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Nationals Park - The Food!!

The new Nationals Ballpark is wonderful. The team is 2-0.

BUT they still can't serve a hot dog HOT. At $7? How hard is that?
Cold bun, tepid dog, lukewarm peppers and onions.
This is un-American.
Baseball games are the only time I ever eat hot dogs - I want a GOOD one, please!!!

No napkins on the condiment carts. Who made those things?
Let's hope they're still working out the kinks???

Otherwise, what a great place for baseball!

What did YOU eat?

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  1. ^^Did you have a Ben's chili dog or a reg. one?

    1 Reply
    1. re: beauxgoris

      Kielbasa at the Senator's Stand or whatever they call it.
      They had a choice of that, foot-longs, Italian sausage and brats.
      Our seats are by 1st Base and Ben's is to the left of the Red Porch in Center Field. Too far to go to grab a hot dog during the game.
      The lines at all the stands were ridiculous and the one at Ben's was stupidly long when we walked around the concourse before the game.

    2. don't know the layout, but according to the Post, Ben's are sold at several stands not neccessarily named as such, but they too griped about access

      (/HOK grudge)

      1. Washington Post to the rescue! This morning's paper was a feature article on food at Nationals Park.


        1. I'm sure the Nationals continued their policy of not allowing outside food into the park. This is why I consider Orioles Park at Camden Yards a much better venue from the food angle. You can bring your own food in. You can buy from the sidewalk vendors outside the stadium and bring it in. The Orioles don't have the attitude about sucking every last dollar out of your wallet for the privilege of attending their games. I may not like Peter Angelos very much for other things, but his policy for food at the stadium is to be admired.

          13 Replies
          1. re: dpan

            Not so fast! The Washington Post also addressed this issue today. The second half of the following article describes how vendors are now allowed outside of Nationals Park. Man, I really ought to be on their (Post) payroll!


            1. re: malveaux

              The article mentions that they initially excluded vendors from setting up outside the stadium, but that now the DCRA is setting new policies to allow them back. This does not, however, mean that you can bring outside food into the stadium, which was a big NO-NO at RFK, and I would assume also at Nats Stadium. My point is that you CAN bring in outside food (but no cans or glass bottles) into Camden Yards, thus avoid paying for the higher priced food inside the stadium.

              1. re: dpan

                From the Nationals website, Nationals Park section here is the official policy:

                All food items must be contained in single serving bags within a soft-sided container or cooler, that does not exceed 16" x 16" x 8". Metal, plastic or glass containers of any kind (except for factory- sealed, plastic water bottles, no larger than 1 liter and juice boxes) are prohibited at Nationals Park. Only one bottle of water per person will be permitted.

            2. re: dpan

              I was never prohibited from bringing food into RFK for a Nats game. I usually carried in a big bag of peanuts, and always saw other people eating food brought in. Beverages however were not permitted.

              Maybe you're thinking of Fed Ex and the Skins where nothing from outside is permitted (just your wallet).

              1. re: MDBBQFiend

                I dunno. The two times I went to RFK for a Nats game they said no food allowed inside. I'm not upset about the no bottle rule (but the Orioles did allow us to bring in water in plastic bottles), just the no food thing. The rule was probably inconsistently enforced.

                1. re: dpan

                  We were ALWAYS allowed to bring outside food into RFK. We went to at least 25 games at RFK. I think you're wrong about the rule there.

              2. re: dpan

                We always brought food and drinks into RFK. We share packages of season tickets so we went a lot and did find a bit of erratic enforcement though.
                Sealed water bottles were fine. Nalgene would sometimes get stopped.
                Bags of peanuts, etc. - no problem. Sandwiches, veggies, fruit from home were all fine.
                After enough ballgames, you get tired of ballpark food so you have to get creative. We've taken in some pretty good stuff. One friend can carry in a mini-tailgate in her handbag.

                The Nationals are NOT that money-grubbing SOB Snyder. Jack Kent Cooke didn't care when we carried great snacks into RFK.
                The Lerner family is really trying to build a fan base for baseball - not wring every last dime out of us.

                1. re: MakingSense

                  So it sounds like I cannot bring in an empty reusable bike type plastic / nalgene water bottle to fill at a water fountain. I think I will pass on ever setting foot at the Nat's stadium. I don't pay for sugar water or bottled water. The US has a fine safe water supply.

                  1. re: Aza Mila

                    My daughter said she was stopped with her Nalgene bottle. It may be because the rule says that bottles have to be "sealed."
                    Not sure if that's to keep folks from bring in booze (vodka) or if it's security (flammables) so maybe an empty bottle wouldn't be a problem.
                    I've never tried. But I'm going to. I like to freeze partially filled bottles so I have a big block of ice so I can fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. It stays really cold. Otherwise the water gets hot so quickly.

