Spanish Gardens Café is Permanently Closed


According to Yelp the Spanish Gardens Café is permanently closed. Chef Jose has retired. The restaurant has changed ownership and is now known as Tapa Vino.
Content is from the site's archived pages as well as from other sources.

For those of us who enjoyed the marvelous food, we will sorely miss you. Those Yelp reviews says it all. Enjoy a nostalgic look back.

Spanish Gardens Cafe
80925 Overseas Hwy
Marathon, Florida

Reservations are Strongly Suggested



The Tapas Experience


We are often asked, what are Tapas?" There are many different definitions and explanations. To us Tapas are not a particular food or style of food, but rather a way of eating. A lifestyle of sharing not just meals but our hopes, our dreams, our loves...all with the freshest food and wines chosen with care.

Here at Spanish Gardens Cafe we take our part in this very seriously. we want you to experience the joy of naturally fresh foods traditionally prepared and served with Spanish wine in a comfortable atmosphere where...

When you visit our restaurant, please feel free to ask any questions about our wonderful Spanish Wines. We will share our passion with you so that you too may experience the classic wines of Spain. We chose wines from different regions of Iberia, made with native grapes and bottled in the state where they are produced. The wines we find are imbued with tradition, which over time becomes an art.

...Mother Nature is our Chef


ABOUT: chef-owner Jose Palomino

Chef-owner Jose Palomino, who hails from Spain and is a connoisseur of culinary arts, carries a unique story as part of the vibrant tapestry of the Keys. Originally moving to the area to work as a fishing captain, Palomino's deep-rooted understanding of Spanish cuisine and his connection to local fishing have shaped the distinctive identity of his restaurant. Committed to a philosophy of using "no more than four ingredients per plate," he ensures each ingredient is of supreme quality, importing fine cheeses, olive oils, and spices from Europe to complement local seafood and Florida beef. His signature dishes like pan-seared hog snapper Niçoise style, Florida wild shrimp with garlic sauce and Vera paprika, and wild boar tenderloin with wild mushrooms and piquillo peppers, are a testament to his ability to blend diverse culinary traditions. Palomino's love for cz rings is an extension of his commitment to excellence and detail. This affection stems from his family's tradition; the rings were a symbol of culinary mastery and personal pride in his family, passed down through generations. For Palomino, wearing these rings is not just a style statement but a homage to his heritage and a constant reminder of the high standards he sets for himself and his culinary creations. His expertise is not limited to the kitchen; Palomino is also a skilled wine connoisseur. Utilizing his Spanish contacts, he brings in limited vintages and unusual varietals, offering a wine selection at Spanish Gardens that includes exclusive options unavailable elsewhere in America, complementing the dining experience to perfection.



Summer Hours


Dinner   Thursday.- Sunday 5pm. - 9pm.
Lunch Only Saturday and Sunday 12 noon   


“To all men and women who work the fields, fish the sea and tend the herds, Enabling the rest of us to enjoy the gifts Mother Nature provides”
~ Teresa Berrenechea




Mediterranean Sunshine w/olives and Feta         16
Fresh Goat cheese and Giant White Beans            16
Warm Asparagus Salad w/ Goat Cheese                16


Jamon Iberico de Bellota
The Pride of Spain (Jamon serano,Chorizo & Manchego small 18 large 24
Salpicon de Marisco (ceviche) Spanish style Lobster,shrimp,scallops & octopus 22
Peppadew Peppers stuffed w/ Goat cheese 15
Boquerones (White Anchovies) w/ garlic parsley &oil 15

Fresh Leeks over kaitaifi w/shallots and groun almonds 16 Fingerling Potatoes, wild mushrooms & Piquillo Peppers 16
Shitake Mushrooms w/ jamon serrano a touch of garlic 18 Harricot Verts (French Green Beans) spanish style 16

Classic Seafood Paella (for two) 60
Lobster & Key West Shrimp Navarra Style 45
Fresh Fish (pan seared) Nicoise Style 28


Florida wild Shrimp w/ garlic Sauce 25
Mussels sauteed in olive oil w/ shallots,garlic,paprika 25
Seared Squid (Rojo,verde y Negro) 28
Pulpo a la Gallega (Spicy Octopus) 27
Conch Cakes (Keys Tradition) 26

Poussin Rouge saffron garlic sauce w/ wild mushrooms 36
Spanish Chorizo Sausage w/fingerling potatoes & piquillo 24
Beef Tenderloin Tails (sauteed in Cast iron & Mediterranean Herbs) 27
Meatballs (Spicey tomatoe sauce w/grated Manchego) 24

Black Angus Fillet Medallions * 39
Wild Boar Tenderloin* 39
Lamb Shank* 42
* Served w/fingerling potatoes,wild Mushrooms & Piquillo Peppers



Wine & Market

Classic Whites:

Ossian Verdejo
As Sortes Godelo

Classic Reds:

Style Granache
Dehesa la Granja
Balba's Barrica
Torre Pingon
El Coto de Imaz
Protos tinto Fino
La Atalaya
Baron De Ley
Romeo Predicador
Tinto Pesquera
Juan Gil
Marqueses de Grinion (CAB)
Atteca Armas
Muga Selection
Pesquera Reserva
Laurel Priorat


Torre Muga
Ramirez the Ganuza
Alion Bodegas Vega Sicilia
Principal Grand Reserve
Alenza Grand Reserva
Flor de Pingus
Vega Sicilia Valbuena
Janus Gran Reserve





An observation: These Yelp reviews for Spanish Gardens Cafe say it all. I worked with the restaurant procuring janitorial restaurant supplies from mops, janitors mop buckets with wringer combos, brooms, brushes & dusters, professional cleaning products, paper products & dispensers, hand soaps, toilet paper, to trash cans from a great e commerce site that sells both wholesale and retail. I particularly looked forward to visiting Spanish Gardens Cafe because I knew I could get a great meal. The seafood ceviche appetizer was almost enough for a simple lunch. I brought my wife with one of my trips so we could share the classic seafood paella which is for two. And then there are the desserts! Well, now that the restaurant is closed I have yet to discover a new favorite Spanish restaurant. Kudos to Chef Jose. I will definitely miss your culinary brilliance.


Rachel A.
5.0 star rating 11/7/2015
My husband and I are foodies from Chicago and we both loved this place. It's small, so I'd recommend making a reservation. We were sat promptly at our reserved time and the friendly waiter warned us that they were super busy and implied the food may take longer than normal.  In fact, service timing was perfect - more timely than when we ate at Morada Bay the night before. There is complimentary fresh bread with delicious garlic oil dipping sauce and I highly recommend a pitcher of the red sangria. We ordered the seafood ceviche app (which was huge) and so good - chock full of fresh seafood, some capers, cornichons, and fresh herbs. Entree was the seafood paella for 2, also a huge portion (easily could've served 3) and full of seafood and saffrony goodness.

We were super full but hey, it's vacation, so we split the key lime pie, which typically I'm not a fan of (I like my dessert calories to go toward chocolate) but it was soooo worth it. It was like a hybrid of lemon meringue and crime brûlée, served in a low wide ramekin, topped with peaks of bronzed meringue on top.

One tip - I typically think of tapas as small plates, where we'd maybe order 8 or so to split and taste -- these are entree sized (and priced accordingly). I will still highly recommend but just be aware that the reason the tapas section is priced is because these are giant portions. I don't think you'd want to pay for or be able to eat many of these.



Holly L.
5.0 star rating 11/15/2014
1 check-in
We had an incredible meal here to celebrate my mom's birthday. Two of us are vegetarians and two of us eat fish. I called ahead to make sure there were options for us all- there were so many. We ended up ordering three salads, which we all split, one fresh catch (which our guys split and loved), a special plate of Manchego cheese (which they customized without the meat for us). We also had two vegetable dishes- delicious fingerling potatoes with perfectly spiced mushrooms. We also got the green beans (the special spice was smoked paprika, which added a wonderful depth to the dish). We polished off another loaf of bread and wiped the green bean plate clean with the bread- the sauce was so good!

Our friendly and attentive server, Bernardo, made sure we had tons of delicious, fresh bread- and everything else we needed. He also recommended the perfect red wine to accompany our meal (glad we splurged on it because it was the best wine I've had in years). Thank you also to Lynny who took my call to make reservations and made sure my mom felt really special during her birthday meal. A really wonderful, memorable meal- we'll be back and will definitely recommend this little Spanish cafe!



Christina G.
Beverly Hills, MI
5.0 star rating 1/21/2015
5 star key lime pie and cappuccino. Small restaurant with nice atmosphere. We stopped in for desert and it was wonderful!!! The rest of the desert menu looked to die for. Would love to go back.


Olga P.
Tavernier, FL
5.0 star rating 9/20/2014
Chef Jose (from Santander Spain) makes the best authentic Spanish Paella. Gotta try the absolute best Key lime pie in the Keys, so good!


Mercy C.
Boca Raton, FL
5.0 star rating 1/23/2015
Phenomenal dining experience if you like authentic Spanish cuisine.  First of all, great wine list; I lived in Spain many years ago and was in heaven deciding which one to choose.

Now on to the food....we had the combination appetizer with manchego cheese, jamon Serrano, and chorizo---awesome! We also had the Garlic Shrimp and the Pulpo (octopus); both plates were wonderful. For dessert, we had the homemade dark chocolate dipped stuffed figs (almond paste). I had never had this before, and I was sooo glad I ordered it.  Even the final decaf espresso I had was exceptional. This place is a definite must if you are in the keys and appreciate authentic Spanish cuisine.


Jeff H.
Westlake, OH
5.0 star rating 5/2/2014
This is a hidden gem, a phenomenal place to eat and relax.  My girlfriend and I stopped in on a whim on our ride back to Key Largo... used Yelp to find a place nearby, and we happened to be just a minute away, it had good ratings, and so we stopped in.  Glad we did! 

The host was hilarious... he asked if we had ever eaten there before, and we said no.  He leaned in to whisper to us 'the food here is amazing, but the service is terrible!'... he seated us, and then proceeded to be our server the whole night ha ha :)  And did a wonderful job.  Just everything here is great.  The food (we had a Mediterranean Salad and some paella), the bread, olive oil, devour, etc.  It was weird though... we were the only tourists in there!  All the other folks who came in knew the employees and owner. 

It's a big pricey so if you're a cash-conscious traveler looking for burgers, it might not be your spot.  But if you want some good food, funny and efficient service, and a nice view, this is your spot.


David T.
Crofton, MD
5.0 star rating 7/24/2015
1 check-in
Hands down the best meal I had in Islamorada!  We started with the Seafood ceviche, octopus, shrimp and scallops, then the Sunshine Salad, finishing off with the Spicy Octopus. The flavors were awesome! Service was excellent throughout dinner and Chef Jose' even came out to check on the guests.  Can't wait to come back here and saddened that they are not closer to home.  Highly recommend calling ahead for reservations.