Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Searching for the Best Key Lime Pie in Key West, Florida

Shore excursions are an important part of the cruise experience, giving tourists a chance to learn more about the local area.  John and I decided that when our ship docked in Key West, Florida, we were going to honor the history of the area by indulging in some key lime pie.  Of course, we wanted to taste the best key lime pie available, but quickly realized that there was more than one restaurant that came highly recommended.  John suggested that we conduct our own study.  Three and a half pieces of pie (each!) later, we can confidently declare a clear winner.  
We visited four restaurants:  Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe, Key Lime Republic, Key West Key Lime Pie Co., and Old Town Bakery. We walked from place to place, spread out our sampling over time, and took notes as we went along.  Here are our impressions:

Kermit's:  John sampled a piece of key lime pie; I sampled the frozen chocolate-covered key lime pie on a stick.  For the purposes of our research, we dismissed my piece, as it wouldn't be fair to compare chocolate-covered to plain. I just didn't want to pass up the chance to taste one of the Top 10 Desserts in America.  (It was good, but I don't think I would rank it in the top 10.)  

Back to the task at hand:  John found Kermit's key lime pie to be a bit on the sweet side; we prefer something a bit more tangy.  The crust was somewhat dry.  The filling itself was light.  Not a bad pie by any means, but not our top pick.  Overall rating:  Third place.

Key Lime Republic's pie was delightful.  The filling was smooth, thick, and custard-like, with a nice balance of flavors.  It was not too sweet and not too tart.  The graham cracker crust was thin. Overall rating:  Second place.

Key West Key Lime Pie Co.'s pie would have done better had we not been comparing it to others.  Having read some reviews ahead of time that mentioned it was a very sweet pie, and having also read that an "extra-tart" pie was available, we opted for a piece of "extra-tart."  If you have a serious sweet tooth, this might just be the place for you, because their "extra-tart" was still extra-sweet compared to the competition.  Also, the pie was served a bit frozen, so it was lacking in creaminess.  Overall rating:  Fourth place.

The winner of our search for the best key lime pie in Key West, Florida is Old Town Bakery.  This unpretentious little place is inland a bit from the cruise terminal, and doesn't even bother to put "Key Lime" in its name.  They offer lots of different food options--and if their key lime pie is any indication, you can't go wrong!  

The filling for their pie is smooth, dense, and creamy, with just the right balance of sweet and tart flavors.  The thick graham cracker crust is moist and delicious.  As an added bonus, the pie was the least expensive of the four we sampled!

The bench outside the bakery was occupied, but we were directed to the seating across the street, outside a restaurant that was closed at the time.  We enjoyed our pie in the company of a rooster. (Chickens are all over Key West!)  

Photo:  A slice of Key Lime Pie sits on a picnic table, while a rooster stands on the ground.

If you ever find yourself in Key West, go visit Old Town Bakery (930 Eaton Street) and enjoy a slice of the best key lime pie!

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Thanks for research projects and key lime pie!

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17 comments:

  1. Ver fun! Now I want the recipe. I'm not going to make it to Key West anytime soon!

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    1. I have no idea what Old Town Bakery's recipe is, but it sure produced a good pie!

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  2. I've never tried Key Lime pie, but it sounds yummy.

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  3. I love me some Key Lime Pie. I hope I get to Key West someday to sample Old Town Bakery fare.

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  4. Bryan and I spent our honeymoon in Key West. I'm not a fan of the key lime pie, so we didn't do a pie walk. :) If we ever go back, I'm heading straight for that Old Town Bakery to see what else they offer!

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    1. If the pie was any indication, you will enjoy their other offerings!

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  5. Never had Key Lime pie in my life, but now it's on our to-taste-list when we're on that side of your beautiful country.
    What a lovely thing to do too; have a tasting route through town to try their specialty.
    Reading about other places in the US makes me long for a new vacation over there. We are starting to thing about where we'll go next, but it will be no sooner than 2017. There's just too much to do in our new house and my energy is drained...
    Well, keep them stories coming, I'm in need of some holiday-love (even if it's not my own...)

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    1. It probably would have been better for the scale if their specialty had been green salad, but we did have fun with our research project! I thought about you on our trip--at one point, we were sharing a ride with a couple from Norway who were in Florida for a big motorcycle event. Not quite the same country, and not quite the same vehicle, but made me think of you. Hope your weather warms up so your energy returns.

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  6. now I want Key Lime pie - :)

    sounds like a fun excursion

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    1. It was fun. Maybe you can have some for Pi Day on Monday?

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  7. Did you offer any to the rooster? (I would have given him mine, as I am not a fan of citrusy food.)

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    1. I did not. For starters, it was delicious and I selfishly wanted it all for myself. Secondly, if you fed the rooster, he would probably have followed me! :-)

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  8. I remember many years ago (back in the 60s) my sister went to the Keys for a summer and came back talking about Key Lime Pie. She thought it was the most amazing thing ever. That piece you show in the picture looks amazing and your description had my mouth watering! Now I want pie!

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Thanks for making this a conversation. I love to hear your comments!