El Meson de Pepe’s is a family owned and operated Cuban Restaurant in Key West. Chef Pepe Diaz and his family first opened in 1985 on upper Duval Street, bringing patrons delicious Cuban favorites for over 30 years. Now at the Casa Cayo Hueso building on Mallory Square since 1997, El Meson de Pepe continues to offer great fare while preserving the Cuban Conch Heritage in Key West. The historic red brick building faces the Gulf of Mexico. The site is also where thousands of refugees from Cuba disembarked on American shores during the 19th century.
In addition to great libations, every evening just before sunset, a live Salsa band keeps the energy flowing. For those unfamiliar with the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration, it’s a nightly festival that begins 2 hours before sunset. The celebration includes street performers, magicians, jugglers, local artists, and vendors. Caribe of Key West is the only local Salsa band on the island and performs a variety of Caribbean favorites.
The interior is colorful and reminiscent of old Havana…tabletops are inlaid with old postcards, family photos, and person letters. Cuban artists’s colorful paintings adorn the walls everywhere. Check out the small gift shop for some souvenirs. The Patio Bar features Cuban cuisine, tasty Caribbean cocktails, and picturesque views of the Mallory Square Sunset Celebration and Gulf of Mexico. Areas are large enough for special events. Don’t be alarmed by the chickens running across the patio; they’re part of the El Meson family!
The cuisine is reasonably-priced and delicious. Traditional fare includes roast pork, garlic chicken, picadillo, ropa vieja, plantains and flan. Try their award-winning ‘Key West” version of the traditional Cuban Sandwich, Cayo Hueso Cuban Mix brimming with sugar-glazed ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles on crispy pressed Cuban bread. My favorites were the Camarones al Ajillo, shrimp sautéed in garlic, olive oil, lemon, white wine; Pan Con Bistec, tender prime sirloin steak sandwich with grilled onions; Tres Leches cake, a three-milk moist sensation and Pudin De Guava, guava bread pudding.
- Editor’s Note: By Nancy Radlauer, Editor.InboundMagazine@gmail.com; Go to El Meson De Pepe’s for a casual, fun evening, great Mojito’s and Caipirinhas, authentic Cuban food, live Salsa music, awesome atmosphere, in the perfect location. El Meson gets my vote!
VISIT: El Meson de Pepe; elmesondepepe.com; 410 Wall Street (Mallory Square);
Key West, Florida; 305-295-2620