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Your 2008 Nationals Journal Dining Guide

So with the Nationals home Thursday night against Florida, Friday against Cleveland (and in Winter Haven for the other half of a split-squad outing), Saturday against the Dodgers, then in Fort Lauderdale Sunday against the O's before returning Monday against the Mets, I figured this might be a big weekend for D.C. folks to make the trip south. (If that's the case, please say hello. Mrs. NJ is down here for the weekend, but it's always good to hear from people at home.)

With that said, I've way, way underplayed the local cuisine this year, usually a staple of the Journal. This offering might not be as extensive as normal, but it comes from a different perspective, as I'm staying up in the Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral area this year for the first time.

So let me start with the place I mentioned in Wednesday's chat, and that's a new place right on Route A1A just south of downtown Cocoa Beach. It's called The Fat Snook, and it's a small room with a small bar. No hard liquor drinks, just beer and wine. But it seems to do several things well. At dinner with Boz a couple weeks back, I had mussels as an appetizer (and I'm very picky about mussels), and they were quite good, and very good duck as an entrée. Boz had cobia as an entrée, and what he described as a nice lobster bisque. This will be a go-to, once-or-twice a spring training place for anyone who stays up near the beach.

That is not to take anything away from the old stand-by, Bonefish Willy's . If the weather warms up, as it's supposed to this weekend, this is such an excellent place to sit on the deck, have a drink and choose from a wide variety of fish - both local and not. To my embarrassment, I have not visited Bonefish Willy's in 2008, but will rectify that before too long.

I did, however, try a place on Route 1 called Chowders, which has a Web site that doesn't really work. I'd call it a poor-man's Bonefish Willy's - very nice deck, nice bar, decent food, etc., but I have a soft spot for the place I've been going since 2005.

If you want a very traditional Florida seafood dive, try Florida's Seafood up in Cocoa. It's also on the Intracoastal Waterway (just next to a place called the Sunset Grill, which I haven't tried but have heard good things about). Florida's Seafood will get you whatever kind of fish you want - fried, grilled, blackened, baked, etc. If you're feeling adventurous, order a pitcher of beer. Without ruining the surprise, let's just say it comes in something called "The Thirst Eliminator."

I ate tonight at a place called Chili Peppers, which is also pretty new and right on A1A in Cocoa Beach. It's not on the beach side, but Sheinin and I tried it a couple of weeks ago and liked it. They take a spicy/southwestern approach to what would otherwise be mundane dishes. I had great grouper with veggies and rice tonight. This place also appears to turn into a club with live music in the evenings and on weekend afternoons. Has a bar-type feel that I enjoy.

The true beach bar in Cocoa Beach is Coconuts, where I haven't been yet this year. But again, if it's warm, and you like the beach and the ocean, it's a great place to have a drink out on the deck. Pretty touristy, but, then, we're tourists here, aren't we.

I have two sushi places that I support. Toyo Sushi is down closer to the ballpark right on Wickham Road, so for anyone staying in Melbourne/Viera, and Thai Thai III is on A1A in Cape Canaveral (just south of 528). Both are more than serviceable.

If you want to hear about the chains near the ballpark - Lonestar Steakhouse, Chili's, Mimi's, Carrabba's - go elsewhere. You should be able to figure that stuff out for yourself.

For lunch? Why, Panera, of course.

That's it for now. Please let me know if you check out any of the places while you're down here and what you think.

Nationals have a 7:05 p.m. game against the Marlins on Thursday, so new posts from me might not come till later in the day. Jonathan Forsythe has promised a mid-day video for your enjoyment.

And, of course, if there's any news, we'll get it to you.

A rundown from the $.35/.$50-edition: I'd read Boz if I was thinking about buying tickets and going to Nationals Park. It includes this quote from Stan Kasten: "Sales are going fine."

I wrote about Dodgertown's last stand. Again, sorry if you never got there. The notebook includes Austin Kearns, Jeff Weaver and Mike O'Connor.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 12, 2008; 9:24 PM ET
 
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