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Judging from their blissful, soporific smiles and stacks of leftovers, we passed a satisfied family on our way into Dixie Crossroads in Titusville. "We came all the way from Deltona, and it was worth it," someone said. We drove from Orlando to dine at this established beacon of fish-house cuisine, and we knew it would be worth the trip, too.

Confident that "if you cook it, they will come," management has skipped the Martha Stewart niceties of atmosphere and decorum. They don't waste time mixing tartar sauces; instead they serve the Ken's Steak House brand in disposable cups. Forks and knives are wrapped in wax paper and clunked on top of paper placemats. Hostesses communicate with each other on radio headsets while searching for the next empty table.

Confident that "if you cook it, they will come," management has skipped the Martha Stewart niceties of atmosphere and decorum. They don't waste time mixing tartar sauces; instead they serve the Ken's Steak House brand in disposable cups. Forks and knives are wrapped in wax paper and clunked on top of paper placemats. Hostesses communicate with each other on radio headsets while searching for the next empty table.

Lines are so long outside on weekends that Dixie carved a pond, built a pavilion and hired a band. Most patrons don't seem to mind waiting an hour or more to get seated.

Lines are so long outside on weekends that Dixie carved a pond, built a pavilion and hired a band. Most patrons don't seem to mind waiting an hour or more to get seated.

When it was our time, we were led to the Manatee Room, decorated with murals of sea cows and bubbles. We selected entrees and soups. There was hardly time to blink before the waitress returned with a tray of vegetable soup (OK), shrimp chowder (much better), creamy coleslaw (getting warmer) and gloriously golden, crispy corn fritters (hubba! hubba!). Without exaggeration these are the best fritters I have ever had – or probably ever will have. Crescents of sweet dough are blended with corn kernels and fried to a light, crisp finish.

When it was our time, we were led to the Manatee Room, decorated with murals of sea cows and bubbles. We selected entrees and soups. There was hardly time to blink before the waitress returned with a tray of vegetable soup (OK), shrimp chowder (much better), creamy coleslaw (getting warmer) and gloriously golden, crispy corn fritters (hubba! hubba!). Without exaggeration these are the best fritters I have ever had – or probably ever will have. Crescents of sweet dough are blended with corn kernels and fried to a light, crisp finish.

The seafood arrived shortly afterward, all a jumble on oversized platters. We chose to have it fried, rather than steamed or broiled. My shellfish combo ($10.95) came with shrimp, scallops and stuffed crab. The traditional shrimp and smaller rock shrimp were fried a dark brown. Both were sweet, fresh and delicious. Scallops were a little mushy and disappointing that day. Stuffed crab was actually breaded crab meat, molded into pucks and fried to crunchy hard shells. Very good. My guest's Indian River combo ($10.95) came with most of this and mullet as well. The fish fillet was fresh and firm, with a thick, flaky batter. Our baked potatoes were not on a par with the rest of the dinner – too steamy and heavy.

The seafood arrived shortly afterward, all a jumble on oversized platters. We chose to have it fried, rather than steamed or broiled. My shellfish combo ($10.95) came with shrimp, scallops and stuffed crab. The traditional shrimp and smaller rock shrimp were fried a dark brown. Both were sweet, fresh and delicious. Scallops were a little mushy and disappointing that day. Stuffed crab was actually breaded crab meat, molded into pucks and fried to crunchy hard shells. Very good. My guest's Indian River combo ($10.95) came with most of this and mullet as well. The fish fillet was fresh and firm, with a thick, flaky batter. Our baked potatoes were not on a par with the rest of the dinner – too steamy and heavy.

The lemon cake ($1.50) was a surprisingly good homespun yellow cake topped with a slab of citrus icing, though an unexpected touch came with the check: a cup of vanilla frozen yogurt, to clear the palate.

Sports bar with an urban vibe and a decor befitting Vern Yip's design portfolio can only do so much to mitigate a disjointed dining experience. Empanadas, onion rings, corn dogs and other finger food faves trump some of the more ambitious offerings, like chicken kebabs, gourmet pizzas and pastitsio. Focus is what's missing, but the restaurant's a work in progress. Open daily.

It's a great temptation to spend too-much time describing the fun of J.B.'s Fish Camp or the pleasure of eating fresh seafood along the Indian River with boats docking and pelicans flying overhead. This is not exactly the type of place to reel in hordes of yuppies. This is a real fish camp, where you can buy bait and tackle. Look elsewhere for architectural monuments or fancy atmosphere.

The restaurant itself is simply a medium-sized wood shack with a tin roof. You park your car on a dirt road that may have a few hungry dogs hanging around. When you get inside J.B.'s, it gets a little spiffier; Tiffany-ish lamps hang from the ceiling -- but they're actually beer ads.

