Martin’s Steak & Lobster: A Key West Classic
The story of Martin’s Steak & Lobster begins in 1990, when Chef Martin helmed Martin’s as the hotel restaurant for the historic Eden House art deco hotel on east Fleming Street in Old Town Key West. Chef Martin’s innovative German/Lower Keys Caribbean tropics fusion cuisine began capturing the attention of Eden house guests, enticing local Conchs, and attracting European travelers looking for a taste of home. Word continued to spread, and Martin’s was soon tempting many food-savvy island visitors to stroll a few blocks down Fleming and explore beyond the Duval Street dining scene.
In 1999, with an established following and excellent local reputation for dependably delivering outstanding chef-led fine dining experiences, Chef Martin opened Martin’s Café Restaurant in a small building tucked away on Appelrouth Lane just a half-block west of Duval Street. The eclectic German-gone-tropical fare (where yellowtail snapper meets jägerschnitzel), fun happy hour, and welcoming staff along with Chef Martin’s engaging style as a host and growing standing as a solid Key West community member all contributed to steady increase in the restaurant’s fan base. Martin’s was on the Key West local insider tip list for European fine dining with a tropical island flair, refined but approachable, always well-presented and delicious.
Martin’s on Duval
In 2007, Chef Martin purchased a building at 917 Duval Street and oversaw a beautiful renovation that imparted a sleek modern look to the exterior while retaining much old-school simplicity and charm. The interior work captured the warm, close feel of an upscale European restaurant dining room and bar, with the lounge area arranged to take advantage of the island’s mild tropical climate. In this new Duval Street home, the Martin’s Steak & Lobster experience rose to fresh heights of style and excellence. Happy hour in the lounge with discounted tapas plates and house signature martinis became a Key West staple. Martin’s Sunday Brunch—with specialties like lobster benedict, homemade German potato pancakes, and toast made from bread baked on the premises—soon acquired legendary status via the island grapevine.
This quieter south-central section of Duval, just 2 storefronts north of Truman Avenue, is where Martin’s Steak & Lobster restaurant and Martini Bar can be found today. The restaurant remains an island go-to for celebrating special occasions, treating honored guests to some of the best fine dining in Key West, or simply meeting friends for drinks in a laid-back but classy lounge setting. Well-known Martin’s highlights include the Beef Wellington daily special, which attracts afficionados of this classic dish from far beyond the Keys, bread and pastries baked daily in-house, authentic German dishes, and a happy hour that is proclaimed in many online reviews as the best in Key West.
Now reigning for over 3 decades as one of the best restaurants in Key West, Martin’s Steak & Lobster is a perennial local favorite and Duval Street fine dining must-visit spot. In a small island city filled with excellent eateries and great happy hours, the outstanding reputation and level of customer loyalty accrued by Chef Martin and his establishment are truly something special, and do much to certify Martin’s Steak & Lobster as a requisite stop for anyone wishing to experience superb fine dining in Key West.
Fine Dining & Good Times Martin’s Style
Situated just off the sidewalk on the east side of Duval Street, the enclosed, air-conditioned formal dining room at Martin’s offers respite from the tropical heat and a cozy, intimate feel. The inviting Martini Bar lounge just adjacent is fronted by a street-side veranda that delivers a definite vacation vibe and is perfect for people watching. Quiet tables and a space that can be curtained off for private affairs are set further back inside the room, and the rear exit opens onto a palm-shaded garden patio where diners can take in the full Key West tropical ambiance along with a satisfying repast. The bar/kitchen areas are located central to the three guest spaces—dining room, lounge, and garden—equalizing distance for servers and optimizing the customer service experience.
