For This Bar, Nothing's in a Name

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Nobody knows your name at the No Name Pub. Oh, you'll wish they did. The moment you step through the door and take a gander at the well-worn bar, the mounds of food making their way from the kitchen and the waitresses hobnobbing with the scruffy locals, you'll yearn for the crowd to put down their Miller Lites and shout, "[Insert name here]!"

Doesn't matter. You're welcome anyway.

Though the place throws off a vibe that it's the Biggest Secret in the Keys, you'll only be about the 4,123,278th person to discover the place. Built in 1936, the No Name is convenient to U.S. 1 but far enough off the main drag that it's an adventure to find. If you drive past it a bit at dusk, you'll soon find your car surrounded by the tiny Key deer that call this area home.

The bar and dining area share the same cramped, loud, wood-paneled space, but the decor makes you forget that in a hurry. Thousands of dollar bills, signed by patrons and stapled with care to the walls and ceiling, hang like crumpled green stalactites overhead.

While its distant past included a brief stint as a brothel, today it's all about the grub. Famous for its pizza (large pies start at $11.95), the No Name features what may very well be the best deal in the Keys: a half-pound fried grouper sandwich that dwarfs the plate it arrives on. Price: $9.95, including a pile of fries. Other fare includes wings, nachos and conch fritters, salads and burgers.

Don't worry if the place is mobbed; in fact, it probably will be. Just sidle up to the picnic benches out front with a $1.75 draft and keep your eyes out for deer. Chances are, they'll be watching you back.

-- John Deiner

The No Name Pub is on North Watson Boulevard (bayside, near Mile Marker 30.5) on Big Pine Key, about 1 1/2 miles north of U.S. 1. Dinner for two with a couple of beers is about $25. Info: 305-872-9115,

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