Locals love September!
It’s that time of the year when our lovely little island takes a nice breather before all the madness of Fantasy Fest, Parrotheads, and Boat Races is upon us. My favorite perk of our downtime is all the fantastic local specials featured at some of Key West’s best restaurants, generally during the entire month of September.
For years, or at least since I have been here, this enjoyable fad started with just a few participating eateries like Santiago’s Bodega (50 percent off tapas, Monday through Wednesday), The Grand Café (50 percent off entire menu, all week), and Antonia’s ‘Hurricane Specials.’ Fortunately, this trend has grown over the years!
Some of the September Specials include (but are not limited to):
• Café Marquesa | Two courses for $22, September
• Café Sole | Tuesday to Sunday, 50 percent off dinner, ends 10/17
• Hot Tin Roof | 50 percent off lunch, September
• Michaels | 5 to 6:30 p.m., happy hour menu with all plates $10 and under and drink specials
• Martins | 50 percent off lunch, Thursdays, and $28 (all you can eat) crab legs, Fridays 5 to 10 p.m.
• 2 Cents | 50 percent off food, Monday to Thursday, 6 to 11 p.m.
• Benihana | $17 dinner boat
• Sandy’s Café | Buy 1 Get the 2nd half price (carryout only)
• Turtle Kraals | 50 percent off food off food, all week
• Tavern ‘n’ Town | Entrées $19.95, 5 to 6:30 p.m., all week
• Black Fin Bistro | 50 percent off breakfast and lunch, Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Solo Bistro | 50 percent off food and wine
Once September kicked off, my husband and I jumped at the opportunity to check out some of these great offerings, starting with the newly updated menu at Turtle Kraals. Historically a smoke-and-BBQ joint, TK’s recently upgraded their entire menu to match an authentic Cuban-Caribbean theme, in addition to adding a fantastically fresh Cevicheria bar to the mix. (Did you see last week’s Weekly?)
When you have the chance to visit this harborside restaurant, the “Tower Bar” upstairs is a must! We often bring our visitors to this spot – a perfect place to sit, relax, and overlook the water and the boats and enjoy this unique ambiance at the marina. Our server even brought us a pair of binoculars for our viewing pleasure.
Naturally we started off with the ceviche – we opted for the Peruvian Classico which included a flavorful combination of fresh bites of yellowtail snapper, red onion, chunks of sweet potato, corn, celery, aji pepper and cilantro, doused with a key lime leche de tigre. Peruvian ceviche is traditionally served with freshly popped popcorn, but the server will bring you homemade tortilla chips if you ask.
For the second part of the lunch, we chose the fresh catch sandwich – (all of Turtle Kraals seafood comes fresh from our waters via the Half Shell Seafood Market right across the street). We chose the grouper and had it grilled. We didn’t even need the bread, the fish was prepared to perfection and served with slices of ripe tomato, creamy avocado, and of plentiful side of french fries. You also have the choice of having your catch panko fried or blackened.
Now my favorite part, the Cuban Mix! This sandwich included tasty house cured and smoked ham, slow roasted mojo pork (super juicy!), with Swiss cheese and mustard pressed on Cuban bread. This awesome sandwich had homemade zucchini pickles – which put this menu choice over the top for me.
Turtle Kraal’s menu is great for a group of friends looking to enjoy a superb view, have a cold drink…or two, and test their taste buds with some great munchies from the eclectic Caribbean inspired menu – there is truly something for everyone, from the .50 cent oysters to the Chorizo and Goat Cheese Empanadas to their famous Key Lime Pie.
Turtle Kraals is located directly on the waterfront at the Key West historic seaport and is open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m.
In addition to TK’s and the above spots mentioned, look around town for some of your favorite places, like a local boutique, salon, or even gym for more great money savers.
Time is of the essence to take advantage of these great local specials – perhaps a few of them will be extended, otherwise you will be impatiently waiting til next “off-season” to take advantage of dining out on the cheap!