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Orlando and Cocoa Beach - no car, 70 teens

Chaperoning a band/choir trip to Orlando from Toronto, Canada May 3rd to 8th. Staying at the Rosen Plaza Hotel (9700 International Drive), and will not have a car. IF I get some free time, where can I walk for good chow? (Also willing to take a taxi if $5-$10 away). I don't necessarily want to take my 70 kids with me!
http://en.venere.com/hotels_orlando/i...

We are also spending all day Sunday at Cocoa Beach (not the Space Centre). Anything within a very short walk of the beach? (e.g. less than 5 mins. away, so that nobody notices I'm missing). We'll also be spending time at Wet 'n' Wild and Universal Studios if there is any real chow there (I'm not holding out any hope).

I have heard from a 'hound that Boston Lobster Feast is terrific but the review is a few years old. http://www.bostonlobsterfeast.com/Res...

Are there any FL specialities that we Canadians must try? I love everything but obviously fine dining is not an option for me on this trip. Take-out and quick eats are best. Seafood and southern would be awesome.

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  1. Cocoa Beach can be a little spread out,but here is a list of Brevard restaurants that might get you started.

    http://perpetualtravel.com/marc/brevr...

    1 Reply
    1. re: TomFl

      Wow, this 12 page list will certainly come in handy on Sunday!

    2. For FL specialties, there's the typical bar food of grilled or fried fish, typically grouper or mahi-mahi, sandwich and fries. Finish if off with a slice of key lime pie. Publix grocery stores key lime pie is generally better that what you'll get in restaurants.

      1 Reply
      1. re: beachmouse

        Sorry, but the Publix key lime pie ($7.49) was really disappointing. It doesn't contain key limes, only lime and lots of hydrogenated oils. We ate it after our make-your-own sandwich lunch on Saturday. Not even tart enough!

      2. there's a shuttle/trolley that operates along i-drive if you want to save the cab fare.
        http://www.iridetrolley.com/index.html

        you're very close (within walking distance i believe) to pointe orlando which has quite a few restaurants - many of them are newer additions to that development -- it's being revamped or some such

        http://www.pointeorlando.com/store_li...

        as for cocoa, i don't get over there very often - but i presume from your post you're looking for something right off of the beach or within walking distance of where you all will be hanging out -- your best bet (if no one else comes up with any suggestions that is) would be to type "cocoa beach, fl" into google maps, then type in the word 'grill' or 'restaurant' and then get some idea of where you want to be on the beach based on the places where you might want to take a walk.

        good luck -- 70 teens, LIKE,OMG! :0

        )

        have fun and bring lotsa sunscreen!

        1 Reply
        1. re: hitachino

          I second the Pointe Orlando, specifically Maggiano's, as they have a family style menu (Italian Favorites) you can order from which should be ideal for 70 kids.

        2. consider skipping universal studios and spending the money at emerils just outside the entrance instead.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Creosote

            Like, OMG! ;-) The real Emeril's? Do they do take-out? Is it worth the hype?

              1. re: Food Tourist

                It's the real Emeril...well worth it especially for lunch.

            1. If you're going to Islands of Adventure at Universal be sure to try Mythos. Its the best theme park restaurant in the country, much better than anything you've had in that type of setting before.

              2 Replies
              1. re: coasterphil

                Wow, I never thought I'd hear the words "best theme park restaurant in the country" ever! Is Islands of Adventure inside the main Universal Studios theme park? If so, I know where I'll be camped out "available to students in case of emergency" all day!

                1. re: Food Tourist

                  There are two parks on the Universal property, Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Mythos is in Islands of Adventure. If you aren't going to be at that park you might want to see if you can still go in to eat at Mythos. They used to have a program that allowed you to do that, but I'm not sure if thats the case anymore.

                  Here is one of their menus. They tweak it quite a bit, so it won't be exactly the same when you go.
                  http://www.islandsofadventure.com/myt...

              2. A brave soul you are! On International go across the street to Capitol Grille, great service and food for an upscale small chain. For something a little different and fun, about a mile further down is an eclectic tapas artsy place called TuTu Tango. Great cocktails, fun and extensive menu with specials. Next I live in Cocoa Beach and own a restaurant here. Where will you be on the beach? There are hit and miss spots. I can also help with cheap eat places for kids.

                1 Reply
                1. re: portside1

                  I've been to Cafe TuTu Tango in Miami a few years ago...and it's now open in Niagara Falls, Canada!

