I really wanted to take a relaxing vacation somewhere warm (I was planning this last winter), but so many tropical places left much to be desired when it came to vegan food. I wanted somewhere I could enjoy myself and not have to rent a car and drive miles to get to a good restaurant. The solution was simple: Key West, Florida. I've been there three times now and I still love it! The island is so small that all you need to do is rent a bike and you can really get wherever you want. And, get this--there are tons of places with great vegan food and even a natural grocery store where you can stock up on vegan ingredients and make your own!
I love seeing the chickens, cats (in this case, polydactyl cats with 26 toes on the Hemingway estate), and iguanas just hanging out with no one bothering them. We can all co-exist!
Even though Blue Heaven doesn't have much in the way of vegan food, we had to go there for brunch just for the atmosphere. Seating was outside, of course, and chickens weaved their way through tables and chairs to pick through any dropped food. There was a nice little bar, ping pong table and area for kids to hang out. There was also a little chicken cemetery (bottom right photo) to pay respects to those resident chickens that have passed (naturally). For brunch I had the granola with soy milk and fresh fruit. I also had a side of breakfast potatoes cooked only in oil (they knew what vegan was...yay!) and spices and they were very tasty! They do have a few more options for dinner including black bean soup, vegetables/beans/rice and a vegetable stir fry. I would say this place is a must-see when you're in Key West.
These are the gnocchi cakes from Willie T's. English was a second language for our waitress, so I was hoping for the best on this one. They originally had parmesan cheese, but she told the chef to make it vegan. I can't tell you how delicious these were--probably the best part was the fact that the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes were sauteed in garlic. Willie T's also offers a delicious vegan burger.
The folks at Finnegan's Wake were really nice and understood vegan food as well. They even have a separate vegetarian menu and can work with you to make sure your selection is vegan. We had an appetizer of olive tapanade with tasty bread. Now, I know that other picture looks like I barfed on my plate, but trust me--this was their peanut noodle special that night and it was delicious and very filling!
The Cafe is what you would call a pescatarian restaurant. It's mostly vegetarian, with some seafood options and lots of delicious vegan options. We ate here twice--and I could have eaten here probably every day. The first visit I had the handmade seitan peppersteak without the cheese. It was amazing and that bean salad served with it was so good that my boyfriend just had to have some and we managed to eat every last bean! The next visit I had the falafel sandwich with sweet potato fries--so tasty and unbelievably filling. When I saw they had vegan chocolate chip cookies, I had to get one (as big as my head!) to go for a snack the next morning.
Sugar Apple is a small cafe within a natural foods store, but don't let that fool you--we had some amazing food there! My boyfriend ordered the tofu in pesto rice and I was a little worried that he wouldn't like it since he's picky on how his tofu is prepared (still a little new to it). Well, no need to worry because this dish was outstanding! He said it was probably the best thing he ate on the whole vacation. I stole some of it, but secretly wanted to come back and order it all for myself! I had the grilled tofu sandwich that was also fantastic and our side salads were very fresh with flavorful dressings. We looked around in the store a bit and spoke to the people that worked there who were so friendly. You could definitely stock up on your vegan foods here and prepare a great meal if you had a kitchen where you were staying. We just got some chocolate chip cookies to go (again!) and enjoyed them thoroughly :)
One night we had an early dinner after parasailing and decided to go for Thai food at the aptly named "Thai Cuisine." Since it was early, they had deals on appetizers, so we got both vegetable spring rolls and fried tofu with peanut sauce. Then, we had miso soup before our entree (which I was told was vegan) and then the Spicy Basil with tofu (no fish sauce). Even though the menu doesn't say it, you can pretty much get tofu as your "meat" in any dish. They also offer sushi, including several vegan roll options.
On our last day there we went to check out Bad Boy Burrito, another tiny place that has amazing food. You can see from the menu above that you can pick your veggie fillings of choice including tofu, zucchini/squash, spinach or mushrooms and then other toppings as well. They also offered fresh juices and smoothies. I chose tofu, pico, pickled red onion, cilantro, and cabbage. Everything was so delicious and the people were so nice. They only take cash and we didn't have enough to pay, but they let us eat before we tracked down an ATM to get some more money. They only have a few benches, so it's definitely not a sit-down place, but maybe something that you could pick up and take with you to the beach.
When we were walking around on our last day before our 5:30pm flight, we ran across Panini Panini on Duval Street. Although I was stuffed from our burritos, I got a refreshing berry smoothie and noticed they had some vegan options as well including the Grilled Vegetable Panini and a few others that can be modified to be vegan. They said the sun-dried tomato pesto was vegan and very good. They also sold Alternative Baking Company vegan cookies!
Finally, on the plane ride home we got Biscoff cookies--yum! This is a shout-out to all my Biscoff-spread loving friends :)
Overall, I'd recommend Key West as a relaxing, fun, quirky vacation destination where you can be guaranteed you won't go hungry!