Harbor Lights Bar & Seafood Restaurant
711 Eisenhower Dr., Key West, Florida
Charter Boat Row at Garrison Bight Marina
Just off Palm Avenue
Okay, I’m bringing attention to a bar instead of a restaurant, but I had a total Key West experience at this watering hole and I need to express myself. They have a restaurant above the bar and I’ll get there eventually and tell you all about it.
I just worked my Friday (Wednesday in actuality) at one of the two most terrific B&B’s in Key West where I am employed full time and loving it. My closest and dearest who has her ear to the rails of the Key West life experience has a gifted musician friend who was playing at the Harbor Lights Bar and asked me to join her. I have driven past this venue a hundred plus times but it hides away geographically from the main road just enough to seem inaccessible, but a simple left turn gets you right in.
This isn’t just a local’s spot. It’s what I call a local locals place. These aren’t just Key West residents, but many if not all live on boats and houseboats at the marina that the complex sits on. Don’t misunderstand, I felt very comfortable here but I was glad I knew several people at the tables when I arrived so there was a better sense of belonging. That may just be my own insecurities speaking.
It’s a small space overall, but it makes up for its size with a great sound of music that pours out of the room onto the Gulf waters and so many genuinely friendly people. The bartender(s) were on top of our drinks like white on rice and what were initially complete strangers became friends in just a few minutes after our arrival. A large warmer full of stew and loaves of rustic bread were available for the taking. There really isn’t any décor to speak of just a mix of posters, photos, and bulletins about local charitable events and neon lights. I can honestly say this place is decorated by its patrons’ respective personalities.
The band I was told was a foursome that had never played together before but you could never have suspected this was so. They were all but seamless in their performance. The highlight was my first experience hearing a local 15 year old piano phenom known as “little boy Flowers.” In a previous life I was a roadie (lighting) for a number of rock, folk and jazz tours back in the 70’s and I never heard piano licks like the young man tossed out to us. I haven’t been here as long as some, but I’m surprised I hadn’t heard about him prior to this outing. Since what I have heard about him is all second hand I won’t go into detail, but hearing is believing and I was truly blown away by the piano/organ and the whole band. I can only hope they give themselves a name and gel.
Okay, I know I can get passionate about some things and this was such a fun local experience that I had to tell you about it. If the food upstairs is as good as the entertainment and service downstairs I may get myself a houseboat or live on the hook!
Doug Heyman in Key West for the Food Reference Website