10 Best Restaurants in Malabar Range from Ethnic to Seafood

Malabar, Fla., is a small city nestled between Palm Bay and Melbourne on the Space Coast. Although it can be easy to overlook, especially not far from tourist hot spots like Cocoa Beach and Port Canaveral, don't pass over Malabar as a fantastic dining destination. 

Malabar is home to one of the Space Coast's most notable restaurants, the Yellow Dog Cafe, which has been known to attract celebrities for dinner. Grab a spot on the airy patio and enjoy the view of the Indian River, while you enjoy first-class service with a menu to match. 

If a river view is on your agenda, you can also try a plate at Ozzie's Crabhouse, famous for its all-you-can-eat blue crabs, caught right on site in the Indian River. The Shack Seafood Restaurant also serves fresh seafood with a river view. The Shack has been a Space Coast icon for nearly 40 years. 

Malabar is home to other longstanding, reputable restaurants, including Twisty Cone Ice Cream and Cakes (affectionately called Tcone), which has a near cult following of beloved fans eager to cool off with the dozens of flavors of soft serve, pies and cakes. 

Latin food also has a stronghold here, with La Estancia de Luisa's Colombian fare, complete with sangria, and Mister Lechon's authentic Puerto Rican plates.

Here are our favorite 10 places to eat in and near Malabar. 


La Estancia de Luisa
Photo courtesy of La Estancia de Luisa

La Estancia de Luisa claims to have the best Latin food in the area, and that's hard to dispute. Try the bandeja paisa or churrasco (skirt steak), with a side of moro rice, parsley potatoes or green plantains. For something a little more low key, the chicken in mango sauce is mouthwatering. This laid-back Colombian restaurant not only serves authentic Latin food, with a speciality in Colombian, but its offering also include alcohol. In one word: sangria. La Estancia also features wine, Colombian sodas and beer from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Argentina and more. The lunch special Thursday through Friday is a big bang for just about $8, and includes a meat, side and soup. Friday you can get the special Colombian Mix Plate, which includes griddle cake and pork skin. La Estancia also caters special events.

Recommended for Malabar's Best Restaurants because: La Estancia de Luisa serves delicious Latin food – and sangria.

Aimee's expert tip: The lunch special on Friday comes with a delicious pork skin.

Read more about La Estancia de Luisa →

Pepper Tree Sandwich Shop
Photo courtesy of Pepper Tree

If the crowd is any indication, Pepper Tree Sandwich Shop is one of the best places for a quick and fresh lunch in the Malabar region. Pepper Tree opened in 1972, and is stationed in a cozy house-turned-restaurant. Although outdoor seating is limited, you can take your meal to go or grab it in the drive-through. The indoor dining room is bigger, but can feel crowded during the lunch rush. It's fast food done right, with fresh salads, fish baskets and sandwiches made with Boar's Head meat. Try a classic reuben, burger, chicken wings or the chicken sandwich. The prices are about as low as you can get for a healthy meal, typically $5 to $10. The housemade brownie is famous for a reason. The restaurant specializes in lunch only and closes after lunch. Pepper Tree also offers catering.

Recommended for Malabar's Best Restaurants because: Pepper Tree is one of the best places to get a quick, inexpensive and healthy lunch in the Malabar region.

Aimee's expert tip: Try the housemade brownie for dessert. It's beloved for a reason.

Read more about Pepper Tree Sandwich Shop →

Twisty Cone Ice Cream & Cakes
Photo courtesy of Twisty Cone

Twisty Cone and Cakes may sound just like a regular ice cream parlor, but it's more than that. To locals, Tcone is a Palm Bay icon, with a solid crew of fans. This family-owned sweet shop serves more than 40 different flavors of soft-serve ice cream, plus shaved ice, custom cakes and pies, malts, frozen drinks, sodas and more. The shop is quirky, staff is friendly and funny and the atmosphere is small-town and homey. Lines can be long, but you can call ahead and order your ice cream to go. It'll be ready when you arrive. Tcone opened in 1982, then under the name of Kristy Kone. Tip: Get a Cake Club Card and collect stamps for your ice cream and pie purchases to earn a free cake. And while you're raking in the points, wear a Twisty Cone temporary tattoo on Tuesdays and get your cone half off.

Recommended for Malabar's Best Restaurants because: Twisty Cone is a Space Coast icon with a solid fan base who enjoy the 40-plus flavors of soft serve.

Aimee's expert tip: Call ahead and order your ice cream to be ready when you arrive.

