SANDBAR SPORTS GRILL
ADDRESS: 4301 Ocean Beach Boulevard, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over two and a half years since the first time I came down to the Melbourne area. I had accepted a new job offer and was down here for my house-hunting trip. My friend Rich, who had already transferred down to the area from our previous job, was helping to show me around.
As it got later in the evening, we started looking for a place to eat. We were up in Cocoa Beach, cruising on the A1A highway, when Rich pointed out the window at a sign for Sandbar. He said he hadn’t tried the place before, and I was game to give it a shot. That night I was introduced to some amazing fish tacos, and it also marked the first time I tried some fried alligator as well. Since moving down to the area, I’ve been back a handful of times, mostly when I’ve had out-of-town visitors.
It’s an easy drive to get out to the restaurant, located just a turn off the main strip of A1A. The place itself is pretty casual, where you can walk inside and just take any seat at an empty table or the bar. A member of the waitstaff usually stops by not long after to take your drinks and food orders.
Another cool aspect of the restaurant (and a trait shared by many other spots in the Cocoa Beach area) is just how close the beach is. You walk out the back of the restaurant, up onto a boardwalk, and you’re looking at the waves of the Atlantic Ocean cresting on the beach. Whether you’re relaxing at the beach before looking for some food, or if you want to walk off some of what you just ate, the beach really is just steps away.
You’ll be flipping through a pretty diverse menu, ranging from seafood to sandwiches to pizza to tacos. I can really only speak to the fish tacos (and a few of the appetizers), since that’s what I’ve been going to Sandbar for so far. They offer three different styles for the mahi-mahi on the fish tacos: grilled, blackened, or Baja. The tacos come à la carte, so the first time I tried them, I ordered one of each to see what their differences were.
My personal preference of the three is the Baja style, breaded with panko and then fried. The blackened style was a runner-up, with the spices on the outside of the mahi giving each bite a bit of a kick. The tacos themselves are each topped with shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, pico de gallo, and a lime wedge for that added acidic burst of flavor, if you choose to do so.
Like I mentioned before, this place was also where I tried gator for the first time. Fried alligator tail was listed as an appetizer on the menu, served with a spicy chipotle ranch dipping sauce. Other people (as well as the menu) mentioned that gator tastes like chicken, and I’d agree with that. It also contained a bit of an oily texture that I’d more attribute to fish. Having now tried gator, I guess I can consider myself a true Floridian.
What began as a visit at random choice has turned into the discovery of one of the best fish tacos I’ve had in the area. The casual ambiance and prime location help make Sandbar an easy decision to go grab some food if I’m already in the vicinity. I’m definitely aiming to broaden out my samplings of what’s on their menu, but I’m thinking that, at a minimum, a Baja fish taco is usually going to make it onto the order list.
Let’s now take a look at the Sandbar Sports Grill Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
** Fish Tacos **
Mahi-mahi cooked to requested style (pictured left & right: blackened, pictured middle: Baja), topped with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and a lime wedge, served on flour tortillas. Pictured without shredded cheese.
And finally, here are my rankings for Sandbar Sports Grill:
Food: 4.75 / 5
Plenty of food options available to you, whether you’re in the mood for surf, turf, or even both. Quality of the food has also been pretty consistent throughout the times I’ve been there, with all the items always tasting fresh.
Atmosphere: 4 / 5
It’s definitely a very casual ambiance, where you can walk right up off the beach to take a seat for some food. It’s also a great place to hang out and watch some sporting events, since they’ve got quite a few flat-screen TVs hanging around various spots in the dining area.
Service: 4 / 5
I’ve usually experienced pretty consistent service when stopping in for a bite to eat. The waitstaff might sometimes take a little longer to initially stop by your table, but after they take your order, they are back quite a few times to check in.
Price: 4.5 / 5
On initial glance, the numbers next to the food items might seem a bit high, but I’ve come to expect seafood to be priced more towards that upper end. In addition, I think you’re also paying for the prime location right near the beach.