The winners for Best of Key West 2022 have been announced. Check them out below.
Best Drag Queen/Reader’s Choice Photographer: Maya Montana
One of Maya Montana’s favorite quotes is "Life is too short to cry over a broken heel!”
And that is a quote she lives by. For five years in a row, Montana has won Best Drag Queen of Key West. She has also won Best Photographer this year.
“Female impersonation and photography are two of the things in my life that I love passionately, so to be given this recognition, I am truly grateful for this honor!” she said. “Thank you very much to all that voted for me!”
You can catch her shows at Aqua seven nights a week.
Runner-up for Drag Queen: Beatrix Dixie
Runner-up for Photographer: Larry Blackburn
Best Restaurant: Santiago's Bodega
207 Petronia St.
Santiago’s Bodega is on a roll for Best Restaurant in Key West: it has won six times in a row.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Jason Dugan, the owner, who wanted to open his own restaurant to fulfill a childhood dream. He said the restaurant is inspired by Ernest Hemingway's “The Old Man and the Sea,” where the main character Santiago links his life's work as a fisherman with his own core values.
“Excellent service and food. All our tapas were full of flavor. We had the yellowfin tuna ceviche, beef tenderloin and yucca tapas and a bread pudding for dessert, which were all delicious. Highly recommend this restaurant,” wrote a reviewer on its Facebook page.
Runner-up: Poké in the Rear
Best Hidden Gem Food: Poké in the Rear
504 Angela Street
Key West, Florida 33040
Although Poké in the Rear was the runner-up for Best Restaurant, it was the winner for the Best Hidden Gem Food in Key West.
It offers specials such as Gotta Have "Faith" Bowl, Tropical Rum Cake, and more.
“So happy we decided to walk into this place today IN THE RAIN! So worth it! Best poke bowl on the island and the frozen rose was to die for, I could of sat there all day and drank! Had so much fun and can’t wait to go back,” wrote a reviewer on its Facebook page.
Runner-up: Garbo’s Grill
Best Hidden Gem Non-Dining: 22&Co
504 Angela Street
Key West, FL 33040
For the first time ever, 22&Co has won Best Hidden Gem Non-Dining.
On the bar’s website, it promises fresh cocktails, fun bartenders, tutus, flamingos, and unicorns. And every day they are “hustlin’.”
“This place is amazing. It is decorated so cute. The owner and her husband are awesome! And they are originally from a few towns away from us in New Jersey,” wrote a reviewer on its Facebook page.
Runner-up: Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
Best Bar/Club: Aqua
711 Duval St., Key West
Key West’s Best Bar goes to Aqua, which has won six times in a year now.
The bar offers daily drag shows for its customers, claiming to be “The Best Drag Show in Key West.”
“The Drag Show is unmatched in the talent, setting and performances. Located right on Duval St, our customers are treated to the true Key West experience from start to finish,” said Jenn Stefanacci, a spokesperson for Aqua, in 2021. “Aquaplex is Key West’s only theme park for adults.”
“Great atmosphere! The place just has a good vibe. Friendly staff, lots of tall tables and nice dance floor,” wrote a reviewer on its Facebook page.
Best Event That Must Come Back: Key West Pride
Residents must miss Key West Pride dearly because it won the Best Event That Must Come Back award for two years in a row.
The Pride invites people to join whether they’re looking to party with friends, travel with family, or “get lost in the magic” of the island.
“Great pride events are always put on by the gild. Bourbon ST Pub is a great place to be seen at pride every year,” wrote a reviewer in 2019 on its Facebook page.
Runner-up: Key West Tea Dance at La te Da
Best Pizza: Clemente's Trolley Pizzeria
Just like last year, Clemente’s Trolley Pizzeria has won the Best Pizza in Key West award.
Clemente’s offers different types of pizzas, ranging from the traditional Margarita (mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, basil, and pecorino Romano) to the more innovative Hawaiian (thick-cut bacon, fresh pineapple, and pecorino Romano). It also serves vegetarian pizzas. It makes gluten-free pizzas upon request.
