Yup, healthy, green, organic, living sprouts, oranges straight from a local tree, and organic truffles — not the mushrooms, the sweet chocolate morsels and not a french fry or piece of fried mahi in sight.
Yes, right here within walkable Key West. It’s easy to think that Key West is all bars, loud music and pricey cheap souvenirs. It’s amazing what three blocks inland can do to change your perspective. You’ll still find Key West funky style — where tacky is raised to an art form — but a gentler kind.
“help yourself” is one such gentler place in Key West. Located at the corner of Margaret and Fleming Streets, it’s a mere three or four blocks from the Key West Bight marinas, and the architecture is — well, it looks like it might have once been a gas station…
Seven mornings a week it’s a breakfast place serving homemade granola, fruit, house-cultured coconut yogurt, a breakfast egg wrap, french toast, sprouted whole grain bagels…
At noon, it’s a lunch place that serves salads, wraps, curry, barbecue, and soup. If you are not vegetarian, you can add wild salmon, organic chicken, or seafood to the hot offerings. I can vouch for the wild salmon wrap (maple-soy glazed salmon, sprouts, cucumber, carrot, sesame seeds, mixed greens, avocado wasabi spread) — the half wrap at $6.50 is plenty for lunch and very reasonable for Key West.
Peek and ye shall find!
All day — but easiest pulled off not at a busy meal time — “help yourself” is a stealth provisioning stop. Ask the cashier for the bulk and other foods price list and order away! Some items are visible, arrayed on a shelf in the window, but there is much, much more, including organic brown rice, nutritional yeast, spices, legumes and quinoa. On the little shelf at the window, you may see organic udon in boxes, organic agave syrup, organic apple cider vinegar. In the freezer wedged behind the entrance door, is coconut milk ice cream; in the refrigerator cabinet along with brewed iced teas, are cylinders of white goat cheese. Peek and ye shall find! If they have honey in stock — buy it, even if you think you don’t need it. The label says it’s orange blossom honey, packed by Miguel Bode for Bee Heaven Farm in Homestead, Florida. The 2011 vintage is one of the most fragrant honeys we’ve ever tasted.
And on Mondays, from noon to 4, it’s a green market. A bustling green market. Get there early; bring your provisioning tote bags so you don’t feel like some sort of inferior being saying to the gal tallying up your purchase: “Yes, I need a plastic bag.”
Our green market haul was impressive — baby bok choy, complete with dirt! A glorious head of what I call butter lettuce, but truth is I have no idea what it is, other than tender, wonderful and a visual work of art! Oh joy, oh rapture! Beets with beautiful greens. Real celery, tall and fat!
This is also a good place to eat outside, read a newspaper or make a friend.
And, lots of big recycling bins alongside the store.
Definitely a Key West hidden gem.
“help yourself” is at 82 Fleming Street, Key West. http://helpyourselfcafe.com Free delivery, too, and they even take credit cards Phone: 305-296-7766.
S/V Lady Jane