Intentional walks: Where to eat and drink near Nationals Park

April 3, 2014


New bars and restaurants are colored red; Businesses expected to open during the season are shaded gray. Click on an icon for an address and more information.

The area around Nationals Park is a lot like the baseball team's starting rotation: A solid core has developed and strengthened over the past few years, with a few key additions making their debuts each spring.

• Step up to the plate: New dining and drinking options inside Nationals Park

Since the final out of 2013 was recorded, the neighborhood has welcomed the ever-bustling Bluejacket brewery, which boasts 20 house-made beers on tap; the casual Italian restaurant Osteria Morini, owned by New York City chef Michael White; and the Mexican-flavored tapas joint Agua 301. By the end of the season, they should be joined by Willie's Brew and Que, which mixes barbecue and live music, and the Big Stick, a beer-and-brats bar from the owner of neighborhood fixture Justin's Cafe.

If you're looking to spend as much time outside as possible after a rough winter, head to the Fairgrounds, the beer garden across the street from the stadium. Owner Bo Blair plans to unveil a food truck in May that will preview his latest venture: an unnamed Southern restaurant, which will open in the nearby Lumber Shed development on Water Street next spring. Meanwhile, Bluejacket has its own patio bar, which will offer burgers and barbecue from a grill and up to six draft beers. The al fresco addition opens two hours before all games and stays open until 10 p.m. or one hour after the game ends, whichever is later.


The Gordon Biersch brewpub will unveil special beers throughout the season. The first is an IPA called Space Coast, named after the Nationals' spring training ballpark. (Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Here's a list of our favorite options, with a list of average walking time to the centerfield gates.

The Fairgrounds
1299 Half St. SE
The huge beer garden offers food, live music and cornhole, and is open two hours before and after every game.
Walking: 2 minutes

The Big Stick
20 M St. SE
A bratwurst-and-beer hangout from the owner of Justin's Cafe is expected to open in mid-summer.
Walking: 3-5 minutes

Gordon Biersch
100 M St. SE
Happy hour runs from 3 to 7 p.m. on weeknights and from 10 p.m. to close daily. Try the house-made beers on the M Street patio.
Walking: 5 minutes

Justin's Cafe
1025 First St. SE
Known for its sandwiches, pizza and beat-the-clock weeknight happy hour, Justin's keeps the kitchen open late after games.
Walking: 5-7 minutes

Five Guys
1100 New Jersey Ave. SE
Get your custom-made burgers to go and have a picnic in Yards Park
Walking: 7-10 minutes

Park Tavern
200 M St. SE
Kids will enjoy splashing in the fountain jets adjacent to Park Tavern's large patio.
Walking: 7-10 minutes

Willie's Brew and Que
300 Tingey St. SE
The North Carolina-style barbecue restaurant will offer live music and patio seating.
Walking: 7-10 minutes

Nando's Peri-Peri
300 Tingey St. SE
Order your fiery Portuguese-style chicken online (or on your phone), pick it up and eat on a bench along the Riverwalk.
Walking: 7-10 minutes

Bluejacket (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post) Bluejacket (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Bluejacket and the Arsenal
300 Tingey St. SE
Happy hour crowds can make it hard to get to the brewery's bar. Sample the 20 draft beers after games when you're not in a hurry.
Walking: 7-10 minutes

Kruba Thai
300 Water St. SE
If you're in a hurry, order from the sushi bar. Thai entrees take a little longer.
Walking: 7-10 minutes

Agua 301
301 Water St. SE
The Mexican tapas joint got a new chef last month: Will Vivas, formerly of Recess Lounge.
Walking time: 7-10 minutes

Osteria Morini
301 Water St. SE
Delicious Italian food in a beautiful space. Have dinner after a day game, but you might not want wear your jersey.
Walking: 7-10 minutes

Farther afield

Cantina Marina At Cantina Marina, a Dark and Stormy comes with a monumental waterfront view. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Win or lose, everyone streams out of Nationals Park and walks to the same five or six bars. Want to avoid the congestion? Try one of these options.

Cantina Marina
The scruffy waterfront bar, which overlooks the Washington Channel, specializes in margaritas and boat drinks, such as the spicy Dark and Stormy. Getting to Cantina will be easier than ever this year: The bar will run a free shuttle to and from Nationals Park every 10 minutes, for one hour before and one hour after every weekend game, plus some mid-week matchups against the Phillies and other popular opponents. The shuttle stop is at South Capitol and P streets SE. Capitol Bikeshare members can pick up a set of wheels at one of several docking stations near the park, pedal down M Street, and then drop their bikes near Arena Stage or at the Waterfront Metro.
600 Water St. SW. 202-554-8396. www.cantinamarina.com.

Barracks Row
The popular strip of bars and restaurants is accessible several ways after a game. The Circulator bus's Union Station-to-Navy Yard route runs along M Street from the Navy Yard Metro station, then up Eighth Street, and costs $1. There are Bikeshare stations at the top of Eighth Street, near the Eastern Market Metro Station, and at the bottom, closer to the Marine Barracks. Alternatively, the Ugly Mug sports bar runs a free golf cart shuttle from First and N streets to Barracks Row and back.

More stories:
• Dr. Gridlock on getting to Nationals Park
• 3 Stars diversifies Nationals Park beer selection
• Nationals moving, expanding team store

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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