The Hurricane Grill – Restaurant Review

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I stumbled onto The Hurricane in Marathon because I decided to join Mr. Foodie one morning when he went to work. While I usually enjoy the quietness of the house for working while he’s gone, I also fall into non-writing ruts sometimes and need to switch it up. So we looked up a coffee place to hold me over until the library opened where I could spend all day. We found Keys News and Coffee on google maps and attempted to locate it off of US-1. No luck. As it often happens while driving through the keys, we couldn’t “see” it from the road even though the map app said we had arrived. If you’re ever driving through the keys, you’ll notice the non-uniform look of many businesses with their tiny signs and cluttered front drives – no shiny strip malls dotting every corner here. So he dropped me at the library which wasn’t open, and I made my way on foot to see if I could find it on the ground. I did. And it was wonderful. Jeff is the owner’s name and he makes an excellent cup of coffee. There is a pleasant area surrounded by magazines and books to set up one’s laptop and get work done. I asked Jeff if it would be okay if I perched there for most of the day and he said yes – many of his customers even ran their businesses out of there for want of  a proper office. And sure enough, I saw exactly that as phone calls were made and orders were recorded. I was having a bit of trouble getting stared on the dissertation when a man struck up a conversation with me which would turn out to be one of many unique encounters I’ve had with people living down here. We began with politics, always tricky, but ended with his life story which was rather incredible. He and his whole family lived on boat, and he performed in a band most nights at different restaurants around the keys. He and his family decided to sell everything and make this change after he survived cancer. His conversation was intriguing, pleasant, and just the break I needed to get my head in the game. Jeff tried to intervene thinking the man was interrupting my work, but I let him continue until he had to go because he was so unusual.

In any case, eventually I got hungry for something other than coffee (and buttered bagel crisps that Jeff made by hand and handed out to all his patrons at one point), so I began the longish hike along US-1 to a restaurant that was supposed to have a good, inexpensive lunch – The Hurricane Grill. What I stumbled upon was a local favorite. When I sat down to the horseshoe bar, my hopes weren’t terribly high for a great meal – it seemed like the kind of place that served a good drink, perhaps, and maybe okay pub food, but I ordered the salad/sandwich combo and realized immediately why this was a local favorite. Even this simple fare was elevated by the care that went into it, and I was hooked. The daytime bartender is a sweet, chatty woman who reminds me so much of Kristin Chenoweth that it’s uncanny. One of the locals welcomed me to the island by buying me a glass of wine! This was my kind of place. So I didn’t hesitate to bring Mr. Foodie here one day when we were both looking for a bite during our brief hotel stay. We were tired after a long day of boating and sun, so we opted for a simple pizza. We chose the sundried tomato, artichoke, meatball, and spinach pie and it was very good. Mr. Foodie noted that they could have pulled back on the amount of sundried tomatoes because a little of that goes a long way – which was true, but I loved them. What really sold this pizza was the crust. It was a perfect crust – thin, crusty, good flavor – with non of the bitter by-product that can happen with some home-made crusts. The Hurricane Grill is well-known for its $5 lunches and $10 dinner, but even more so for their satisfying fare. The next time you’re passing through Marathon, pop in to this nondescript, divey looking bar/restaurant and enjoy!

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Roostica on Stock Island – Review

Roostica – Photo Credit:

On our way to the airport to drop off the kiddos, we decided to pop into Roostica for a late lunch. We learned about this place years ago from family friends who have lived down here my whole life. Their daughters waitressed here. Their business is right down the street also on Stock Island (a few miles outside of Key West). For some reason (perhaps eating the bounty of the sea gets old after a while?) there is no scarcity of pizza places in the lower keys. In fact, there is one right at the entrance to my neighborhood (but since they changed owners/chefs and decided cardboard was better than crust, I will not recommend them).

If you ever decide to drive down from Miami to Key West (worth the 3.5+ hours it takes, I assure you), you will see for yourself how many pizza joints pop up on all the little islands. That being said, there are few that meet the quality of Roostica’s pies. While they have a rather comprehensive menu, I recommend the Quattro Formaggi (4 Cheeses) pizza. While most white cheese pizzas are cheesy and (sometimes) garlicky, this one was over-the-top delicious. Why, you may ask, was this one so much better than normal? The inclusion of gorgonzola. That little bit of blue cuts through the richness of the four cheeses and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes on top will make you moan with pleasure.

As chance would have it, the owner popped over to say hi right as we were hands deep in the delicious pizza. Bob sidled up to us casually in the standard keys uniform – shorts and a T-shirt with sandals. He and I immediately agreed that the gorgonzola was the best thing about this particular pie. He also told us about his more recent restaurant project Geiger Key Marina (another reason to get a car when you’re here – so many great keys besides Key West to explore). Follow Boca Chica Road to the end and you’ll see this fabulous little spot on the water with great views and good food.

I just found out also that Roostica has brunch! I’ll definitely be back to give that a go.

Want to follow along with my keys foodie adventures? Use the follow field on the right or check me out on instagram @flkeysfoodie