Out of all the restaurants in a city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer carefully vetted selections to let you explore Space Coast dining on your own. If time is really tight, though, and you don't have the leisure to look through all our offerings, we present our Space Coast Best Restaurants list. Here, we distill the best businesses down to a special selection of ten. These places promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that you just can't miss.
The Space Coast has perfected fresh seafood – in every way possible. Here, you'll enjoy quick to-go crab cakes, flavorful sushi and exquisite pecan-crusted mahi mahi. For the best, freshest seafood, head to Seafood Atlantic.
For a quirky new restaurant, check out Venice at Cocoa Beach, which brings a bit of the West Coast to Florida.
Of course, the best restaurants are not just limited to the menu. Whether you are looking for a romantic night on the port, an energetic evening of live music on the river or an evening stroll down the docks or through town, our favorite restaurants are ideally located to bring you the best of the Space Coast, all under one roof – thatched, as it may very well be.
Venice at Cocoa Beach
Venice at Cocoa Beach opened on the Space Coast in 2014, inspired by Venice Beach in California.
The restaurant brings a mini Venice to Florida, complete with the colorful urban-style art on the walls, a vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere and a large wall mural of a sun setting on the Pacific Ocean. The oranges, reds and yellows truly look like an evening on Venice Beach.
In true Venice style, the menu here is casual, eclectic and international. (No funnel cakes, though, but that's for the better.) For breakfast, try the huevos salsa verde. For tapas, try gourmet cheese, the Hawaiian pork or Costa Rican Chifrijo, with rice, beans, chips and pork or beef. For dessert: Filipino-style chocolate rice pudding. (321-613-4909)
Seafood Atlantic Inc
The motto here is "the freshest seafood in the world," and it's true. There's no way to surpass this caught-fresh-daily freshness. Seafood Atlantic is where you go when you want the real deal, and for reasonable prices, too. Here, you'll find experienced fishermen who are experts in seafood. Read all about each fisherman's history and passion for fishing on the restaurant's website. The menu? Whatever they caught that day. The only option is outdoor seating on the waterfront, which only feels appropriate for this authentic seafood hotspot. Seafood Atlantic is such a connoisseur that the restaurant even sells its seafood to other restaurants and stores; instead, we say start at the source – the experts. ((321) 784-1963)
Crackers Island Grille
Crackers Island Grill is a local surfers' favorite. This relaxed restaurant in Cape Canaveral is close to the waves and next door to Core Surf, so it draws in the hungry wave-hunters. But it's also popular among hungry travelers seeking a house-made inexpensive meal.
The Coney Island Dogs (made with fresh, original Coney Island sauce) are a signature item, but this grill also serves hamburgers (and garden burgers), fish tacos, a footlong Philly steak, pulled pork and various hot dogs (try the slaw dog).
Beer is on the menu here, too, so you can tip back a cold one with your generously portioned meal. (321-613-4815)
Squid Lips Overwater Grill
A local, casual favorite, Squid Lips is all about freshness. But it's more than the typical beachfront grill. Food here is grilled over an open oak-wood fire, and nothing is pre-breaded or pre-made. Start with the Cajun bacon-wrapped scallops, which will prepare your tongue for the signature black cherry pepper pork. The crab cakes are another favorite. If you're looking for some beachy entertainment with your meal, you can often hear live music here, too. Find two Squid Lips in the state, one in Melbourne and another in Sebastian. Arrive by boat, if you want the quintessential Space Coast experience. (321-259-3101)
Yellow Dog Café
From the talented Stuart Borton (owner of Stuart's Bistro in Indialantic) comes this exciting cafe, which put the community of Malabar on the culinary map. Sound like an exaggeration? Get this: Among Stuart's more noteworthy customers are Jeb Bush (he likes the place so much, he celebrated his 49th birthday here!) and folk hero Arlo Guthrie. The breathtaking views of the Indian River are plusses, of course, as are the white linens and first-rate service. But what truly sets the place apart is its outstanding cookery – that is to say, innovative dishes like pecan-crusted mahi mahi with vanilla bean-infused praline sauce or roast duckling with raspberry, cherry and peppercorn sauce. (321-956-3334)
River Rocks Dining & Drinks Dockside
River Rocks specializes in seafood (say hello to a fried whole snapper with butternut squash mash), but its entrees from the land won't leave you wanting – especially the steak. The restaurant also boasts a full cheese menu and pasta options. River Rocks is known for its drinks, too, with an extensive wine list and signature cocktails, such as the Oxygen Stoli, a creative mixture of St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, champagne and muddled fresh strawberries. Although the food is top-notch, it remains family-friendly, with a special sand area for the kids. (321-757-7200)
Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar
Pick your favorite location: Melbourne Riverside or on the Port. But whatever you do, don't judge this restaurant by its curb appeal. Grills looks like a standard waterside shack (complete with its own party deck and tiki bar, of course!), but then it's that intentional shabbiness that helps give the place its character. Of course, the kitchen crew does its part, too, a fact made clear once you've tried the grilled fish of the day (mahi mahi or cobia one day, maybe dolphin the next), bacon-wrapped scallops, or steamed deep-water crab legs. Forget all of that battered and fried nonsense! If it's fresh fish and seafood you seek, Grills serves up some of the best. (http://www.visitgril)
One of the best-known spots to eat in Cocoa Village, the Black Tulip has been thrilling palates since 1981 with its expertly-prepared fare and charming European ambiance. But don't be intimidated; in true Space Coast style, Black Tulip's atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. Lunch diners are treated to an array of delightful dishes, from daily quiche and soup specials to tasty steak sandwiches. It's at dinner time, though, that the place truly shines, and this is thanks in large part to superbly presented mains of roast duckling, crab-stuffed grouper and filet mignon. (321-631-1133)
About Aimee Heckel
Aimee Heckel’s passion for storytelling has brought her around the world as a journalist, writing award-winning articles about Haiti and Uganda. Aimee studied international journalism at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and she majored in journalism and German at Colorado State University.
When she's not covering Colorado for Fodor’s Travel Guides and writing for SpaTravelGal.com, she travels and volunteers for Think Humanity, her family's nonprofit that helps refugees in Africa.
Heckel also blogs for HuffPost Weird News and writes feature stories, a fashion column and fitness column for the Boulder Daily Camera in Colorado.
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