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.
Forget all of that battered and fried nonsense! If it's fresh fish and seafood you seek – homestyle – look to this restaurant at Sunrise Marina. Sure, aesthetically, it looks like little more than your 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) or the steamed deep-water crab legs. Hold the butter; they're tasty enough without it. Comfort food faves here include sweet potato fries and cheese sticks. But the chowders win the world – three different variations, too.
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.
Sweet Tomatoes Pizzeria is a family-run, local favorite spot to get casual Italian comfort food. Naturally, pizza is the specialty, but you can also find rich pasta and fresh seafood here. Start your meal with a wide variety of appetizers, from indulgent mozzarella sticks to healthier zucchini sticks, fried green beans or calamari. Find all of your favorite pasta dishes here, as well as many seafood-influenced dishes, such as lobster ravioli. The grinders (especially the loaded steak grinders) are another indulgent, homestyle belly-filler. Sweet Tomatoes proudly advertises that it makes up everything fresh, made-to-order, just like the old-fashioned way. The recipes are handed down through the family for generations. As you might expect in an authentic family-run and family-friendly establishment, the owner himself may swing by your table to chat. You'll feel like one of the family here.
Don't judge this restaurant by its exterior – or even its interior. (After all, it used to be named "The Little Shack.") Although Pineda Crossing looks like a casual bar, it boasts a menu that you would never expect. For lunch every day, order the daily fresh catch: mahi mahi, yellowfin tuna, Atlantic grouper. Or choose from the wide variety of specialty entrees, from fried oysters to the Bayou pork chop. This restaurant specializes in old-fashioned comfort food with friendly service. The head chef grew up in Melbourne and graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute in America in New York, and he boasts a list of culinary awards that you can taste in every dish. Pineda Crossing also has a full bar and a full line of swag you can order online. Pineda Crossing makes up for what it lacks in atmosphere with delicious food for a reasonable price.
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.
Loyd Have Mercy offers comfort food so down-home delicious that it might have you hollering, "Amen." This Southern-style menu has been named the best soul food in Brevard County. We're talking juicy garlic shrimp, collards and grids, chicken and rice – all of the most delicious homestyle goodies, seafood and barbecue faves. Everything here is homemade and prepared to order, so don't expect to get in and out quickly. Sit down and relax. You'll feel right at home. This family-owned restaurant opened in 2008 to bring the Space Coast the "best food this side of heaven" (hence its name), and we can't disagree; although we've never tasted a plate of wings or meatloaf from the other side of heaven. In fact, it was opened by a pastor of the Love Covenant Word Center, featuring his family recipes that have been passed down for generations. Your taste buds won't be the only ones celebrating. The prices are low, so your wallet will feel sanctified, too.