The Best Sunset in the Upper Keys

Many who frequent the keys have a strong opinion on where you can see the prettiest sunset. While some mention Snooks, I feel the two most popular are Marker 88 and Sundowners. We happened to eat at Marker 88 one night and Sundowners the next so we were able to make a comparison and form our own opinion. Let’s find out who the winner was in our book!

We did Marker 88 first. I knew they had some cool tables by the water where from what I had seen you could see the sunset really well. I figured a reservation probably wasn’t necessary on a Tuesday night but since I really wanted one of these tables, I called and made a reservation and specifically asked for a ‘table by the water’ around sunset. We arrived at the time of our reservation and the unfriendly hostess informed us that our options were a high top table or table in the tiki hut but that the tables I had specifically requested were not available. She explained that I had said ‘table by the water’ and not ‘glider’ or ‘cabana table’. I can understand not being able to reserve one of the nicest tables on the weekend for a person requesting a table by the water during sunset BUT realistically, how many people called on a Tuesday night with the same request? I’m guessing not many if any so I was a bit annoyed.

We went with a high top table which was on a slope and a bit uncomfortable. It also had one of the nicer cabana tables in the way of the sunset. We ended up opting to wait the necessary time for one of the tables I had hoped to be seated at. When we were seated we were given one of the glider tables that isn’t in the first row by the water and it had even less of  a view of the sunset. The table was also at a slope and uncomfortable. At this point though, we weren’t going to ask to move again though so we settled.

The sunset was nice since you are on a beach bayside. I can’t say it was one of the more impressive sunsets I have seen but it was a bit cloudy. The kids enjoyed putting their feet in the water at the little beach. We did not enjoy the wet sand they brought back to the table.

I have to say that the appetizers were EXCELLENT! We ordered Tuna Nachos and Hot Blue Crab dip. Service was a bit slow but many places are understaffed these days. Our waitress was very friendly. I ordered onion crusted mahi, Peter had painted tuna and my parents ordered the key lime seafood to share. I enjoyed my onion crusted mahi but overall we were not impressed with the entrees. The key lime seafood my parents ordered to share was tiny.

In addition to the table being uncomfortable and not even giving a nice view of the sunset, these tables also have no lighting so you could barely see your food once the sun went down. It was also right next to the live music. The music was pleasant as it was a gentleman playing Spanish guitar. Many patrons approached him telling him how wonderful the music was. Unfortunately for us, it was too loud because of our proximity to the stage and it would have definitely been more enjoyable had it been at a lower volume.

I wish I could report differently but overall, it was not a pleasant experience. If I was to go back I would make a reservation and confirm that we will be seated at a ‘Cabana Table’. These are the nicest ones with the best view. When one emptied my mom sat in one for a second and confirmed they are not at a slope like the other tables on the beach.

On that note, I guess it’s obvious that our pick for best sunset is Sundowners! We did this on a Wednesday and it wasn’t a very planned decision so we went without a reservation. At the entrance they have this sign which I absolutely LOVE!

I appreciate honesty and they are telling you up front that they are understaffed. I already mentally prepared myself to be patient. There was a wait of about thirty minutes but we had the option to wait at the bar. They also had live music and it was fun songs. The stage is by the bar where you are more likely to enjoy louder music and I do not believe it was close enough to any tables to be an annoyance. We really enjoyed the ‘pain remover 3’ cocktail they offer. Proceed at your own risk if you order this one! It is strong and topped with a Bacardi 151 floater! It’s sweet so it will creep up on you. There were a few clouds but we still had one of those beautiful sunsets where you can see the sun slowly disappear into the horizon.

I feel the way the tables are set up here, you won’t really end up sitting anywhere where you won’t have a nice view. Even if you sit inside if you want A/C, there are large windows where you can still enjoy the beautiful view. We opted to sit on the porch since there were fans available there.

This wasn’t our first time here so I can share that I have always enjoyed all the dishes I have had. We went with the jalapeño poppers for appetizer this time since we had never tried them and had already had some of the more typical appetizers the previous night. They were delicious! I know their fish dip is also excellent! One of my favorite entrees they offer is the shrimp zoodles. Every time I go I tell them I wish more restaurants offered creative healthy options like this!

Service was slow- but remember, we were warned upon entry! Our server was great and he actually gave us a round of ‘Pain Reliever 3’ on the house since the dinner did take a bit long.

It definitely was a more pleasant and comfortable experience than the night before. I’m sure we will give Marker 88 another shot sometime and maybe i’ll come back with a more positive report. Snooks is a perfect example of a restaurant we had a bad experience at our first visit but we’ve been back and actually really enjoyed it. For now though, our pick for best restaurant to see the sunset in the upper Keys is Sundowners!

Thanks for visiting!


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