Read more about Twisty Cone Ice Cream & Cakes →

Malabar Mo's Bar & Grill
Photo courtesy of Malabar Mo's

Malabar Mo's Bar & Grill is one of the best places to relax under in the shade of trees or on the deck, tip back a cold one, listen to live music and fill up on good food. The cheerful atmosphere here is what makes Malabar Mo's really stand out – but it doesn't hurt that this restaurant offers full dinner until 11 p.m. Late-night dining has never tasted so delicious. Malabar Mo's features a full bar and live music Friday through Sunday, with plenty of different places to hang out, inside or outside on the screened patio area or deck, cooled by the breeze of the river. Look for both daily and nightly specials. Thursday is the popular wing night. Don't miss the jerk mahi or the crispy fish BLT wrap for lunch.

Recommended for Malabar's Best Restaurants because: Malabar Mo's has great outdoor seating with live music Friday through Sunday.

Aimee's expert tip: Find both daily and nightly specials at Malabar Mo's. Thursday is wing night.

Read more about Malabar Mo's Bar & Grill →

Ozzie's Crabhouse
Photo courtesy of Ozzie's Crabhouse

Ozzie's Crabhouse is known for its all-you-can-eat blue crab legs – but we're talking some of the freshest, most delicious crab you can find. Ozzie's blue crabs from from the Space Coast's Indian River and boast their own unique flavor. That's why Ozzie's is a must-visit for any visit to Brevard County. Ozzie's specializes in all kinds of seafood, shellfish and steak, too. Don't miss the early-bird specials from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and don't miss the various weekday lunch specials 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. For example, Wednesday is chopped steak and gravy with chicken or fish, a side salad or slaw and potato, all for under $10. This Malabar restaurant opened in 1966.

Recommended for Malabar's Best Restaurants because: Ozzie's is known for its all-you-can-eat blue crabs, caught right in the Space Coast's Indian River.

Aimee's expert tip: Weekday lunch specials Tuesday through Friday are an inexpensive way to fill up on excellent food.

Read more about Ozzie's Crabhouse →

The Shack Seafood Restaurant
Photo courtesy of The Shack

The Shack is a family-owned seafood restaurant with a longstanding reputation. It's been a Space Coast staple for almost 40 years. Here, you can find fresh seafood and steaks, served up on the riverfront. Although The Shack's menu is exquisite (stuffed shrimp, prime rib, fresh fish flown in daily), the atmosphere is still relaxed and comfortable. Score sandwiches (like a French dip, oyster po' boy or corned beef) or hamburgers for lunch. Or stop in from 4 to 6 p.m. to take advantage of discounted prices on the early bird menu, Monday through Saturday. The best place to dine is outside on the patio, with a stunning view and sandbar. If you're looking for a private dining experience for a special occasion, like a family gathering or party, you can also rent the banquet room.

Recommended for Malabar's Best Restaurants because: The Shack has served fresh seafood riverside for nearly 40 years. It's a Space Coast staple.

Aimee's expert tip: Plan an early lunch, from 4 to 6 p.m., to get discounted prices on the early bird dinner menu.

Read more about The Shack Seafood Restaurant →

The Original Bizzarro Famous NY Pizza
Photo courtesy of Original Bizzarro Famous NY Pizza

There's something about pizza and the boardwalk that's a perfect match. That's why we love The Original Bizzarro Famous NY Pizza (Bizzarro's for short), located right on the Indialantic boardwalk. Order your pie to go and eat it on the beach or enjoy it on site. In a hurry? Order a crispy-crust slice. Feeling hungry? Try a Sicilian-style square pizza – Bizzarro's Special, with nine different toppings. This beachside Italian joint serves up more than pizza, however. For something light, you can grab a salad here. The mussels marinara are a light appetizer. Deli subs make ideal lunches. You can even order beer or wine to wash down your meal. Bizzarro's is a Space Coast staple, locally owned and operated for two decades.

Recommended for Malabar's Best Restaurants because: Bizzarro's is a local fave for good ol' pizza and Italian comfort food.

Aimee's expert tip: Order a slice to go and eat it on the boardwalk.

Read more about The Original Bizzarro Famous NY Pizza →

From the talented Stuart Borton (owner of Stuart's Bistro in Indialantic) comes this exciting cafe, which put the community of Malabar on the culinary map. Sound like an exaggeration? Get this: Among Stuart's more noteworthy customers are Jeb Bush (he likes the place so much, he celebrated his 49th birthday here!) and folk hero Arlo Guthrie. The breathtaking views of the Indian River are plusses, of course, as are the white linens and first-rate service. But what truly sets the place apart is its outstanding cookery – that is to say, innovative dishes like pecan-crusted mahi mahi with vanilla bean-infused praline sauce or roast duckling with raspberry, cherry and peppercorn sauce.

Recommended for Malabar's Best Restaurants because: Yellow Dog serves up some of the best food on the Space Coast with a great view of the river.

Aimee's expert tip: Request a table on the airy, open covered porch and enjoy sunny Florida's great weather and beautiful views. Even though it's outdoors, this porch feels more romantic and elegant than some of the other outdoor dining in Brevard County.

Read more about Yellow Dog Café →


Meet 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...  More About Aimee