There are new faces in the Nationals clubhouse this season, but you'll find even more around the stadium itself. The craft beer revolution that has swept the Washington area in recent years has finally stormed the center field gates. The food is also getting more local: An outpost of "Top Chef" Mike Isabella's G Sandwich Shop joins a second stadium location of Ben's Chili Bowl and a new concession stand specializing in local crab cakes and crab balls.
• Intentional walks: Where to eat and drink near Nationals Park
G at Nationals Park
Former "Top Chef" contestant Mike Isabella, the owner of Graffiato and Kapnos, brings an offshoot of his popular 14th Street NW sandwich shop to Section 136. The initial lineup of four subs includes the Chicken Parm and the Drewno, a kielbasa sandwich topped with sauerkraut and shaved beef. The menu will change frequently, and Isabella says he will "do a little R&D" on visiting teams to create new options: "When Philly comes in we'll have a cheesesteak. When New York comes to town we'll use a pretzel roll, because you always smell pretzels outside Yankee Stadium." Isabella will be working at the stand this weekend and plans to be an occasional presence at the stadium throughout the season.
Ben's Chili Bowl
Skip the lines in Section 110 and head for a new location on the Scoreboard Walk behind Section 141.
New concession stands
Other new options this season include: Chesapeake Crab Cake (Section 114) for crab cakes and crab balls; South Capitol Sushi (Section 129) for sushi rolls; Bullpen Burritos (Section 140) for chicken, steak and vegetarian burritos and bowls; Intentional Wok (Section 233) for vegetarian stir-fry and noodle dishes; and the debut of vegan items (including a vegan cheesesteak) at the all-vegetarian Field of Greens stand (Section 113).
The District Draft carts, which focus on local brews, have doubled in number: They are now in sections 118 and 225, in addition to sections 138 and 308. (This might help reduce the long lines that plagued the carts last season.) Atlas Brew Works has joined the lineup of 3 Stars, DC Brau, Mad Fox and Port City. Breweries will send seasonal offerings to the park, so the selection will change throughout the year. Traditional cask-conditioned ales will be offered at the Red Porch during all Friday home games, while supplies last, with different breweries supplying the beer each time. Proceeds from Firkin Fridays benefit the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.
The Heineken Red Star Bar
The Red Porch and Red Loft have become favorite places to hang out during games thanks to their no-special-tickets-required policy and laid-back vibe. They're about to get some competition from the Red Star Bar, next to Section 205. The new drinking spot, which is open to everyone regardless of where their seat is, offers great views of third base and home plate. It's also covered, which should make it a popular destination during rain delays. As you might guess from the name, it sells only beers by Heineken (such as Heineken Light) and associated brands, including Dos Equis.
Like your drinks fancy? Try barrel-aged Manhattans or Negronis and cocktails made with cucumber-infused vodka at the Red Porch, the Capitol Club (behind Section 113), the Beltway Bar (Section 130), and the Union Pub (Section 306). These cocktails are essentially pre-mixed, so you don't have to worry about whether the guy who's also selling you a Miller Lite is actually a mixologist.