                  I didn't realize Cocoa Beach is so long...where are the best spots for a rowdy bunch of teens? (Actually, we want to have a Sunday prayer service on the beach before suntanning and swimming begins...so maybe not so rowdy!)

                2. You might want to check out Coconuts-On The Beach: http://www.coconutsonthebeach.com/

                  1. I've been slow to post because you are so far out from your trip and because most of the earlier posts have been spot on.

                    Here are a couple of thoughts and observations about what you asked about and the responses.

                    With your location and limited ability to move about, I would stay close by. You didn't give any sense of budget or price range -- be warned that some places such as Capital Grille are on the pricey side.

                    Among the places within your reach, in addition to those already reccomended and matching your criteria I'd suggest the following:

                    Bahama Breeze, a Darden (Olive Garden, Red Lobster) chain of Floribbean food, probably new to you and pretty fairly priced. Same company also offers Seasons 52, their effort in fresh and healthy food and also quite good with a nice wine selection.

                    Bonefish Grill, Fishbones and Moonfish. All fresh seafood, different price ranges but good shellfish and fresh fish.

                    At Pointe Orlando, try Tommy Bahama Cafe. Same concept but much more upscale than Bahama Breeze.

                    BTW. Maggiano's at Pointe Orlando could handle your whole crowd at a fair price. But plan in advance. Call and book a private dining rom -- the place can seat 600 -- and maybe ask for a limited menu at a specific price point.

                    Also Jack's Place and the Everglades restaurant at Rosen Centre and Rosen Plaza are quite good for the price.

                    Can't help with Cocoa Beach. it all depends on what part of the beach you land on. Roll the dice and hit the closest place serving beer and seafood.

                    Skip Boston Lobster Feast. All-you-can-eat seafood is like all-you-can-eat sushi. You get what you pay for.

                    Nothing much close by your location that relects good Southern cuisine. Maybe House of Blues at Disney Marketplace, but a fair haul away from you.

                    Trolley is the way to go on I-Drive. Buy the one-day or multi-day ticket and ride for next to nothing all up and down the strip.

                    Emeril's is quite pricey. If you go alone, try and find a single seat at the bar -- reservations for one are next to impossible. Also, he has a restaurant called Tchoup Chop in the Royal Pacific hotel. Lunch is good value, it's Polynesian/Pacific Rim food and quite good. The room is worth the trip by itself.

                    Ask away, based on your needs and I'll try to respond.

                    Bob

                    1. Roberto's Little Havana in Cocoa Beach (I think it's a block from the beach or so) has great Cuban sandwiches, casual atmosphere. Would be a good place to stop for lunch.

                      1. Updated needs:
                        - We have 75 teenagers and 6 adults for the following requests
                        - Friday, May 6th - we would like a pizza supper near Rosen Plaza hotel. Most likely for delivery but we might consider dine-in if we can walk there. Not Pizza Hut, please. Our principal has agreed to pay for this, so we're not worried about finding the cheapest. Tasty pizza is the key here but obviously try to keep it around $10 per person.
                        - Saturday, May 7th - I have to provide pick-up breakfast for 80 people on Saturday, Sunday and Monday in my hotel room - is there a grocery store nearby to the Rosen Plaza to get fresh fruit, bagels, etc.? What time does it open/close? We'll bring our own juice boxes, granola bars and spreads from Canada to save time.
                        - Any quick and easy lunch options near Dr. Phillips High School (Turkey Lake Road) or Osceola High School (Kissimmee)? Either I'll need a grocery store or deli for make-your-own-sandwiches or the kids will run out and buy their own lunch nearby in between performances.
                        - The Heritage Festival people are providing lunch for our group on Cocoa Beach so I only have to worry about my own food needs on Sunday. However, after we leave the beach at 5 pm Sunday, we need a place near Rosen Plaza for dinner for 80 people. Preferably a good buffet, and preferably walking distance or shuttle-able. Under $20 including tax per person for supper.

                        Thanks everyone!

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Food Tourist

                          don't know if you noticed this already, but you have several choices on-site for food, including pizza and a little deli type grocery. (probably more expensive than average)

                          http://www.rosenplaza.com/diningAndEn...

                          if you go to google maps and type in the address for your hotel and/or the address for the school you'll be at, then zoom in a bit and type in 'italian' or 'grocery' or whatever it is you're looking for - you'll get some listings and an idea of where they are located in relation to your stay.

