DC's Nationals Stadium

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Jennie
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2008/04/12 13:01:33 (permalink)

DC's Nationals Stadium

Hi folks,

On April 2nd, the Washington Post published an article wherein six people perused the items on offer at Nationals Stadium on opening day.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/01/AR2008040100595.html

Step Up to the Plate
At Nats Park, Fans Find Food to Cheer About, But Prices Draw Boos

By Margaret Engel
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, April 2, 2008; Page F01

Happy first-nighters at the new Nationals Park on Sunday were greeted by concessions that offered abundant portions, uncommon choices -- and prices that left some of them grumbling.

The ballpark experienced few of the problems seen at other major league stadiums' first games. There was sufficient, well-trained help, and shortages were not widespread, with reports of only a few vendors running out of some items in late innings.

Fans were pleased by the size of what servers dished onto their plates. But smiles faded into sticker shock at the cashiers' stations.

"The prices are high! $16 for a burger, fries and drink for my nephew," said Ralph Collins of Woodbridge, gesturing toward 7-year-old Charles Cobbs IV, at the park for his first baseball game. "We couldn't find any kind of kids' meals."

The tally for six members of the Moore family, from Leesburg, was $88.50 for four burgers with fries, two hot dogs, six drinks and one pretzel. "It's expensive, but worth it for Opening Day," said Betti Moore as son Tucker, 19, added some dollar bills for the tab. "It's comparable to what you pay at FedEx Field."

But third-generation Washingtonian Brett Kaplowitz, at the park with son Scott, 13, of Potomac, was blissful as the two navigated the generous mounds of chili atop their three Ben's Chili Bowl half-smokes ($28). "Compared to the circus, it's cheaper," he said. Licking his fingers, Scott chimed in with some advice: "Get lots of napkins!"

The next morning, Kaplowitz said: "To paraphrase a commercial: hot dogs, water, fries, ice cream, hot chocolate during the game, $57.50. Taking my son to opening night and creating lifelong memories, priceless."

A survey of the food offerings at the ballpark found that the unusual and hometown products were scoring higher than stadium standbys. Some harder-to-prepare items -- the fluffy, flaky potato knishes at the Kosher Sports kiosk, for example -- outshone simpler fare such as chicken, which was often dry and tasteless.

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.

The chili mac, spicy chicken wings and enormous plates of nachos sold by Hard Times Cafe were popular and tasty, as were the lavishly topped burgers at Five Guys. For authenticity, the intensely flavored gelato at the single stand of La Piccola Gelateria was far superior to the generic gelato finding its way into many Washington cafeterias.

Carbs ruled the concourse. Many fans were seen shaking Old Bay seasoning into the brown paper bags containing Five Guys' greasy and wonderful french fries. Ditto for the crisp Boardwalk Fries, which happy and guilty eaters justified as an exception to their doctor's advice because they were at the ballpark.

Decent healthful choices were available, if not front and center. Dupont Deli had boxed Greek and Caesar and chicken salads for $7 to $9, and fresh-fruit cups were sold for $7. Hard Times had a thick and satisfying vegetarian chili, but the bowl was small, unlike most portions in the ballpark.

Fans went out of their way to praise local vendors. "We were so happy to see Hard Times here," said Christy and Cian Chang of Sterling, who were carrying a $33 order of wings with hot sauce, two chili dogs and nachos.

The grandson of Walter Johnson, a famed Washington Senator and Washington baseball's biggest legend, gave a nod to the food purveyor with the longest local presence. "How great to have Gifford's here," said Hank Thomas. Gifford's Ice Cream, in business locally since 1938, was passing out free samples of its famed soft caramels and selling 10 flavors of its ice cream. Thomas, a lifelong baseball fan who lives in Arlington, has spent 20 years in food service. What rankled him was a stadium hit -- big-kerneled popcorn being popped on the premises -- being turned into an error by over-salting. "My mouth feels like it won't taste anything for a week!" he said.

Baseball- and Washington-theme titles graced many of the concession stands: Steak of the Union, Senators Sausages, Change Up Chicken, Slice Down the Line.

There were some surprises. Few stalls dealt in ethnic foods, which have become mainstays at other major league parks. The selection of beers on tap was better than expected, as was the polite and plentiful service. The condiment tables often included Old Bay seasoning and malt vinegar. Hand-turned dispensers let you twirl raw onions onto your hot dog to your stomach's content. But there was no brown mustard. And the Nats Dog, a big cut above the unfairly famed Dodger Dog, had a terrible bun: pure cotton ball.

Most of the errors appear fixable. Lay off the popcorn salt, find better buns for all dogs and burgers, skip the pricey, unappetizing crab cakes and improve the pizza.

But overall, fans seem to have a lot to smile about from the Nats' concourse fare. It will undoubtedly stay true, however, that some of the longest lines, after Ben's, will remain at the PNC cash machines.

