Visiting Key West, Two Trips

A Drive to Key West, Twice

We love the state parks in the Florida Keys, and we especially love their prices compared to the private parks. But one downside is that none of them are close to Key West. So if you want to do all of that touristy business, you’re going to have to take about an hour car ride. So, while we were at Bahia Honda, the closest state park to Key West, we took the opportunity to visit. Twice.

For our first visit, it was us, Taylor and Beth of The Learning Banks, and Jill Sessa. Our mission that night was to eat food and avoid Duvall St. Because it’s totally not our scene. And I got to see some polydactyl cats along the way, even better.

While Key West has a higher density of people than the rest of the Keys, it’s by no means a big city. It’s still a small, sleepy town though with about 25,000 residents. You can easily get around most of it on a bicycle. Old Town was mostly built up 1886 to 1912. This area includes Mallory Square and Duval Street. There you’ll find cute cottages and mansions.

Feeding the Most Difficult Group Ever

As a group, finding a place to eat can be challenging. In this particular crowd, we’ve got two vegans, two gluten-free, and one celiac with a coconut allergy. But The Cafe had something for everyone. And not just “something” but tasty food.

menu from the cafe key west side 1 menu from the cafe key west side 2

We started with the hot Un-wing Dings which were fried tofu sticks. Just because it’s blurry doesn’t mean it wasn’t delicious. They didn’t have a vegan ranch sauce for it, though.

the cafe key west tofu wings

I had the falafel and Kevin had the seitan pepper steak. The falafel was everything it should be. And Kevin liked his so much that he ordered it next time we visited.

the cafe falafel the cafe seitan pepper steak sandwich

For dessert, we had the key lime cheesecake. Other than the Daiya cheesecake at the health food store on Marathon and the one Amanda made New Year’s Eve, this might be as close as you can get to a vegan key lime pie in the Keys. So we pounced on it and were not disappointed. It was either tofu or Tofutti based and pleasantly tart as it should be.

the cafe key lime cheesecake

The Search For Hemingway Cats & Gluten-free Key Lime Pie

After dinner, it was time to seek out gluten-free key lime pie for everyone else. We passed by the Hemingway house on the way. So we had to stop and look for polydactyl cats.

six toed cat cafe key west

If you’ve never seen a polydactyl cat, they have 6 or 7 toes instead of the standard 5. The ones at the Hemingway house descend from Ernest Hemingway’s pet cat Snowball.  Key West isn’t the only place you’ll see a polydactyl cat, but you’ll see one (or 50) here.

hemmingway house key west

The gates were closed so we had to look at them from far off until one was kind enough to walk along the brick wall for us so we could get a better look. I’m sure those cats are totally over tourists trying to maul them all day, but this one kindly accepted a scritch on the head and stood still enough to get a photo showing his fancy toes.

polydactyl cat key west hemmingway cat key west

After we found their gluten-free key lime pie, which they declared “meh” we headed back to Bahia Honda. But first, we stopped to take silly pictures with a giant manatee decorated for Christmas.

manatee key west

Key West, Take Two, the Touristy Version

Our next trip to Key West was just The Learning Banks and us. Our goal was to try to see the sunset at Mallory Square. We got distracted by Cuban coffee at Cuban Coffee Queen (they have soy and almond milk, BOOM!) and missed it. But we weren’t going to see a perfect sunset because of the clouds, so it was totally worth it.

cuban coffee queen key west cuban coffee queen bicycle t-shirt drink cuban coffee and do stupid things faster

two vegan cuban coffees

key west sunset

90 Miles From Cuba

With one tourist item checked off, we headed off to another, the southernmost point of the U.S., 90 miles from Cuba. After some nice and goofy photos, we headed back towards The Cafe for dinner.

marker at southernmost point in the U.S. Key West

Food, Take Two

This time they had their house-made kombucha, so I tried that along with the Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich. It came with about 5 pounds of french fries, holy hell.

the cafe key west kombucha

the cafe key west vegan chicken salad sandwich

Kevin had the seitan steak sandwich again. And we started with a squash empanada. Amazing! Kevin got the carrot cake for dessert. I had a little bite, and it was tasty.

carrot cake at the cafe key west seitan steak sandwich squash empanada the cafe

Afterward, I think we went to find another gluten-free key lime pie, but I can’t remember because now it was almost two months ago. One of these days I’ll get the blog posts caught up.

If you drive to Key West, plan to park the car and walk to everything. We had no trouble finding a place to park each visit, but it was before Christmas, and it might be more crowded after the holidays.

Laura Nunemaker

About the Author

Laura Nunemaker

vegan. digital nomad. cycling. scuba. intj. former vegan bakery owner.

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