Opening Day is just around the corner and you know what that means -- baseball is back! Yes, we will soon have 81 games to root, root root for the home team! No matter what happens on Monday as the Nats face off against the Marlins, we want to make sure you have a home run of a dining experience all summer long, so today we are dishing on our favorite places to grab a bite to eat before we head into the park.
Now before we get into where we should be pre-gaming, I have to give Nats Park some major props for their in-stadium dining options -- they truly have come a LONG way since opening day 2008. With more than 50 dining options inside the park, you can really find a little something for everyone. And they’ve added some stellar new options in 2017, such as “See.You.Tater.” a chicken wings and tater tots stand that has been in the works for more than a year. Think Chesapeake Bay tater tots and old bay and mango Caribbean jerk wings! Some old favorites have added new items to their menus as well, like the new chicken fried steak at Virginia Country Kitchen.
Of course, when The Wharf finally opens we'll have to redo our entire list, as we have 20+ restaurants slated to open over there, and not a singe chain, which is really exciting. But let's talk about this season, and where we should grab some grub before we cheer the Nats on to a Curly W!
Beuchert's Saloon: This adorable, dimly-lit neighborhood restaurant in Eastern Market makes farm-to-table cuisine the star of the show. You’ll find an array of locally-sourced veggies that rotate weekly depending on seasonal availability here and prohibition-era cocktails, such as the Beuchert’s 75. I'd recommend this for anyone who wants a quiet place to chat, or is looking for a healthier option before the game.
Osteria Morini: This Italian hot spot holds a special place in my heart after I visited the flagship in NYC with chef Michael White as a tour guide. Of course, it has a rock solid pasta menu (the bucatini is a can’t miss) and the charcuterie is top notch. Do not skip out on dessers, as they are so worth the calories! I would suggest this pre-game if you're celebrating a special occasion and want to treat yourself, or even for a post-game dinner when you are heading to a Sunday afternoon game. Took mom here one year for Mother’s Day and had such a memorable meal.
Willie’s Brew & Que: What better way to get in the mood for baseball on a hot summer day than to chow down on consistently good barbecue and wash it down with a cold brew? Plus, this place seems to have fewer crowds than many of the other beer-centric spots near the stadium (aka Buffalo Wild Wings or Gordon Biersch) so you won’t be jostled around as much – save the elbow throwing for when the Braves are in town and you have to defend your territory! Try and grab a patio spot if you can.
Bluejacket: Since its opening, Bluejacket has become a neighborhood staple. This massive microbrewery offers seasonal beer and a menu broad enough to keep even picky eaters happy. The winter menu should be changing over shortly, but you can't go wrong with the burrata or the brussels sprouts for some nibbles or the bone-in beef short rib (to share) and the fried mumbo chicken sandwich if you're feeling extra hungry. Wash it all down with one of their 20 beers on draft -- personally in the summer I'd recommend the Magic Garden hefeweizen or the Lost Weekend pale ale.
Whaley's: Since its opening last May, Whaley's has been the go-to place for game goers to pop in for freshly shucked Virginia oysters, with a waterfront view. The raw bar, named after a Naval commander who died in the Chesapeake Bay battle, is from the DGS Delicatessen team of Nick and David Wiseman and they focus on serving sustainable seafood in the form of shellfish towers, crudos, small plates and family-style entrées. It also got a shout-out from Bon Appetit as one of their favorite meals in D.C. when they named us "Restaurant City of the Year" in 2016.
The Big Stick: Those who miss their college bar will feel right at home here in this ski lodge-themed watering hole. And yes, they do have shot skis! They've also made artwork out of recycled baseball bats to really get you in the Nats mood. The menu has grown since it first opened, and we highly recommend the goat cheese and beet salad, the grilled kale-wurst salad and the Grant and Danny burger, which is topped with pastrami, Swiss cheese and thousand island dressing.
Shake Shack: We'd be remiss if we didn't give our favorite burger place a little love! Of course, you can grab a burger inside Nats Park, but lines can get insanely long at the Shake Shack stand inside, so if you're jonesing for some good beef (or the chicken or barbecue options!) we highly recommend frequenting the newest Shake Shack in town. Plus, if you've never had the 'Shroom Burger, you are missing out my friends!
Ice Cream Jubilee: Oh be still our sweets-loving heart: Ice Cream Jubilee is coming out with a new flavor in honor of opening day! The Nats Red Velvet flavor will be available all season long, but on opening day, anyone with a ticket to the game can receive a free mini cone of the new flavor. And really, this shop should be a must-visit for all ice cream lovers anytime they are near Yards Park!
The Salt Line: When Chef Kyle Bailey opens up his highly-anticipated The Salt Line, slated for a spring 2017 opening, it's going to be a game changer! He'll be slinging up delish New England-style seafood: plenty of oysters, smoked fish, cured fish, sausages, chowder etc. And hey, if its good enough for the Nats’ Ryan Zimmerman, who is a major investor in the restaurant, its good enough for us! He’s been a taste tester for Bailey during menu development, and word on the street is he loves the chowder.