Margaret Engel is the co-author of three editions of Fodor's "Ballpark Vacations" and has reviewed baseball stadiums coast to coast.


This link shows you photos and individual reviews of each item. Enjoy!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/artsandliving/foodanddining/features/2008/nats-park-food-040208/gallery.html?sid=ST2008040200227
Jennie
#1

12 Replies Related Threads

    douginvirginia
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/12 13:17:25 (permalink)
    The prices, while not surprising, are absolutely appalling to me. How is a postman, secretary, school teacher, cop, taxi driver,.... you name it - anyone making < $100k - able to take their family to a ballgame? I also bet they don't allow food or drinks to be brought into the stadium.

    Fans should go up to Frederick, or down to Prince William to watch the minor league teams. Even paying the gas you'd come out way ahead dollarwise, and I think enjoy the game more as well.
    #2
    Davydd
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/12 14:56:45 (permalink)
    There was a time when a hotdog, peanuts and a beer were about all you could get in a ball park. It could be worse. I bet WanderingJew can't wait until 2010 to visit the Minnesota Twins' new ball park and chow down on hotdish, lefse and lutefisk.
    #3
    Benzee
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/12 15:05:48 (permalink)
    Hello all ,

    Visit a minor league game for inexpensive eats and admission.
    We visit the Hudson valley Renegades in Fishkill a few times a year .
    Class A for tampa Bay , easy to get autos. and the players run out ground balls , who would've thought .
    By seventh or eight inning they always reduce the cost of hot dogs and sodas to like a buck each.

    Here is a deal , we run a group every year cost is $20 per person includes all you can eat barbecue , drinks and seat to the game . Players come over and sign autos. and an ex Yankee is the contact person , good guy Joe Ausanio .
    This year its Sun July 6th , anyone interested let me know .
    Stadium is right off Rt. 84 a few miles east of the Newburgh - beacon Bridge .
    Family oriented as its sponsored by my local Knights of Columbus , but all invited

    Benzee
    #4
    Robearjr
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/12 22:14:58 (permalink)
    I cant remember the last time a stadium opened to such poor crowds as the one in D.C.

    It's now pretty clear that after two times with the Senators and once with the Nationals, D.C. doesn't get baseball.
    #5
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/12 22:25:52 (permalink)
    I'll stick to minor league Dime-A-Dog nights. What sort of weirdo eats anything other than hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack at a ball game, anyway?

    Come to think of it, I remember when hot dogs always cost a dime each at Yale Field in New Haven, and we'd wait out on Derby Avenue for foul balls so we could use them to get into the game free and save the ten cents admission for hot dogs.

    Further about Yale Field. I was disillusioned at a young age during a Yale-Army baseball game. I was sitting behind the Army dugout rooting for Army when Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard came out and sat on a bench next to the dugout and lit up cigarettes.

    I also remember a day in 1947, I believe, when I watched as the captain of the Yale baeeball team presented some guy named George Herman Ruth with award on the pitcher's mound. A little while later my friends and I ran into Mr. Ruth partaking of some ten-cent hot dogs at the concession under the grandstand.

    About ten years ago I saw a picture of that presentation in a magazine and was surprised to learn that the captain of the baseball team that year, the guy who presented Ruth the award, was George H.W. Bush.
    #6
    Scorereader
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/14 09:55:49 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by douginvirginia

    The prices, while not surprising, are absolutely appalling to me. How is a postman, secretary, school teacher, cop, taxi driver,.... you name it - anyone making < $100k - able to take their family to a ballgame? I also bet they don't allow food or drinks to be brought into the stadium.

    Fans should go up to Frederick, or down to Prince William to watch the minor league teams. Even paying the gas you'd come out way ahead dollarwise, and I think enjoy the game more as well.


    You can bring in just about anything you want - except alcohol. We brought our own peanuts, candy, pretzels,, etc.

    It is a bit expensive. And definately more expensive than things were at RFK. But the selection is better. And the park is much more game friendly. The cheap seats are not nearly as bad as the cheap seats at RFK.

    If you're willing to bring along your own snacks, it doesn't have to be too too expen$ive. Free parking at RFK with free shuttle, is a good idea. The metro is really crowded.

    I'm a big fan of minot league ball. I grew up rooting for the Syracuse Chiefs, I loved the Greensboro Bats games and even short season A teams like Auburn Doubledays. It's good cheap fun. But, the major league games, along with NFL and NBA games are getting expensive. Unfortunately, top tier sports is demanding a top tier price. Sure, you can have fun in Frederick (I've been there), but you won't see major league baseball quality game, and you won't see any current superstars. And that is what you're paying for when you go to a top level professional game.

    If one is simply looking to get the family out to any old game, sure, go to Frederick, or Potomac, or Bowie. But if one wants to se MLB, the Nats are the only show in town.

    Seriously. You can see a broadway show (or the National Tour) and pay broadway prices, or you can go to community dinner theatre and see the same show for less. You can enjoy both (I support community arts programs), but there will be a difference in the quality of the show.





