The Florida Keys boast some of the most iconic eateries and bars in the world. 

Creative culinary minds elevate local seafood to new levels and celebrate contemporary fusion, Cuban, Caribbean, Asian, French and other international influences. Our chain of islands is one of the world’s top food and drink destinations. 

But our magnetic appeal goes beyond the menu. The skilled professionals who define our local hospitality industry do much more than mix creative cocktails and serve delicious meals. These hard-working men and women are ambassadors, social directors, travel advisors and unlicensed — but often effective — therapists. 

To celebrate our unique culinary culture, Keys Weekly brings you this bi-weekly feature to highlight the food, libations and local personalities that define our “must-try” destinations across the Florida Keys. 

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a fifth-generation local, your options are endless. Indulge in something new or revisit a familiar favorite. And above all, support the local owners and loyal employees who are vital to our Keys communities.

Carly Puig
Bongos Beer Garden & Grassy Flats Resort

This drink-slingin’ bartender is a mainstay at both Bongos and Grassy Flats Resort on Grassy Key. Originally from Jefferson, New Jersey, Puig moved to the Keys in 2019. We took some time to get to know her by asking a few questions related to her job — and more than a few that weren’t.

What’s your favorite drink to make? A Paloma. We have great citrus in Florida, so it always comes out extremely fresh and colorful.

What’s the best part about being a bartender? I get to meet a lot of cool people that I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to have a conversation with.

All right, enough of that. What’s the dumbest thing you’ve ever done? One day I was sitting in my sister’s car and there was a perfume bottle covered in glitter. I wanted to annoy her by pretending to use her perfume. Turns out, it was pepper spray. I power sprayed myself in the face, and hit my brother behind me too.What’s the funniest gift you’ve ever given? When I was 17, a bunch of family came over to our house for Christmas. I had real presents for everyone, but first, I stole something that each person owned and gifted it to someone else in the room. I even used the collections of teeth that we’d saved from the Tooth Fairy.

Key Lime Pie Martini, Alonzo’s Oyster Bar, 700 Front St., Key West 

Want dessert in a glass — with plenty of adult kick? Try the Key Lime Pie Martini at Alonzo’s Oyster Bar. The pointy glass is rimmed with graham crackers and filled to the brim with

vanilla vodka, Liquor 43, Key lime juice & Cream 15.

What the Fish Rolls & More, Tavernier 

The small restaurant nestled in Casa Mar Village focuses mainly on ocean to table, with locally-caught specialties such as crab cakes or lobster rolls. The Casa Mar Roll features fresh local catch, some coleslaw, lettuce and aji amarillo. Try one of many rolls on the menu.

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