Analise Smith is the founder of
Made in Key West Food Tours. She is a native of Key West, Florida who grew up on fresh seafood and Cuban dishes. She loves showing people her hometown through the eyes of a local, and is eager for everyone to fall in love with the island’s charm, community, and food.
1. What foods is Key West known for?
Key West, Florida is the last island in the Florida Keys chain, ninety miles from Cuba in the sub-tropics. You can’t come to Key West without trying Cuban food! Our island has been influenced for centuries by the people and culture of Cuba. We also are known for Caribbean food as well, having had thousands of Bahamians migrate to the keys in the 1800s. Tropical fruit trees have taken over the town, where fresh key limes, coconuts, mangoes, avocados, and more add to our recipes. Last but certainly never to be eaten last: fresh seafood! Our nearby oceans are full of many different kinds of fish. Lobster, crab, and shrimp leave us spoiled down here in the Keys.
2. What neighborhoods should people visit when they come to your city?
The first area that people will come across is Duval Street, the hub and center of the island. There’s plenty of bars, restaurants and shops there to keep you entertained during your stay. However, it would be a shame to come here and only see Duval Street. Rent a bike and wander through old town, making your way to Bahama Village, a funky neighborhood where generations of locals grew up. Hop in a cab and trek to Stock Island, the next island up, and feast on seafood from restaurants in the harbor. Watch them unload the boats right next to your table! Better yet, join us on our food tour where we can take you to hidden streets and restaurants that tourists never see.
3. What is the best time of year to visit your city?
The great thing about Key West is that it is a year-round destination. Summer all year long! That being said, it does get hot in the summer months, as we are the most humid city in the continental United States. In the winter, from December to April, temperatures can fluctuate between 75 – 80 degrees. Paradise, right? However, it does get crowded in the winter down here, and prices do rise for accommodation, as opposed to cheaper lodging and less crowds in the summer.
4. Are there any events foodies should plan their trip to your city around?
We kick off the year with the Key West Food and Wine Festival in January, a five day event centered around the culinary arts of the island. Seminars and tastings, local events highlighting our unique chefs in town, and amazing weather all make this festival a must! In April, we also have an event called Taste of Key West, where hundreds of local restaurants set up booths and serve their famous specialties. Guests munch on tastings to decide where to go back to. It’s similar to our food tour, but this is on grand level!
5. What can people expect on your food tours?
Our food tours are very cultural. It’s about the three staples of our diet here: Cuban and Caribbean cuisine, tropical fruits, and seafood. That represents our region, and is reflected in our tour. Key West can sometimes be portrayed as a party town, but there is so much more to our island than Duval Street. This is a residential island that has been inhabited for hundreds of years, full of rich history and lore. People can expect to see the local side of island life through our tour, and walk away with a true understanding of what it means to be a “Conch”, a term that is used to describe the residents.