Monday, March 26, 2012

Hungry Tarpon Restaurant - Islamorada, Florida Keys

As the song says, "Everybody knows a little place called Kokomo..." That's one of the tunes I like to play on the car radio as I head down south for some R&R in the Florida Keys. I felt I needed to downshift and get my "keys on" last weekend, so that's exactly what I did; I treated myself to a day trip to a place I love because of its great seafood, relaxed ambiance, and tropical flair. Not to mention quite a bit of excitement, with great watering holes such as the world famous Tiki Bar, in Holiday Isle.

Although I have my usual favorite eateries in the Keys, which I've posted about before, I decided to try something new on this trip. Driving down to Isla Morada, I let my hunger be my guide. While traveling south on US1, we spotted a slightly hidden place right off the bridge, quite easy to miss, which had a colorful open air market. Loving to shop almost as much as I love to eat, we parked and saw it was bustling with people, and "shacks" selling all kinds of goodies - sunglasses, jewelry, t-shirts... you name it. Further down, we noticed there was a building which appeared to house a restaurant right at the waterfront; sporting a dock heading out to the water.  I realized we were at Robbie's of Islamorada, a popular marina, famous for Tarpon Feeding. I had been here a few years back and had had a lot of fun feeding the approximately 50-100 tarpon that come here daily to feed. To the left, there was a nice sandy beach with lounge chairs and some shacks to rent a boat or perhaps a kayak, and head out to the nearby mangroves. The old Florida Keys restaurant was naturally named Hungry Tarpon Restaurant, located at 77522 Overseas Highway, roughly on Mile Marker 78, and it had a great outside seating area overlooking the water; inviting us to sit down and relax, as we enjoyed the nice breeze under the trees. This was definitely our stop!

Smoked Fish Dip
Soup and House Salad
The menu was very interesting, with a good variety of soups and salads, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, tacos, burritos and "baskets" of fried fish. We all ordered something different and of course, I was the lucky one that got a taste of everyone's food. The things I must do! I decided to start off with the Smoked Fish Dip, which I love. It was a generous portion, with three scoops of fish dip, served on a bed of lettuce with onions and banana peppers. The fish dip was extremely tasty and carried a kick to it that lingered in the tongue. Very enjoyable! Next, I tried the Soup and House Salad Combo. From the selection of soups, we ordered the Real Lobster Bisque, and the House Salad consisted of lettuce, tomato, onions, peppers, cheese and a choice of dressing. The salad was not spectacular but fresh and crisp, and the Lobster Bisque was thick, savory and a bit spicy. I found the refreshing salad went nicely with the hot, tasty bisque.

Matecumbe Fish Sandwich
Chicken Breast Sandwich
Another amazing dish was the Matecumbe Fish Sandwich. It consisted of a choice of blackened, grilled or fried mahi-mahi with provolone cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato, and thousand island dressing on a grilled sourdough. As a side dish, it was served with fries.  Since mahi mahi is a very "meaty" fish, I chose to have it "blackened", giving  it a nice bold and smoky flavor, instead of the delicate taste usually associated with the fish. It was amazing; very fresh, nicely seasoned, and with a rich texture. The final dish I sampled was the Chicken Breast Sandwich, also served with french fries. Just as we ordered, it was perfectly grilled, and came with lettuce and tomatoes. Although simple, the chicken was marinated nicely; with a zesty punch.

The spectacular aspect of our lunch was that not only was the food delicious, but the ambiance was laid back and tropical, creating an authentic Keys experience. Everyone was relaxed, and time didn't seem to matter as we enjoyed the views, and the laughter of the children as they fed the tarpon and chased the pelicans. Once we finished our meal, we joined the rest of the tourists and locals out on the dock, and had some fun of our own; creating yet another wonderful memory in Isla Morada.  For more information on this little piece of paradise, visit their website at or call them at 305-664-0535.

Hungry Tarpon on Urbanspoon


  1. Thanks for the great review! We are in the Keys and we live Robbie's but have never eaten there. We just might have to give it a try!

  2. You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. I love the Keys! There are so many great places there. Let me know what your favorite dish was when you visit Hungry Tarpon. Thanks, Maria