Three Great Dining Spots In the Upper Keys, From Burgers to Tacos to Hogfish
No one has ever accused the Upper Keys of being a hotbed of fine dining. Lukewarm-bed, maybe. Cold-bed, even.
Bill Citara Bill Burkhardt
But over the past couple of years the local dining scene has started heating up, giving diners who just can't choke down the thought of one more plate of fried shrimp with a side order of Margaritaville a few more palatable options. Here are three good ones.
Category 3 Bar & Grill
When Bill Burkhardt and his mom, Lorraine Boyd, opened this funky but spotless upscale burger joint two-and-a-half years ago, what they knew about the restaurant business wouldn't have filled a bun. Today it's a hugely popular local's hang whose word of mouth has spread far beyond Key Largo, attracting visitors who otherwise might stop only for gas and bathroom breaks on their way to Key West.
Burkhardt, a carpenter by trade, gutted the space and rebuilt virtually every inch of it himself, all while teaching himself how to cook and run a restaurant like a pro. "I learned by watching Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Restaurant Impossible," he says.
It's not exactly culinary school, but it works, especially when you wrap your jaws around one of his half-pound Certified Angus Beef burgers that come stuffed with everything from pulled pork (Cat II) to sauteed shrimp with a side of garlicky scampi sauce (Surf & Turf) to bourbon-infused bacon topped with mozzarella and bourbon-pineapple sauce (The Bogey). Every Wednesday and Saturday, Burkhardt slow-smokes a mean brisket (and ribs, pork shoulder and chicken), which in typical Keys fashion, are available until there ain't no mo'.
Category 3 Bar & Grill, 99246 Overseas Hwy., Key Largo; 305-923-9426.