Memories of the sky lit up with vibrant hues of orange, yellow and pink as the sun dipped below the horizon tantalize the mind, while thoughts of succulent meals excite the taste buds. Call it the perfect Florida dining experience.
Combine these magical moments in the Keys at Marker 88 in Islamorada (marker88.info). Secure a table on the open terrace overlooking the Florida Bay flats for an evening view so sought after that the restaurant lists sunset times on its website. Revel in the theme with an aptly named selection from the bar: a frozen Keys Sunset (rum and mango purée with strawberries) or a Green Flash (Patron Silver, Midori, passion fruit and pineapple juices). Any fish that makes it to your plate, such as the crispy yellowtail meunière, dusted with rice flour for a light but satisfying crunch, comes from the surrounding water.
On the west coast, give twilight dining a romantic spin at Caretta on the Gulf in the Sandpearl Resort (sandpearl.com). Dine on diver scallops with duck confit (yes, it’s as good as it sounds) and oven-roasted grouper. Outdoor tables are mere feet from Clearwater Beach, or you can sit in the dining room and watch through the enormous picture windows that line the west wall as the sun does its disappearing act. A bell rings to alert diners to dusk’s arrival, so you won’t miss one second of that magical minute.
In Northwest Florida, find out firsthand how the Emerald Coast earned its name at the Vue on 30A (vueon30a.com). This Santa Rosa Beach newbie is really turning heads for its fine-dining foodie creations — tempura-battered shrimp with Asian guacamole — and for its stunning views of the area’s signature white-sand beaches and crystal-clear water. There are only a handful of alfresco tables, so be sure to call ahead and reserve one for the sunset hour.