Cocoa Beach has long been one of the most popular and bustling beaches on the Space Coast. But after a day working up an appetite on the perfect waves rolling alongside the long pier, Cocoa Beach is also a great place to grab a meal.
In fact, Cocoa Beach has so many top-notch restaurants that we could barely narrow down our favorite 10. Here, you can find a wide variety of food types (from seafood to juice to BBQ) and atmospheres (from upscale to totally casual).
One of our favorite restaurants, not just in Cocoa Beach but on the entire Space Coast, is The Fat Snook. From the outside, the building looks unassuming, but prepare to be awed when you walk in the door by the contemporary, clean decor. The food will blow you away.
As might be expected in Florida, seafood takes a front seat at other top Cocoa Beach restaurants. Jack Baker's Lobster Shanty and Florida's Seafood Bar and Grill are just two places to delight your taste buds with fresh fish and sea critters.
The diversity in Cocoa Beach is also impressive. Elegant Black Tulip has European influences and Cafe Margaux, the romantic French-inspired restaurant, are both authentic – and great date destinations.
This upscale French and European-influenced restaurant is considered one of the Space Coast's best dining establishments and hands down one of the most romantic outings in Cocoa. Enjoy the beautiful weather on the patio, while you sip wine – Cafe Margaux features about 400 different types – and indulge in some of the tastiest options around.
Cafe Margaux has an established reputation (it opened in the '80s) and is home to executive chef Erol Tugrul, an established, international chef whose family lives in Bavaria and Turkey.
Enjoy entrees, such prime filet mignon tips, a scallopini of veal tenderloin, an herb-seared rack of lamb and a "lollipop" pork chop over risotto. The slow-cooked, European-style Bistro Features are also popular. Top of your meal with a glass of cognac or a house-made dessert.
Look for special events, too, like wine dinners and special events. Vegetarian options available, too; imagine a plate of red peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and eggplant baked with brie. (321-639-8343)
Juice N Java Cafe
Juice N Java is a great place to get fresh-roasted coffee wine, craft beers and healthy, fresh, farm-to-table menu options inspired from around the world. This shop is a local fave and has been voted the No. 1 coffee house in Central Florida.
For healthy options check out the fruit smoothies, salads and artisan cheese trays. For a healthy snack, try the chocolate-covered strawberries. Sandwiches come with a variety of bread options to meet your dietary needs or culinary cravings. Juice N Java also offers vegetarian options, like the roma sandwich.
Come and plan to stay; wifi is free and service is excellent. Grab a table outside on a nice day. (321-784-4044)
If you're looking for comfort food with a modern spin, check out Crush Eleven in Cocoa Village.
This restaurant offers unique spins on some of the all-time favorites, like mac and cheese and French fries. Except here, they're "one-year cheddar mac and cheese" with tater tots and giardiniera, and green bean fries with smoked paprika aioli.
This restaurant is casual, yet contemporary, offering craft beer, wine and cocktails. Food is served in such a way to encourage sharing it around the table, which gives is an old-fashioned, family feeling and makes your meal a social experience. It's only fitting that diners sit at large wooden tables.
Start your meal with pretzel-dusted fried green tomatoes and fill up with root beer braised short ribs. Chicken Under a Brick is another favorite.
After you dine, stroll past the Indian River and through quirky Cocoa Village and explore the galleries and shops nearby. (321-634-1100)
Florida's Seafood Bar and Grll
Florida's Seafood Bar and Grill claims to be the Space Coast's biggest seafood hotspot – but then it also claims that the owner "discovered" shrimp several hundred years ago. Although the whale tale is part of the silly charm of this Cocoa Beach establishment, one thing is a fact: Florida's Seafood knows how to do shrimp and oysters.
Try garlic shrimp over linguini or raw oyster shooters. Turf and "you pick the surf" is also a fun option.
The atmosphere is cheery and family-friendly (the restaurant is also family-owned and operated), and Florida's can accommodate large groups. Want the food to come to you? Florida's Seafood can cater events, too. (321-784-0892)
Simply Delicious Cafe and Bakery
Simply Delicious is an early riser, and only open until mid-afternoon. It's well known for its stunning cakes and cupcakes, but its breakfast always draws out crowds, too.
As you might expect as a bakery, Simply Delicious's specialties are also sweet and indulgent, such as blueberry-stuffed French toast with cream cheese. But you can also get hearty, American-style plates, such as omelets, grits and biscuits and gravy.
On your way out, make sure you grab a cupcake. The baked goods here are beautiful, creative, colorful and photo-worthy. Like an art gallery that you can eat.
Simply Delicious is a family-run, long-standing Cocoa Beach business with a loyal following. (321-783-2012)
Southern hospitality shines at Murdock's, a relaxed bistro that serves lunch, dinner and often live entertainment, too.
Eat your meal inside the cozy interior or outside on the large back porch or front deck. Chow down on some Southern-style comfort food, like smoked pork or chicken barbecue and homemade fresh soups. Try fried pickles for an appetizer and a "po'boy" sandwich for dinner. After you try catfish fingers, you'll never want regular fish sticks again.
Don't miss the Bloody Mary bar on Sunday. Murdock's features a fully-stocked bar, so come in, unwind and stay awhile.
The motto here is, "Good food, good friends, good wine, great times," which is why Murdock's is one of our favorite places to relax and spoil our taste buds. (321-633-0600)
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)
The Fat Snook
The Fat Snook, on the Space Coast, is haven for foodies. This small dining room located on the beach is cozy, intimate and the food is some of the best you will find in this stretch of Florida.
The Fat Snook is great for a romantic or fancy night out, even though the atmosphere remains relaxed and upbeat. Make sure you make a reservation if you want to get a table. The tables are limited and the demand is high.
Enjoy dinner here every day of the week, except three holidays a year.
Try a mango chow chow, a Kona Coffee Rub steak and goat cheese ravioli, which you may be able to pair with local lobster. In fact, the fresh, expertly prepared local seafood is a must-try at this restaurant. (321-784-1190)
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