The Space Coast, Florida, is known for its excellent dining options. But this laid back, surfer-filled area of eastern Florida is far from presumptuous. So it's no surprise that the Space Coast is also filled with a large selection of budget-friendly restaurants.
Looking for the best belly-bang for your buck? Da Kine Diego's is famous for its Insane Burritos, which are probably the biggest burritos you'll ever see. Split one between a few people and feed your traveling army for less than $10.
The family-owned restaurants here are the best place to head if you are on a budget. Family-run Vargas Cafe serves up authentic Cuban and Mexican cuisine. The Alexandria Mediterranean Grill offers traditional Middle Eastern meals using the founder's family recipes from generations ago. And family-run Pizzoni's makes the best New York-style pizza on the Space Coast, at only a few bucks a slice.
Hungry for something different? Sun on the Beach has a unique seafood-influenced breakfast menu, with the likes of shrimp and grits or a pesto shrimp creme.
If your taste buds are calling out for comfort food, Papa Vita's Italian restaurant has some of the best food specials on the coast. Don't miss Papa Vita's happy hours – twice a day.
Papa Vito's Italian Restaurant in Cape Canaveral is not the cheapest Italian restaurant on the Space Coast, but it does have the best specials. Which means if you time it right, you can have high-quality food for cheap prices.
Papa Vito's serves up fresh-to-order Italian food and pizza 365 days a year, open 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. every day. It also delivers.
Lunch specials here start at just $2.99. Happy hour features 30-cent wings and a buy-one-get-one-free dinner. Beer is just a buck.
Every day, Papa Vita's has different lunch specials. Get sandwiches, chips and a drink starting at just $2.99, and calzones for less than $5. Also check out the "early bird" and "late night" happy hour deals. The list of bargains goes on. (321-784-0050)
If you're craving an inexpensive, quick slice of comfort food, the best pizza place on the Space Coast is Pizonni's. Here, pizza slices start at only $2.50. Splurge and order your slice with some cheesy bacon ranch garlic cheese knots, dipped in Ranch dressing, for less than $5.
Pizonni's other specialties are worth branching out to try. The Chicken Roll (stuffed with marinated chicken breast, tomato sauce and cheese)
and the Spinach Roll (bread rolls stuff with spinach, garlic, mozzarella and ricotta, and sprinkled with parmesan) would be our pick over pizza any day.
With a focus on authenticity, friendly service and customer satisfaction, Pizzoni's Pizza proudly serves authentic hand-tossed New York style pizza. Beer is also on hand.
Pizonni's dough is freshly prepared every day, and you can watch your order be made from scratch. (321-268-8009)
Sun on the Beach Restaurant
Sun on the Beach Restaurant is a family business that backs right up to the beach. In fact, it's one of the few places to eat with an ocean view between Cocoa and Vero beaches.
Sun on the Beach is surprisingly inexpensive, for the unique, delicious options you will find on the menu. Breakfast is where this restaurant really shines. Sure, you can find the standards (including a plate of plain pancakes form the "pancake bar" for just $4.50), but you can also get adventurous (try the peaches and cream pancakes). Seafood inspired much of the breakfast menu: an omelet with mahi mahi or house-smoked salmon; shrimp and grits; soft-shell crab and grits; a pesto shrimp crepe.
Best of all: This excellent breakfast is served all day. (3217779483)
In this little, family-owned cafe, you will be awed by the authentic Cuban and Mexican cuisine for reasonable prices – under $10 a meal. Vargas Cafe (named after the husband-wife owner duo) claims to make the best Cuban subs in Cape Capaveral, and there's really no contest.
Ask about the daily specials, such as Ropa Vieja (pulled beef in red sauce), often served with Cuban bread and a hot Cuban "expresso."
Our favorite: The Don Pepe Special: Palomilla steak, red beans, a salad, Cuban bread, pico de gallo and, of course, that steaming expresso to wash it all down. Feeling less adventurous? The beef empanadas will fill you up and leave your belly smiling. Everything here is homemade, from sauces to the refreshing avocado salad, and the real Cuban deal. (321-783-9519)
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)
Alexandria Mediterranean Grill
Alexandria Mediterranean Grill is a delicious place for some inexpensive and healthy Mediterranean food, but you can also find Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern offerings here. Almost everything on the menu is less than $10 – and it's all made with fresh, high-quality ingredients.
We recommend the soup and salad combo, which comes with the soup of the day and your choice of four different types of salads, including our favorite, the Greek. The $7 wraps are also delicious and filling.
The Alexandria Mediterranean Grill is one of the few family-owned restaurants of this type on the Space Coast, and it's authentic, too. In fact, the founder was born and raised in Egypt, where he learned how to prepare traditional Middle Eastern meal. The menu items today stem from his family's generation's-old recipes. (3216226905)
It wouldn't be right to have a top-10 list in this area without at least one legitimate tribute to surfing. Long Doggers has that covered. Come as you are – yes, even after a morning of surfing. Grab a quick foot-long "Mork Dog" at the window, or sit down for a Beach Bum meal, like a crab cake with a handful of sides. Everything here's casual. After all, Long Doggers calls itself a "radically relaxed" grill and brew. Bonus: People with allergies will appreciate the full gluten-free menu. Find Long Doggers as five different locations in Florida. (321-751-4448)
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. Daily specials are just $6.50, and that often includes a side and drink.
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)
Da Kine Diego's
Da Kine Diego's is the best food-bang for your buck on the Space Coast, period. This beachy shack is beloved for its Insane Burritos – the biggest burritos you've ever seen. Huger than huge. One Insane Burrito can provide an average person at least two meals, and for under $7. Plus, the burritos are delicious; make sure you explore the hot sauce and guac options.
Da Kine Diego's is an authentic surfer hangout with a funky atmosphere. Find it in Satellite Beach across the street from the beach, is decorated with stickers, graffiti and signatures. Sign your own name on the bench, while you chill under the palms listening to reggae music. No shirt, no shoes, no one would expect anything else. (321-779-8226)
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.
Read more about Aimee Heckel here.
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