Sandbar Sports Grill
By Callie Boyer
From the parking lot across the street, the first image summoned to mind when approaching the Sandbar Sports Grill is that of one of those decorator crabs that has scuttled its way across the ocean floor, adorning its shell with the various trinkets and treasures left behind by plundering pirates and cutthroat conquistadors that fell unfortunate victim to the sometimes angry and unpredictable Atlantic Ocean. Most days, though, Poseidon lay dormant, beneath the calm and balmy Atlantic waters that lap at the sun-kissed shores of Cocoa Beach, where the Sandbar Sports Grill decorator crab has made its home for over thirteen years, beckoning to thirsty and heat-exhausted beach-goers with promises of of respite from the occasionally oppressive Florida sunshine, in the form of ice cold draught beers, fish tacos, and frosty blended margaritas… naturally!
Even on the inside, almost every foreseeable surface area has some sort of keepsake, collectible or sports memorabilia ornamenting its exterior (conscientiously catering to the multitudes of us that suffer from adult ADHD, no doubt…). After entering through the yawning mouth of giant, stone Polynesian Tiki head, you’ll walk down a hallway lined with photographs of survivors of the “5lb Big Burrito Challenge”, the various celebrities to have graced the interiors of its humble presence, and mementos of the frequent fundraisers and charity events that the Sandbar is known to host, sometimes several in a month. Co-owned by Mike Phelps and Andrew Bunin, the Sandbar is a neighborhood fixture and actively participates in a variety of events geared to support the local community. It’s a happening place — there is live music featured here nearly every single night of the week, and you’re practically guaranteed to find the big game or fight you’re looking for on one of over twenty flat screen TVs. It’s got a laid-back, Old-Florida dive bar vibe but the quality of food and service is anything but divey. It’s a casual, open-air establishment that’s easy to feel at home in because everyone is just there to have a good time, and you can tell they came to the right place!
The Sandbar offers an “Escape from the Ordinary”, in the form of Mexican-style pub grub, served until midnight every night (midnight munchers rejoice!). The menu is eclectic enough to satisfy a variety of appetites that need replenishing from an exhausting day at the beach; from delicious fish tacos and seafood platters, to juicy burgers and New York style pizzas, there is something everyone can, and will, enjoy. The joint is considered family friendly until 10pm., and kids have a variety of tasty options to choose from as well. There’s a different daily special starting at 4pm every day, so be sure to take advantage of half-price Taco Tuesdays, or co-owner Andrew Bunin’s favorite, Sandbooze Sundays (the name, I believe, speaks for itself).
Whether you’ve traveled straight down Route 520 from Orlando International Airport in search of the nearest beachside oasis (“Where 520 Meets the Beach!”), or you’re celebrating a new surfboard purchase from Ron Jon’s, the Sandbar Sports Grill is the place to go to kick back, relax, and unwind from the daily grind and settle into vacation mode, whether you’re actually on vacation or not. Expect to see sunburnt tourists gulping frosty buckets of Coronas and reggae-loving locals stopping by to check the scene while the dance floor heats up to the soundtrack of a favorite local artist, and be sure to try the famous “Category 4 Hurricane”, because here in Cocoa Beach, we don’t run from hurricanes; we drink ‘um!