El Meson de Pepe’s: Review

Since 1985, the family run El Meson de Pepe’s has been serving Cuban food to residents and visitors of Key West. The restaurant has been at its present location in Mallory Square since 1997. This building is as much a museum as it is a restaurant with all of the paraphernalia preserving history of the Conch (local Key West) and Cuban heritage that is housed inside.

El Meson de Pepe's COMPLETA DE CABALLO GRANDE: Lechon Asado, Ropa Vieja, and Picadillo
El Meson de Pepe’s COMPLETA DE CABALLO GRANDE: Lechon Asado, Ropa Vieja, and Picadillo

It had been a while since we had dined here, so my husband and I decided to eat here with some friends this weekend. Since the guys had spent the day outside working, we opted to sit inside where we could soak up some air conditioning. And while if you sit outside you can enjoy the views of Mallory Square and people watching, inside your senses are overtaken by the huge amount of stuff all around you. From religious candles to signs to paintings to a replica of a record setting airplane, every direction you look there is something cool to see.

The place was hopping, but we still had good service. We started off our meal with a few drinks and the buttered Cuban bread brought to the table with delicious dipping sauces (one hot and one mild).  My husband and I are always on the hunt for a good pina colada and El Meson had a very good one.

For dinner I could not decide what I wanted so I went with their Complete de Caballo Grande which is a sampling of their three most popular Cuban dishes: Lechon Asado, Ropa Vieja, and Picadillo. Laura ordered the Ropa Vieja, Steven the Lechon Asado, and Brian the Bistec Palomilla Empanizada.

I love all three of the dishes that were a part of my entree. However, I thought that the Lechon Asado was the standout. This is pork that has been roasted with a mojo sauce and onions, making for a flavorful and moist dish. And it pairs perfectly with the yellow rice, black beans, yucca, and sweet plantains that were served with it. I think that I may have been very happy with just the rice and black beans as this alone was just delicious. The Ropa Vieja which literally translates to “old clothes” is shredded beef stewed with fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions and red wine along with other seasonings. This was tender and tasted very good, but next to the pork I found it to be a bit bland. The Picadillo is a savory ground beef cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers, seasonings, olives, capers, and raisins. This was very good as well; the sweet raisins and the savory beef compliment one another.

Brian’s Bistec Palomilla Empanizada which is a top sirloin steak that has been marinated, breaded, fried and served with chopped onions and parsley, was delicious. He said that it was tender and flavorful and he would definitely order it again the next time he dined at El Meson de Pepe’s.

To end the meal my husband and I both ordered a coffee. It was only room temperature, but it tasted delicious even so. And it was a nice cap to our delicious dinner.

As we left the restaurant after our meal and walked over to the Sunset Celebration held nightly at Mallory Square, we walked by El Meson de Pepe’s Patio Bar where music was playing and people were dancing. This is really a lively spot with good food and service.

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or the rest of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews too; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.

And to see what is happening on Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn
Key West Concierge

About the author: Island Genn

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