The expectation is real.
Key lime pie is the dessert of Florida, and people want to see it on restaurants’ menus.
In no particular order, here are some of the places you can order delicious Key lime pie in Northwest Florida.
Donut Hole Café & Bakery
If you do a Google search for the best places to get Key lime pie in Destin, Donut Hole Café & Bakery will be one of the first results. Dana Chan-dler, owner, said the dessert is the restaurant’s best seller.
“People come from all over,” Chandler said. “When they come into town, they always make sure they stop and get a Key lime pie … It’s also a local favorite.”
The Donut Hole’s recipe is top secret, Chandler said.
“I think ours is more like a homemade pie, because we make all of ours,” Chandler said. “We have just the creamy, perfect right amount of tart-ness that everybody loves and gravitates to.”
Key lime pie is the quintessential pie for Florida, Chandler said. When she hosts an event, she always brings a Key lime pie.
“That is something that will always be a staple at The Donut Hole,” Chandler said.
Cuvee Destin, Cuvee 30A and Destin Ice Market 30A
There’s no question the Key lime pie at these locations is authentic, as it’s made with Key limes from the Caribbean.
It is, however, the only dish at Cuvee Destin and Cuvee 30A that the restaurant’s chef does not cook. The two restaurants and the seafood market, owned by Creehan & Co., sell Key lime pies from Kenny’s Great Pies, a company in Smyrna, Georgia.
Tim Creehan, chef at Cuvee Destin and Cuvee 30A, said when he first came to Destin in the late 1980s, he made his own Key lime pie.
“Obviously, you don’t have to be here for very long to realize Key lime pie needs to be one of the offerings on your menu,” Creehan said. “Being fine dining and being a classically trained chef, just plain old Key lime pie didn’t satisfy me.”
Creehan started making a Key lime cheesecake, and then Key lime pie, with a graham cracker crumb crust. The crust was thick and savory with coarse graham cracker, brown sugar and butter, he said.
“I made it twice the thickness you would expect in a normal pie shell,” Creehan said.
After discovering a Key lime pie that equaled his own, Creehan is proud to admit he now purchases the restaurants’ Key lime pie from Kenny’s Great Pies. The company’s version is not too tart and not too sweet, he said.
“I put it up against any Key lime pie in the world,” Creehan said. “I’ve never had one better.”
The reason Creehan gives for the pie’s consistency and overall deliciousness is the Key limes, which he said the company gets from the Carib-bean.
Stinky’s Fish Camp
Rest assured the name of this restaurant is no indication of its Key lime pie. Todd Misener, chef at Stinky’s Fish Camp in Santa Rosa Beach, said the dessert is made with a handmade graham cracker crust and fresh Key lime juice.
“The recipe is pretty simple, but it’s really refreshing,” Misener said. “I think that’s why people love it.”
Stinky’s Fish Camp’s Key lime pie has been featured in many publications and is made fresh every day, Misener said.
“It’s the perfect way to finish a fresh fish, locally caught meal at Stinky’s,” Misener said.
Old Florida Fish House
Old Florida Fish House, also in Santa Rosa Beach, does not offer your average Key lime pie. The Key lime pie at this restaurant is different in two ways: It has a homemade crust composed of Nabisco Nilla Wafers, and it is made in a rectangular pan.
Penny Vause, a sous chef at Old Florida Fish House, said she makes the Key lime pie with Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice, using the recipe on the back of the jar. She has given the recipe to friends, but they tell her it doesn’t taste the same when they make it.
“I think it’s because the crust is different, and it has real butter in it and sugar,” Vause said. “That always helps the palate.”
The dish is popular, and customers often request whole pies, Vause said. If Vause wants any to sell, she has to cook the dessert during the day to protect it from restaurant staff.
“They pick at the crust; they want to dip their finger; they want to lick the bowls,” Vause said. “These are things that must be baked alone … They’ll eat your inventory up, like buzzards.”