Friday, April 29, 2016

Downtown Cocoa Beach Pub & Restaurant Crawl

I'm happy to report that there is plenty of life in the Banana River contrary to some recent sensationalist social and mainstream media reports. The stone crab claws pictured came from the Banana River this week along with many dozens more not pictured. There appears to be no trace left in late April of the brown tide that killed off thousands of fish in March. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't continue our efforts to reduce our nutrient rich runoff that triggers the algae blooms. Our river is special and beautiful and as we found out, delicate. Despite the brown tide event, it has produced quite a few tasty meals for me this week. I like mine dipped in a little honey-mustard sauce.

Other than Post Office boxes, all of Cocoa Beach including areas north and south of the city limits  share one solitary zip code. We are all 32931 but there can be quite a bit of difference in specific areas. I often talk about this. There is the one that attracts the bulk of the tourists that is centered on the Pier and Ron Jons area and seems to be most outsiders' image of Cocoa Beach. The other Cocoa Beach, the one that I love, begins at the Kelly Slater statue at the fork in the road at 4th St. North as one heads south.

Despite the small size of downtown Cocoa Beach, there is quite a bit there. How many restaurants and bars are there in downtown Cocoa Beach? I used to say more than three dozen but thought I'd take the time to walk the four block area of downtown and make a list. Turns out there are more than I thought. I have provided links to everyone's websites or lacking that a link to their Yelp review page. If one finds themselves thirsty, hungry or wanting to hear live music in downtown Cocoa Beach, there is no good excuse to do without.

Exiting my office just north of 1st St. North on Brevard Ave. I walk a half block north past Jonathan's Pub and The Elks Lodge to N. 2nd St. and east around the corner. On the corner of Orlando Ave. is Jazzy's Mainely Lobster seafood market and restaurant. Taking the sidewalk north up Orlando, immediately next door is The Pig and Whistle British Pub . A half block further north and we're at Burger Country. Right across the street is Slow and Low BBQ and just beyond in the same block is the Surfers Pub and Bruno's Pizzeria. Since I'm keeping this to just the downtown area I walk one block east to Barrier Jacks Restaurant and then turn back south. First I come to the Cocoa Beach Brewing Company and right next door, Pineapple Point bar and restaurant. A couple of buildings down is The Mango Tree fine dining restaurant. I cross the street now to the ocean side and continue south past 1st St. North and first up is The New Habit, sandwiches and ice cream. Around the corner on Minutemen to the beach and we have everyone's favorite dive bar and music venue, The Beach Shack on the ocean and right across the way, also on the ocean is Coconuts, restaurant and bar. Immediately west of Coconuts is one building housing Hunker Down Bar, Fat Kahunas Restaurant, Cafe Playa Cuban Restaurant and shortly to open, The Thirsty Oyster oyster bar. Just across Atlantic Ave. and just south of the currently closed old Surf Restaurant is Venice at Cocoa Beach, bar and restaurant and the Subway sandwich shop. In the first block of Minutemen west of the ocean we have Yen Yens Chinese restaurant, Heidi's Jazz Club, The Heidelburg RestaurantMinutemen Tavern and the Cocoa Beach VFW. Just around the corner across from City Hall on Orlando Ave. is Twin Finnegans Irish Pub. Continuing west on Minutemen on the north side across the street from City Hall we begin with Cocoa Beach Thai and Sushi on the corner and then Casablanca bar. Next door in the Mai Tiki Market we find The Fat Donkey ice cream and desserts, The Tiny Turtle Caribbean Fusion restaurant and Wahoo Coffee Company. Across the alley behind Mai Tiki is Coastal Produce, produce market and deli and across Brevard Ave. is Jenna's Breezeway  restaurant. Walking back east up the alley (Wayne Coombs Way) behind Mai Tiki Market we get to Slingers Cocoa Beach Chicago-style hot dog joint on the right and Roberto's Little Havana Cuban Restaurant on the left. Across Orlando Ave. is Oasis Shaved Ice and The Florida Key Lime Pie Company. Heading north towards N. 1st St. we have the Surfinista, smoothies. coffee and health food and right across Orlando Ave. is Juice and Java Cafe. Around the corner on N. 1st St. behind the Surfinista is The Green Room Cafe health food restaurant. Continuing north on Orlando towards N. 2nd St. we pass Simply Delicious Cafe & Bakery and Surfer Joe's Tropical Ice before passing  Cocoa Beach Sports Pub with the attached Mexican grill. At 2nd St. North I retrace my steps to the office where we find our last eatery directly across Brevard Ave,, the always excellent,  Pompano Grill fine dining.

If I missed any, please let me know. By my count 18 of the over 40 listed have live music at least some of the time and only eight or nine of the 40 plus don't serve any food. If your image of Cocoa Beach is tourists, T-shirt shops and traffic it may be time to venture south..

"I'm sorry about last night. The next time I act in a willful or vain manner, you have my permission to put poison in my food, if you are not already planning to do so. Were you actually involved in a bank robbery? I think one of us is crazy. It's probably me. Take care. Your loving husband, Hack"
__from The House of the Rising Sun by James Lee Burke