Pepe’s Cafe: Key West’s Great Steak Out

"Eat at Pepe's!"  Est'd 1909.

“Eat at Pepe’s!” Est’d 1909.

At the end of Caroline Street, on a quiet road near a marina in Key West, you will find one of the best restaurants in all of the Keys.  The sweet aroma of fresh cornbread, sizzling steaks, and grilled seafood practically beckons me from the warm winds blowing through the palm fronds.  It can only come from Pepe’s Cafe, the oldest eatery in Key West.  While it may not look like much outside, inside however, is array of excellent food steeped in history.

Happy 100th Anniversary, Pepe's Cafe!

Happy 100th Anniversary, Pepe’s Cafe!

Pepe’s Cafe was established in 1909 and is the eldest eating house in the Florida Keys.  Located on the old commercial waterfront area of Caroline Street, they’re open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  At breakfast time, Pepe’s serves everything from traditional breakfast and build-your-own omelets, to pancakes with fresh fruit, and creamed chipped beef.  At lunch time, they have everything from grilled cheese sandwiches, to burgers, to fish sandwiches (grilled or blackened).  The steak sandwich is arguably the most popular dish for lunch; chunks of tender beef are grilled and topped with mushrooms, onions, peppers, and cheese on a hoagie roll.  Be sure, however, to make plenty of room for their amazing chili and cornbread.  In fact, one may fill up on just the cornbread alone!  Take it from me, my dad and I did that once!  I have no regrets!

For dinner, this is where Pepe’s serves up the best steaks in the Keys.  The NY strips and fillets are cooked to order.  If you’re on a date, order up the ‘Dinner For Two’… a 15 oz NY Strip topped with two center cut pork chops, smothered with mushrooms, onions, and peppers, served with a potato and fresh vegetables.  OMG!

One of my favorite dishes at Pepe’s, besides their awesome cornbread and chili, is their thick ribeye topped with blue cheese, served with a mushroom gravy on the side.  Paired up with creamy mashed potatoes with gravy and vegetables, it is a most memorable dinner.  You’d think having a steak topped with a blue cheese crust would be overpowering, but it actually helps accentuate the flavor; the steak has just the right amount of fat content that renders a juicy cut that pairs well with creaminess of the blue cheese crust and creamy mash.

Ribeye steak, topped with blue cheese, served with mushroom gravy.  Mmmmm!

Ribeye steak, topped with blue cheese, served with mushroom gravy. Mmmmm!

As you look up from your table, the overhead fan blades are enormous; massive blades that look like they’ve been stripped off a boat motor or industrial-size fan.  The black-and-white photos that cover wall showcase a vast history of how Pepe’s has fed the masses of the Keys.  And while the rustic exterior outside might give it an aged look, it is always important never to judge a book by its cover; the only thing more aged are steaks!

About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
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2 Responses to Pepe’s Cafe: Key West’s Great Steak Out

  1. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Wow—sounds yummy–is this where you guys all went while on the bachelor party trip?

    • Yes, Mrs. B! As usual, I ended up ordering the best thing on the menu, and everyone at the table was drooling over my entree! And we were taken aback by the enormous ceiling fan.

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