When people get asked what their favorite holiday is, you typically hear, “Christmas, Thanksgiving, or the Fourth of July.” Typical! If you ask me, Opening Day of baseball season is by far my favorite holiday and leading up to Opening Day is spring training.
Lucky for me, my hometown, Viera, FL, on Florida’s Space Coast, serves as the spring training grounds for the Washington Nationals at the Space Coast Stadium. March is the perfect time to be outdoors in Viera. The sun is shining, and the sound of baseball is in the air.
Part of our spring training ritual is eating out, either before or after the games, and Viera offers such a wide variety of locally-owned pizza joints, waterfront restaurants, and breakfast nooks where we can get a quality start or finish to the day.
One of my all-time favorite local restaurants is Jimmie’s Restaurant. Filled with baseball memorabilia, Jimmie’s is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat either in their dining room or out on their wooden deck porch. As a restaurant & tavern, they have food that is sure to meet any foodie’s request. My favorite time of day at Jimmie’s is breakfast. Everything I’ve had there is great, but you can’t beat their Home Run Special. It’s three eggs, two pancakes, your choice of hash browns, home fries, or grits, and your choice of bacon, ham, or sausages. Add to that toast or a biscuit...wowee, it really is a home run!
And what is a baseball game without some hot dogs? Long Doggers, which has several locations up and down Florida’s Space Coast, including Viera, is a local restaurant that never disappoints. When I am geared up and ready for a spring training day, I love to enjoy one of their local favorite’s, the Epic Chili Dog. Topped with LJ’s Killer Chili, it is sure to give you the kick you are looking for to cheer on your team at a game. If you aren’t a local and you are visiting Viera, then I would be remiss if I didn’t clue you into one of the best dishes (in my humble opinion) at Long Doggers: The Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl is like a grand slam for your mouth! The fresh and local Ahi Tuna, paired with scallion, red onions, and the sweet flavor of grilled pineapple & plantains is to die for. It’s certainly a dish to enjoy while taking in the Florida sunshine.
Sometimes, it’s important to please the kids, and that is why Brooklyn Pizza & Pasta is next on my list of must-haves in Viera during spring training. It is a great place for both lunch and dinner, but I have to admit that dinner is my all-time favorite. The kids can hammer down on some authentic NY-style pizza, and my wife and I can enjoy classic Italian entrees. My recommendation for Brooklyn Pizza & Pasta is their amazing appetizer of garlic knots & the Shrimp Fra Diavolo, which a succulent dish that is sauteed in garlic, butter, white wine, and tossed with a spicy marinara sauce. My wife’s favorite dish...the Chianti wine! :) See...options for all ages!
And if you are looking for dining options with a water-front view, then I recommend The Dock and River Rocks. While this place is good for people of all ages, it is my favorite for when my wife and I hit those spring training games with our friends. They offer live music every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and offer some great Happy Hour specials. We are particularly fond of the Mimosa and Bloody Mary specials every Sunday! If you are feeling adventurous, then I would suggest that you try one of their specialty drinks. My favorite is the Dock Ice Pick - it’s basically an adult iced tea. Of course, my wife likes colorful drinks and tends to order the Island Tropic which makes you feel like you are floating on a raft in the Caribbean.
All of this bragging about food makes it seem like I like food more than baseball. Ok, ok! Let’s calm down here and bring everything back to reality. Baseball is exciting and I do love spring training, but more so, I love that I can spend days with my family while enjoying a baseball game and some great food around our amazing town on Florida’s Space Coast. What’s great is that all of these restaurants are less than 10 miles from the stadium, so they are easy to get to!
Spring training is just a couple of days away - I hope to see you at a game sometime. You can check out spring training details here. The first game is March 3 at 1 p.m. at the Space Coast Stadium. See you there!
- Seth, Space Coast’s Biggest Baseball Fan.