Dixie Crossroads (1475 Garden St., Titusville, 321/268-5000, www.dixiecrossroads.com , 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun.–Thurs., 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat., main courses from $9) is something of a love-it-or-leave-it proposition around these parts. Some locals contend that it’s just an overrated, overly busy destination restaurant more concerned with selling koozies and T-shirts than with delivering truly exceptional food. Others—me included—would fast for a week in order to make extra stomach room for their delicious grilled rock shrimp.
Those huge succulent shrimp are what Dixie is best-known for, and they are certainly delicious, especially when served with a basket of corn fritters dusted in powdered sugar. With a menu divided into “Seafood” and “Not Seafood,” you’d be correct in assuming that the kitchen’s strengths lie in frying and grilling creatures of the deep.
While the knickknack peddling is a bit wearying, and the unavoidable wait for a table can be dissuading, this place is an institution that actually deserves its must-eat-there status.
Located in downtown Titusville , Chops (3350 S. Washington Ave., Titusville, 321/385-2467, 5–10 p.m. daily, main courses from $14) is about as fancy as this beach town gets—which is to say, not all that fancy. Ostensibly a fine-dining establishment, service here is far from snooty, and the menu is solid if not all that adventurous. A typical selection of steaks and chops is at the fore, along with fresh fish and a handful of pasta dishes. The outdoor bar is a great place for a relaxing before-dinner drink, and a stroll around the tiny downtown historic district and along the Indian River is an ideal way to walk off your meal.
Peking Wok Pineapple Bay (2335 S. Washington Ave., Titusville, 321/383-9099, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, main courses from $8) is also located downtown, but with its menu of Chinese, Thai, and Malay specialties, it’s somewhat unusual for the area. The utilitarian decor is warmed considerably by the friendly owners, who apparently have a mission to pile as much food onto your plate as it will hold. Thankfully, the gigantic portions aren’t lacking in flavor, and in a town notably devoid of interesting culinary adventures, it’s a fantastic addition to the dining scene.
The Sandbar Sports Bar & Grill (4301 Ocean Beach Blvd., Cocoa Beach, 321/799-2577, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, main courses from $9) is exactly what one would expect from a beachside sports bar: live music, drink specials, fried pub grub, and about a million people in line in front of you to get a table. Nonetheless, the Sandbar serves up a mighty fish taco, along with a decent selection of fresh seafood (oysters, shrimp, or crab are almost always part of a nightly special) and a fantastic view of the ocean.
Part British pub and part sports bar, the Pig and Whistle (801 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach, 321/799-0724, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, main courses from $8) is extremely popular with locals, especially during football (and even futbol) season. Standard English pub food—shepherd’s pie, fish-and-chips, bangers and mash—is coupled with American sports-bar fare like burgers and sandwiches. None of it is truly exceptional, but the atmosphere and the Ping-Pong tables make it a reliable spot for a pint and a quick bite.