Key West is known for a lot of things: it’s the southernmost city in the contiguous United States, stunning turquoise blue water, and it’s been home to notable people like Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, and even former president Harry S. Truman. But, arguably, one of the most iconic things in Key West is the key lime pie. We at Delish love key lime pie so much that it's served as the inspiration for fudge, popsicles, and even a martini.
The origins of key lime pie are murky. Many Floridians believe that the sweet and tangy dessert was originally intended to be a scurvy cure aboard fishing vessels. Local legend credits a cook known as “Aunt Sally” for adapting the recipe at the iconic Curry Mansion in the late 19th century.
However, according to cookbook author and baking expert Stella Parks, the origins of key lime pie might actually be rooted in an advertising campaign for Borden sweetened condensed milk. No matter what story you believe, there’s no question that the best key lime pie comes straight from Key West.
Since there are so many stores selling their own take on the classic dessert, it’s hard to pick between pies when you’re traveling in Key West. That’s why we sent taste-test queen Julia Smith down to the Keys to try some of the city’s best. Here are the best places to eat key lime pie in Key West:
This Key West landmark is known for serving key lime pie topped with a "mile high meringue." And when they say mile high, they're not kidding. The pie almost resembles a Baked Alaska at first glance. Chef T has been making these pies by hand for over 25 years, and you can taste the love in every bite.
Located near the Historic Seaport, Kermit's and is the brainchild of chef Kermit Carpenter, who's been turning out pies for decades. Made with his proprietary double-strength key lime juice, this pie is especially punchy. Instead of using a classic meringue, the whipped cream acts as the creamy counterpart to the tart filling.
At first glance, there's no way you could tell that this key lime pie is vegan. But it is! Moondog uses aquafaba (a vegan egg alternative derived from chickpeas) to get those tall peaks of plant-based meringue. The key lime flavor is potent and is delightfully creamy against the dense, shortbread-style crust.
First Flight might be known for being the birthplace of Pan Am, but they also sell a killer slice of key lime pie. What makes their version different is the incorporation of chocolate in their recipe: both from Oreos in the crust and the drizzle of chocolate sauce over the slice. The tartness of the key lime takes a backseat and allows the creamy, decadent condensed milk to take center stage. So if you're hesitant when it comes to sourness, this is the pie for you.
The desserts at Key West Key Lime Pie Company are critically acclaimed. But our favorite treat that they sell adds a fun spin to the traditional key lime pie. Their frozen key lime pie bars are dunked in chocolate for an extra luxurious bite. It's not exactly easy to share, but you'll probably want to eat the entire thing anyway.
Some local publications argue that Old Town Bakery's key lime pie is the best in the city. And for good reason: the crust has a toasty, almost gingerbread-esque warmth to it that adds nuance to the pucker of the key lime filling. And just like at Kermit's, they also top their pie with whipped cream instead of meringue.
Key lime pie is so good that we could eat it at every meal. And at Azur, you can! Their key lime pie French toast literally layers slices of French toast between pieces of key lime pie before getting hit with a drizzle of fruit topping. When they invented the phrase "breakfast of champions," they were talking about this dish.
Are there any other key lime pie shops in Key West that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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