Best food and drink for Nationals fans photo
(Justin Rude/The Washington Post)

Best food and drink for Nationals fans

Alex Baldinger, Justin Rude and Fritz Hahn  |  Updated 03/28/2013

"Wait 'til next year!" was the perennial cry of Brooklyn Dodgers fans, but it also could serve as the motto for those who want something to eat or drink near Nationals Park. Every year, we hear that a handful of new places will be opening at some point during the season, but the neighborhood never seems to hit critical mass.

In 2013, it might. New additions since the final game of 2012 include the Gordon Biersch brewpub, the Park Tavern facing Canal Park, and the spicy Kruba Thai restaurant. In June, we're expecting the opening of the much-anticipated Bluejacket brewery and restaurant, Buzz Bakery and Nando's Peri-Peri in the Boilermaker Shops.

Photo gallery: Nationals Park, beyond peanuts and Cracker Jack

 

Nationals Park

Washington, DC

Ben's Chili Bowl (Sections 109, 140, 301, 315): This District food icon has been a Nationals Park standby since the ballpark opened, and the main draw is its plump half-smoke.

Flippin' Pizza (115, 214, 310): The foldable cheese, pepperoni and tomato-basil varieties and cost $6 each; if you're feeding a group, a full pie goes for $36.

Dolci Gelati (112, 135, 235): Enjoy the flavors of peanut butter, stracciatella, mint chip, lemon and strawberry. A cup costs $5 to $7.

Hard Times Cafe (106, 115, 129): Keep your eyes open for a notebook-size vessel of tortilla chips, the local chain's signature chili nachos.

Taste of the Majors (117, 313): Regional dishes from 17 Major League Baseball cities.

Red Porch (100): Aspiring for the type of fare found at a place like Meridian Pint in Columbia Heights, food-and-beer pairings are front and center.

Shake Shack (240): Shack burgers and Concretes.

El Verano Taqueria (239): A trio of tacos or a folded quesadilla goes for $7.75 at this surprisingly authentic taco stand. At $3.75, churros are a must.

Box Frites (238): Belgian-style fries with your choice of creamy dipping sauces.

Blue Smoke (237): The barbecue options here provide a great synthesis of summer's favorite food with summer's favorite sport.

 

Justin's Cafe

Washington, DC

No secret here: Justin Ross's bar and restaurant was one of the first players in the Southeast riverfront food scene, and it remains one of the best. The wonderful craft beer list, hearty sandwiches, "American-Neapolitan" pizzas, soups and imaginative salads make for great, if crowded, pre- and post-game eating. Something you might not know: Justin's is open daily for lunch -- a great reason to leave work even earlier for a weekday game, when the dining room won't be so crowded.

 

Lot 38 Espresso Bar

Washington, DC

Need a kick before first pitch? You don't need to rely on any national bean pushers -- the riverside community has its own coffeehouse. Only a couple of blocks from the nearest Starbucks, Lot 38 Espresso Bar bests its corporate competition with the help of the Italian coffee brand Illy and a nice selection of locally baked pastries and house-made sandwiches. But its biggest contribution to the year's baseball season probably will come in the form of free WiFi and hot coffee before late-season games.

 

The Yards Park

Washington, DC

If there's a downside to the Metro's proximity to Nationals Park's center field gate, it would be that the majority of fans come and go with such ease that they don't stray much beyond the Half Street corridor. But if they did, the Yards Park wouldn't be such a valuable secret.

Opened in 2010, the 5 1/2-acre park sits on a former Navy Yard annex site, stretching from Second to Fifth streets SE along the Anacostia River. It's hard not to make comparisons to New York's High Line, a similarly reclaimed public property that occupies a stretch of elevated railroad track. At the Yards Park, there are terraced gardens and sleek wooden recliners; elegant fountains and a wading canal that laps at the open river; a spacious boardwalk offering shoreline views; and large swaths of greenery perfect for informal gatherings or picnics. Industrial buildings on the site are set for redevelopment, including the Boilermaker Shops project, which will feature a brewery, bakery, restaurants and shopping when it's completed next year.

The stadium is now more accessible from the Yards Park, thanks to a section of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail that connects the park by a footbridge to the steps of the stadium's first-base entrance.

 

The Fairgrounds

Washington, DC

In an effort to pump up neighborhood business on non-game days, Bullpen creator Robert "Bo" Blair has retooled a parking lot into the Fairgrounds, an elaborate market built from recycled metal shipping containers. There will still be pregame happy hours, cornhole and live music before and after home games, and the Fairgrounds will host a number of non-gameday events, too. Look out for the monthly Truckeroo food truck festival and day-long concerts, such as the acclaimed Trillectro festival.

 

Cornercopia

Washington, DC

This unassuming corner store might seem out of place on a list of the best eats and drinks near the ballpark, but it's an indispensable resource for anyone planning a picnic in the Yards Park. Albert Oh took over the business from his parents three years ago and reopened the property as a reimagined corner store with a small gourmet deli section. The upscale menu of made-to-order sandwiches, a small but respectable wine and beer selection, Korean dumplings, kimchi and other favorites (Thursday is bulgogi day) and a small collection of baked goods are enough to fill out a quality blanket-top buffet.

 

Southwest Waterfront

+ Multiple Locations

Just a 10-minute walk from the stadium, the relatively less-crowded Waterfront Metro station is something of a secret for fans in the know. The biggest draw is probably the tequila and taco spot Cantina Marina, where the riverfront deck provides one of the city's best outdoor spaces. Right next to the Metro station is a new Z-Burger, a less-crowded alternative to closer-in eats. Finally, there's Station 4, a more formal sit-down spot from the owner of Tunnicliff's, Ulah, Stoney's and Bullfeathers. The restaurant has a great promotion for domestic beer fans: a Nationals ticket stub gets you $3 Miller Lite and Blue Moons. Watching the game at the bar? Wear your Nats gear and enjoy the same deal. Although Post critic Tom Sietsema didn't think much much of the menu in an early review in the fall, he did talk up the decorand the char-grilled octopus. You know, ballgame food.

 

Barracks Row

+ Multiple Locations

Fans looking to extend their day beyond extra innings are well advised to set their sights on the restaurants and bars on Eighth Street SE. The many drinking and dining options on Barracks Row are just 15 minutes from the ballpark by foot, and even less if you take advantage of the Union Station-Navy Yard Circulator bus, which stops right outside the Metro station and runs over to Eighth.

 

Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

Washington, DC

The newest local branch of the Gordon Biersch brewpub chain is located on the corner of First and M streets SE, directly above the Navy Yard Metro Station. The brewpub, which has room for more than 200 patrons indoors and a patio with seats for 85 more, will have six to eight house-made beers on tap, plus five rotating draft selections from such local breweries as DC Brau, Mad Fox and Loose Cannon.

 

Park Tavern

Washington, DC

Run by Xavier Cervera, the man behind Molly Malone's and Lola's on Barracks Row, Park Tavern will offer outdoor seating at Canal Park with food from chef Steve Rosenthal, a veteran of Cafe Atlantico and the Green Pig Bistro. (Expect the bar scene to be just as lively as the dining room, if not more.)

 

Kruba DC Thai and Sushi

Washington, DC

Kruba Thai and Sushi opened in November 2012. It's a good place for generously spiced Thai food before or after a game.

 

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