The Verizon Center’s BBQ Pit sells an impressive smoked brisket sandwich.

Sports-venue food in D.C. has improved tremendously over the seven-plus years I’ve lived here. If you know where to look these days, you can get a surprisingly great meal.

Case in point: the Verizon Center (601 F St. NW; 202-628-3200), whose Acela Club floor has food stalls with unexpected items, such as “sloppy Janes” with tempeh (cultured soybean).

I was impressed by the smoked brisket sandwich ($10.50) at the BBQ Pit stand. Chef Kevin Holler (who creates menus for many of the food stands and for the Acela Club restaurant on the same floor) says the meat is roasted for 12 hours. It’s then topped with fried onions and covered in addictive, spicy-sweet sauce and served between a soft roll.

Equally great bites are at the Acela Club restaurant (entry is $15 per night, unless you have a season pass to the restaurant). The white-tablecloth setting — with a view of the action below — offers creative a la carte dishes, including a massive grilled cheese and short ribs sandwich ($16). There’s also a $40 buffet; on the night I visited, items included a veggie-filled “going green” salad and pico de gallo mac and cheese. Both surpassed my expectations for game-watch foods.

There’s little need for Verizon Center to improve its meal options, but it could stand to boost its advertising. I had no clue these dining options were open to the public — and I’m sure I’m not the only one — until the Verizon Center offered me a tour.