NO NAME PUB
  BIG PINE KEY, FLORIDA
  Betcha A Dollar You'll Love This Lousy Place
  .
 

Those who recommend this place seem to revel in its negative qualities... The building is old, ugly and run down. It is well off of the most highly-traveled roadways. There are no signs or billboards touting its existence and is quite hard to find without adequate directions... Even its website says they have "lousy service"...

The No Name Pub is located on Big Pine Key, one of the largest of the Florida Keys... about 25 miles east of Key West. The only continuous road through the Keys, US Route 1 traverses the southernmost part of the island. North of US 1, the 2-mile-wide island juts about 5 miles into the Gulf Of Mexico. It is here that youíll find about the closest thing that the Florida Keys would call a "rural community".

Most of Big Pine Keyís restaurants, businesses and attractions are located on or very near US 1. The No Name Pub is an exception... located away from all other businesses on a remote part of the island. Hereís how to get there... At the Big Pine Key traffic signal on US 1 (thereís only one), turn north on Key Deer Blvd. and drive about 1 Ĺ miles to the first major crossroads intersection (Watson Blvd.). Turn right (east) on Watson Blvd and drive about Ĺ mile. The No Name Pub is on the left. Itís easy to miss, so have your navigator keep his eyes peeled for an old pastel yellow building with aqua trim and a palm tree in front (Many of the buildings in the Keys seem to be painted with bold, tropical color schemes.). The medium sized sign atop the building reads "No Name Pub... You Found It". When you capture your first glimpse of this old building as you pull into the gravel parking lot, you will likely begin to wonder what the fuss is all about.

The interior is small and cramped. A large 3 sided bar with about 20-25 stools occupies much of the space. There are also several tables (cheap restaurant tables and chairs) that can accommodate another 40-50 patrons. Our party of seven was seated with a friendly Pennsylvania couple to make the best use of the space. The tables are very close together. If a member of your party has to go to the john, itís likely that some others will need to move to let them in/out. They do have an outdoor garden with picnic tables which unfortunately, I did not check out.

So after listing all of these negative qualities, how could I possibly give this place a high rating? Two main reasons. The No Name Pub has incredible character and outstanding bar food. And the service during our visit was actually pretty good.

The No Name Pubís signature gimmick is the thousands and thousands of dollar bills stapled to every square inch of the establishmentís walls and ceiling. How this began remains unclear, but their website says that there was so much illegal money passing through the Keys in the 70's and 80's that they started hanging it on the walls. The current estimate is that there is over $12,000 worth of dollar bills on the walls and ceiling, but I believe that an accurate figure would be much larger. The individual dollars are interesting to look at, as visitors have decorated and customized the bills. Many have written their hometown on their dollar. Some have peculiar, cryptic messages. Some are quite elaborate and colorful. We even saw a $3 bill. Collectively, itís amazing to see all of these dollars dangling from the ceiling, fluttering from the movement of air through the ceiling vent or stapled to the wall, reflecting the light of a neon beer sign. Your waitress will supply you with a Sharpie pen and a stapler, should you choose to add to the collection. One wonders what the fire inspector thinks of the kindling-laden walls and ceilings... but hey, the history of the No Name Pub indicates that they have always been beyond the reach or concern of law enforcement.

History

The business began in 1931 as a general store and bait shop. The eating establishment was added 5 years later. They added a brothel for a short time, but it failed because reportedly, "the fishermen were better looking than the ladies". They closed the general store and bait shop in the 50's and became exclusively a bar and restaurant. It became a rowdy, roughneck establishment with lots of gambliní, cussiní, fightiní and fartiní. Today, itís much tamer. Although itís still popular with the locals, the No Name Pubís target clientele appears to be tourists. They have carefully preserved, cultivated and perhaps embellished their rough, lawless image for the sake of marketing, but really... at least during the day... itís quite tame. Some claim that the ugly prostitutes are still available late in the evening... a claim that sadly, I cannot verify.

Food

Well, itís about time I tell you about the food. The extensive menu contains what most would consider "bar food"... pizza, nachos, sandwiches, chili, wings, etc. They also have a variety of seafood baskets, burgers, subs, salads and pasta. They also have local Florida Keys dishes like conch fritters (pronounced "conk"), fresh fish dip and Cuban sandwiches. The pizza is outstanding. They claim that they have been using the same recipe for 40 years, since they first hired two Italian "chefs". The recipe is said to be scribbled on the kitchen wall. This delicious pizza is very heavy. The crust is dense, the amount of cheese is insane and the toppings are more than plentiful. Some people would become full by one or two pieces of this pizza. To illustrate... we were a party of seven adults... 5 big men and 2 women. Between us, we ordered 2 grouper sandwiches and 2 - 14" Royal Pub pizzas (a total of 16 slices). I ate one of the grouper sandwiches and one slice of pizza. Another guy did the same. The others ate from the remaining 14 slices of pizza. There were four slices that went uneaten. The portions are huge. We saw them bring out orders of nachos, salads and wings. All were huge and had a very attractive presentation. My enormous grouper sandwich was great and I recommend it highly. Grouper is a very mild-tasting fish. The sandwich is a lightly breaded and fried 8 ounce filet served on a slightly chewy roll with lettuce, tomato and onion, with tartar sauce and lemon on the side. Despite of the type of cuisine, it is clear that food quality is a top priority at the No Name Pub. Mind you, much of this stuff will clog your arteries, especially the pizza, but it is served piping hot, presented well and is very delicious. The No Name Pub has elevated "bar food" to its highest possible level.

Beverages

They serve the standard sodas, iced tea, coffee, etc. They also serve wine, but your selection is limited to little more than "red or white". They have an extensive selection of bottled beer. They have a few draft beers... Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite... They also have something that they call "No Name Pub Amber". Iím sure this beer isnít brewed exclusively for this small establishment, but I had to try one. The kinda sweet dark orange beer was served in a flimsy plastic cup and adequately complemented my meal. Oddly, they serve Yuengling draft beer, a local beer from Pennsylvania which I had always believed has limited distribution. Yuengling is also available in several Key West bars. I live 2 hours from Pittsburgh, and itís not available here.

Service and Prices:

Despite the websiteís claim of "lousy service", our waitress was attentive, friendly and informative. Our food arrived in a timely manner. No complaints here. They do not list the food prices on their website. They are a little high for this type of dining (as is everything in the Keys), but the portion sizes and food quality more than offset it.

The No Name Pub does offer an attractive selection of moderately priced t-shirts ($17), golf shirts ($30) and hats ($15). They even had an XXL (Jumbo Petite) for me.

They are open from 11 AM to 11 PM, 7 days a week. We visited at about 1:30 or 2:00 PM on a Sunday. We were seated immediately at the only available table. The place was still hoppiní from lunch. If you visit during peak meal periods, expect a wait... perhaps up to an hour.

The No Name Pub has great food and an unforgettable atmosphere. Itís a fun, quirky, out-of-the-way Florida Keys experience... If you can find it!

No Name Pub

North Watson Blvd.

Big Pine Key, FL 33043

(305) 872-9115

www.nonamepub.com

   
EXTERIOR
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EXTERIOR
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INTERIOR
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INTERIOR
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INTERIOR
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DOLLAR BILLS
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DOLLAR BILLS
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T-SHIRTS
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DOLLAR BILL CLOSEUP
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PIZZA
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GROUPER SANDWICH
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BAR
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THE JUKEBOX