Friday June 30, 2006

Alabama Jack's


Down in Florida City, on the way to the Keys, Card Sound Road splits off from US-1, providing an alternate route for one leg of the trip. Card Sound Road takes a straight two-lane shot through some classic Florida brush. There’s very little to see, and the lack of any particular place for a speed trap makes the posted speed limit a moot point for many drivers. The Village of Card Sound Road is a couple of shacks and houseboats clustered around the one little curve in the road. At the very end there is a toll bridge ($1) which officially takes you to the first of the keys and begins the stretch back towards US-1. Just before the toll sits Alabama Jack’s.


Built on stilts over the water channel next to the road (you can see water between the slats of the floor) with no air conditioning, Alabama Jack’s is an airy place. The menu is all about seafood beer, and various types of fries: everything a grown boy needs. (Respectively, I’m going to recommend the crab cakes, Key West Sunset Ale, and sweet-potato fries.)


Hell yes: the Cardsound Machine Band plays country music (with the occasionally obligatory Jimmy Buffet tune thrown in) Saturday and Sunday afternoons. If you’re expecting The Gambler, you’ll not be disappointed. The hours are a bit funky: the band quits at 5 pm, and I believe the whole place shuts down an hour or two after that. Odd for an open-air place that you’d think could do good business with folks coming back from the Keys late on a Sunday night, but there it is.


Just past the restaurant, the grand gateway to Monroe County. See the bridge in the background?


We climbed to the top; this is an idea of what you’re way into the middle of. Pure Florida loveliness.


On the way back to the car, the restaurant was empty except for a few bikers, the band having long packed up and left. And so it goes. I think I would have liked Key West more in the old days, before air conditioning. There’s something about resigning yourself to being hot and sweaty all the time that beats darting in and out of air conditioned little buildings that seems to be right for that place. Almost every restaurant and bar on the island has AC now, so maybe Alabama Jack’s is more Key West then Key West?

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  1. KH    Fri Jun 30, 10:30 AM #  

    I really like going to Alabama Jacks. I hardly ever do go, though. Maybe they close down early because of mosquitos?

    Yes, resigning yourself to being hot and sweaty is better than darting in and out of freezing buildings. It also lends an old-novel sensibility to one’s doings. Plus, a refreshing beverage is never so refreshing when one is perenially hot and sweaty. [Perhaps the reason for the legendary status of iced tea, mint juleps, mojitos, and gin and tonics (with the GnT having the added protective quininical anti-malarial qualities)?]

  2. Miami Transit Man    Fri Jun 30, 12:43 PM #  

    I zoom by there all the time, never given it a second thought…

  3. Manola BBB    Fri Jun 30, 04:07 PM #  

    Thank for posting this, Alesh! Back in my fisherwoman days, I used to love going to Alabama Jack’s. They have the dog-gonest best grouper sandwiches in the state of Florida!

    BTW, part of the mangrove-area before the bridge is known to harbor crocodiles who migrated over from Turkey Point.

    Has anyone been to Blue Heaven in Key West lately? Gosh, I sure hope they didn’t a/c that place. Eating among the street cocks (no—not Colin’s) was part of its charm.

  4. Colin Farrell    Fri Jun 30, 05:15 PM #  

    Manola—promise you’ll meet me at Alabama Jack’s on July 4. The grouper sandwich is on me. The fish bouquet…....

  5. Manola BBB    Sat Jul 1, 01:32 PM #  

    Colin darling! I would love to meet you at Alabama Jack’s on July 4! But I’m afraid that the cops will pull us over at the truck weighing station!

  6. cohen    Tue Jul 4, 01:06 PM #  

    one of my fav places to eat…