Turtle Kraals Restaurant & Bar
(Caribbean & Cuban)
1 Lands End Village
Key West, Florida
Phone: (305) 294-2640
A Chef James Best of Key West Restaurant
There are a few restaurants in Key West that I genuinely look forward to eating at time and time again. I’m a firm believer in the concept of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and Turtle Kraals at the old seaport in Key West has managed to keep it’s quality and consistency over a long period of time. I’m not saying they haven’t made changes on occasion, but they are dependable in making those changes unobtrusive and providing fine-tuning rather then radical adjustments.
I’ve lived on the island long enough now to go to specific eateries for specific things depending on what I’m in the mood for. Having spent most of my later life in and around Maryland I have admittedly become a crab cake snob. I simply love them at Turtle Kraals. When I first ate them they were slightly smaller with mango chutney over the top, and one of those small changes I mentioned earlier?… the chutney is now mixed in with the crab making the cakes a bit bigger, but the flavor more pronounced.
To make the whole deal more interesting you use the Key West ethnic specialty of the local Cuban influence by making all the side dishes, well, Cuban. The black beans, yellow rice and plantains just go perfectly with the mango and crab to really fill the meal out. You will find the food in total very rich and filling, so don’t be afraid to take home a doggie bag whether you consume my favorite or any number of menu items that could become yours. If you take advantage of their raw bar before the main course arrives you will definitely go home or to your hotel room packing leftovers.
I don’t want to wrap this up without discussing the reason the place is called Turtle Kraals. The old seaport at one time had a thriving turtle processing plant. A turtle museum now sits along side the restaurant and is certainly worth visiting. Key West has a very rich history of commerce and the facilities that once housed the businesses of old are, in this instance, being used respectably. You will not only get a good meal here, but a good history lesson ta boot!
Doug Heyman for the Food Reference website
(Turtle Kraals is located in a funky old building on the waterfront near where the A. Granday's Canning company was located in the early 1900s. The historic 'Kraals' were used as corrals for the green turtles used to make the internationally famous A. Granday's Green Turtle Soup.)
email Dec, 2006
I'm sad to say that our recent dining experience here was much less than expected. We have always made it a point to have at least one meal here on each trip to Key West, and have always talked it up to our friends that we are taking there for the first time.
We had the various salads and all were sub par, with little taste, and fewer ingredients. The seared tuna on mine was so tasteless I couldn't even finish. We were all dissapointed.
I don't think we'll be going back to Turtle Kraals on future visits. We always anticipated the great food and dining experience.
Respectfully, Hugh Cavallaro
email October, 2004
Just got back from Key West and wanted to thank you again for your suggestions. We tried several of them. Loved the Key Lime Pie at Pepe's, as well as the enchilado marisco at El Siboney. Mangia Mangia and Turtle Kralls were also quite good. We opted not to go to Blue Heaven because we learned two different sets of guests at our B&B got food poisoning there. We didn't want to take a chance and spoil our vacation. We would have liked to visit Annie's and Bagatelle but simply ran out of time. Hopefully we can try them the next time we visit. Jeffree