                    Don't miss the new stadium over such a small thing. It is wonderful! Great place for baseball and the views from the $5 seats are the best in the house.
                    I agree with you about bottled water. Banned it from my home years ago! Except for the rarest uses.

                2. re: dpan

                  "I'm sure the Nationals continued their policy of not allowing outside food into the park."

                  If you're sure, you're wrong. You could bring outside food in at RFK, and the policy continues at the new park.

                  1. re: dpan

                    Not to diverge too much from the topic, but absolutely NOTHING Angelos has done in his life can ever be admired. He has ruined what used to be a storied franchise.

                    Oh - and there is really very little decent food at the O's games as well. Even Boog's isn't quite what it was the first few years. People talk about the crab cakes but even in the club level, they suck. The only redeeming thing is a reasonably decent choice of microbrews.

                    Haven't been to the new Nats park yet, but the best thing I remember from RFK was a kettle corn stand in the lower deck 1st base side. My wife still mentions it.

                    1. re: ekillinger

                      I think one of the problems with stadium food in general is the availablility of microbrews and crabcakes. Hotdogs, yellow mass-produced macrobrews, popcorn and peanuts belong in stadium concessions. The other food should stay in restaurants and does not deserve to be served with on-the-field entertainment.

                  2. Seems like the biggest complaints were about the lines for vendors (half-hour waits to get a tepid hotdog?).

                    Maybe if they make the food lousier and MORE expensive, that would reduce the lines.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                      Can any high-rollers out there comment on the food options in either the Diamond Club or President's Club? Rumor has it the latter has an AYCE buffet (as well it should for those prices). Considering one of these as a birthday present for my baseball-rabid brother.

                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        The lines were STUPID. I have never seen anybody take so long to put a weenie on a bun in my life. Some of the people were moving in slow motion.

                        To be fair, I think everybody who went to the first two games bought food and overburdened the food concessions since the ballpark had made such a big deal out of the food. Everybody wanted to try something. When things settle down, fewer people will be eating all the time.

                        The first few weeks of the season, I eat a bunch of baseball food but by July, I can't even look at hot dogs and Cracker Jacks. I just eat peanuts and make a big mess.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          I read an article a few weeks ago in the Post about how good the food was supposed to be. They were going to have sushi, gelato, etc.!!!

                          1. re: lrebetsky0423

                            I heard somewhere that sushi and other more ethnic foods would be moving in after the pope's visit. I think the move-in is also staggered over a couple weeks.

                          2. re: MakingSense

                            Stood in a ridiculous line for 25 mins for Ben's Chili - got a similar tepid half-smoke with nasty bun, and soggy chili cheese fries - not soggy b/c of the chili or the cheese. Neither were very good. And I second the napkin quest! WTF!?

                            Towards the end of the game - the line at Five Guys looked short, so we ordered 2 burgers....which we waited for for over 30 minutes. I agree - the lines were STUPID and employees in slow mo...I certainly hope they get their act in gear for the rest of the season....

                            1. re: miller_time

                              I got there early, got in the hot dog line, which was long, but moved fast, and got a Ben's chili half-smoke. Delicious. I've lived in DC all my life, but have never been to Ben's. It's on my spring to-do list.

                              1. re: Mister Big

                                That's why I didn't bother with Ben's @ the Ballpark - I been going to the real thing for years!! Ben's Chili Bowl is the place! Not necessarily for the food. Stick to the chili half smoke. But always a great place to go - 3 AM (when that phone's ringing at the White House), lunchtime, late at night, anytime - you never know who's gonna walk in the back room.
                                Only down side is that it's sort of too full of yuppies now. But they probably said that when I walked in 30 years ago.

                                1. re: MakingSense

                                  I wonder if the ballpark Bens is grilling their dogs or boiling them? I can't imagine boiling a perfectly good halfsmoke, with a casing that begs to be grilled to crispy, snappy perfection.

                                  I figure the slow-motion service is because this is basically fast food, and almost every fast food place I've been to downtown has service that's basically on three quaaludes and a valium.

                        2. I can only imagine the ridicule this post might invite, but does anyone know if you can get a veggie hot dog at the stadium? I'll even take 'em tepid!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: caerphilly

                            According to the Washington Post story linked by malveaux above, they do! But, also according to the Post, they're awful.


                            Apparently they have veggie burgers though, which got more positive reviews.

                            I'm a vegetarian, and I gotta say, there is no good substitute for a real hot dog. Or bacon.

                            1. re: sacrilicious

                              thanks sacrilicious! i must have skimmed the article too fast. i agree - there ain't nothing like real dogs.

