Some love the Lighthouse. Others love the bike paths. But dining on the water is the hidden treasure of Key Biscayne.
Outdoor romantic getaways with spectacular views of downtown Miami, or al fresco dining under coconut laden palm trees. These are the unique dining experiences Key Biscayne offers locals and tourists alike.
Founded in 1978, The Rusty Pelican is not only a Key Biscayne gem, but also an American national waterfront treasure. The inside of the establishment is adorned with hardwood moldings and décor that showcases water views. Sitting inside the Rusty Pelican is all about feeling nautical.
Outside, with string lights, fire pits and bay views, the Rusty Pelican’s patio is the perfect place for happy hour and sunset views. WHile watching the transition from day to night, guests can start their evening with freshly baked corn bread. But the vast array of fresh seafood should remain your priority as the vast array of fresh seafood on the menu is the main culinary attraction.
Among the seductive seafood choices include a crispy whole local snapper served with creamy coconut orzo, arugula and grilled corn salad, with a roasted Jalapeño lime dressing. Other fresh choices include seabass, halibut, salmon, scallops, lobster, and colossal king crab legs.
Another pleasant surprise is the Pelican’s unique sushi. It does not disappoint. The Deco Maki roll -- a creative combination of pink sticky rice, Gulf shrimp tempura, mango, cream cheese, red onion and eel sauce -- brings out the best in Miami flavors.
The restaurant’s highlight, however, is the famed three-tiered seafood tower. This presentation includes blue point oysters, jumbo Gulf shrimp, chilled lobster, king crab, spicy tuna roll, and an assortment of sashimi and nigiri. The seafood tower serves two or four and ranges in price from $98 to $180.
Not only is the food at The Rusty Pelican a reflection of island life, the ambiance is ultra-relaxing. After dinner, enjoy a glass of wine as you sit by the fire pits and take in the ocean city views. No other spot in Miami offers this panoramic view of downtown Miami across a seascape of water.
The Rusty Pelican is off the Rickenbacker Causeway and serves as a gateway to Key Biscayne.
Several other spots on the island should also be experienced by those interested in waterview dining:
Cantina Beach, located at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, is one of the few places on the island where Mexican cuisine and a fresh margarita can be enjoyed directly on the beach. If you arrive early enough, grab one of the few tables situated next to the steps of the sandy beach entrance. Cantina brings Mexico and Havana to Miami with it’s live music, rum cocktails, excellent fajitas, and cheesy quesadillas.
Another prime waterfront dining experience is found inside the exclusive Key Colony, at The Sandbar restaurant. But no need to get dressed up for this experience, the creation of the owner of the Golden Hog Market.
A special feature of the Sandbar is that it sits next to the pool, which was built at a level higher than ground level. So, while you eat, your view is a vantage point where there is an infinity of waterview.
The Sandbar is a laid back spot for those wearing flip flops and swimwear that features one of the best burgers in town. You can enjoy pina coladas, White Claws and other drinks poolside, too.
The Boaters Grill and the Cleat by Boaters Grill are the pride and joy of David and Reina Gonzalez. These venues are both located inside Bill Baggs State Park. The Boaters Grill is the prime location for a fantastic meal of Latin flair. Serving some of the best paella or fresh fish, this venue is the spot for a boater to pull up after a day at sea. The Cleat, an outdoor beach bar on No Name Harbour, is a short walk from Boaters Grill and offers some of the best snacks and mojitos in town.
IF YOU GO ….
The Rusty Pelican, 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway. Hours: Sunday - Thursday, 12 p.m. - 9:30 p.m (until 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday). Brunch: Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Masks required. For more information: therustypelican.com; Phone: (305) 361-3818
Cantina Beach at The Ritz Carlton Key Biascayne, 455 Grand Bay Drive. Hours: Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Reservations recommended for dinner; walk-ins based on availability. Information: (305) 365-4500
Boater’s Grill, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, No Name Harbor. Hours: Sunday - Wednesday, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Thursday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. For information, call (305) 361-0080.