Tuesday, February 14, 2012


So who sez I’m not a romantic?
Here Virginia and I are having lunch at the Islamorada Fish Company in the Keys, and on Valentine’s Day yet!
Of course, it was her idea to go, but hey! I did the driving down there.
This really is one of our favorite lunch spots, and we don’t get down here nearly as often as we should. It’s less than 90-minute drive from our house, though it was a little longer on the return since he hit a couple of school zones.
I’m assuming you are somewhat familiar with the Keys, but if you’re not, let me explain something. They don’t have a lot of cops down there, but those that are there have only one highway to patrol. We probably saw three or four Monroe County sheriff’s cars in the two school zones we passed through on the way back home, and two of them had other motorists pulled over.
Any way, as I was saying, the Islamorada Fish Company is one of our favorite spots.
When we first went there, back in the mid-1990s I guess it was it was, you walked out on a concrete pier to where several a few tables with umbrellas were set up.
The original area has been expanded and now is under a huge tiki hut roof. There are two walkways to get out to it now, and there are tables set up alongside them as well an area under cover near the main building. We were sitting at one of the tables set up just before one of the walkways because the place was crowded and we didn’t want to wait.
The food is good enough -- heavy on shrimp, fish, etc., which is what you would expect -- but a bit higher-priced than we pay for the same fare at our usual places back home. Hey, this is the Keys, so I consider it a surcharge for the atmosphere. Just around everywhere you sit you have some view of Florida Bay (the restaurant sits on the bayside of U.S. 1). The palms in this picture (above) were right in front of us.
Also, this is a tourist spot, so what should we expect?
There are many pelicans and sea gulls around. They seem to be used to people. The gull in this picture was resting on a railing just a couple of feet from the people at the table next to us. Pelicans flew overhead back and forth from a boat tied up across the way to the restaurant.
One of the reasons I liked where we bought our house nearly 20 years ago now was that it was relatively close to the Keys, but, as I mentioned earlier, we don’t get down there nearly enough, not as much as we once did.
It’s not as difficult or dangerous as it used to be because the stretch of U.S. 1 between Florida City and Key Largo has been widened  and there is a concrete barrier dividing the north and southbound lanes, which eliminates the chance of head-on collisions. There are a couple of spots for passing lanes if you get caught behind someone particularly slow.
Also, there is now a bridge that crosses high above Jewfish Creek just before you get to Key Largo, so that eliminates the need to use the old drawbridge that allows boats to pass through from the ocean side to the bay side of the islands at the north end of the Keys. Traffic used to back up rather quickly when the bridge was up, even on weekdays.
I’m thinking traffic probably still gets heavy on weekends, but we haven’t gone to the Keys on anything but a weekday in a long time, at least not since one Sunday years ago when we got caught in a line of traffic behind a fatal accident on our way back home.
As I said there is only one highway running the length of the Keys. There is the old original Keys Highway that runs parallel to it for stretches, but eventually you have to get back on the main road because that’s where the bridges are.
Of course, there are other locations for the Islamorada Fish Company, including one much closer to us near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport.
I’ve been there a couple of times. It’s a nice enough place and, like all of the the IFC restaurants it is next door to a huge Bass Pro Shop. If you haven’t been in a Bass Pro Shop, it’s attraction in itself and a lot more than just fishing tackle and boats.
But take a look at these pictures and tell me if you would prefer the Islamorada Fish Company place near the airport or the one in the Keys.
I thought so. So would we.

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