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Quest for the Best Key Lime Pie

Quest for The Best Key Lime Pie

A trip to the Florida Keys is not complete without Key Lime Pie, so I set out on my quest to find the BEST KEY LIME PIE, devouring 8 slices over the weekend. Duty calls, and I ate Key Lime Pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My quest for the best Key Lime Pie actually began on my laptop before we journeyed south to The Keys. I read blog posts, YELP reviews, newspaper articles and Trip Advisor reviews to create my list of must-try Key Lime Pies in the Upper Keys. There was no shortage of reviews on the best Key Lime Pies in Key West, so I decided to focus my taste tests on Key Largo and Islamorada known as the Upper Keys.

With my list in hand, we headed to the Florida Keys with what seemed like everyone else in the state of Florida. Love The Keys, hate the drive. Our 110 mile drive took 4 hours, so needless to say, I was hungry when we arrived and had 3 slices for dinner. Don’t judge me.

Before I get to my reviews, it’s important to understand the cloudy history of this slice of sunshine. Some believe that Borden, the producer of Eagle Brand Milk, invented the Key Lime Pie in (gasp) New York, but being a Floridian, we tell a different story.

The history of the Key Lime Pie goes back to the late 1800’s when fresh dairy was hard to come by in South Florida. Aunt Sally in the Florida Keys had the crazy idea of combining just 3 ingredients – sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice – to make the creamy, yellow, tangy filling. That’s right, the filling should never be green. If it is, send it back, they’ve added food coloring and chances are they didn’t bother to use a Key Lime which is more tart and acidic than your standard grocery store lime.

After serving thousands of Key Lime Pies on my West Palm Beach Food Tour, I’ve witnessed Key Lime Pie haters quickly become converts. Turns out they just hadn’t had an authentic one, and those green Key Lime Pies are making a bad name for our state dessert.

While most agree that an authentic Key Lime Pie should never be green, the great debate ensues when it comes to the crust and topping. Graham cracker, pastry crust or something entirely different? Meringue or whipped cream? For the record, I’m team whipped cream, and I’m happy with any crust as long as it’s homemade. The bottom line…finding the best Key Lime Pie has a lot to do with your crust and topping preferences as well as how tart or sweet you like your pie.

So, here it is, my review of Key Lime Pies from the Upper Keys, starting at Mile Marker 102 and working my way south.

Lazy Lobster, Key Largo, Mile Marker 102
We’re weren’t wowed by our dinner, so I didn’t have high expectations for their Key Lime Pie. Boy was I wrong…their Key Lime Pie was near perfection with a graham cracker crust and a topping with just a little meringue and whipped cream to please both sides.
Worth the drive? Yes!

The Fish House, Key Largo, Mile Marker 102
My pie arrived with a perfectly torched meringue on a very thin graham cracker crust and filling that wasn’t quite tangy enough for my taste.
Worth the drive? No, but their conch fritters are the best we’ve ever had!

Hobo’s Cafe, Key Largo< Mile Marker 101
The graham cracker crust was way too thin, but the filling was great and topped with whipped cream. They lost my love when they added the raspberry drizzle. I don’t want anything on my Key Lime, and don’t even get me started on chocolate dipped Key Lime Pie.
Worth the drive? No, but we loved their nachos with housemade tortilla chips!

Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, Key Largo, Mile Marker 99
If you’re a fan of a graham cracker crust, this one is the best! Expect a thick graham cracker crust topped with a tangy frozen filling and whipped cream. Why have I never thought to freeze my Key Lime Pie?
Worth the drive? Yes!

Harriette’s Restaurant, Key Largo, Mile Marker 95
I know a muffin is not a pie, but Harriettes giant Key Lime Muffin is WOWZA and very worthy of making my list. I will have sweet dreams about this muffin filled with Key Lime filling, and it’s a great way to justify a sweet Key Lime treat for breakfast.
Worth the drive? Yes!

Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory, Mile Marker 92
My plan to eat 9 slices of Key Lime Pie turned into just 8 slices (or 7 slices + a muffin) when I discovered the the Blond Giraffe is temporarily closed due to COVID. Their pie gets rave reviews, so I’ll be back!

Trading Post, Islamorada, Mile Marker 81
I’ll admit this pie was not on my radar. It wasn’t mentioned in any reviews or posts, so I must thank Florida Keys Food Tours for introducing me to this hidden gem of a pie. This one is the owner’s family recipe from the 1960’s, and it’s for the purists…no topping at all, just a delicious not too tart, not too sweet filling in a graham cracker crust.
Worth the drive? Yes!

Green Turtle Inn, Islamorada, Mile Marker 81
Their macadamia nut crust was a delicious twist, but then came the raspberry drizzle. Why? I don’t want raspberry drizzle on my Key Lime Pie.
Worth the drive? No

Midway Cafe, Islamorada, Mile Marker 80
I was introduced to Manny & Isa’s pie years ago by my brother-in-law, and it was so good that it almost converted me into a pastry crust with meringue kind of gal. Manny & Isa’s is no longer in business, but the folks at Midway Cafe bought the recipe, and it was exactly as I remembered.
Worth the drive? Yes!

While 5 were worth the drive, I always use Ganache Bakery’s Key Lime Pie as my benchmark, and Jamal at Ganache Bakery in West Palm Beach still reigns supreme in my Key Lime Pie competition. So, there you have it, you don’t have to endure the drive to The Keys to get the best Key Lime Pie.

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