Monday, February 23, 2009

Dixie Crossroads

There aren't many restaurants with staying power in Central Florida. Eateries are an institution one day and gone the next. Gary's Duck Inn was such so legendary that it's concept was taken nationwide as Red Lobster. The fun, quirky Bubble Room in Maitland closed. Ronnies Diner is no more. Chains and franchises litter the landscape.

One eatery that seems to grow and expand every time I visit, however, is Dixie Crossroads in Titusville. Disney has Mickey, SeaWorld has Shamu, and Dixie Crossroads has Mr. Rock, the Rock Shrimp. Served cracked open like miniature lobsters, this sweet little critter has turned Dixie Crossroads into a theme park-like atmosphere devoted to good eatin'. And every meal comes with corn fritters, sweet version of hush puppies with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

The decor of Dixie Crossroads is a shrine to the anthropromorphic rock shrimp and Florida's native environment in which he lives. There are gigantic murals showing a proliferation of birds and other critters, life-sized rock shrimp for picture taking purposes, and a pond full of fish you can feed (Tilapia?) while you're waiting to be seated inside. Inside the wildlife theme continues with good and bad artwork of your favorite Florida flora and fauna.

It's kind of like a Disneyed version of Southern seafood restaurant. But on steroids. They have spin-off versions on I-drive and Mt. Dora, but to me the Titusville version is one-of-a-kind. A day spent bird watching at the nearby Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, followed by a meal at Dixie Crossroads encompasses two wildly different sides of Florida – it's natural beauty and it's manmade kitsch. And it just doesn't get any better!


  1. Dixie Crossroads actually no longer has the other locations. The one in Mt Dora was sold off and had the crossroads dropped from the name, and the prices went way up. The one on International Drive was pretty bad on both of my visits, and it closed up about a year ago.

    I don't understand the rock shrimp though. You pay top dollar for little crustaceans that are a pain to eat and aren't properly cleaned. Everything else at Dixie Crossroads is good, but I just don't understand the thing that they are famous for.

  2. Thanks for the updates! In away I'm glad the other locations aren't around because it took away form the uniqueness of the one in Titusville. And I think that's the point of the Rock Shrimp- they are a novelty that I can't say I've seen featured at any other place.

    I can attest to the fact that they are a lot more work to eat than traditional shrimp and a good bit messier.

  3. oh, i sure do miss gary's duck inn. i went for my 16th birthday with my mom and brother just before it shut down. i didn't realize it was one of the starting points for the red lobster idea, though.

    and i will agree with you on the titusville locale. the other two were franchised and poorly done, although the mt dora one did have the all you can eat soup and salad bar (and soft serve ice cream if i remember correctly).

  4. It's always difficult to have the same mojo as the original.