It’s Easy Being Vegan in Key West + Butterflies and Things!
Following an excellent night’s rest at Kim and Rich’s home, after my public talk and the manatee overload, I hit the road yet again and this time it was to head to the southern most point of the country, Key West.
I was also delighted to welcome Eric Marshall on the road with me. He “signed up” for a one week tagalong jaunt, starting in Key West and up the entire west coast of Florida. I got into Key West super late on a Monday night and picked Eric up from the itty bitty Key West airport. The next morning we hit up an old favorite of mine, Help Yourself.
Help Yourself – 80% vegan
29 Fleming Street
Key West, FL 33040
As noted in the previous post, I had gone on a very short vacation in June 2011 with my then-boyfriend, Joe. Aside from our day trip to Miami we spent the majority of our vacation in Key West. Since ERIC and I zipped through Key West I chose to include a few photos from my trip with JOE (are you confused yet?! ;) just to add a bit more.
Okay, so here we have Help Yourself. The first time I went (with Joe) they only owned the small greenish-yellow section there, to the right (in the photo below). Since then they’ve expanded into the space to the left (where the red part is) and have a small natural foods store, juice bar, and cafe. Most of their cafe items are already vegan, or can be made vegan.
This is Help’s Sprouted Whole Grain Bagel with avocado, tomato, sprouts, and cashew cream cheese. Below the bagel is a picture of their Fruit Parfait which contains organic mixed fruit, homemade granola, and house cultured coconut yogurt. And finally, from Help Yourself, is a picture of their INCREDIBLE French Toast made with whole wheat bread, maple walnut syrup, and fresh fruit. The french toast was my favorite of all the breakfast items I tried. It was the perfect proportion and had just the right amount of sweetness.
Help Yourself also makes fresh juice, offers detox programs, and has to-go snacks as well. And if you’re ever craving some vegan ice cream while sweltering in the unique, sticky, humid heat of the Keys, Help Yourself has got you covered! In addition, the staff at Help Yourself is incredibly kind and on both occasions they were overjoyed to hear about my trip and to talk about veganism and such. Fun!!
The one and only vegan-friendly sit-down restaurant in Key West is The Café. It’s primarily vegetarian but has a ton of vegan dishes, which have been phenomenal every time I’ve visited.
The Café – 80% vegan
509 Southard St
Key West, FL 33040
An easy walk off of the main/busy/touristy street in Key West (Duval St.), The Café has delicious meals and desserts for any hungry vegan. I really like the decor and atmosphere here too. It’s super chill and non-judgy, aaaaand is open for dinner! ;)
Eric and I started by splitting a bowl of Cold Peanut Noodles (soba noodles, edamame, shallots, peanuts, and red peppers topped with sesame seeds) which was incredibly delicious. The noodles were light and fresh and the sauce was simply magnificent. This could have been an entire meal in itself!
Below the noodles are a couple more appetizers including Grilled Asparagus Spears coated with tarragon oil, and The Café’s popular un-Wing Dings, which are blocks of tofu marinated in hot sauce with a side of vegan ranch dressing and a side of tahini sauce. All of these appetizers were fantastic!
This is The Café’s ‘Veggie’ Veggie Burger (made up of legumes, carrots, broccoli, mushroom, scallions, and sunflower seeds) topped with lettuce, tomato, and sprouts on a baguette. It was whole and fresh, full of flavor, and apparently one of their top sellers as indicated by the highlight on the menu.
I didn’t take notes on ALL of the dishes but I can tell you that the below series of pics include (in order from top to bottom): Grilled Tofu Salad (organic greens, avocado, edamame, cherry tomatoes, sunflower seeds, cashews, and sprouts), Spicy Szechuan Stir Fry (brown rice, seitan, and scallions), Vegetable Stuffed Pepper (stuffed with rice and sautéed veggies with a side of asparagus, on a bed of sweet tomato sauce), and the Peanut Oriental Stir Fry (brown rice, seitan, peanuts, squash, and scallions). Yummmmm-O!!!
One of the desserts that I tried was this warm fruit compote (not sure on the official name). This was one of the items I had over a year ago so I don’t remember exactly how it was but I probably wouldn’t have taken a picture of it if I didn’t like it. :) The ice cream does look quite delicious, does it not?! Also, below this is a picture of me outside The Café with a HUMUNGO chocolate chip cookie. NOM!
Sugar Apple Natural Foods, Juice Bar, & Cafe – 100% vegan
917 Simonton St
Key West, FL 33040
Sugar Apple is pretty great. Not only are they a full grocery store, featuring a variety of vegan goodies, but they’ve also got an attached juice bar and cafe filled with freshly pressed juice, on-the-spot smoothies, and healthy sandwiches, wraps, and salads. They also carry vitamins, homeopathic remedies, and many books related to healthy living.
The only thing is, they seem to have short hours and the juice bar/cafe hours differ from the store hours, so just be sure to call ahead to determine exact open and close times.
Unfortunately I don’t remember what we had. A couple of the sandwiches, obviously. But I do know that we both liked our noms very much! Also, don’t pass up their smoothies and/or juice. So good!
There may only be three establishments in Key West that are extremely vegan-friendly but look at it this way, 1) Key West is ridiculously small. You can get around the entire area by foot (if you really want to, or by bicycle – which I recommend if nothing more than to get some breeze going to distract you from the hot, hot, heat ;), 2) between these three places you’ve got breakfast, fresh juice, lunch, dinner, AND a friggin’ grocery store. You could just go to Sugar Apple, stock up and eat from your room the entire time. Really, you’ve got it made here in Key West. Finally, 3) some entire states don’t even have ONE sort-of veg-friendly establishment at all. It’s true. Consider yourselves lucky, Key West vacationers! :)
Before we part ways via this blog post I’d like to share with you some scenic and other non-foodie pics I took while vacationing in Key West in 2011 (so, not part of the Will Travel For Vegan Food road trip). When I was there more recently with Eric we were so busy – and so overwhelmed by the unique climate – that we only stuck around for a few days before heading back up the state. Therefore I really didn’t get any non-food pics this time around. But I think I got some pretty good ones during my first trip. And despite the yucky humidity (which you can acclimate to over time), Key West truly is beautiful.
PS – Bring your natural bug repellent. They’ve got some go-getter mosquitoes down here!!
The southern most point of the United States.
Itty bitty CRABOIDS!
The Ernest Hemingway House.
Sunset boat ride.
These free-roaming chickens are protected by the county. Look at ’em crossing the road. So cute!
The Memorial Sculpture Garden.
The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
Driving over the seven mile bridge. Adios, Key West!
Have you ever been to Key West? Did you find any other good vegan eats?! :)