We love No Name Pub for its 90-year-old Dade County pine bar.
We love it for its fish dip, beer and pizza.
But, if we’re being honest, we have to admit: We love it for its money.
No Name Pub, which calls itself “A Nice Place If You Can Find It,” is a few minutes off U.S. 1 in Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys, about 30 miles north of Key West.
From the outside, it looks like an old wooden cottage turned into a bar and restaurant. On the inside, however, every surface is covered with thousands of fluttering dollar bills. Most are decorated — people’s names and initials, messages, doodles. (The wait staff will bring you markers.) Some estimates put the total at $90,000 and growing: Its hard to resist adding your own buck to the collection.
If only half of what they say about the No Name Pub is true, it’s still a good story.
No Name Pub: Its colorful history
The pub’s account of history begins with a general store and bait-and-tackle shop in 1931, with the eatery added in 1936. Around that time, the upstairs was occupied by a brothel.
In those days, all traffic to Key West came via a ferry that arrived at nearby No Name Key and all vehicles drove past No Name Pub to continue to Key West. Once bridges replaced ferries, No Name Pub’s location became decidedly obscure. Still, the funky atmosphere and a rowdy crowd kept the place going.
The Keys were a wild place in the ’70s and ’80s; lots of people got rich smuggling marijuana. The pub’s website says that’s when the tradition started: “There was a lot of illegal money passing through the Keys back then . . . so much money in fact they started hanging it on our walls.”
Visiting No Name Pub
Today, No Name Pub is filled with families and tourists as well as Keys regulars. The menu includes pizzas, local seafood, pub food such as nachos, chili and chowder, and sandwiches.
The pizza is probably the most ordered item. We’ve had the Smoked BBQ Pork Sandwich with Silver Dollar Fries — huge and delicious — as was the half-pound grouper sandwich. The fish dip wins raves.
Prices are moderate for the Keys, which means it is high for casual food, but you’ll pay more at plenty of places in the Keys.
Beverages include a variety of beers, including No Name Pub Amber on tap, which is not only bargain priced but refreshing and pretty good.
During winter tourist season, there can be a line to get into No Name Pub. That’s less of a problem since 2020, when a large outdoor tiki structure was built. The open air structure, protected from wind and sun, is popular with people who don’t like dark taverny atmosphere.
It is hard to find No Name Pub?
Before everyone had directions on their cell phones, No Name Pub was hard to find, which added to its mystique and explains why their motto was “Nice place if you can find it.”
Today, No Name Pub still draws a crowd, although few people have trouble getting there.
But it is located in a residential area well of the Overseas Highway and in the middle of Keys deer habitat. Drive slowly! There is a good chance to spot these miniature deer, an endangered species found only here, along the way.
When we made a repeat visit in June 2021, Key deer were hanging out in the parking lot, looking hungrily up at those arriving for dinner. Don’t be tempted by those big eyes — feeding them is only ruining them for life in the Keys, where they should avoid people and the deadly vehicles they drive.
Why is it called No Name Pub?
Simply, No Name Pub is located on No Name Key.
Keys historian Jerry Wilkinson searches old maps to see how early places in the Keys got their names. He writes that found a map from 1849 that includes, “The Island N. by W. from Summerland Keys, lying between them and Little Pine Island is called No Name Key.” Wilkinson writes that No Name Key might have been called that even earlier than 1849.
Trip Advisor folks are mixed in their views.
YouTube video takes you there.
Other things to do in Big Pine Key
- The Old Wooden Bridge Resort and Marina is a block away. It consists of a few cabins and 13 houseboats overlooking the water and the bridge to No Name Key. It’s a good place to rent a kayak.
- Here are tips on spotting Key deer and visiting the National Key Deer Refuge
Resources for planning a Florida Keys vacation
- Print out this mile marker guide to enhance your next road trip to the Florida Keys.
- Here’s a comprehensive guide to the Lower Keys, including camping.
- Tiki bars: Soak up the Keys atmosphere.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.