Outside Nationals Park, the food options are worth a stretch


(The Washington Post)
October 4, 2012

Why wait until the seventh inning to stretch your legs? If you’re looking for a bite before heading into the stadium, the neighborhood around Nationals Park offers some decent options if you’re willing to take a bit of a walk.

The Fairgrounds

In an effort to pump up neighborhood business on non-game days, Bullpen creator Robert “Bo” Blair retooled a parking lot into the Fairgrounds, an elaborate market built from recycled metal shipping containers.

Justin’s Cafe

No secret here: Justin Ross’s two-year-old 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.

Lot 38 Espresso Bar

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.

Cornercopia

This unassuming corner store offers an upscale menu of made-to-order sandwiches, a small but respectable wine and beer selection, Korean dumplings and kimchi. A small collection of baked goods are enough to fill out a quality blanket-top buffet.

Barracks Row

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.

Southwest Waterfront

A 10-to-15 minute walk from the stadium, the biggest draw here 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.

Alex Baldinger is editor of the Going Out Guide blog, which covers food, drink, arts, music, events and other curiosities in the D.C. area. He is forever in search of a great sandwich.
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