The one and only Sloppy Joe's Bar
Yeah, we're talking the big-time bars in Key West here. Sloppy Joe's, The Hog's Breath and Margaritaville. People tell me all the time how they'd "Never step foot in a tourist trap like that", but these are the three busiest bars in Key West--how's THAT happen?
Go to one of the big travel apps (Trip Advisor, Yelp! or Urban Spoon) and you'll notice that these joints don't exactly have the most stellar of ratings, and that doesn't matter... one... bit. When you're a big-time bar, especially in a tourist area, you've got it made. Of this, there is no doubt. The big-time bars in Key West have little to worry about, even with all of the competition. This is what "branding" can do for you, people--get you to a point where you can put it on cruise-control.
Must be nice.
I've heard that the Big Three do tens of millions of dollars in merchandise alone, and I believe it. The Conch Shack (the burger joint that I work at) is right next to the Hog's Breath, and everybody and their Mama comes out of there with a bag of t-shirts, coffee mugs, and whatever. Everywhere I look, they're wearing Margaritaville and Sloppy Joe's tees. Hell, every year Jimmy Buffett is on the Forbes list of Highest-Paid Entertainers, and it ain't because of his recent album sales! Matter of fact, when was the last time he put out an album?
(Oh, and while we're on the subject, DON'T WEAR YOUR KEY WEST T-SHIRT IN KEY WEST!!! Here's a newsflash: We already know you've been here.)
Margaritaville. Yeah, go ahead...
These are the iconic bars in Key West, Florida, whether the locals will admit to it, or not. All party towns have that one "must-see" bar, and it makes sense to check it out, right? Well, we have (at least) three, and in my opinion, you should make sure that you do them, especially if you don't have a lot of time in town.
And you know what's cool? They're all within walking distance of each other! That means to pace yourself, and have a drink (or two) in each establishment, with some food. Take it from a professional, people--drinking without eating is not smart!
Hog's Breath Saloon. Give it a shot.
If you go to these Big-Three bars, be prepared for loud and noisy, especially in the daytime when the cruise ships are in port. They almost always have live music and sometimes really good music, especially at night (check out my Key West Bands page for more info). Also, keep in mind that although they have food, these are not restaurants, these are bars with food, and there's a difference. As I mentioned earlier, these joints do not have the most stellar of ratings, but if you feel you must, have the Sloppy Joe Sandwich or the Cheeseburger in Paradise, but don't say I didn't tell you so. People think that the Cheeseburger at the Conch Shack where I work is one of the best on the island, for like half the price, and I'm not saying that because I work there!
So yeah, go ahead and check out these TOURIST MANDATORY Bars in Key West and get it out of your system, but remember to also check out the bars Respected by Locals and Local Dives I mention on my other pages.
And please, always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS leave a comment, good or bad, with me. How else am I gonna know if I'm wrong about something, or if things have changed? Hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or on my contact me page.
And Remember to tell 'em, "Freshwater Dave sent us!"
Have fun--it ain't hard!