We love No Name Pub for its 90-year-old Dade County pine bar. We love it for the huge and delicious sandwiches and pizza. But, we have to admit, we really love it for its money.
No Name Pub, which calls itself “A Nice Place If You Can Find It,” is a few minutes off U.S. 1 in Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys, about 30 miles north of Key West.
From the outside, it looks like an old wooden cottage turned into a bar and restaurant. On the inside, however, every surface is covered with thousands of fluttering dollar bills. Most are decorated — people’s names and initials, messages, doodles. (The wait staff will bring you markers.) Some estimates put the total at $90,000 and growing: Its hard to resist adding your own buck to the collection.
If only half of what they say about the No Name Pub is true, it’s still a good story.
No Name Pub: Its colorful history
The pub’s account of history begins with a general store and bait-and-tackle shop in 1931, with the eatery added in 1936. Around that time, the upstairs was occupied by a brothel.
In those days, all traffic to Key West came via a ferry that arrived at nearby No Name Key and all vehicles drove past No Name Pub to continue to Key West. Once bridges replaced ferries, No Name Pub’s location became decidedly obscure. Still, the funky atmosphere and a rowdy crowd kept the place going.
The Keys were a wild place in the ’70s and ’80s; lots of people got rich smuggling marijuana. The pub’s website says that’s when the tradition started: “There was a lot of illegal money passing through the Keys back then . . . so much money in fact they started hanging it on our walls.”
Today, No Name Pub is filled with families and tourists as well as Keys regulars. The menu includes pizzas, local seafood, pub food such as nachos, chili and chowder, and sandwiches. The Smoked BBQ Pork Sandwich with Silver Dollar Fries was huge and delicious. The half-pound grouper sandwich was similarly oversized and one of the best we had in several days in the Keys. Prices are moderate for the Keys — a little high for casual food, but plenty of places in the Keys have higher prices.
Beverages include a variety of beers, including No Name Pub Amber on tap, which is not only bargain priced but refreshing and pretty good.
Before everyone had directions on their cell phones, No Name Pub was hard to find, which added to its mystique and explains why their motto was “Nice place if you can find it.”
Today, No Name Pub still draws a crowd, although few people have trouble getting there.
It’s located in the middle of Keys deer habitat, so there is also a chance to spot these miniature deer, an endangered species found only here, along the way. (So please drive slowly!)
Gary McAdams, PA
Barbara Anderson Realty
Key West, Florida