The restaurant itself is simply a medium-sized wood shack with a tin roof. You park your car on a dirt road that may have a few hungry dogs hanging around. When you get inside J.B.'s, it gets a little spiffier; Tiffany-ish lamps hang from the ceiling -- but they're actually beer ads.

Apparently the place is not too friendly to kids. A sign warns that "unattended children will be used as crab bait." Not likely, because you don't generally see a lot of children around J.B.'s. What you do see is a lot of locals and bikers and others who are fishing for fresh seafood, well-prepared and well-served.

Apparently the place is not too friendly to kids. A sign warns that "unattended children will be used as crab bait." Not likely, because you don't generally see a lot of children around J.B.'s. What you do see is a lot of locals and bikers and others who are fishing for fresh seafood, well-prepared and well-served.

On several visits, the lightly breaded crabcake sandwich ($5.25) has never disappointed me. The apparently home-made tartar sauce in large bottles is subtle enough not to overwhelm the tender crabmeat.

On several visits, the lightly breaded crabcake sandwich ($5.25) has never disappointed me. The apparently home-made tartar sauce in large bottles is subtle enough not to overwhelm the tender crabmeat.

One evening for dinner, I tried the pompano fillet ($14.95) which was a fine piece of perfectly grilled fish. Corn on the cob was not available, but sweet corn served as a side dish was fine, if not very unusual. The rice came with red peppers that gave it just the right sort of peppery taste. And the crunchy, slightly sweet hush puppies were among the best I've ever had.

One evening for dinner, I tried the pompano fillet ($14.95) which was a fine piece of perfectly grilled fish. Corn on the cob was not available, but sweet corn served as a side dish was fine, if not very unusual. The rice came with red peppers that gave it just the right sort of peppery taste. And the crunchy, slightly sweet hush puppies were among the best I've ever had.

One time, to test the waters you might say, I decided to try one of J.B.'s two steak offerings. The 8-ounce sirloin ($8.95) was a perfectly good piece of lean, juicy meat, well-cooked as ordered.

One time, to test the waters you might say, I decided to try one of J.B.'s two steak offerings. The 8-ounce sirloin ($8.95) was a perfectly good piece of lean, juicy meat, well-cooked as ordered.

The only criticism I had that night was that the "Cajun onion strings" ($2.50 as a side-order) were limp, flabby and unappetizing.

The only criticism I had that night was that the "Cajun onion strings" ($2.50 as a side-order) were limp, flabby and unappetizing.

The only dessert offered is Key lime pie ($3). This home-made pie was a pale yellow, had a great crust and wasn't sickeningly sweet.

The only dessert offered is Key lime pie ($3). This home-made pie was a pale yellow, had a great crust and wasn't sickeningly sweet.

Service here has always been brisk and efficient. Good Canadian Molson beer is on draft ($1.60 a glass or $6.50 a pitcher).

Service here has always been brisk and efficient. Good Canadian Molson beer is on draft ($1.60 a glass or $6.50 a pitcher).

Cold beer and simply prepared fish, briskly served in a fun atmosphere -- some may prefer something fancier and it's admittedly not to everyone's taste, but it's enough for me to take the bait anytime.

Arguably the most relaxed resturant at Pointe Orlando, Marlow's offers tavern favorites for slightly more discriminating palates. Asparagus fries and proper-good chicken wings lay gustatory foundations for more ambitious dishes, like shrimp and grits lathered in a roast tomato beurre sauce, and a well-composed "Everything and the Kitchen Sink" burger. A handful of craft and local brews will keep beer connoisseurs happy, and a sizable patio augments the restaurant's relaxed vibe.


Teaser: Arguably the most relaxed resturant at Pointe Orlando, Marlow's offers tavern favorites for slightly more discriminating palates. Asparagus fries and proper-good chicken wings lay gustatory foundations for more ambitious dishes, like shrimp and grits lathered in a roast tomato beurre sauce, and a well-composed "Everything and the Kitchen Sink" burger. A handful of craft and local brews will keep beer connoisseurs happy, and a sizable patio augments the restaurant's relaxed vibe.

Next door to Netto Ice Cream sits Pão Gostoso Bakery, a bustling cake and pastry shop where expats and visitors alike can be found downing açai, cashew or fresh cane juice while chomping on assorted “salgadinhos,” or small baked goods. Of note are the traditional condensed milk and cheese breads and the scrumptious éclairs, puddings and cakes beckoning from the large glass display case. You’ll also find fried chicken sticks, empanadas and kibbeh-like meatball patties, as well as hearty sandwiches oozing creamy catupiry cheese. Though English is spoken, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your Portuguese.

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