Doc’s Diner is located at 99696 Overseas Highway in Key Largo. SAMANTHA DELLILO/Keys Weekly

I think hard about every food outing I go on with my fiancé or my family. Do we want fun and casual, romantic and candlelit? Water view or no water view? But every once in a while, you don’t want to taste a new spin on a dish.

Sometimes I don’t want to look at a menu and think how I haven’t tried five things, what should I pick? Sometimes you simply want the classics, you want to know exactly how it will taste when the dish hits your table. Before anyone accuses me of insults, know these are all compliments. Nothing feeds the soul like the classics.

When I’m in that mood, my family and I head to Doc’s Diner in Key Largo. No fuss, no muss. We see the same exact smiles we know and love when we walk in. I hardly have to glance at the menu because I know what I’m ordering. We know the size of the food and what we should and should not split. It’s one of the few places that has so much consistency I can simply relax and focus on conversation and family time. 

I don’t think I’ve ever left Doc’s Diner without a smile. I also realized whenever my family and I go to eat there together, one of us always smiles and says, “this is so nice.” It’s just a different kind of outing. 

Pancakes with fresh-brewed coffee.

Now, if you’re wondering about my go-to orders, the only other question you want to ask yourself while you’re there is do you want to have an active day or nap afterward. I start with a cup of their fresh-brewed coffee. Again, just classic pot coffee. No vanilla latte grande pump of hazelnut, just original. If I’m with my mom, we split the western omelet and sub the cheese for swiss. Rye toast and make the hashbrowns extra crispy, please. Then we will get one pancake for the middle of the table and split that. Those are for the active days. 

If it’s raining out and our plans are to go into a food coma, I’ll get a Flagler’s train wreck, which boasts three scrambled eggs with peppers, grilled onion, sausage, cheddar cheese, mushrooms and bacon. I also never make it through half of that meal. One tip I will give you is if there is a scramble or an omelet that mentions it comes with sausage, I’ve noticed their go-to crumbled sausage is more like Italian sausage versus the breakfast sausage. So I simply ask if they don’t mind subbing the crumbled sausage for chopped up sausage patty and guess what, they say no problem with a smile. 

Everyone there is so happy every day, it’s definitely a serotonin boost. Even if you’re there for a nice healthy light breakfast, order at least one fluffy pancake for the middle of the table. It’s just a necessity. Doc’s is a Keys staple that has passed the test of time and for good reason. Keep it up, Doc’s.

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.