Runner-up: Roostica Wood-Fire Pizzeria
Best Activity for Tourists: Key West Butterfly Conservatory
1316 Duval Street
A perfect place to visit for a tourist would be the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, which is why it won the Best Activity for a Tourist award.
The conservatory has a variety of animals, over 50 species of butterflies, and 20 species of exotic birds for visitors to observe.
There are a gift shop and gallery for visitors when they are done observing the animals.
Runner-up: Fantasy Fest
Best Island to Visit Besides Key West: Dry Tortugas
Travelers can’t get enough of Dry Tortugas National Park located off the coast of Key West since it won the Best Island to Visit Besides Key West award.
Dry Tortugas is made up of seven small islands and is one of the world’s most unique eco-attractions. Travelers can use a guide to explore and take part in many activities such as snorkeling, camping and more.
Best Burger: Moondog Cafe
823 Whitehead St
Although it didn’t win last year, Moondog Cafe made a comeback by winning Key West’s Best Burger award.
To no one’s surprise, it's mostly famous for its “Moon Burgers” such as The Moondog (Vermont white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickle spear and magic sauce); Cinco De Mayo (spicy Mexican salsa, queso fresco, grilled fresh jalapeño, avocado, fresh cilantro); and the Rise & Shine (Vermont white cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, fried egg and bourbon maple syrup).
The restaurant also serves a variety of salads, pizzas and seafood, and breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Runner-up: Frita’s Cuban Burger Cafe
Best Non-profit: Florida Keys SPCA
5711 College Rd., Key West 33040
Florida Keys SPCA made a comeback this year by winning the Best Non-profit in Key West award, winning two times now.
SPCA is an organization dedicated to treating animals with compassion and promoting humane treatment via adoption, education and population, according to their website.
It provides behavioral counseling, end-of-life services, emergency pet housing, and more.
SPCA also organizes fundraisers, adoption and educational events to promote awareness and support animals.
Runner-up: Sister Season Fund
Best Key Lime Pie: Blue Heaven
For the first time ever, Blue Heaven was crowned the Best Key Lime Pie in Key West.
Its famous key lime pie is made with a buttery cracker crust, squeezed lime juice, sweetened condensed milk and lots of meringue. It serves other desserts, dinners, lunches and breakfast as well.
It even has a special Sunday breakfast menu.
“We had an amazing experience on our first visit. The special for the day was a shrimp omelet and it was delicious and our server Paul was extremely friendly and offered some tips on where to go next as we explored Key West for the first time. All in all a wonderful time and I will recommend it to anyone. Again shout out to Paul for being a wonderful and helpful waiter,” wrote a reviewer.
Runner-up: Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe
Best Bartender: Myrica J. @ Aqua & Bourbon Street Pub
Myrica J. Has been a bartender on and off since 1999. With more than two decades of experience it’s obvious why she won Best Bartender. She moved to Key West in 2016.
“Y'all can find me slingin' drinks 5 nights a week at Aqua Nightclub, or weekend days at Bourbon St. Pub.,” she said. “I have a ton of specials I run on rotation depending on what fresh ingredients are available to me. My favorite part of the job is all the return customers that make it a point to stop in and see me every time they visit Key West.”
Runner-up: AJ @ 801 Bar
Best Activist: Larry Blackburn
Larry Blackburn takes home the prize for Best Activist this year.
“I guess that I won because I received the most votes!” he said jokingly. “Seriously, I have worked very hard to support our Key West LGBT community for as far back as I can remember. This community is very important to me and I will always work for equality among all.”
Blackburn is excited about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Gilbert Baker Sea to Sea Pride flag in 2023.
“The Key West Business Guild has big plans to celebrate this very important anniversary during Key West Pride during June 2023,” he said. “Mark your calendars to participate in this spectacular event.”
Blackburn is a well-known local photographer on the island.
“I have come to feel that you don't choose to live in Key West but rather Key West chooses you,” he said. "So far she wants me to stay and I won't let her or this community down.”
Visit larryblackburnphotography.zenfolio.com/arryblackburnphotography.zenfolio.com/ to check out Blackburn’s work.
Runner-up: Dorian Patton
All photos from Facebook.
Read the Best Of 2022 Issue on Issuu.com.