This week, we’re camping in the Florida Keys. Specifically, Curry Hammock State Park. It’s lovely and hot – although perhaps not my favorite state park in the Florida Keys – and when we camp, I love to grill and eat seafood. Honestly, I love both those things all the time, but when we camp at the north end of Florida in January, I’m more inclined to make a pizza on the grill, campfire nachos, or quinoa and rice in the Dutch oven. But when it’s 90-plus degrees and I can smell low tide? All I want is seafood.
Because our camper is a 21-foot travel trailer and not a behemoth Class A with an almost-full-size fridge and freezer, cooking in and outside it is more enjoyable when I prep the food before we leave Gulfport. Last week, I found a fantastic recipe at Fresh Off The Grid for making a shrimp boil – on the grill (This is not a recipe website, so if you need the recipe, click that link.) I tweaked it: swapped out andouille for a sausage that had a smaller carbon footprint and tossed in some red onion and jalapeño, and – this is the point of this post – found some Keys pink shrimp.
Dining in the Florida Keys – even pre-2022 inflation – can get costly, and restaurants can be hit or miss. Sure, there are a few I really enjoy (that’s a future post) but by and large, I’d rather cook my own food, because fresh Florida Keys seafood is the best part of cooking in the Florida Keys.
In order of preference, here’s where we get fresh seafood when we stay in the Florida Keys:
My fellow Florida-phile and historian Brad Bertelli (who lives in the Florida Keys) suggested this place to us, and he wasn’t wrong. Key Largo Fisheries buys directly from Keys fishermen.
This one we found on Yelp a few years back, and while the seafood market offerings aren’t nearly as robust as Key Largo Fisheries, they, too, buy from local boats – and what they do have on offer tastes amazing. This week, we bought yellowtail snapper for fish tacos and the shrimp for our shrimp boil from them. Bonus: If you’re a soup person – think stone crab chowder and others – they sell their soups at Winn-Dixie supermarkets across Florida.
Although the restaurant doesn’t mention it on its website, Lazy Days does have a small seafood market on the first floor. The restaurant itself’s a solid choice for dining, but when we stay in Islamorada (not camping; we love bringing the dogs to leash-free White Gate Court, where they have grills at each cottage and a stovetop in each room) we can pick up seafood here and cook it back at the cottage.
I’m sure there are others; I’ve yet to find a seafood market lower than Marathon that I would consistently suggest – but if you know of any, I’d love to hear about them; drop me a line (see what I did there?)
PS: Love the Florida Keys? Check out The Florida Spectacular episode about Florida Keys history with Brad Bertelli.