5 places to grab dinner, drinks with a view of KSC


  • Watch SpaceX launch and land its Falcon 9 rocket

    Watch SpaceX launch and land its Falcon 9 rocket

  • Atlas V rocket launches from Cape Canaveral with secret satellite

    Atlas V rocket launches from Cape Canaveral with secret satellite

  • SpaceX launches Falcon 9 from KSC, nails the landing

    SpaceX launches Falcon 9 from KSC, nails the landing

  • SpaceX launches, lands Falcon 9 on X-37B mini-shuttle mission

    SpaceX launches, lands Falcon 9 on X-37B mini-shuttle mission

  • Minotaur IV rocket launches from Cape

    Minotaur IV rocket launches from Cape

  • Atlas V rocket launches from Cape with NASA satellite

    Atlas V rocket launches from Cape with NASA satellite

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from KSC, lands at Cape

    SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from KSC, lands at Cape

  • Video: SpaceX launches Falcon 9 on third try

    Video: SpaceX launches Falcon 9 on third try

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from KSC, lands on drone ship

    SpaceX Falcon 9 launches from KSC, lands on drone ship

  • SpaceX launches Falcon 9 from KSC, lands at Cape

    SpaceX launches Falcon 9 from KSC, lands at Cape

  • SpaceX launches satellite size of a double-decker bus

    SpaceX launches satellite size of a double-decker bus

  • SpaceX launches Falcon 9 from KSC, nails landing

    SpaceX launches Falcon 9 from KSC, nails landing

  • Atlas V rocket blasts off on mission with Cygnus spacecraft

    Atlas V rocket blasts off on mission with Cygnus spacecraft

  • SpaceX launches, lands 'flight proven' Falcon 9

    SpaceX launches, lands ‘flight proven’ Falcon 9

  • Delta IV rocket launches from Cape Canaveral

    Delta IV rocket launches from Cape Canaveral

  • SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center

    SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center

  • Falcon 9 blasts off from KSC, lands at Cape

    Falcon 9 blasts off from KSC, lands at Cape

  • Atlas V rocket blasts off with missile detection satellite

    Atlas V rocket blasts off with missile detection satellite

Gambling on whether or not a launch will actually happen is a bet most Space Coasters know better than to make. 

Weather conditions, last-minute technical problems, wayward boats wandering into forbidden areas … 

… you never know what could affect a launch time. That’s why making launch viewing an “event” is so important. Adding dinner and drinks into the mix, especially when the launch time is just after sunset, is a perfect way to battle any uncertainty. Win or lose, we still booze, right???

Wednesday’s launch is sure to be a beaut. SpaceX has scheduled an evening launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Liftoff is scheduled for 8 p.m., with a two-hour window. Here’s the cool part: they’re bringing that baby back! SpaceX will attempt a landing of its rocket booster at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

This is a double-whammy for viewership. 

1. Because night launches are an incredible sight. 

2. Because you’ll likely experience the shock and awe that is a sonic boom when the booster returns. It’s magnificent and terrifying all at once. Watch closely and you’ll see it fall back down from the sky. 

Here’s the catch — and really the point of this article — Weather is 70 percent favorable, which means there’s a solid 30 percent chance we’ll walk away with puppy dog eyes full of disappointment. 

More: SpaceX ready for mystery ‘Zuma’ launch from KSC and landing at Cape Canaveral

There are spectacular viewing spots along the Indian River in north Brevard where you can catch a perfect glimpse of the rocket launch (and return) while also sipping on a cocktail or shoveling in appetizers. 

Remember this as you plan: If you look across the river at NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building (the giant building that sticks out like a sore thumb), pad 39A is just to the left of it. That’s where the launch will take place. You’ll see the launch from pretty much anywhere in the immediate area (and even as far as Orlando), but if you want a front-row seat, here are a few places I recommend for your viewing pleasure. 

As a local, here are places I suggest with a view to dine and drink before the launch: 

1. Shiloh’s Steak and Seafood

Perhaps the best view you could ever ask for from a restaurant is at Shiloh’s in Titusville. The riverside eatery not only has an outdoor “Mangrove” deck and bar directly across from the space center, but inside sprawling windows cover the back of the restaurant. There is no such thing as a bad view here. The menu at the restaurant offers a range of items, and they aren’t too expensive unless you go for the $53, 34-ounce Ribeye because YOLO. Happy hour here runs from 4-7 p.m. (just in time to get a little schwastey cakes before the launch). Here is a link to the menu if you want to check it out. I recommend the samurai shrimp if you go. It’s a zesty dish full of flavor and, as a local, it’s my go-to when I visit. Shiloh’s is open until 10 p.m. on weeknights.