In the high-ceilinged formal dining room, a simple black-highlighted color scheme, expansive retro-look wood-framed windows and doors, and imported European-design black enamel furnishings impart the feel of a continental streetside café. The uncluttered design motif is anchored by hand-crafted gold foil wallpaper set off with black wood wainscoting and a reflective black ceiling. In much the same way that splashes of tropical flavor and color add playful notes to menu classics at Martin’s, the atmosphere of the dining room is immediately lightened with the touch of whimsy added by a unique Heike Buchfelder pluma cubic feathered chandelier imported from Berlin especially for Martin’s. The rest of the dining room décor theme centers on framed large-format originals from leading Berlin photographers including Martin Eberle, Ralph Baiker, and Chef Martin’s brother Fritz Busam. The combined effect is to
create an interesting, formal yet comfortable setting that enhances but does not distract from the dining experience.
The Martini Bar at Martin’s is a sophisticated urban-style space—cosmopolitan and chic but still in tune with the relaxing environment of tropical Key West. Martin’s Signature Martinis are highlights in a complete range of classic and tropical cocktails along with an extensive wine list that includes a selection of fine champagnes both vintage and non-vintage. Directly adjoining the dining room, the barroom is a close-walled, cozy place defined by heavy wooden beams and posts that accent the overhead space and bar area. Frosted glass panels in the ceiling above the backbar let in light or slide open to admit island breezes. Guests can enjoy counter seating at the bar and several intimate tables, including a few always kept available first-come, first-serve for walk-in diners. At the front of the room, the veranda tables tucked away behind a hedge provide a pleasant view of the happenings on Duval Street. In the back, the tropics beckon just outside the door in the patio garden where diners can enjoy their meals with a seasoning of Key West casual as lush foliage rustles and tall palms sway above.
Consistent culinary excellence, creative flair, attention to detail, and acclaimed customer service are long-standing hallmarks of Martin’s Steak & Lobster. Whether guests come to Martin’s for a complete formal dinner, drop in for cocktails and tapas, or sit at the bar for a simple glass of wine, they encounter quality. Refined surroundings, inspired recipes, and picture-perfect presentations bring out the best in premium meats, sustainably-sourced seafoods, savory side dishes, house-baked breads, fresh garden greens, fine wines, and top-shelf spirits.
Exploring the menu at Martin’s reveals tempting hot and cold tapas offerings, chef-created entrées that meld the quality, elegance, and simplicity of European fine dining with twists and tastes unique to Key West, a set of delicious side dishes and sauces, and an irresistible selection of delectable desserts. Chef Martin uses only the finest meats and freshest seafoods along with hand-selected and carefully prepared ingredients and many house-made seasonings, sauces, and liquors. These are carefully combined in time-tested recipes to create a variety of dishes that cover both classic and innovative categories, and every dish from tapas to dessert is exquisitely presented.
And rest assured that whatever you choose from the menu, it is easy to find the perfect pairing from our full complement of fine imported and domestic wines. For drinks before dinner, Martin’s Signature Martini menu is locally famous, and crafted cocktails are also a house specialty. Under the expert direction of owner and Chef Martin Busam, everything and everyone at Martin’s comes together to deliver each guest an unforgettable evening of refreshing beverages and exceptional dining.
Reserve Your Table at One of Key West’s Best Restaurants
Martin’s has a long history as one of the most popular restaurants in Key West, and reservations are highly recommended. Dinner hours begin at 6pm daily, with phone reservations taken any time after 2pm daily at 305.295.0111. We also offer convenient free online reservation booking service through our partnership with OpenTable.
Happy hour in the martini bar begins at 4pm daily and runs to 6pm with a 50% discount on our Signature Martinis, well drinks, and tapas plus a discounted selection of wines by the glass. Drop by to enjoy what some refer to as the top Key West happy hour and sample some of the best martinis in Key West.
If the happy hour tapas whet your appetite, we always keep some tables in the bar area available to walk-in dinner guests on a first-come, first-serve basis. Except for special events, reservations are not taken for tables in the bar/lounge area—if you would like to book a special event at Martin’s, we are always happy to accommodate groups small or large in high style. Simply contact us by phone or online to discuss arrangements. We hope to see you soon at Martin’s Steak & Lobster in the heart of Key West!