Do you feel it? At long last, fall is in the air in D.C.
The changing seasons bring mixed emotions. First, the pros: changing leaves, no more humidity, all pumpkin everything, and holidays just around the corner. But there’s one big downside. As much as I don’t want to admit it, baseball season is almost over. Even still, this year I am hanging on to a silver lining. The playoffs are here and the Washington Nationals finished out the season as strong as I have ever seen. (Cue knocking on wood and/or your sports superstition of choice.)
Last week, the Nats announced a special food lineup for the postseason. Personally, I am most intrigued by the “fall classic” at Throwin’ Cheese and the Crab Pretzel – #oldbayeverything.
But – the everyday food selection at Nats Park also deserves to be celebrated. The food options just get better and better every season. So, before you head to a playoff game (see you there!) – here’s my completely-unscientific-but-trust-me-very-well-researched guide to the best food at the park.
Where to Eat and Drink in Nationals Park:
New Classic: Haute Dog. Section 106. It’s hard to improve on the classic ballpark hotdog. But this stand (which also has a brick and mortar location in Alexandria) made me rethink my baseball park food priorities. Get the Banh Mi dog – an all-beef hotdog topped with Sriracha mayo, carrots, cucumber, jalapenos, and cilantro. Sounds intriguing, right?
Unsung Hero: Virginia Country Kitchen. Section 114. This stand was a new comer during the 2015 season and it quickly became my hands-down favorite. Oddly, there is rarely a line, so I feel it is my personal duty to support them. I usually go for the ham biscuit, which comes with apple butter and cheddar cheese and a side of kettle chips. It’s a great value.
Top Nachos: Section 233. Now, to be sure, there are a couple of nacho options the park. Most of the food stands will sell you the standard neon yellow cheese variety. Dos Locas (multiple locations) is nothing to sneeze at – but I do balk at the $4 upcharge for avocado. For my money, I recommend El Verano Taqueria located on the breezeway level, past the Shake Shack/Blue Smoke/Box Frites corner. Get the pork carnitas and be ready for a line if you don’t get there early.
Best Value: $6.50 bag of fresh kettle corn. Section 106. Trust me, you can snack on that thing for hours.
The Traditionalist: Curly W Pretzel. Section 319. There’s nothing better than a warm pretzel and a cold beer. It’s just science.
Pure Decadence: See You Tater. Section 106. How do you feel about tot-chos? For me, a little goes a long way. But if you are feeling a tad decadent, or just really hungry, I think you should check out the Backyard BBQ tater tots – they are layered with pulled pork, mac and cheese, barbecue sauce, and crispy onions. Why not?
Nontraditional Snack: Pinch Dumplings. Section 301. I know, Chinese dumplings might not seem like a baseball staple, but these light, tasty little guys are a great choice. And very portable. A bonus – the stand is located right next to the discount Nats merchandise store. (I am not sure if this qualifies as insider information or not, but I always like to head up to higher ground to check out what’s on sale. There are usually some great deals to be had!)
Dramatic View: Devils Backbone Left Field Lodge. Section 301. This is my favorite view of the park. There is almost always a nice breeze and there is almost never a crowd. It offers a great panorama of the entire ballpark and the Potomac. Devils Backbone offers a special “Earned Run Ale” that is only served at the park. It is a bright golden ale that is highly drink-able.
Bar Hangout: Captain’s Cove. Section 132. Sometimes they have drink specials, the crowd is usually friendly, and the view over the first base line is always great.
Cocktail: Rum Runners. Near Center Field Gate. This little stand was a welcome addition during the 2017 season. It offers a variety of mojitos. DMV Distilleries (Sections 112/135) is also a fun option… but the Moscow Mule packs a punch. You have been warned.
A Few More Tips:
Here are few other tips before you go cheer on the Nationals:
- Charging stations – if you find yourself in a pinch, there are mobile charging stations set up near Sections 109, 137, and 318.
- Discount merchandise – be sure to head up to Section 301 to check out the gorgeous views and the sale rack at the discount Nats merchandise store.
- Pups At the Park – a few times a year the Nats invite four-legged fans to the game. It’s adorable chaos. You buy a discounted ticket for your dog and proceeds go to the local humane society. All dogs are assigned to Section 143, where they provide turf grass and water bowls. Our Frenchie Hobbes has a love/hate relationship with this event – perhaps more on that later.
- President’s Race – the GEICO Presidents Race takes place during the middle of the fourth inning. Plan accordingly so you don’t miss George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy make their mad dash. After the race head to 131 for a photo opp with your favorite President.
- Save time in the security line – don’t bring a bag!
- A few words on Shake Shack – As an In-N-Out loyalist, I just can’t get on the Shake Shack bandwagon. But if you just need a shake – be sure to get in the special “C Line”. It’s the equivalent of a fast pass.
And Some Bonus Good Eats In Navy Yard:
Saving your appetite? I will state the obvious. The Navy Yard neighborhood in D.C. has completely changed over the last five years. There are *so many* new food options around the park. Here are a few of my favorites. My post game go-to is Bonchon, a Korean fried chicken chain that never disappoints. Be forewarned that the spicy fried chicken is seriously spicy. The Saltline is a new addition in 2017. It is an upscale seafood joint that has great cocktails. I love the waterfront view – you can forget that you are still in D.C. Finally, Ice Cream Jubilee is a home-grown ice cream spot that has become a neighborhood mainstay. The flavors change with the seasons. I love a waffle cone of the coffee & doughnuts and cookie dough.
I hope this food guide is helpful as you plan your next visit to the park!
Go Nationals – #NatsNatsNatsWOO!