Location: 3665 S. Washington Ave., Titusville

2. Dogs R Us

If you have little ones, Dogs R Us is a must. This is likely the most kid-friendly joint in town (given you don’t dine outside with the smokers or in the bar area) and it sits directly across U.S. 1 from Kennedy Space Center. The restaurant, known for its wings, hot dogs and other American dishes is priced right and offers a free kids meal with every adult meal purchased. The wings for two deal is my favorite: 20 wings and a basket of fries for $20 (I recommend the sweet heat flavor). The restaurant is also lined inside with TVs that feature various sports games. Happy hour runs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. If you do dine here, be sure to step out into the parking lot to watch the actual launch. It’s a clear view, but looking out a window in Dogs R Us probably won’t cut it unless you grab a booth on the east end of the restaurant. Here’s the catch, though: bring cash. The restaurant doesn’t accept credit cards or personal checks. There’s an ATM inside with a $2 fee if you’re desperate. Check out the restaurant menu here, Dogs R Us is open until 11 p.m.

Location: 4200 S. Washington Ave., Titusville

3. El Leoncito 

El Leoncito is a local favorite for a multitude of reasons, but most notably, because of its giant margaritas. Note: my favorite is the frozen peach margarita. This Titusville restaurant right along U.S. 1 is known for its Cuban and Mexican dishes and is a straight shot across the river from KSC. There’s an outdoor seating area, but if you choose to eat inside and don’t get a booth on the east side, be sure to step outside for the launch. You won’t be let down by the view from the parking lot. Plus, El Leoncito has happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. You can’t go wrong here – I’ve never had a bad experience and the food is terrific. Expert tip: Be sure to grab one of those green-and-white candies on your way out the door. I don’t know what they are, but I’m pretty sure El Leoncito orders them straight from heaven. Check out the menu here. 

Location: 280 S. Washington Ave., Titusville

4. New York, New York

Buried down a side road in south Titusville, you wouldn’t know this place was there unless Mr. Google or a local told you. Also, there’s very little about New York, New York that’s well … New York-ish. It’s a casual restaurant down Riveredge Drive (just off U.S. 1) that’s known for its burgers and American dishes. Don’t be fooled by what it looks like from the outside (trust me, it’s not pretty from the front), but go out back and you have maybe the best view of the launch pad on the Space Coast. It sits right on the water with a great view from inside the restaurant and behind it. There’s also a tiki bar out back.  Here’s a link to the menu if you want to check it out. The restaurant is open until 9 p.m. and happy hour is from 3 to 5 p.m.

Location: 5401 Riveredge Dr., Titusville

5. Old Florida Grill & Oyster House

Old Florida Grill doesn’t look like much from the front. It’s in between Cocoa and Port St. John and its easy to miss as you fly down U.S. 1. But go inside and see what’s out back and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The restaurant sits right on the Indian River and has a dock and outside bar area that’s perfect for a night launch soiree. Plus, the food is good. The restaurant doesn’t have a happy hour, but it offers $3 margaritas all the time. The seafood joint is known for its oysters and fish and chips. It’s open until 10 p.m. Here’s a link to its menu on TripAdvisor. 

Location: 5370 U.S. 1, Cocoa

Other honorable mentions: 

  • Ryan’s Pizza and Pub in Cocoa Village.
  • Sandbar Sports Grill in Cocoa Beach.
  • The Cove in Port Canaveral. There are a number of restaurants at the port worth checking out, and you’ll certainly be able to see the launch from there. 
  • The Island Waterfront Bar & Grill in Merritt Island. 
  • Orleans Bistro and Bar in Titusville (there are a few trees that keep it from having a perfect view).
  • Irish Pub in Titusville (peek out around the parking lot and there’s a great view).
  • Cumberland Farms in Titusville on U.S. 1. Ironically enough, Cumby has a prime viewing spot straight across from KSC. Plus, who says a gas station hot dog doesn’t count as dinner???
  • Also, check out our restaurant guru Suzy Fleming-Leonard’s waterfront dining guide here. 

More: Searching for Brevard’s waterfront dining

Contact columnist Jessica Saggio at Jsaggio@floridatoday.com, 321-242-3664 or follow her on Twitter @JessicaJSaggio. 

 

 

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