Manatees and dolphin have been spotted swimming by dockside. THE MAR BAR/Contributed

Long before the Florida Keys blossomed, a typical spring afternoon on the island was a little different from how you’d see it today. It goes without saying that it’s kind of a rare feat for an establishment to give off an authentic sense of the “old Keys” without it feeling forced. But that’s exactly what is happening at The Mar Bar.

Located along Casamar Village on Tavernier Creek, the spot is popular among young adults who like a little scenery and sky while they socialize. 

There aren’t many places left to enjoy oysters and champagne seaside. Catchy music chimes out from behind the bar. The puttering of passing vessels and chattering of gulls overhead adds an island touch to the mix. The sunset casts a warm glow and the salty sea air seems to cleanse the day’s stress.

“It’s always good vibes here,” said bartender Tyler Nelson-Brunner. “I came from working in a dive bar in South Florida, so this is the holy grail of oceanfront service industry. Where else can you paddleboard and then get a beer right next door afterwards?”

Tyler Nelson-Brunner is a traveling surf photographer who settled down at Mar Bar. Her photography may soon appear at the bar. GABRIEL SANCHEZ/ Keys Weekly

Mar Bar’s craft beer selection certainly has some gems. Inlet Brewing Company’s Monk in the Trunk Organic Amber Ale and favorites from Cigar City Brewing and Wynwood Brewing Company are on the list. The wine menu has an assortment of reds, whites, rosés, and some bubbly.

Mar Bar has more than just libations, though. 

Casamar Seafood Market next door provides the bar with fresh crustaceans like oysters and stone crabs. The stone crab is prepared right next door and arrives cracked and ready to eat. Crab claws are $3 each and come with a homemade mustard sauce. Fresh-made fish dip is also served occasionally. Northeastern Blue Point oysters are available at $1.75 each. 

“They’re perfect bite-sized oysters and even better when accompanied with horseradish hot sauce and cocktail sauce. They’re phenomenal,” said Frances Shockley, who usually orders half a dozen. “The mustard sauce they serve with the crab claws is amazing. You can buy the sauce at the market.”

The weekly specials are also worth mentioning.

Grab the girls and “wine” down on Wednesday’s ladies night with $4 house wines. Also on Wednesdays, stone crab claw prices drop to $2, and oysters are only $1. Thirsty Thursday usually welcomes a large contingent of locals, who always receive 10 percent off. The week wraps up with the always fun Reggae Sundays.

Mar Bar is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The dockside location is also looking for musicians interested in performing on a consistent basis. For booking inquires, email [email protected] or call 305-853-6199. 

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