True, there are other places where you might find Cuban sandwiches or pubs with everything from dollar bills to Jimmy Hoffa affixed to the walls. But the Keys often offer an entirely unique twist on a dining experience.
As we leave the No Name Pub, Chris directs me down a dead-end road.
"There," he says.
We pull the car over.
Beneath the pale moon, a tiny Key deer regards us with dark, liquid eyes.
And so we wander beneath the hot and happy sun. Chris directs me to places like Joe and Celia's Cafe Las Brisas, where, alongside Tavernier Creek Marina, Joe cooks and Celia serves up some of the best homemade churrasco while keeping hours that suit them. ("Open at about 9:30 or so. Close at about 3:30 or so.") In turn, I loan my own expertise by impulsively yanking us off Route 1.
Passing on to Lower Matecumbe Key, we turn right and bump down a dirt road. Which is how we end up at Robbie's.
Chris nods approvingly.
"A Keys place," he says.
A weathered-wood shack with a happy tilt, Robbie's has many offerings, but its centerpiece attraction is the prehistoric tarpon that roil the water just off Robbie's dock. For about a dollar you can ogle the tarpon. For two, you can buy yourself a bucket of bait fish and proceed to entertain yourself and others, feeding fish that seem to have bottomless stomachs and no discrimination regarding what they eat.