the best Key lime pies in town.  But if there’s a bit of a wait at Pepe’s and your stomach is growling something fierce, just a few doors down is the greasy spoon diner Harpoon Harry’s where you are more than likely to get a seat within five minutes of walking through the door. The place has been a thriving diner since the 1950’s complete with vinyl booth seats and eclectic decor.  I love their out-of-the-can corned beef hash.  It’s just perfectly greasy and salty and not to mention only $8.  If you’re looking for a deal, Harry’s has the best breakfast deal on the island.

So when you’re waking up in your plush beds, stretching your hands to the sky and wondering where you should go for breakfast, try one of the locals’ fab five.  Happy rise n’ dine!

By Jennifer White