Keys Eats: Ballyhoo’s Offers Great Seafood With a Side of Southern Hospitality - A pizza sitting on top of a plate of food - Vegetarian cuisine
Cast Iron Mahi is a must-get at Ballyhoo’s. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

At Sal’s Ballyhoo’s in Key Largo, stop in and get some chef-crafted Florida Keys seafood and enjoy a little southern hospitality. 

Located in the median near MM 97.8, Ballyhoo’s has served the community for more than 30 years. Owner and chef Sal Barrios said the establishment, once a Chinese restaurant, was turned into a seafood restaurant under the Stokeys. A longtime chef at MM 88 and Sundowners, Barrios took over Ballyhoo’s three years ago. 

“I love it,” he said as he sat at the bar with a smile. “It was an offer I just couldn’t resist.”

With dining inside and outdoors, patrons can come in for lunch or dinner and enjoy everything from fresh seafood and steaks to burgers, salads, soups and more. Barrios said everything from the sauces are made from scratch. 

For starters, patrons can order one of 11 appetizers that range from char-broiled oysters and New Orleans BBQ shrimp to grilled avocado and tuna sashimi. 

As for entrees, Barrios says the Cast Iron Mahi is a hot menu item. Fresh mahimahi is lightly blackened and topped with smoked shrimp, diced tomato, garlic, shallots and Creole cream. With small and large portions, the mouth-watering dish comes out hot, tasty and ready to satisfy one’s appetite. 

“It’s definitely one of the signature dishes right now,” Barrios said. 

Other entrees on the menu are captain’s platter, which comes with Florida lobster tail, fresh mahi, jumbo shrimp and scallops and the choice to add crab meat stuffing, butter-poached grilled lobster, chicken & shrimp curry and grilled ribeye, just to name a few. 

Casual fare menu items include Ballyhoo’s fish & fried tomato sandwich. Fresh mahi can be grilled, blackened, jerked or fried. It’s topped with a fried pink tomato, lettuce and a side of remoulade. There’s also the sweet potato burger, pimento grilled cheese and tomato soups as well as Betty’s chicken sandwich, which is fried buttermilk chicken tenders with pickled onions and house-made slaw. 

Ballyhoo’s fish & fried tomato sandwich is a stomach pleaser. JIM McCARTHY/Keys Weekly

To top off the meal at Ballyhoo’s, try one of nine dessert items, including the Mile High peanut butter pie, peanut butter Oreo cheesecake or the Key lime pie voted best in Key Largo. 

Along with the food, try a wide selection of beer and wine. Barrios says Ballyhoo’s just started a happy hour that runs from 3 to 6 p.m. 

More information about Sal’s Ballyhoo’s is at 

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