Florida’s Space Coast is sizzling with more than 1,450 delectable restaurants and dining options for guests across it’s 72 miles. From beachside bistros to family-owned restaurants nestled in the quaint historic districts of Melbourne, Titusville and Cocoa and world-famous eateries, there is always something new, unique and fresh on the menu.
I recently had the chance to check out all that the Space Coast has to offer as part of an “Off the Hook Foodie Tour”. I actually lived on Florida’s Space Coast when I was in grade school but moved down to the Florida Keys before I had the chance to reach the age where I could truly appreciate the breadth of dining options available to residents and visitors alike.
Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral
Our tour started at Central Florida’s newest attraction. The new Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral opened in November of 2013 as part of the Canaveral Port Authority’s celebration of their 60th Anniversary. This 7-story building offers a spectacular bird’s eye view of the port and surrounding area from it’s observation deck. Along with the views, guests can learn from dozens of exhibits and interactive play areas.
The only way I could ever catch a wave…inside a building.
The Exploration Tower is located at 670 Dave Nisbet Drive, Cape Canaveral, Florida, 32920.
Florida Beer Company
I am a huge fan of Florida Beer Company and was delighted to see that they had come out with four of their more popular brews for our group to sample. This craft brewery has been producing quality craft beer and cider for 17 years…and it shows. I will pick up a four pack of their Swamp Ape Double IPA whenever I see it in a grocery store cooler. It packs a punch coming in at 10% ABV. I lucked out as the rep had brought along a small batch sampling of their Smoked Swamp Ape DIPA.
I can’t wait to get back over to the Space Coast to check out the brewery in person. The building is not far from the port and is 60,000 square feet set on 5 acres with a 5,000 square foot tasting room. Hopefully they will still have some of that small batch smoked DIPA!
Florida Beer Company is located at 200 Imperial Blvd., Cape Canaveral, Florida, 32920.
Djon’s Steak and Lobster House
To go along with our beer, Djon’s Steak and Lobster House (one of Brevard County’s consistently rated best restaurants) provided us with some killer chilled seafood. You just can’t get any fresher than the coastal waters of Florida’s Space Coast. My favorite was this ahi tuna. I kept creeping back over to the table for more. Djon’s offers an extensive assortment of surf and turf. I perused their menu and found classics like Oysters Rockefeller, Filet Mignon and Lobster Tail and other items I would love to try like King Crab Spring Rolls, Baked Brie and Lobster Mac’n’Cheese.
Djon’s Steak and Lobster House is located at 522 Ocean Ave., Melbourne Beach, Florida, 32951.
After we had finished up at the Exploration Tower, our group boarded a bus and made our way across the river to Cocoa Village for a dining experience at Crush Eleven, a casually hip gathering place serving up rustic-urban food, unique specialty wines, craft beers and quality hand-crafted cocktails. The menu at Crush Eleven was designed to foster a social dining atmosphere by encouraging guests to sample a variety of dishes and share among friends, but there would be no sharing tonight, it was THAT GOOD!
We started with a sampling of, you guessed it, Florida Beer Company beer. This time it was the Florida Lager, a nice sessionable brew.
The beer was served with our first offering.
Wild Blue Crab Feature ($14) Cilantro Lime Crab Cake, House-Made Smoked Avocado Creme Fraiche, Maple Braised Pork Belly, Poached Egg, Arbol Chili Dust.
And if that wasn’t enough, we were treated to a second dish as well.
Local Fresh Catch (MKP) Grilled Local Grouper Olivata, Cremini Mushroom Parmesan and Spaghetti Squash Cake, Limoncello Beurre Blanc, Salad of Radicchio, Arugula and Prosciutto.
This dish blew my mind. I would have never thought to fashion spaghetti squash into a cake. The squash was slightly sweet and paired nicely with the delicate fish. This dish was paired with a 2012 Chappellet Napa Valley Chardonnay.
I almost cried into my napkin when I found out we wouldn’t be indulging in dessert at Crush Eleven. With an offering like Chocolate Stout Cake with Roasted Peanut Honey Butter, Popcorn Ice Cream and Beer Caramel…I know I’ll be back!
Crush Eleven is located at 11 Riverside Dr., Cocoa Village, Florida, 32922.
We boarded our bus and headed back over the river to the port. We were trying to make it to our final food stop on our “Off the Hook” Foodie Tour quickly. You see, the night of our tour just so happened to be the same as a night launch of a NASA rocket. Guess what? We made it just in time to watch liftoff!
The launch was viewed from our last stop…
In the heart of Port Canaveral Milliken’s Reef Seafood Grille is the perfect coastal dining venue offering guests gorgeous views of the port, its waterways and the many luxury and commercial boats that dock there. The menu includes mahi, grouper, salmon, clams, shrimp, oysters, and even sushi.
We started with a basket of their normal bread service. Well, I wouldn’t exactly call hush puppies with sweet cinnamon butter normal, but I would call them delicious!
My dining companion opted for pie.
Key Lime Pie ($5.95) Tart Florida key lime filling slathered with pure whipped cream in a graham cracker crust and decorated with cream rosettes.
Being the chocoholic that I am, I opted for chocolate!
Chocolate Lava Cake ($7.95) This one will do the talking for itself. A rich chocolate bundt overflowing with hot chocolate fudge. Served with vanilla ice cream.
And here’s a look at one of the two cheesecake options.
Mango Guava Cheesecake ($6.95) A little piece of heaven. This dessert is filled with an intensely rich mango cheesecake and a sweet guava cheesecake all compiled into one delicious dessert.
Milliken’s Reef is located at 683 Dave Nisbet Dr., Cape Canaveral, Florida, 32920.
Florida’s Space Coast is not only home to NASA and beautiful beaches, but as this post proves it is also home to some of the best culinary experiences Florida has to offer. For more info on all there is to see and do on the Space Coast check out VisitSpaceCoast.com.
I was invited as a member of the media to experience this “Off the Hook Foodie Tour”. As such, my guest and I were provided with complementary food and beverages. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are my own.