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Dining at Dixie Crossroads - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Dining

There are several reasons you may find yourself on the East coast of Florida, perhaps you' ve had a trip to St. Augustine, the oldest city in North America and definitely worth a visit. Or perhaps you' ve been to the picturesque little village of Cocoa or its' beach a couple of miles further on. If you' ve been very lucky you may have spent a few hours at the Kennedy Space Centre or its' vicinity, watching the launch of a rocket or one of the Shuttles, Endeavour, Atlantis or Discovery. Whatever your reason, it' s a fair bet that you' ll be hungry and looking for somewhere to stop and eat. I' m sure you are all aware that finding somewhere in America that serves food is not a serious challenge but finding the right place is important especially if you are saddled with hungry youngsters. If this is the case and you are anywhere near Titusville, head for Dixie Crossroads at 1475, Garden Street.

This restaurant is famous for its' rock shrimp, a delicacy the owner, Rodney Thompson, discovered in 1969 when he threw his fishing nets off his boat and pulled in a thousand pounds of them. Unfortunately, the shells were too hard, making them difficult to clean and a large sand vein running through the shrimp gave the impression of dining on a mouthful of beach sand. After numerous failed attempts, Rodney' s daughter pointed out that the shrimp tasted similar to lobster so perhaps it should be cooked in the same way. She proceeded to split one shrimp, buttered it and threw it under the broiler. Immediate success and the shrimp was on its way to fame and the restaurant owner to fortune.

From the early eighties, approximately ten million pounds of shrimp were eaten each year but in 1991 this amount rose to forty million due to over trawling of the nursery grounds by unscrupulous fishermen. By the year 2000 there was no more than three million pounds in the sea and a campaign was started by Rodney Thompson to reduce the trawling and prevent further boats being used for shrimp fishing. Whether these actions have come soon enough remains to be seen but Dixie Crossroads farm their own shrimp so the species is not endangered.

To give you an idea how popular the restaurant is, the car park is about four times its' size to accommodate all the diners ' vehicles. I pulled into the car park early one evening to discover it full of Harley Davidson' s, Honda Goldwings and other such touring motor cycles, their riders packed shoulder to shoulder inside. I gave it a miss that day but you can phone in advance to give an estimated arrival time and how many people are eating, allowing you to be seated as soon as possible.

The restaurant, naturally, is large, clean, nicely decorated and comfortable, the service is typical American, fast, polite and friendly. The menu obviously leans heavily towards their delicious shrimp but it is supported by other sea food such as oysters, clams, salmon, mullet, tilapia, mahi mahi, lobster and snow crab. For non sea food diners, the restaurant serves chicken, ribs and a variety of steaks such as sirloin, New York strips, porterhouse and prime rib. Kids' menus are also available and apart from smaller portions of the adult menu, fish fingers and burgers are also served.

Another Dixie Crossroads opened recently in Festival Bay mall at the top of International Drive but I haven' t sampled its' cuisine to be able to compare. The original Dixie Crossroads in Titusville is a must for you to visit if you are in the area but I wouldn' t advise you to travel sixty miles for a bit of fish and chips, albeit a very good one.

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