There are some great universities along and around Florida’s Space Coast, and these centers of knowledge tend to be orbited like moons by centers of culinary excellence. With school getting back in session in August at the Florida Institute of Technology as well as Eastern Florida State College, we thought we’d provide a few insider tips for some good meals while you’re in town with your college student.
To start, the Florida Institute of Technology is centrally located just south of Downtown Melbourne and regarded highly for its engineering programs and flight school. Given its proximity to some of the oldest and most well-established areas on Florida’s Space Coast, it’s no surprise good food can be found nearby.
Here are some of the best:
- Meg O’ Malley’s Restaurant & Irish Pub is located directly in the heart of downtown, and this is one of Melbourne’s most popular and beloved restaurants. Live music is common (check their calendar monthly) and try the Shepard’s pie. Meg’s has great pub food, not to mention is also a great pub. Another must with every meal is their 18 cent bean soup, and yes, it actually costs only 18 cents.
- La Vela is the perfect spot if Italian is more on the palate. Just walk a block west of Meg O’ Malley’s to La Vela, also in Downtown Melbourne. This newly-opened restaurant serves a wide range of Italian dishes from pizza (cooked in a wood burning oven) to pastries hand made by their resident pastry chef. It has quickly cornered the market on garlic delights on the main strip of downtown.
- Hemingway’s Tavern is located next to the Premiere Oaks movie theater, a few miles north of FIT. Hemingway’s offers an interesting blend of Cuban and Florida-flavored food. Take some time to sit at the bar and gaze at the live camera on Key West’s Duval Street that plays on a large screen television at all hours. Be adventurous as they have an eclectic menu. And most definitely try the truffle fries; they are ridiculously good.
- Middle Eastern Aromas is there if you just want to walk from the campus of FIT to dinner and is a classic of the quad. An intimate interior matches exotic foods and a family-run atmosphere. The pitas and kabobs are the way to go, but note, they are closed on weekends.
Up the way north a bit along Wickham Road in the middle of Florida’s Space Coast, you’ll find the campus of Eastern Florida State College. There are some terrific places in this area as well, and be sure to check the schedule at the famous King Center (on campus), which always has great sound and iconic concerts. Here are two good ideas for some food first:
- Charlie and Jake’s Bar-B-Que is a local classic just up the road from EFSC. Charlie and Jake’s serves exactly what the name states they do and in terrific form. It’s a good idea to check out the daily specials, and if you happen to be visiting on a Monday, just say “Charlie’s Combo,” and they’ll take it from there. Also, always go with the hushpuppies on the side. Just do it.
- Thai Thai is part of the boom of late in new Thai restaurants along Florida’s Space Coast. But there is still only one name you need to know about while in town (well two): Thai Thai. There are actually three Thai Thai locations on Florida’s Space Coast - Thai One, Two, and Three, respectively. If you are calling ahead or ordering to go (huge, awesome to-go portions), be sure you are clear on which one you’re calling…but since you are visiting your student at EFSC, Thai Thai One in Lake Washington Square is the place to be. Excellent sushi, but the Pad-Thai with any mix of flavors stands out.
These are some of our top selections on Florida’s Space Coast, but the area has great culinary depth, and we didn’t even have time here to get into seafood. So explore at your leisure, and after a few stops, you may find yourself looking to enroll as well.