@NotYourTypicalBride: Hey there! My family has owned and run Herbie’s Restaurant at milemarker 50.5 since the 1970s. Right now my grandma and uncle are running the business alone and I honestly haven’t been there in a few years (have since moved and become a mother so travel has been scarce), but I hear it’s still the classic “ma and pop” Keys restaurant it’s always been. 🙂 I hope the food is just as good today as it was when I left! I HIGHLY recommend the fried fish sandwich and conch fritters. OH how I wish I was there now for some lunch!
@Rock Hugger: You named all places I’m quite familiar with!
I spent a lot of time at the Cabana Club because I went to school with the owner’s children and they hosted our local swim team every week at their pool. I’m not sure what they have turned into now as far as restaurant goes but I only recall being able to order poolside. (Burgers, hotdogs…)
There’s the Key Colony Inn that has a nice banquet room for rent and their food is pretty good. It’s more of an “upscale” Keys restaurant where everyone goes for anniversaries and birthday dinners. They serve seafood but their menu also features a lot of your classic dinner fare (chicken and pasta dishes). I have a few friends who held their reception there, too. They serve a decent meal in a nice atmosphere. http://www.kcinn.com/specialevents.html Please know that when I say “upscale”, I mean instead of wearing flip flops and jeans to dinner, you throw on a sundress and sandals. 😉 Keys-style is WAY laid back, I’m sure you know. KCB Inn isn’t ritzy by any means but they certainly aren’t your outdoors, jean shorts kind of place either. Hope that makes sense…
Tranquility Bay is rather new — it opened just before I left the Keys. I haven’t eaten there but I’ve been on property and it’s GORGEOUS! Definitely not a hole in the wall and I want to say they’re a bit pricey. I haven’t supported them much because they are owned by a huge corporation that created quite a bit of havoc in the Key sbefore I left. (You know, big names coming to town that force some of the “ma and pops” out.)
Have you looked into the new Sunset Grill at the 7-Mile Bridge? My dad says the reviews have been positive although he hasn’t been able to try them out himself just yet. http://www.sunsetgrille7milebridge.com/ordereze/Default.aspx
And then there’s my FAVORITE! Keys Fisheries is definitely a “hole in the wall”…it’s located right on the marina where the fresh catches pull right up to the dock. It’s not what I’d consider a typical reception location but it’s definitely unique and the food is wooooonderful. http://www.keysfisheries.com/restaurant.html
Another wonderful restaurant that comes to mind is one owned by my childhood friend’s family. Annette’s Lobster & Steakhouse is probably one of Marathon’s most “upscale” restaurants! They serve a great meal at reasonable prices and the dessert is dynamite. Can’t find her website at this moment… 🙁
And the last one I can think of off the top of my head would be Castaway’s Waterfront. In fact, when I found their website for you, under their Birthdays, Etc. section, the family in “Jesse’s 22nd” photo album happen to be the family that owns the Cabana Club! Haha! Oh such a small town… Anyway, here’s their link: http://www.jonesn4sushi.com/Castaway/CASTAWAY_WATERFRONT.html
When I speak to my mom later today I’ll pick her brain and see if she has any other ideas for ya. Feel free to ask any questions — between the TINY town that Marathon is and having grown up there, I’m sure I can help in many ways. And if I can’t, I can call my family and friends who can!