When you think of places with thriving Cuban communities outside of Cuba, the first place that probably crosses your mind is Miami. In fact, around one-third of Key West’s population was Cuban in the late 19th century. Key West is only 90 miles from Cuba, the closest you’ll get to Cuba without leaving the country! While the Cuban community isn’t as it once was, the beauty of the culture has been permanently ingrained in Key West, whether it be through music, cuisine, drinks, or the overall vibe of the island. Whether you’re Cuban or not, here are the best Cuban things to do in Key West.
Best Cuban Sandwich: Sandy's Café
Regarded as the best in town, Sandy’s Café's Cuban Mix Sandwich consists of flaky, pressed Cuban bread stuffed with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise, and mustard. Find more delicious Cuban sandwiches (Cubanos) in delis and eateries around the island with our guide to the Best Cuban Sandwiches in Key West. 1026 White St.
Best Place to Learn About Cuban Culture: San Carlos Institute
Once a haven founded by Cuban exiles looking to escape Spanish rule, the San Carlos Institute operates today as a Cuban heritage center and museum. Starting in the 1860s, Cubans crossed the 90 miles of the Florida Straits to try their hand in Key West, far enough away from Spanish economic oppression. To learn more about Key West’s Cuban history, visit the San Carlos Institute, one of our recommended 24 Things to Do in Key West. 516 Duval St.
Best Cuban Cigar: Rodriguez Cigar Factory
The oldest cigar company in the Florida Keys, Rodriguez Cigars has been rolling cigars on the island since 1984. Their collection consists of four distinct series, all embodied with its own unique complexity and character. Rodriguez sources from the finest private plantations around the world, while keeping the traditional Cuban manufacturing methods to deliver the quality they are known for. 113 Fitzpatrick St.
Best Cuban Coffee: Cuban Coffee Queen
Start your day with a taste of Cuba’s beloved export - coffee. The best Cuban coffee shop on the island, the Cuban Coffee Queen stand is located on the waters of the Key West Bight next to the 24 North Hotel shuttle stop. Order the café con leche (Cuban coffee with steamed milk) or the “Bucci” - a strong Cuban espresso served with cane sugar. 284 Margaret St.
Best Live Cuban Music: El Meson de Pepe
Located directly in Mallory Square, the family-owned El Meson de Pepe serves up delicious drinks, eats, and the only local salsa band on the island. Come samba during the Sunset Celebration to the rhythm of the music and enjoy one of the most beautiful views on the island. 410 Wall St.
Best Way to Immerse Yourself in Cuban Culture: Cayo Hueso y Habana Historeum
The Cayo Hueso y Habana Historeum is not only home to El Meson de Pepe, but it is filled with colorful shops, memorabilia, and history on the relationship between Key West, a.k.a. Cayo Hueso, and Cuba. Your one-stop shop for everything Cuban is located in the historic brick warehouse on Key West’s busy harbor. 410 Wall St.
Best Traditional Cuban Restaurant: El Siboney
Located right in the heart of Old Town, El Siboney is a no-frills diner that dishes out generous portions of homestyle Cuban food. Popular plates include their roast pork, Siboney steak, Paella Valenciana, and heaping portions of rice and sweet, fried plantains. Find more delicious Cuban eats in Key West with our guide to the Best Cuban Food in Key West. 900 Catherine St.
Best Mojito: First Legal Rum Distillery
First Legal Rum Distillery offers free tours, tastings, and mojito classes, with recipes and techniques imported straight from Cuba. This may be the best mojito in Key West, but there’s a catch: you have to make it. 105 Simonton St.
Best Cuban Burger: Frita’s Cuban Burger
Frita’s burgers have origins dating back to the 1930s in Cuba. Inspired by Cuban street food, the blend of beef and pork “frita” is seasoned with Spanish spices and topped with a special sauce and crispy fried julienne potatoes, all sandwiched on a Cuban bun. 425 Southard St.
Best Cuban Souvenir: Kino’s Sandals
Established by two Cuban immigrants fleeing the revolution, Kino’s has been a Key West footwear staple since 1966. Kino’s uses the same techniques as the sandaleros back in Cuba to create quality leather sandals. Stop by the historic Kino’s Sandal Factory to see how it’s done and pick up a pair. 107 Fitzpatrick St.
24 North Hotel has partnered with Kino Sandals to launch a "1-Hour Sandal Delivery" program for hotel guests. Now, through the front desk, hotel guests can order a pair of these handmade Key West souvenirs and have them delivered directly to their hotel door within one hour. Read more.
Booking your vacation in the Conch Republic? Enjoy your island getaway with a longer stay at 24 North Hotel. Now for a limited time, guests can receive up to 30% off our nightly rate with our No Passport Needed special offer. Read more.