KEY WEST AFTER HOURS: Finding food after midnight



Key West lives on its own time, island time, and when it comes to food and drink there are plenty of options at all hours. Looking for a bar to go to as soon as you wake up? Well then, Don’s Place at 1000 Truman Ave. opens at 7 a.m. On a budget, but want to eat like a King? From Bagatelle at 115 Duval St. to the Boathouse Bar & Grill at 400 Greene St., there are a variety of happy hours around town that will keep both your belly and your wallets full. (Check out our Happy Hour Guide on page A12.) Whether it is 1 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning, you can bet on being able to get a cold drink or a decent hot meal. On our crazy little socially active island it is perfectly normal to have a beer for breakfast, or to eat a full meal after midnight. And just in case you did actually start your day with a beer in the morning and have somehow made it to after midnight, here are some options for finding food.

A trio of sandwiches and tomato soup at Mary Ellen’s. COURTESY PHOTOS

A trio of sandwiches and tomato soup at Mary Ellen’s. COURTESY PHOTOS

Mr. Z’s
501 Southard St.
Kitchen closes 4 a.m.

After a long night of working up an appetite dancing at the Green Parrot Bar, an authentic Philadelphia-style cheesesteak, an oven-hot slice of pizza or a salty bag of cheese fries at Mr. Z’s only a block down the street is the perfect way to keep the party going. It’s not uncommon for the late-night line to extend out the door and for crowds to gather outside mixing lively chatter with the sizzling chop, chop, chop of chipped ribeye on the flat-top. If all that dancing wore you out and you’d rather your food was brought to you instead, then Mr. Z’s will gladly deliver it to you until 3:30 a.m. Just don’t order delivery and pass out before they get there or you’ll end up on their do not deliver list. Rumor has it that has happened once or twice.

Pot roast with mashed potatos and green beans at Jack Flats.

Pot roast with mashed potatos and green beans at Jack Flats.

Dion’s Quik Mart
1127 Truman Ave.
Open 24 hours

I know what you must be thinking. Good food inside a convenience store at a gas station? The answer is that this 24-hour pit-stop is one of the top places to go for greasy goodness when it comes to boat days and long nights. Don’t let the location scare you. The South Florida chain has been voted the best fried chicken in the Florida Keys and, along with the chicken, Dion’s serves all the “fixins” like potato wedges and jalapeño poppers. It’s quick, easy and ready to go — no utensils needed.

Mary Ellen’s,
420 Applerouth Lane
Kitchen closes 4 a.m.

Recently celebrating its one-year anniversary, Mary Ellen’s is one of the island’s newest dive bars and is discreetly located on a quiet lane just off Duval Street. With its windowless interior and the charm of year-round Christmas lights, the place has quickly become a favorite place for locals to slink away and gather for a night out with friends or to watch some sports. Not only does the drink menu include a famous frozen Irish coffee that comes served with a topping of crushed Oreos, but patrons can also order from nine different grilled cheese sandwiches, soups and wraps, French fries with a plethora of dipping sauces, salads and “happy snacks” that include buffalo chicken tenders, Frito pies and lobster mac and cheese from a small walk-up window in the bar.

Located outside of Tattoo’s
& Scars Saloon, 512 Greene St.
Kitchen closes 2 a.m. or later

It wouldn’t be right to do an article on late-night grub in Key West without including a little street meat. Take Ingrid’s mobile food cart for example. The tiny kitchen on wheels stays parked just outside of this busy little biker bar until the wee hours of the early morning and customers can’t get enough of the kielbasa, mango papaya chicken and gyros with plenty of tzatziki sauce. “Ingrid’s is so good!” regular Jaclyn Lee says. “The absolute best,” bartender Samantha Garbarino adds. There’s no menu online or even a website to look up so take it from the locals and trust the street meat.

Jack Flats, 509 Duval St.
Kitchen closes 1 a.m.

This quintessential sports bar is not only a great place to catch the game with its 19 big screens and table-side speaker boxes, but it is also a popular hangout known for its friendly bar staff and all-American comfort food that can make eating out late feel a little bit extravagant. However, it is completely casual. So, Jack Flats might not be open as late as our other contenders, but the family-friendly restaurant makes up for it by offering homestyle dishes like meatloaf with mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy and savory shepherd’s pie up to an hour after midnight. If you are not quite ready to go to bed yet and it’s just a snack that you are after, try the wasabi tuna or the tater tots with cheese sauce before heading back out on the town.

Joe’s Chicken Shack, 722 Duval St.
Kitchen closes 2 a.m. Sunday
through Thursday and 4 a.m.
Friday and Saturday

If you happen to catch yourself on the other end of Duval Street where drag queens reign supreme, then Joe’s Chicken Shack might be the closest late-night place to go to besides Denny’s for a homemade hot meal where you can sit down. Like Dion’s, the walk-up cafeteria-style joint that is about the size of a small living room also serves deep-fried “crispy crunchy” chicken but takes it to another level with fixins that include biscuits, green bean casserole and macaroni and cheese. They also make chicken pot pies and a soup of the day while it lasts. ¦

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *