After months of deliberation, my father and I finally settled on the Florida Keys for our long-overdue father-daughter trip. The decision was primarily made due to its neutral proximity for us flying in from opposite coasts. Plus, it was just a place both of us had always wanted to go.

Our route would take us roughly 100 miles from Key Largo to Kew West via US 1, aka the Overseas Highway. This iconic two-lane road with 42 (!!!) bridges is one of the most scenic: Imagine limestone islets, working docks and marinas, and the most beautiful shades of aqua marine water you’ve ever seen.

It is also one of the most delicious — so long as you love key lime pie. It is almost impossible to drive this route and not notice the plethora of signs and stores selling key lime products, every single one of which touts their pie as either “The Best Key Lime Pie,” or “The Original Key Lime Pie.”

My Key Lime Pie Road Trip with My Dad

1. Key Largo: Snappers

On the first night of our trip, a breezy April night, we were sitting at the bar of Snappers, a convivial beachside locale best known for their locally caught seafood. Of course, we had to order the homemade key lime pie — and it definitely lived up to expectations. As we were about to head out, the couple across the bar chimed in.

“If you like that pie, you have to head down to mile marker 92 to The Giraffe,” the woman, whose name we learned was Melanie, told us.

“No, no, Mr. C’s is better, everything’s homemade, even the ice cream,” her husband, Louis, said.

Tasting Notes: Pie was served with whipped cream. Very simple, perfect texture, not too sweet, not too tart.

2. Tavernier: Blonde Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory

The next day, heeding our new friend’s advice, our first pit stop was the Blond Giraffein Tavernier. The owners, Tania Beguinati and Roberto Madeira, use a secret family recipe passed down from Tania’s grandmother in Brazil, and the pie has earned accolades that include “best key lime pie,” by the Key Lime Pie Festival and Florida Monthly Magazine.

So how was it? The filling was creamy and sweet with just a touch of tang, and the cornmeal crust was delicate and flaky. But it was the billowy mound of meringue on top of the pie that was the game-changer. Apparently, meringue is a subject of some debate (with or without is a never-ending feud around these parts), but we were hooked.

 

Not only that, but we knew we needed to try more pies. Our road trip had officially become a quest to taste the best slice of key lime pie in the Florida Keys.

Tasting Notes: The big difference here is pies are served with meringue on top.

3. Islamorada: The Green Turtle Inn

Eleven miles south, our next stop was The Green Turtle Inn in Islamorada. “The Turtle,” as it’s known locally, has been an Islamorada institution since 1947 and was made even more famous by Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

We ordered a couple cups of turtle chowder (sorry, turtles) and a slice of key lime pie for the road. The macadamia nut Rice Krispies crust was unconventional; the filling was dense and sweet; and it came with a dollop of whipped cream, berry syrup, and a side of strawberries.

Tasting Notes: Good, but didn’t need the strawberry jam.

4. Islamorada: Hungry Tarpon

Only a few miles south, at marker 77 to be exact, we stopped for lunch at the Hungry Tarpon whose local specialties include conch fritters, mahi tacos, and, of course, key lime pie. The real winner here we decided was the conch and tacos, along with the chance to watch eager tourists feed the Goliath-sized tarpons in the adjoining marina.

Tasting Notes: Pie here was good, with graham cracker crust and whipped cream.

Read the full article here: http://www.thekitchn.com/i-went-on-a-key-lime-pie-road-trip-with-my-dad-245560