                          1. re: Food Tourist

                            The better grocery store option around is Publix- good rotisserie chicken and deli sandwiches for a reasonable price, and also tend to have pretty good bakery and produce sections. They're all over the place in central Florida. Check their web site ( http://www.publix.com ) for locations nearest you.

                            1. re: beachmouse

                              Thanks, I like Publix. I checked their website and there are no locations on International Drive. I'll try google maps to find the nearest locations.

                            2. re: Food Tourist

                              One of our teachers has discovered http://goldencorral.net/ It is $13.00/person and includes all you can eat buffet dinner, drinks, and tips. Any reviews/criticism of Golden Corral (it is a chain so I'm not holding out any hope that it's actually good)? Is there a better buffet on the shuttle route that is also under $20 including tip and actually reflects the local Florida cuisine?
                              Thanks.

                              1. re: Food Tourist

                                Another update: the festival on Saturday is at Osceola Performing Arts Centre (Tupperware Centre) at 3141 North Orange Blossom Trail in Kissimmee (near John Young Pkwy). We need a grocery store and/or take-out options nearby. I'll try to google map the area. Any ideas?

                              2. I would stay clear of Boston Lobster Festered unless you happen to like the smell of ammonia on frozen lobster culls (split frozen halves at that). It's the food prison riots are made of.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: bkhuna

                                  Golden Corral is...okay. Generally, though, I can remember many school trips as a teenager where it really saved our chaperones a lot of hassle because it was fast and most everyone on the crowd could find something that they liked.

                                  Regarding your event at the Osceola Performing Arts Centre, there is a Publix on John Young Parkway just south of 417 (it's on Town Loop Blvd.)- they have a great prepared food section, and Publix subs are probably some of the best in the area. They do sandwich, veggie, and dessert platters at a modest price, so you could easily feed your entire group without breaking the bank. If you call ahead with the order, they will have everything ready for you when you arrive.

                                  Other than that, we (the two of us) like to eat at Emeril's during lunch when we're at Universal- you won't be dissapointed. We've never had trouble sitting at the bar without a reservation during lunchtime. Tchoup-Chop is good too (not as good though), but their food and service isn't as consistent as Emeril's is.

                                  1. re: jazzy77

                                    There are a lot of chain buffetts on international drive. Ponderosa, Golden Corral, Sizzler and a chinese one (I think it it called Bill Wong's). There is also a Cici's pizza which is a 3.99 pizza buffet. None of them are great but really easy for a group of kids. In general I have found Golden Corral to be better than the others.

                                    There is a publix on Sandlake Road close to your hotel, a wal-mart about 10 minutes away, and grocery store (it used to be a goodings) right by.

                                2. Thanks, everyone! At Cocoa Beach, I walked from the Holiday Inn where we ended up to Slow & Low. Great hickory BBQ! Tried half rack of babyback ribs (fell off the bone) and 3 oz of pulled pork ($1 per oz) along with sweet tea, fried okra and turnip greens. Loved the patio - it's the first bbq place I've been to with a patio!

                                  Unfortunately, Emeril's was mediocre, bordering on awful. Decent breads and decent key lime meringue. I really disliked the sweet-spicy creole tomato glaze which smothered the pile of crab atop otherwise good fried green tomatoes. Would have preferred a less seasoned dish. Texas redfish was dry and similarly overseasoned, with lacklustre diced veggies. No, I didn't complain or send anything back, which is unusual for me, but just once, I wanted to get through a meal without causing a fuss! Emeril's didn't offer a daily lunch special nor the pulled pork or fresh fish advertised on their website menu. It was a waste of $60.
                                  My colleagues ate next door at Margaritaville and I wish I had stayed with them or gone to Mythos.

                                  Golden Corral, was, predictably, really awful. They overseason all meats, and nothing looked or tasted good. They had the same fried okra as Slow & Low so I guess it's a frozen item that we don't get up north.

                                  Flippers Pizza was decent American-style and really cheap.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Food Tourist

                                    You don't mention which Emeril's restaurant you were dissapointed in. I'm guessing it was the Emeril's Orlando in CityWalk. Sad, but somewhat predictable. I've eaten there enough to know somewhat what to order --- and less is often more. The ingredients are always top shelf . . . just eliminate two or three layers of the crap they put on top of basically well made product. . .

                                    Bob