The Port Canaveral view by night at Baja Chowder and Seafood — Photo courtesy of Baja Chowder and Seafood
This restaurant had us at all-you-can-eat snow crab legs and shrimp.
Baja Chowder (formerly named Baja Tavern and Eats) may be a new name. But the family that runs it has a long history in this region of Florida, and more than 90-plus years of combined restaurant experience.
The Kolsch family opened their first restaurant in Milwaukee shortly after WWII. The Kolsch family’s first Florida restaurant was the 4 O’Clock Club in Fort Lauderdale in 1954, followed by the Mousetrap chain in 1960. A Mousetrap opened in Cocoa Beach in the early ‘70s.
A long list of other restaurants followed, ultimately culminating in a Chowders Seafood Grill in Rockledge in 1998. Members of the family took over Port Canaveral’s Redheads Martini Bar in 2010 and changed the name. Baja Tavern and Eats was born.
Today, guests can count on Baja Chowder for fresh, delicious seafood; daily specials; and live entertainment Wednesday through Sunday. On Mondays, to help beat the beginning of the workweek blues, happy hour lasts from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Daily specials include buy one, get one entrees on Tuesdays; 75 cent oysters on Saturdays; and, of course, the all-you-can-eat crab legs and shrimp “steampot” – mixed with corn, potatoes and a seafood garlic broth – on Fridays. That's our favorite bet.
Baja Chowder portions are substantial — Photo courtesy of Baja Chowder and Seafood
Beyond specials, Baja Chowder is known for its reasonable prices and hearty portions. The menu itself is lengthy and includes plenty of options for non-seafood-eaters, too.
The “goat bread” gives new meaning to cheesy bread, bringing a melty combo of goat, bleu, mozzarella, jack, cheddar and parm cheese to a toasted loaf of bread. Also, find chicken sandwiches and a mouthwatering garlic steak.
Find burgers, steaks and other options at Baja Chowder, too — Photo courtesy of Baja Chowder and Seafood
But stealing the show is the restaurant’s two different kinds of chowder; after all, they’re what the restaurant is named after.
The restaurant touts that its New England clam chowder is first-place award-winning, and the lobster chowder adds hunks of lobster to the already scrumptious housemade chowder base.
Other menu highlights include the Florida-style crab cake dinner – offered blackened, fried or grilled – and the grouper pot pie with a crab cake crust. Regular chicken pot pie will never again be sufficient. Especially when you can enjoy grouper pot pie with a view of the ocean, while listening to live music on an outdoor patio.
It’s no wonder Baja Chowder is a local fave and a hidden gem for tourists in the know.
The port by day — Photo courtesy of Baja Chowder and Seafood