Orlando and Cape Canaveral Eats

We’ll be in town for Spring Break. Going to spend a Friday in the Cape Canaveral area, and a Saturday in the Orlando (Hilton resort) area for our pre and post-cruise stays. There will be three families with children of varying ages (6-15). Looking for places we can eat together or grab an easy bite on-the-go. It’ll be our first time in this part of Florida.

It’s been a couple of years that I darkened that resort door at Grande Lakes but had some good eats in Cocoa Beach, which is right of the Cape…

Jazzy’s Mainely Lobster is a seafood shack that is da bomb!
OMG…always packed but delicious…grouper sandwich is outstanding…clam chowder…
Eat as much grouper as you can in Florida…so damn good!

Also, Fishbones, is a great casual place for sports, late night place for the whole family.
Miller’s Ale House is along the same type and we had good food and drink.

Norman’s at the Ritz is very good…
Hit up a Cuban bakery/restaurant too.


Thanks, @Plumeria. This is very helpful!

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I left the Orlando area in 04, so don’t think I’ve much to offer in terms of restaurant recommendations.

I totally agree with @Plumeria on eating grouper, though.

For an interesting experience, Lone Cabbage Fish Camp, off 520 and a couple miles east of I95, in Cocoa (not Cocoa Beach) is very “Florida”: I recall a lot of fried food and plenty of local color:


High Tide Harry’s off Semoran in Orlando was a regular spot for us: recall enjoying the conch fritters:


If you’re looking for food to go, the Publix Supermarket chain has a decent deli and bakery. (My deathbed meal would likely include one of their cinnamon rolls - softball sized with cream cheese frosting.)

I know there’s been a lot of developments off 50/Colonial Drive toward downtown with immigrants opening restaurants and introducing new dishes to the community. No idea if it’s “good ‘X’ for Orlando” or just plain good.

Some discussion of the area on HungryOnion (though not recent):

Edited to add:
Googled the Hilton location; given the number of people you’re traveling with, and the resort location, you might be better off eating there or at one of the other resorts/theme park areas.

The theme parks are all set off from Orlando proper which can make getting to downtown/elsewhere challenging.


Thanks, @ElsieDee! This is good info. The only time I’ve ever been in FL is via a layover at the airport. I’m certainly looking forward to trying the grouper now.
My youngest is a cinnamon roll addict…I will definitely look for a Publix market while in the area.

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Back from our journey, and I have to say that we had a pretty good time in the Orlando and Cape Canaveral area.
We did the chain thing while in Orlando, but got to see both Disney Springs and CityWalk Orlando while we were there. We found Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at CityWalk for extreme milkshakes and various desserts, and experienced a Florida 5 minute tropical storm…wild, but kind of cool.

We ended up in Cocoa Beach instead of Port Canaveral where we hit up Publix and Coasters Taphouse. The cinnamon rolls and key lime pie were an unbelievable value and pretty tasty for a grocery store bakery. Coasters was in the same plaza as Publix and was gastropub serving really reasonably priced cocktails and food. Unfortunately, they didn’t have grouper, but they did have a fantastically cooked cobia and an amazing she-crab soup.
Thanks @Plumeria and @ElsieDee!

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I lived there for seven years (minus four days) and never stopped marveling at the brief downpours - also never reset, mentally, from the concept that “grey/cloudy/rain = soup and bread-making time”.

Glad you found food and tried Publix. Would you go back to the area to explore?

(Now I’m craving one of those cinnamon rolls!)

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My husband is going to a conference in Orlando next year and I am totally tagging along to see more of what that side of the world has to offer. I will also say that the weather was great for my skin and my allergies!
I think I can understand your mindset…with hot, humid rain, I don’t think I would want soup either.

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This area has some of the worst food in the country.

In Orlando, the Ravenous Pig is the best restaurant I’ve tried. Beyond that, I would seek out ethnic restaurants (especially Indian and Cuban).

So, wifey was offered a job in Orlando that she could not refuse. We’re going into long distance mode for a while.

I kind of feel bad for her, having to eat Orlando food while I zoom her while eating at our favorite LA spots. Yes, I will torture her.

She is a Mexican food nut and also can’t live without dim sum.

But it’s likely I will have to follow her to Florida in the near future. So I need to start scouting places there. I hear the Vietnamese is good from several Vietnamese friends.

Seriously, I refuse to turn to other boards for assistance. I need help from my FTC brothers and sisters. PLEASE HELP!!

When I visit, I need to prove my culinary worth by taking her to some good spots. Though I am tempted to sandbag any really top notch recs LOL


Lol! Whenever people ask how long I’ve lived in LA I always start to think “lets see seven years, one month and…” before saying “ ugh I don’t know I moved here in 2014?!? Time flies”

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I asked my friend who has lived in Orlando for a few years and here are his recommendations. I have never been to any of these places so caveat emptor
Black Rooster
Yummy House
Santiago’s Bodega

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Thanks so much!!

Man, we are spoiled here in LA area.


Warrior: For Cape Canaveral, I suggest packing KIND bars.


Anyone hear of Maryland Fried Chicken?

Wifey said there’s one near her and she would rather me research it than try it herself LMAO

Came across a reference to this place:

Might be interesting to check out.

It’s been almost 20 years since I left the Orlando area, and the folks I’m in touch with aren’t really driven to seek out new foods. I’ll keep asking, though.

I do recommend exploring the strip malls around UCF; there were some great little places tucked away, catering to the students and professors, as well as the tech park off Alafaya Trail (south of UCF).

Most places around the theme parks are geared toward tourists: can be entertaining, but not necessarily great. I recall some interesting places off 50, headed east (in Bithlo and Christmas) and a couple of “fish camp” places off 520 (lots of fried foods, occasionally decent BBQ).

Publix for the cream cheese frosted cinnamon rolls.

Oh, Steak n Shake, Waffle House, and Cracker Barrel for reliable chain food. :grin:

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Thank you so much, I will definitely pass this along!!

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Sticky Rice. Laotian street food that’s up there with the best of LA standards. Just get One Of Everything.

The Hog and the Dog. BBQs are good, but that maple bacon bake bean is the bomb. About 40 minutes outside Orlando, so YMMV literally. The BBQ joints in Orlando just don’t look right IMO.

The Salty Donut. Similar to Sidecar.

[EDIT] Consider treking over to St.Pete for some good food and local vibes.


Thanks so much for these!

Totally agree with this; from Lakeland heading west on I4 both north and south of the freeway, are some older small towns with some great family restaurants - I recall a Greek place in Brandon and an old Italian-American place in … Bradenton, maybe?) that was marvelous. They had a seafood stuffed portobello mushroom with an alfredo sauce as an appetizer - I’d make a meal of that and one of their salads.

Same with older neighborhoods in/around Tampa, but with gentrification, seawater/flooding, and hurricane damage, I’ve no idea what of these communities are still intact.

Basically, get out of the cities/away from the tourist and snowbird catering-to areas and into the older areas. You’ll find surprising options in unexpected places. (For a while there was a gas station at the north end of Titusville owned by an Indonesian family that sold boxed lunches of Indonesian meals; was popular with some of the KSC folks; it closed/changed hands before I left the area.)

If you’re interested in a quest, I’ve long thought that following up on the old CH “Deviled Crabs in Tampa” sleuthing would be fun.

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