Florida Keys / Unique Eats

Hogfish Grill: Where Key West locals go for fresh fish

Patrons can sit inside the large chickee hut or dockside.

For a couple years, I had been hearing about a great tiki bar and fresh seafood joint in an out-of-the-way location in Key West. It was what all travelers seek: An inexpensive spot with great regional foods that the locals love and the tourists haven’t discovered.

There is live music on weekends at Hogfish Bar and Grill, and it can get loud.

I finally got to Key West to visit this place — Hogfish Bar & Grill on Stock Island. And while I loved the food and ambiance, I missed out on “discovering it” —  the week before my trip, Travel  & Leisure named Hogfish one of the 30 best seafood spots in America.

Seating at Hogfish Grill in Key West is under a big chickee hut

I can’t say whether it deserves that award, but  I would say it’s well worth visiting when you’re in Key West. Fortunately, it’s so hard to find that there’s no danger of Hogfish turning all “Duval Street.”

Hogfish opened 10 years ago in a working marina on Stock Island, named because this island immediately east of Key West once was home to herds of livestock . Today half the island is the Key West Golf Course and half is full of marinas and trailer parks. Campers know Stock Island  as home to Boyd’s Campground, the closest campground to Key West.
With a waterfront setting, a big chickee hut and open-air dining, Hogfish is casual and unpretentious; a t-shirt and flip-flops place with seating at long picnic tables. Those sitting dockside get a kick out of feeding the fish. (This is the best use of shrimp tails you’ll ever find.) On weekends, there is live music (and it can get loud.)

Surrounded by fishing boats, you expect and get it fresh here.  Hogfish is famous for two specialties – fresh Key West pink shrimp and a sandwich called the Killer. Neither disappointed.

The World Famous Killer Hogfish Sandwich ($14.95) is made with fresh hogfish, mushrooms and Swiss cheese on Cuban bread. Hogfish is a mild white fish caught with a spear. It’s common on Caribbean reefs, where it uses its long pig-like nose to root for buried crustaceans. (That’s how it got its name.)

You can get your fresh shrimp prepared a variety of ways, but we tried and recommend the Fried Coconut Shrimp. The appetizer ($9.95) is six big beautiful shrimp.

The menu had a good variety of moderately priced options, from the $9.95 veggie burger to the $13.95 shrimp po boy to the $9.95 Grouper Cheeks. The fish tacos (lobster or hogfish or shrimp or blackened tuna; $10.95 to $13.95) have their fans and then there are the dinner specials from $16.95 to $23.95. Folks rave about the lobster bisque and Havana Roast Pork, too. You can wash it down with craft beers.

Few places get the ecstatic reviews you find for Hogfish on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Hogfish Bar & Grill has been included in everything from New York Times travel stories to Food Channel features.

Hogfish Bar and Grill

6810 Front Street
Stock Island, FL 33040
305-293-4041

Directions from Key West:  Take US1 north out of Key West and across the Cow Key Channel Bridge. At the third stoplight, bear to the right and onto MacDonald Avenue. Follow this for approximately  1 mile and make a right on 4th Avenue (across from Boyd’s Campground). Take your next left on Front Street and drive almost to the end—you’ll see the Hogfish Bar and Grill on the right.

 

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