    #7
    wanderingjew
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/14 10:14:38 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    I'll stick to minor league Dime-A-Dog nights. What sort of weirdo eats anything other than hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack at a ball game, anyway?


    Hmmm....I must be a wierdo since I had Garlic Fries one night and a ghiradelli chocolate sundae the next at AT&T Park in San Francisco.." />

    Overall, it's a very rare occasion when I'll eat anything at a ballpark...

    #8
    susanll
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/14 10:18:34 (permalink)
    Barbecue nachos at AutoZone park in Memphis are fantastic!!
    #9
    Pigiron
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/14 10:47:44 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by susanll

    Barbecue nachos at AutoZone park in Memphis are fantastic!!



    I've been to nearly 100 ballparks, and the BBQ nachos from Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous in Memphis' Autozone Park are one of the very few food items I have eaten at ballparks anywhere in the country that I would recommend.






    Like WJ, I very rarely eat at the ballpark. My baseball roadtrips are little more than an excuse to drive all over the country looking for local food.


    #10
    MiamiDon
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/14 11:11:30 (permalink)
    I've never "gotten" the idea that going to a sporting event has to be a dining experience. If one cannot afford the food at big-league games, don't eat there! Eat before the game. Eat after the game. Bring your own food. We stop at a Cuban joint and get Cuban sandwiches to bring to evening baseball games here. At Dolphins games, which are usually at 1:00 P.M., my wife packs snacks, because it is too hot to eat heavily.

    BTW, I know that certain ball park foods are "a tradition", but in many of the places that I have been, the food is pretty poor, and/or is very expensive for what it is. Yeah, on opening day, I might have a hot dog and a beer, but over the long haul of the season we bring our own, or make do some other way.

    #11
    douginvirginia
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/14 11:40:16 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Scorereader

    quote:
    Originally posted by douginvirginia

    The prices, while not surprising, are absolutely appalling to me. How is a postman, secretary, school teacher, cop, taxi driver,.... you name it - anyone making < $100k - able to take their family to a ballgame? I also bet they don't allow food or drinks to be brought into the stadium.

    Fans should go up to Frederick, or down to Prince William to watch the minor league teams. Even paying the gas you'd come out way ahead dollarwise, and I think enjoy the game more as well.


    You can bring in just about anything you want - except alcohol. We brought our own peanuts, candy, pretzels,, etc.

    It is a bit expensive. And definately more expensive than things were at RFK. But the selection is better. And the park is much more game friendly. The cheap seats are not nearly as bad as the cheap seats at RFK.

    If you're willing to bring along your own snacks, it doesn't have to be too too expen$ive. Free parking at RFK with free shuttle, is a good idea. The metro is really crowded.

    I'm a big fan of minot league ball. I grew up rooting for the Syracuse Chiefs, I loved the Greensboro Bats games and even short season A teams like Auburn Doubledays. It's good cheap fun. But, the major league games, along with NFL and NBA games are getting expensive. Unfortunately, top tier sports is demanding a top tier price. Sure, you can have fun in Frederick (I've been there), but you won't see major league baseball quality game, and you won't see any current superstars. And that is what you're paying for when you go to a top level professional game.

    If one is simply looking to get the family out to any old game, sure, go to Frederick, or Potomac, or Bowie. But if one wants to se MLB, the Nats are the only show in town.

    Seriously. You can see a broadway show (or the National Tour) and pay broadway prices, or you can go to community dinner theatre and see the same show for less. You can enjoy both (I support community arts programs), but there will be a difference in the quality of the show.








    I'm very happy to hear that food and drinks may be brought into the new park.
    #12
    MetroplexJim
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    RE: DC's Nationals Stadium 2008/04/14 19:58:19 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    I'll stick to minor league Dime-A-Dog nights. What sort of weirdo eats anything other than hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack at a ball game, anyway?

    Come to think of it, I remember when hot dogs always cost a dime each at Yale Field in New Haven, and we'd wait out on Derby Avenue for foul balls so we could use them to get into the game free and save the ten cents admission for hot dogs.

    Further about Yale Field. I was disillusioned at a young age during a Yale-Army baseball game. I was sitting behind the Army dugout rooting for Army when Glen Davis and Doc Blanchard came out and sat on a bench next to the dugout and lit up cigarettes.

    I also remember a day in 1947, I believe, when I watched as the captain of the Yale baeeball team presented some guy named George Herman Ruth with award on the pitcher's mound. A little while later my friends and I ran into Mr. Ruth partaking of some ten-cent hot dogs at the concession under the grandstand.

    About ten years ago I saw a picture of that presentation in a magazine and was surprised to learn that the captain of the baseball team that year, the guy who presented Ruth the award, was George H.W. Bush.


    Meeting the Babe has to be a great memory. Can you describe him and your impression of him a bit more?
    #13
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