Key West: Eat Out, Drink Up
By Ed Salvato
On a recent swing through Key West, I checked out a few hip new spots. This is most definitely not your grandpa's Key West (well, if grandpa happened to be a kinda cool gay guy who discovered the Conch Republic before the big straight cruise ships did!)
It is incredibly difficult to narrow down the wide range of terrific Key West dining options to one or two choices. That said, two stand out from my recent visit.
Nine One Five ) has been open since 2002 and gets justifiable praise for its Asian-flavored seafood and décor. But my new recent favorite is the more recently open Flaming Buoy Filet Co.. Open just over a year, the Flaming Buoy is owned and operated by (openly gay) partners Fred Isch and Scot Forste. The décor -- 10 rustic wood tables and simple lighting -- reflects the restaurant's approach to dining: simple and fresh.
You can still guzzle gigantic watered-down rum- or tequila-based cocktails anywhere along Duval St. But what's new and exciting is the island's burgeoning, sophisticated cocktail and wine bar culture. Check out the diminutive Orchid Bar , where mixologists take their drinks very seriously. The crowd is low key, and the space overlooks an illuminated pool: perfect after a busy day doing, well, nothing. The Porch is a wine and artisinal beer bar that has been open since summer of 2010 in a gorgeous old Victorian mansion.
By the way, I stayed at my favorite guest house on the island: the gay-men-only Island House Key West.