The key lime was introduced to the Florida Keys during the 1830s by Henry Perrine, a diplomat and botanist who discovered the plant in Mexico. Almost two centuries later, key lime pie can be found on almost every dessert menu throughout Florida. A trip to the Southern state would not be complete without indulging in a slice of this famous delicacy. From Miami Beach to Key West, these are the best places to enjoy Florida’s most quintessential dessert.
The most famous establishment in Key West for anything involving key lime is Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. Rated as serving the best key lime pie by the coveted Today Show, Food Network and National Geographic, Kermit’s is a fanatical shop decked out with floor-to-ceiling yellow and green. The store, which was founded more than 20 years ago by Kermit Carpenter, his sister Anita and her husband, has turned into a Key West brand expanding with a second location on the infamous Duval Street. Beyond the traditional key lime pie, Kermit has also invented a chocolate dipped key lime pie, which is pie slice popsicles dipped in chocolate.
Key lime pie at Blond Giraffe | Courtesy Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory
The Square Grouper
Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
Just off US 1 at mile marker 22.5 on Cudjoe Key, The Square Grouper offers low-key, gourmet seafood cuisine. The name is derived from the 1980s drug-running era when bales of marijuana were found floating off the coast of Florida. Opened and operated by chef Lynn Bell, The Square Grouper has quickly become a favorite of the locals in the Middle Keys. En route to or from Key West, stop by The Square Grouper for a tropical gourmet dinner followed by a homemade slice of the famed key lime pie.
Joe's Stone Crab, Miami Beach | Image Courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab
Joe’s Stone Crab was founded by Joe Weiss in 1913, an era when Miami was just like any other small town in Florida. In the early 1990s the restaurant was the place to visit for a fish sandwich and relaxed conversation. Still family owned and operated by the fourth generation, Joe’s Stone Crab is now one of the most famous restaurants in Miami. If you time it right, be sure to try the succulent stone crab, which is only offered during the season of October 15 – May 15, or the whipped key lime pie, offered year-round.
In a town famous for Big Mouth Bass fishing tournaments, bird watching and rodeos, Parrott Island Grill stands apart with its contemporary ocean themed décor and outside patio dining that hosts live music. Located just south of Highway 70, Parrott Island Grill offers daily meal and drink specials making it a great stop for travelers crossing the state by car. The restaurant’s indoor dining space and outdoor bar feature driftwood accents and tropical island decorations. Fresh seafood is offered on the menu as well as the best homemade key lime pie in Florida’s heartland.
Opened in 1905 by Cuban immigrant Casimiro Hernandez Senior, the Columbia Restaurant has braved everything from prohibition to hurricanes, and managed to grow its business through it all. With a humble beginning as a small Cuban café serving great coffee, Spanish bean soup and strong drinks, the Columbia Restaurant has grown into an entire Ybor City block, with 15 dining rooms capable of serving 1,700 people at a time. This family-owned restaurant’s key lime pie is derived from grandmother Carmen Piloto Hernandez’s recipe that she brought with her from Cuba to Key West to Ybor City. With no preservatives, a Graham Cracker crust and a drizzle of guava paste, the dessert is a must-have menu item.
Disney World is not the only establishment worth visiting while in Orlando, Florida. Sister Honey’s has developed quite a reputation and a fair share of accolades for having the best sweets in the area. Owner Evette Rahman named the bakery after her mother and mentor, affectionately known to all as Sister Honey. This downtown Orlando favorite creates its cakes, pies and cookies from scratch daily, making it high demand in the area. Beyond the sweet smell wafting through the air, the bakery itself actually looks like a treat with the egg yolk-yellow walls dressed in pink-with-white powdered sugar trim. The key lime pie here is traditional, made with fresh key limes and a Graham Cracker crust. It can be purchased by the slice or as an entire pie, perfect for any social gathering or event.
Image Courtesy of The Florida Key Lime Pie Company
On a plate, in a coconut shell or in a cup, The Florida Key Lime Pie Company serves guests their key lime in the most original fashions. Located in Cocoa Village, Florida, one of the favorite Spring Break locales in the state, The Florida Key Lime Pie Company has a Tiki Bar, retail store and restaurant, where you can order or purchase key lime pie desserts, food or trinkets. The business is also home to the annual Key Lime Pie Festival, which includes a beauty pageant, a key lime cocktail contest for bartenders and a key lime pie-eating contest. Part of the ‘Fresh from Florida’ state program which requires business owners to make everything using local ingredients, this venue is a one-stop-shop for anything Florida-centric or key lime-related.
Located on A1A oceanfront drive in St. Augustine, Florida, Caps on the Water is where beachfront dining and a perfect Florida sunset come together. Under a canopy of Live Oak trees and decorated in beach décor and wood finishing, Caps on the Water offers dining, oysters, wine and dessert. The casual restaurant consists of an indoor and outdoor dining area where coastal cuisine is served and a raw bar where oysters are shucked. Moreover, Caps on the Water is touted as one of the best places to indulge in a hearty slice of key lime pie. This unique menu item, titled The Lemon and Lime Trio, consists of a key lime pie made with shortbread macadamia crust, frosted key lime cake and limoncello mascarpone goat cheese.
Key Lime Pie at Quack's 43rd Street Bakery | Courtesy of Dan Brennan
The Donut Hole Café & Bakery is located in the northwestern panhandle of Destin, Florida, where some of most beautiful white sugar sand beaches are found. The restaurant offers much more than its name implies. There are plenty of specialty donuts, but the meals, coffee and desserts are equally worth a try. Open 24 hours, this establishment serves the best key lime pie in town, guaranteeing that diners of the Donut Hole Café & Bakery will not leave the restaurant dissatisfied. The modest wood interior encompasses diner-style tables with floor-to-ceiling windows keeping the area brightly lit for morning patrons. By night, the fluorescent neon light stands as a shining beacon.
This restaurant is the highest-rated restaurant in Panama City Beach across all peer-to-peer platforms. The reason being, amidst a tourist-driven city, HogNose Snapper offers restaurant goers a delectable surf-and-turf menu with a casual atmosphere that even the locals enjoy. The bright restaurant with mismatched colorful chairs seats 150 people within the cozy walls of Southern charm. From the menu, choose the Southern-style grouper sandwich, fried green tomatoes and cheese grits. For dessert, the key lime pie, of course.
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