Sloppy Joes in paradise

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Hopefully you found yourself asking, “Where have Doug and his food columns been the last two weeks?”

A place where evaporation doesn’t exist, where someone who considers themselves a cold-weather lover really suffers.

Southern Florida. Key West, to be exact.

Don’t get me wrong, the almost-fake-looking perfect waters, sunshine and tropical surroundings were amazing. Key West is like its own separate country, full of Americans doing American things. There is a general feeling of relaxation and no rush to do anything.

My vacation crew and I happened to win the weather lottery and got there a few days after a tropical storm blew through, soaking the town. You would think highs in the mid-80s were perfect temperature points, and boy would you be wrong. In Sheridan we are spoiled with this thing called low humidity, so sweat actually does its job and you aren’t a wet sock walking around in the heat. Not in Key West. It sticks to you and informs you that only a fan will help you out, or a nice breeze.

We ultimately went to catch some tarpon. To catch them you have to take your trout-fishing skills and amplify them 100 fold. They can spot you from yards away and dart under the mangrove to wait it out.

Our guide was very skilled at gliding the small boat around the salt flats, landing us almost on top of the monsters. To me, landing an 18-inch rainbow is a rush and worth the fight. Tarpon can grow up to 8-feet long and fly out of the water like a whale.

The whole experience was worth the heat, and I highly suggest it.

I digress. This fishing column is getting off track. What I really mean to talk about is this place called Sloppy Joe’s. Ernest Hemingway’s favorite spot.

You can tell it had been around for a while as soon as you walked in — packed to the brim with people in colorful shorts and shirts, fans and open doors on two sides. There is a main bar in the middle and these strange little satellite bars on all sides. Even at 11 a.m. when we arrived, the bar business was booming.

They offered everything you would expect on a grill menu.

And everything is covered in sloppy joe. You could even get it as a dipping side; it was wild.

You could tell most of the items were catered to the folks trying to forget the shenanigans from night before and get something greasy in their stomachs. We mostly stuck to fishing on our visit and were bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, so we decided to give the sloppy joe nachos a try, along with an ice cold beer.

It tasted exactly as you would think sloppy joe nachos would taste — slightly sweet and strange. Would I get them again? Probably not. But I like to think Ernest Hemingway sat where I did, had a mojito and snacked on the strange nachos, too.

If you find yourself in Key West, give it a shot. It’s Worth the effort of getting a table and relaxing in this piece of American history.

By |Jun. 20, 2018|

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