We enlisted Steph’s fiancé, Gavin, a former GWU baseball player and ballpark food connoisseur, to help us rank the best bites at Nats Park. Because if you’re going to pay $10 for a hot dog, it better be damn good.
There is something I need to admit to all of you, especially as a former baseball player. It is here where I think we can all reach some common ground. The sport of baseball – in and of itself – is actually quite boring. One game takes a long time, and there really isn’t too much going on for most of it. The majority of my career was spent either standing alone in a grass field, or sitting on a wooden bench waiting to go hit. If you wanted to watch a bunch of men stand around wearing pajamas, you could probably achieve this just as easily by getting yourself into a long term relationship and signing up for Netflix.
Going to a baseball game, especially at Nats Stadium, is a completely different experience altogether. It is just that–an experience, and more than any other sport, going to a baseball game allows the fans to tailor their experience in the way that they see fit. You can go and have a wonderful time, watching every single pitch of the game and cheering your brains out, or you can just as easily go with a group of friends with the goal being to enjoy the weather, have a few drinks, and watch a guy balance cotton candy on his head. At the stadium, both types of fans are truly welcomed.
Steph and I had two choices entering the stadium, which is basically a pinball machine filled with beer and cheat meals. We could each pick a spot to try and then give our two cents, or we could go for the new high score. I felt I wouldn’t be doing you justice if I didn’t inhale as much concession fare as humanly possible, so we went with the option behind door number two. I am still dizzy while writing today.
We went to six different pre-chosen vendors, spanning the entire stadium, while looking for different types of food and vantage points. After a well-earned victory, both from our waistlines and the Nationals themselves, here are our thoughts:
Throwin’ Cheese | Section 130
Throwback – A grilled cheese sandwich filled with tomato and bacon, on Texas Toast, served with a side of kettle-style potato chips.
Scouting report: Home run. Of all of the meals we tasted, this offered the best blend of taste, convenience, and bang for your buck (throwing any sort of health conscience right out the window). The sandwich itself was buttery and delicious, with the generous serving of crunchy chips proving a welcome addition. Quick service and a short line also made it much easier to get back to socializing and watching the game.
Blue Smoke | Section 240
Hickory smoked pulled pork sandwich on Brioche bun
Scouting report: Rain Delay. The pulled pork sandwich, on its own, was actually surprisingly tender and tasty; well executed given that it was purchased at a concession stand. However, Blue Smoke may be a victim of its own reputation, as the long line ate away at least two innings of baseball. It also loses points because the sandwich is served alone; meaning a meal with sides can quickly become quite expensive. Head here if the line is short, or if you really have a hankerin’ for BBQ.
Haute Dogs and Fries | Section 106
Banh Mi Hot Dog with Sriracha mayo, carrots, cucumber, Jalapeños, and cilantro
Scouting report: Rookie of the Year. Hot dogs and baseball go together like bottomless mimosas and Saturday mornings (so I’ve heard.) It’s one of life’s simple joys, free from unnecessary complication. Let’s just say I was hoping Haute Dog would drop the ball in the name of purists everywhere, but I couldn’t have been further off. Served on a New England-style (Read: lobster roll) bun, the flavors all played together incredibly well. Dare I say one of the better dogs I have ever tasted?
Field of Greens | Section 136
Vegetable empanadas stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, with a side of salsa verde.
Scouting report: Balk. Props for the name, I love a good play on words and the reference to one of my all time favorite movies doesn’t hurt either. I’ll also tip my cap to the Nats for adapting to modern dietary restrictions. However, if I was a vegetarian and starving at Nats park, I would much rather spend my money on fries and a curly “W” shaped pretzel than these veggie empanadas. Bland and not enough cheese. In a pinch, maybe, but otherwise flag down the concessions guy when he’s in your section.
Virginia Country Kitchen | Section 114
Virginia ham and country biscuit sandwich with kettle fries
Scouting report: Strike out. Any item of food with the word biscuit in the title should at least leave you with a smile. I had high hopes for the ham, biscuit, and maple glaze combination, as I was nearing food-coma status at this point anyway, but this dish underwhelmed. The biscuits are basically sad, dry, calorie bombs. Skip ‘em.
District Donuts | Section 106
Six mini doughnuts – three powdered sugar and three cinnamon sugar
Scouting report: Sportsmanship award! A bunch of great doughnuts, meant to be shared with a bunch of your great friends. They’re served warm, covered in either powdered sugar or cinnamon-delightfulness. They know what they’re doing over there at District Donuts, and kudos to them for not trying to reinvent the wheel. These things go down easy with a beer.
I do hope this helps steer you in the right direction next time you head out to the Nationals Stadium. I must add that at each stand or venue, the service was incredibly friendly, and the beers were all cold! Thanks to the loyal following of Bitches for letting me Bro Bitch, and thanks especially to my lovely fiancé for letting me take her to the ballgame!