                              1. re: caerphilly

                                I went in looking oh so forward to a baseball hot dog..they just dont taste the same at home...chili, pretzel, crab cake, ANYTHING! I took one look at the lines and decided that nothing they were selling was worth that kind of wait! We got a bag of peanuts from a vendor. Next time Ill definitely get the spicy turkey chili from the fly car outside the gates. They didnt have a line. I hope they get the service worked out, it was enough to send us to...*gasp*...McDonalds after the game. The longest line I saw was during the 7th inning at the coffee cart. What I wouldnt have given for something warm about then! Wish I had known about the hot chocolate at Giffords. Thank goodness for the review in the Post.

                                1. re: caerphilly

                                  Easy to miss - you have to root around a lot on the web article to find the exact link to the section on healthy / vegetarian options.


                                  Still looking forward to at least trying some of the ballpark food for a couple of games! Then I'll go back to bringing in my own water and sandwich.

                            2. Nothing yet. Not a big fan of the Nats but I'm a big fan of checking out Stadium food. Sorry to hear there isn't much ethnic food and the only good pizza is on the club level. As for dogs...wish they all carried the same brand. As it is, I might have to carry the WP article with me to remember which place serves Ben's dogs and which place doesn't. A bit retarded, imo.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Ericandblueboy

                                I gotta wonder why Ben's doesn't have hawkers with insulated carriers walking the aisles and selling dogs. I'd pay extra NOT to have to get up and wait in a line for half an hour.

                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                  So you CAN bring in sealed drinks: i.e. plastic bottles of coke or water?

                                  1. re: beauxgoris

                                    Water only, up to 32 ounces, I believe. No soda or beer.

                                2. re: Ericandblueboy

                                  From the WP article: "The hands-down favorite, judging by the long lines, was the half-smoke smothered in chili, mustard and onions from Ben's Chili Bowl. What many fans did not realize was that the same item -- tasting just as good -- was being sold by arrangement at the Nats Dogs stands and by Noah's Pretzels, where lines were shorter."

                                3. Washington lacks the super-efficient assembly-line "Soup Nazi" culture of New York, and so Stan Kasten is going to have to take a serious second look at hiring and training of ballpark employees if this one snag in his operation is to be ironed out.

                                  You finally get to the front of the line at Ben's and it's as though the staff is reinventing the wheel every single time. You kind of have to take a minute to establish that you're not visiting them on a social call, you're there -- as it happens! -- to procure a hot dog of some sort. Once that's all straightened out, you can see the wheels turn in their heads as the staff figures out once again that there's a job to do ... oh, wait, do I need one of these here cardboard containers maybe? Yes, yes I do. Oh, and let's see. How might be a good way to ladle chili? Coke? Do we have Coke? I guess we do. You want that in a cup of some sort?

                                  And then the checkout carts, which seem like a good idea, are positioned in such a way that defeats their purpose. There are two for each line, but they're positioned so that one blocks the other and there might as well just be one.

                                  It's a wonder the lines aren't longer.

                                  And this is at Ben's, where the menu is simple. I doubt that Hard Times Cafe, with all those offerings and four kinds of chili and three- and four- and five-way options, is ever going to streamline things.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                                    Hey, it was one game! Perhaps repetition will help even the most inept workers figure it out. If the service is still poor in mid-summer, then we can complain.

                                    1. re: Mister Big

                                      And if you really get sick of standing in long lines, you can come up to Baltimore and see the O's.

                                      1. re: JonParker

                                        There is absolutely no reason to threaten the poor guy with the Baltimore O's. What did he ever do to you? Give the Nats more than a day, week, or month to work through these issues.

                                        1. re: malveaux

                                          They may be playing lousy baseball, but there's an Attman's Deli stand in Camden Yards selling their world class corned beef and pastrami. This may be the best food to be found in a ballpark in America.

                                          1. re: JonParker

                                            Attman's was at RFK (and it was good). Don't know if they're at the new park.

                                            1. re: JonParker

                                              I've never had that, that sounds great. I've been craving pastrami since I had Katz' in NYC.

                                              And.... um, the O's are 6-1.... atop the AL East. Not that it's going to stay that way, but still.

                                        2. re: Mister Big

                                          Actually, my Ben's experience was at yesterday's non-game open house, when maybe 1,000 fans showed up. Perhaps the lack of actual baseball drove more people than normal to the concessions, but ...

                                          1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

                                            Any new updates on the best food to snag at the ballpark...
                                            going tonight!

                                            1. re: daves_32

                                              All I can say is avoid the Fish Tacos at the "Mexican" joint next to Five Guys. I should have known better, but it just sounded really good. And honestly it looked good, but quickly ended up in the trash. The philly cheese steaks and garlic fries are worthwhile though.