Dine with the river rats
In the spring of last year, a former co-worker invited me to our former boss's retirement party. Through a strange series of events, many of our former co-workers migrated to a competing company in town. So, the retirement gathering at an out of the way river restaurant, Captain Katanna's, was an odd mix of old and new friends.
Meanwhile, I'd left the corp world for full time writing. And, sitting in my office, living the life of solitude, I welcomed the chance to visit with old colleagues and friends.
I live in central, coastal Florida. I've watched night launches of the space shuttle, felt the sea breeze in my face, built a fire in my fire place even though the temperature outside was only 65.
But this was my first time to visit Captain Katanna's along the Indian River, one of the many great hole-in-the-wall, mom-n-pop restaurants along U.S. 1.
From the road, it's barely discernible. I braked in time to hit the sand and gravel parking lot, then was lost as to which door was the front. Yeah, I tried to enter through the kitchen. A worker directed me to the front door where I entered a lovely dining room with a wall of windows facing the river and a high gloss wood floor running the length of the restaurant.
Captain Katanna's is the quintessential river restaurant and bar, but with the care and beauty of an established chain.
One of the best parts of this place is how guests can arrive via car or boat. Out on the river sailing and get hungry? Dock your boat at Captain Katanna's and walk up to the dining room.
Guests can eat indoors or out. There's a Tiki Bar along the deck and this is where I met my friends.
The food is the best. All my favorites. Sandwiches, burgers, wings, spinach and artichoke dip, and seafood such as steamed clams and crab fritters.
Main dishes include clam strips, chowder, stuffed mahi and a seafood platter of shrimp, scallops, and mahi served fried, broiled or Cajun spiced.
After my retirement party experience, where I think I was only hungry for an appetizer, I chose Captain Katanna's for my husband and my birthday dinner.
We sat out on the back deck by the water under a silky night sky, a balmy breeze against our skin, and enjoyed the company of friends and great food.
I chose a cheese burger and fries because I love burgers in this kind of dive. My husband had the mahi and loved it. For appetizers we shared nachos with the works and smoked fish dip. Delicious.
Captain Katanna's is a place you can go dressed up after a wedding or party, or straight from boating or the beach. While inside dining is at nice wooden tables and chairs, outside we dined at a white plastic picnic table.
Captain Katanna's is unique. It's a place where locals go and every one would know their name.
So many things are changing in the world. We've become a commercial and connected society through mass media like television and the Internet. But Captain Katanna’s reminds me of how each community has its own personality and beauty. All along U.S. 1 in central Florida there are great mom and pop places. Captain Katanna's is one of the best.
Brevard County is southeast of Orlando and nestled along the Indian and St. John's River and made up of Titusville, Rockledge, Cocoa Beach, Indialantic, Satellite Beach, Melbourne Beach, Melbourne, Palm Bay, and several smaller communities.
Population? About 500,000. We are called the Space Coast. We boast many publish authors, too. Davis Bunn, Mark Mynheir, Roxanne St. Claire to name a few. And, oh yeah, yours truly.
I first came here in 1986 for my first post-college corporate job. Twenty-one years later, it's still home.