Stock Island's buzz is growing. Separated from Key West by the narrow Cow Key Channel, this off-the-beaten-path island is not just an extension of its famous neighbor to the south but also a destination.
Home to boatyards, artist studios and the area’s last working waterfront, Stock Island has a quieter, more laid-back charm. If you’re ready to discover something new the next time you make the trip down to the southernmost point, swing into Stock Island and stay a while.
WHERE TO STAY
The Perry at Stock Island Village Marina
The area’s industrial surroundings with raw concrete, steel and hardwood in clean, modern lines inspired The Perry at Stock Island Marina Village. Chic rooms with oversize balconies overlook the 220-slip marina and pool deck with fire pits, perfect for post-sunset relaxation. Be sure to stroll along the Marina Village to duck into local artists’ studios. Be sure to grab a bite at DeLuna’s authentic Cuban food truck.
It’s also home to Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen & Bar,one of the best restaurants in the area. Honoring the bounty of the Keys’ fresh seafood, these elevated dishes dance with creole and southern comfort flavors. Think fluffy crab beignets served with lemon powder and Old Bay aioli and sumptuous grouper swimming in thyme butter with crawfish and cornbread gnudi.
Oceans Edge Resort & Marina
Sticking to more traditional Key West architecture, Oceans Edge Resort & Marina consists of four buildings of cottage-like accommodations with tin roofs and white balconies overlooking the 111-slip marina. The hotel is bursting with contemporary works by local artists depicting familiar tropical surroundings. Each building boasts its own swimming pool overlooking the water. A casual al fresco restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Hogfish Bar & Grill
Opened in 2002 by local restaurateur Bobby Mongelli, Hogfish Bar & Grill is Stock Island’s original destination restaurant. Set beneath a thatched roof, the al fresco dockside haunt was once an old shrimper bar. It fulfills all the delightfully salty, ramshackle fantasies of dining in the Keys. License plates, vintage posters and photographs are tacked to the walls, and the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. Go for the namesake hogfish (a snapper that’s abundant in local waters and cooks up flaky and sweet) sandwich on soft Cuban bread with melted Swiss cheese and sautéed onions and mushrooms.
Roostica Wood-Fire Pizzeria
Roostica is Mongelli’s followup to Hogfish, and it swiftly became another local favorite. A rustic Italian trattoria, Roostica specializes in wood-fired, authentic Neapolitan pizzas, highlighting simple, fresh ingredients. The namesake pie is made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sweet sausage, caramelized onions, mushrooms and roasted peppers. The expansive menu also includes salads, calzones, pasta and entrees like hogfish piccata and clams and linguine. This year, an adjacent food truck and fruit and vegetable stand opened for customers wanting more casual fare.
Get a taste for Key West’s version of authentic Cuban food at the no frills El Mocho luncheonette (no website, 5708 Maloney Ave.). Open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., it’s popular at breakfast time amongst local fishermen. This is the place to fulfill all of your croquetas de jamon and cafecito cravings.
Lost Kitchen Supper Club
To truly immerse yourself in local Stock Island culture through cuisine, buy a ticket for the Lost Kitchen Supper Club’s weekly pop-up dinner parties held on Wednesday and Saturday evenings, along with a Friday night happy hour. With rotating culinary themes ranging from Moroccan to Sicilian, Chefs Layla Barr and Martin Liz highlight sustainable, organic food and local purveyors and fishermen in a convivial atmosphere.
WHAT TO DO BY LAND AND SEA
To get a taste for local artists living and working in Stock Island, swing by Washed Up, a woodworking studio and showroom run by mother-son artist duo Deb and Kasidy Fritts. Specializing in driftwood sculptures, reclaimed “upcycled” wooden furniture and fine art, they share the space with jewelry designer and metalsmith Nick Soto.
Longtime local and boat captain Billy Kearins founded this artist collective. Coast’s dusty indoor-outdoor space is part-studio and part-performance venue hosting such acts as chilled-out surf rocker Donavan Frankenreiter. You’ll also find Yahman’s Authentic Jamaican Jerk Shack food truck holding court at the entrance.
FUN IN THE SUN CHARTERS
Of course, Stock Island’s big appeal is getting offshore. With deepwater marinas providing direct access to the Atlantic, this is the place to embark on fishing charters, snorkel trips and party boats. Go with Shon Williams’ Fun in the Sun charters and tailor-make your offshore adventure.