You should never go hungry in Cape Canaveral.
This city, on the Space Coast in Florida, is a mere five minutes from Port Canaveral and some of the state's best fishing. It's no surprise that Cape Canaveral is home to a great selection of seafood restaurants, as well as tables with a water view.
In fact, four of the region's best seafood destinations are located within a short drive of each other: Seafood Atlantic, Rusty's Seafood and Oyster Bar, Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill and Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar.
If crab legs and oysters don't hit the spot, hungry visitors can also enjoy authentic food from around the world, at Euro Kafe Etcetera (German, Polish, Croatian and more) and Vargas Cafe (Cuban and Mexican food).
Popular surf shop Ron Jon also has its flagship restaurant in Cape Canaveral, with an inexpensive restaurant that boasts a diverse menu. And if affordable is important, Crackers Island Grill is growing on us. This newer, casual restaurant is a favorite among surfers and beach-goers. Find Coney dogs, hamburgers, fish tacos and towering platers of fresh-cut fries and nachos here. Oh, and beer to wash it down.
Here are our favorite 10 restaurants in Cape Canaveral and the surrounding Port Canaveral area.
Kelsey's Restaurant and Pizzaria
If you're looking for pizza near the port, there are a handful of good options, but Kelsey's Restaurant is our favorite. This family-owned restaurant has been open for more than 30 years, so its reputation is solid. The pizza is delicious, made with fresh, quality, simple ingredients. Pizza dough is made fresh daily, and the veggies are also received and prepped daily. Because of the freshness factor, don't expect to quickly pop in and out; your pizza will take a little bit longer than normal to prepare for your order. Kelsey's claims to have the "best pizza on the coast," and it backs that claim up with flavor. Not feeling like pizza? You can get salads and other Italian options here, too. (321-783-9191)
Rusty's Seafood & Oyster Bar
A great place to cool your heels at the close of the day, Rusty's is a fun, laid-back kind of place that features a great deck, live entertainment and great views. And this dock-side joint serves up far more than cold brews and stout cocktails -� though they have plenty of both.
Check into a dozen oysters, a pound of clams or an order of mussels steamed in wine. More traditional mains, meanwhile, include everything from Maine lobster to hand-breaded jumbo shrimp, and the daily fish special (always fresh) can be served fried, blackened or Jamaican jerk-style. Look for an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, too. Whatever route you choose, the folks at Rusty's will make sure you feel right at home.
Rusty's recently renovated a new tiki bar and deck, so you can enjoy open-air dining in Florida's sunshine on the waterfront harbor. (321-783-2033)
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)
Fishlips Waterfront Bar and Grill
This enormous waterside bar features a great, covered party deck, tiki bar upstairs, sports bar, sun deck, an array of terrific martinis and an ever-popular seafood omelet brunch on Sundays.
The special "Chef Creations" offer everything from a smoked salmon platter to breakfast burritos. We love the Caribbean Sunrise: grilled mahi mahi with salsa and veggies and the smoked salmon potato pancakes.
The food here will pleasantly surprise you. Fishlips even offers a gluten-free menu, as well as a mouthwatering selection of seafood, fish and steak for lunch and dinner. The all-you-can-eat crab legs win the world.
This is the type of place you can stop by any time of the day and enjoy good times and a great view of the water. (321-784-4533)
Euro Kafe Etcetera
The Euro Kafe Etcetera is beloved for its authentic European fare, created by Chef Mark Pecko, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Get breakfast, lunch or dinner in this charming and quaint little gem (that may be a little tricky to find, but it's worth the hunt). Beyond the mouthwatering, freshly pounded German schnitzels, wurst, sauerbraten and homestyle soups, you can also find European-style pastries here. The German influence is not all you can taste here. Also indulge in favorites from Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Hungary and Croatia. Top off your meal with an eclair pie or bread pudding; the desserts here will transport your taste buds to another land. (321-866-3178)
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.
Breakfast here starts around 8:45 a.m. Enjoy omelets, espressos and Cuban coffee, which is the shining star of this small establishment.
For a later brunch, we enjoy 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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
Connect with Aimee via: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest