Forget peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Nationals fans will singing “Buy me some bao buns and pupusas” this season as the ballpark unveils its eclectic food and beverage lineup. New concessions and partnerships with popular DC-area restaurants like Chiko, Medium Rare, Hank’s Oyster Bar, and La Casita Pupuseria bring a taste of DC’s diverse dining scene inside the stadium.
“We see what’s going on in the city and what people are talking about,” says VP of Ballpark Operations Jonathan Stahl on how they decide which restaurants and cuisines to incorporate. “We also see what fits for baseball. It’s not a knife and fork situation.”
Fans and foodies at the home opener on March 28 can also take advantage of some major tech advances. Boutique delivery service Caviar has partnered with a professional sports arena for the first time. Their concession stand will collaborate with a rotating roster of restaurants throughout the year including Toki Underground, Mason Dixie Biscuit Co., and Tiger Fork. The latter will sell its Hong Kong-inspired street fare for the first month. Caviar app users can order and pay for food and drinks from their seats (or at the concession), receive notice when orders are ready, and pick them up from the stand. There’s no in-stadium delivery (yet?), but in theory, you’ll save time skipping lines.
The Nationals have also partnered with mobile payment operation Square Terminal. For the first time, fans will have the option of paying via credit card, mobile phone, Apple Pay, or Google Pay in addition to cash when purchasing beer, peanuts, and other hawker concessions from their seats.
So what are we drinking this season? If you’re going harder than beer, the answer may be Civic Vodka. The team has partnered with Ivy City’s female-owned distillery, Republic Restoratives, to be the exclusive vodka purveyor for the concessions (other brands will be available in private club levels).
You’ll also see more female names in the food lineup. Last season, amid Mike Isabella‘s sexual harassment scandal and the closure of his stalls at Nationals Park, Grace’s Kitchen was launched to showcase a rotating lineup of women chefs, owners, and producers. The pop-up stand has closed in favor of permanent fixtures like Hank’s Oyster Bar from Jamie Leeds (see details below).
Here’s a full rundown of the new and expanded vendors for this season.
New restaurant partnerships
Caviar and Tiger Fork (Section 106)
The trendy Blagden Alley Chinese restaurant is the first to partner with the Caviar stand. On the menu: barbecue ribs, dan dan-style sloppy Joes, and bubble waffles filled with ice cream.
Chiko (Section 238)
In addition to joining the Caps/Wizards at Capital One, chefs Scott Drewno and Danny Lee are bringing modern Chinese-Korean food to the Nats. The concession stand serves some items that were recently launched in Dupont, including chilled peanut noodles with fresh veggies and herbs and the bulgogi hoagie (think a Korean spin on a cheesesteak). Fans can also try furikake tots (with an optional kimchi-whiz topping) and Korean fried chicken wings.
DC Empanadas (Section 244)
Union Market’s popular empanada purveyor from husband-and-wife team Anna and Shawn Leis offers its Buffalo chicken and spinach-cheese pockets, among other flavors.
Hank’s Oyster Bar (Section 108)
In addition to a new brick-and-mortar location at the Wharf, chef Jamie Leeds is bringing her oyster and shrimp po’ boys, crispy fish sandwiches, and Old Bay fries to Nationals Park.
Harris Creek Oyster Co. (Section 238)
Fans of Chesapeake Bay oysters can get the fresh-shucked bivalves from this family-owned company, which has been operating on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for 13 generations. Rappahannock Oyster Co. sells its Virginia-raised oysters here as well.
La Casita Pupuseria (Section 140)
A latecomer to the concession lineup last season is now a larger, permanent fixture. The Silver Spring-based Salvadoran restaurant offers pupusas, including bean and cheese, chicken and cheese, and revueltas (crispy pork).
Medium Rare (Section 136)
Owner Mark Bucher is known for his menu of steak, fries, special sauce, and bread at the meaty mini-chain. Here, you’ll find all that wrapped up in one handheld sandwich.
New house concessions
Bao Bao (Section 116)
A new stand for pan-Asian steamed buns includes several fillings, including Korean-spiced mushrooms with cabbage slaw, hoisin pork, and char siu barbecued chicken.
Cantina 202 (Sections 129. 216, and 314)
The new Mexican stalls offers nachos and soft tacos such as barbacoa braised beef.
Lobster Shack (Section 105)
Lobster rolls are the name of the game here.
Taco Caminando (Section 233)
Meaning “walking taco,” this stand serves all the ingredients of a taco bowl in convenient (recyclable!) containers loaded with corn chips, chili, cheese, veggies, and more.