While Washington baseball fans with deep pockets and deep connections will take in the city’s first World Series game in 86 years at Nationals Park tonight, a rowdy contingent who may not have been able to afford $1,500 tickets will be watching Game 3 from a seafood restaurant and bar right across the street from home plate.
The Salt Line became the unofficial party spot of the Nationals last week, when manager Davey Martinez strolled into the bar near last call after his team swept the St. Louis Cardinals to clinch its first ever World Series appearance. Martinez held the National League Championship Series Trophy up high as fans in red shirts and jerseys chanted his name and reached out to touch it. General Manager Mike Rizzo and longtime star Ryan Zimmerman posed for pictures. Many players came to party, and the lights in a private room stayed on past 2 a.m., the Washington Post reported.
Davey Martinez walks into a bar. pic.twitter.com/5VDe1rZS4q— Rudy Gersten (@DCBarno) October 16, 2019
With its prime location right near the ballpark and an outdoor bar outfitted with TVs, the Salt Line is a natural gathering place for Nationals fans. But the venue’s connection to the team runs deeper because the face of the franchise is one of the owners.
Zimmerman, an infielder who has spent his entire 15-year Major League Baseball career in Washington, has been a partner since the essential seafood house started selling New England-style lobster rolls, crack-and-eat Jonah crab claws, and deep-fried seafood platters two years ago. When players come into the Salt Line, they know they’re supporting Zimmerman’s place.
“[Ryan and his wife Heather] just really like restaurants and food and beverage — they are pretty sophisticated diners. They travel to a lot of nice restaurants,” Salt Line co-owner Jeremy Carman says.
The Nationals’ unprecedented run to the World Series has sparked a crazy amount of business for the restaurant situated on the banks of the Anacostia River (79 Potomac Avenue SE). Carman says the Salt Line sold more than 2,500 oysters, 320 burgers, and 275 lobster rolls during the NLCS.
For the upcoming three-day stretch against the Houston Astros, the kitchen is preparing to shuck 4,000 oysters, sell 500 lobster rolls, and griddle 600 of chef Kyle Bailey’s famed burgers. Outside on a sprawling patio, Bailey will be grilling half-smokes and more oysters.
Zimmerman’s go-to orders at the Salt Line include the trio of “stuffies” — a classic New England dish featuring baked middleneck clams, smoked linguica, lemon, bread crumbs, and parmesan. He also regularly fuels up with the two-patty cheeseburger and a beer. Carman says Zimmerman, a Virginia Beach native, loves Virginia oysters and is a big fan of Bailey’s work with sustainable seafood.
Between the Nationals’ last playoff appearance in 2017 and D.C.’s turn with the MLB All-Star Game last year, Carman says the restaurant has “had a lot of dress rehearsals” for huge draws like the World Series.
While Nationals Park has the most coveted seats in town this weekend, scoring a table at the Salt Line will also be a feat.
“I told a lot of friends I don’t have a table for them,” Carman says.
After the postseason craziness subsides, Nationals players will continue to make regular appearances.
“Heather’s a good ambassador for other players and their families — they see how comfortable they are using the restaurant,” Carman says. “The whole [Nationals] staff, front office guys, and TV guys have become friends with our bartenders and staff.”
Now that he’s part of the ownership group, Zimmerman is also a partner in a second Salt Line location, coming to Ballston, and in Dauphine’s, a massive Louisiana-style restaurant landing downtown.
Around this time three years ago, Zimmerman’s weekend plans looked a lot different. The Nationals had just been eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Dodgers, which gave the infielder time to join Long Shot’s annual trip to Kentucky, where the group selected private barrels at Woodford Reserve for its renowned Irish pub, the Dubliner. Zimmerman helped taste and pick the first private selection for the Salt Line, which was set to open the following spring.
The MLB veteran and his Long Shot partners had whiskeys in hand in Louisville while watching the Chicago Cubs exorcise their World Series demons with a Game 7 win over the Cleveland Indians.
“It’s come full circle — now they’re in the World Series,” Carman says.
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- Where to Find Food and Drink Deals During the Nationals’ World Series Run [EDC]
- The Salt Line Is Opening a Second Location in Ballston [EDC]
- The Dubliner Lives On as the Patriarch of D.C.’s Irish Pub Community [EDC]