Saturday night I attended the first game ever played at Nationals Park (an exhibition against the Orioles). Then, last night, I returned for the official Opening Night game against the Atlanta Braves, which was shown on ESPN. You can read my thoughts on the new ballpark as a whole in a guest post over at The Slanch Report. But here, we’re gonna focus on the food.

Before the season began, I outlined some of the popular local eating establishments that joined up with the Nationals to provide food for the game. The food at this ballpark is insanely good. Lots of good variety everywhere, and it all appears to be of really high quality. The park features Ben’s Chili Bowl, Five Guys, Red, Hot & Blue, among other DC institutions. As you might expect, the lines for these well known spots were far longer than for other vendors.

My Ben’s half-smoke, “all the way” with chili, onions and mustard. Picture taken just moments before this tasty treat entered my stomach.

This is probably the point in time where I should admit that I have never had a half-smoke before. This is despite the fact that it is an entirely unique to DC food. If you’ve never heard of one before, it’s slightly larger than than a regular hot dog, spicier and with more coarsely ground meat. It is usually cooked on a grill rather than steamed, and it’s usually made with both beef and pork, although Ben’s are made with all-beef. Anyways…I knew for sure that I needed to try one. Fortunately, I quickly discovered that the “Ben’s half-smoke” was available at all the food stands, not just the Ben’s Chili Bowl stand.

Mark my words, the Ben’s half-smoke is going to be THE signature food for Nationals Park. Fenway has Fenway Franks, Dodgers have Dodger Dogs, we now have Ben’s half-smokes. Delicious.

One semi complaint. The food stands don’t each have their own signs. Everyplace has the name of their food stand in similar style glowing neon letters. If each food place had their own unique signs, it would make the inside tunnel areas where you get food feel a little bit less strip-mallish and give a little more character to each establishment.

Beer at the park appeared to be decent selection, including Stella on tap, and what appeared to be 20 or 22 oz cups at certain locations. The restaurant in Centerfield, called “Red Porch” is quite large, as is the “Red Loft” bar above it. It is a fully functioning bar, with bar stools, TV’s, a full cadre of liquor, and easy to view sight lines to the field, as it is located high up in left center.

Needless to say, I’m excited for many more future games, and many future hot dogs, burgers and sausages at the new park.

5 Responses

  1. Mario Lopez

    No half smoke before??? Wow!

    Anyway, I knew this post was coming… I look forward to future Nat Food reviews.


  2. Let Teddy Win the Presidents Race

    Congrats on your first half smoke. Ben’s half smoke is unquestionably the signature food, and the good news is it doesn’t stop there. Five Guys speaks for itself. Hard Times chili mac and chili nachos are among the best deals in the park. My son loved his Curly W Noah’s pretzel. There were Washington Nationals helmut Sundaes (finally!), and I had a great bowl of gumbo from Cantina Marina. And despite all those choses, the team also relaxed the policy on bringing in your food and drinks.


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