a hand holding a corn tortilla chip and the best fish dip in the Florida Keys. The chip also has red onion, tomato, and jalapeño on it

Best Fish Dip in the Keys

a green plate with warm corn tortilla chips piled on it, with a white platter behind it. The white platter has the best fish dip in the Florida Keys, jalapeños, diced tomato, and chopped red onion
Best fish dip in the Florida Keys? It’s really more of a fish salad, which is why I love it so much.
Photo by Cathy Salustri

Best fish dip in the Florida Keys? That’s a tall order, I know.

Sometimes the universe aligns just so, and you have an exquisite meal, afternoon, or experience. That was what happened yesterday when we went looking for a fish sandwich. That’s not always as easy as it sounds: I have celiac, so mostly my fish sandwiches are ordered sans bread, and both Barry and I prefer the taste of fish to salt (although I will, on occasion, get a craving for blackened fish), so it’s always an adventure.

Especially in the Florida Keys. While the Florida Keys has no shortage of restaurants, they fall into three categories: tourist-centric (Islamorada Fish Company comes to mind), solid food that, while tasty, isn’t seafood (El Siboney on Stock Island does have some fish but seriously, go for the pork), and seafood restaurants (these vary in price and quality, but Lazy Days serves good fish consistently).

I come to the Florida Keys for the water and sun, not a fine dining experience, but yesterday we both wanted a fish sandwich, so we went in search of someplace new. We found ourselves at the Big Pine Rooster. Our sole experience with the Rooster was stopping in the parking lot to let the dogs pee a few years ago, but they had fish sandwiches, and it’s possible we’d both waited a little too long to eat, so we pointed the Xterra to Big Pine and grabbed a table on the patio.

A sign for Big Pine Rooster, with benches and picnic tables in the foreground.
Big Pine Rooster was a pleasant surprise. We’ll be back!
Photo by Cathy Salustri

While they didn’t have gluten-free bread, they did have mahi, so we had all we needed.

We thought.

The Best Fish Dip in the Florida Keys

When I went in to order drinks (the owner, Marcy, was the only one working aside from someone in the kitchen), I ordered the fish dip on a hunger-fueled impulse. I expected a small bowl of dip with a few crackers I couldn’t eat, maybe a tomato or two, and a leaf of lettuce.

I was right about the leaf of lettuce.

When Marcy brought the appetizer to the table, I picked up a corn tortilla chip. It was warm.

“Did you just now make these?” I asked her. She nodded. I scooped up a hunk of dip. It was not, as many can be, so laden with mayo you couldn’t taste the fish, but also, the fish wasn’t overpowering.

a hand holding a corn tortilla chip and the best fish dip in the Florida Keys. The chip also has red onion, tomato, and jalapeño on it
Is this the best fish dip in the Florida Keys? Well, I haven’t tasted them all, but so far this is the best. I’ll keep looking, though!Photo by Cathy Salustri

The platter of fish dip included jalapeños, chopped red onion, diced tomato, and, yes, a leaf of lettuce under the fish dip (I think it may be the law in Florida that if you don’t serve the fish dip a bowl, you have to serve it on a leaf of lettuce. We ate everything on the plate (the peppers gave the dip a wonderful kick, which could be a big part of why I loved it so much). When we were done, I rolled up that leaf of lettuce and ate the scraps of remaining dip like a burrito.

My mahi — I ordered it blackened — was also amazing, but it couldn’t hold a candle to that fish dip. The sun was bright but not too hot, there was a breeze across the island, and we were eating fish in the Florida Keys.

Sometimes, as I said, the universe aligns in exactly the right way. This was one of those times.

Is This the Best Fish Dip in the Florida Keys? Decide for Yourself!

Big Pine Rooster, 29943 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key. bigpinerooster.com 305-330-1330.

Love the Keys? I do, too. Check out my post about fishing Florida Bay near the Everglades, 10 things most people never do when they visit the Florida Keys, and some of the best places to buy fresh seafood in the Florida Keys.

Get More Florida!

Finally, if you love the Florida Keys, please support my Florida travel habit, my dogs, and this website. Here’s how: