a close up of a bottle of beer on a table
Islamorada Brewery’s Sandbar Sunday.

Did you know Maine is a few hours south of Key Largo? That’s what my taste buds think at least. 

DJ’s Clam Shack sits right on a piece of prime property on Duval Street in Key West. Their mantra is “Where northern and southern seafood meet,” and that couldn’t be more on point. I’ve personally eaten my way through the northeast multiple times. I’ve spent weeks on the road eating lobster … ahem … I mean “lobstah” rolls, one after another from Montauk to Mystic Seaport, through Cape Cod all the way to Maine. 

My point is, I’ll go ahead and dub myself an unofficial Northeast seafood connoisseur of sorts. Now being born and raised here in the Keys, I obviously love our local crustacean selection. However, northern seafood has this succulent sweet tenderness that is hard to beat. DJ’s Clam Shack is in the top three lobster rolls I’ve ever had in my life. They start with a classic top split hot dog bun all buttered up and grilled to perfection to bring a warm doughiness to a cool lunch. The inside is then stuffed with top quality claw and knuckle meat which is the ideal choice for a lobster roll, given the soft and luxurious texture. 

DJ’s Clam Shack’s lobster roll. SAMANTHA DELLILO/Keys Weekly

I assume like most lobster rolls, the meat is prepared by steaming or boiling, but I can swear the flavor runs so deep in this flaky meat that it tastes like it was poached in butter. The lobster is then tossed in the lightest coating of mayo and seasoning with a little bit of chopped celery to add some crunch and color. It is accompanied by a vibrant scoop of coleslaw and the mandatory lemon wedge. 

I’m a big fan of always squeezing a little citrus on any dish; I feel as if it wakes up the flavors. You can’t go wrong adding an Islamorada Brewing’s Sandbar Sunday to the order. That particular beer really pairs well with any seafood. 

DJ’s Clam Shack isn’t only a lunch spot; they reopen for the dinner crowd as well. When visiting around that time I actually opt for a warm lobster roll, drizzled with hot butter, and a glass of wine. You might notice on their menu they have an option for an overstuffed lobster roll. Seeing that cracks me up because I can’t help but think, where? Their original lobster roll is filled to the absolute brim; they definitely don’t cheap out. 

In fact, the first time I visited DJ’s Clam Shack, I actually had to pull out my receipt and double check that I didn’t order the overstuffed lobster roll because that’s how filled the original looks.  The shack has plenty of seating around the back, but I prefer to sit on the bar ledge right up against Duval Street. 

Living full-time in the Upper Keys, we don’t have many spots for people to watch and see actual pedestrians, so I really enjoy this little extra when visiting Key West. There is just such a casual Keys vibe at DJ’s Clam Shack that I love, you order at the window and they bring the food to your table, and when you’re done, you simply get up and leave. It’s the perfect opportunity to eat something last-minute, fast or slow, whatever your pace, and not have to sacrifice food flavor or quality.

I can’t wait to head back to DJ’s Clam Shack to try all their other menu items I haven’t gotten around to. Plan your next lunch or dinner there, or don’t plan anything and just randomly walk up. Either way, don’t fear, you’re in good claws.

Samantha Dellilo
Samantha Dellilo has been in the Keys since she was 1 day old, so definitely consider her a Conch. Holding a passion for food since she can remember, while most kids were watching Barney, she was watching Emeril. "Being half Cuban and half Italian, food in those cultures is considered a love language. It's a total experience whether eating out or cooking." She's been with her other half, Marky, going on 17 years. The two met when they were 9 years old at Key Largo School. Samantha owns Florida Keys Eats, which is a blog of "must eat, must see, and must dos" from Key Largo to Key West.