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How Baseball Fans Will Eat at Nationals Park During a Pandemic Season

Nationals Park will require fans to wear masks, keep their distance, and eat in their seats with help from mobile ordering technology

Pecorino Romano cheese gets grated over a Minelli sub stuffed with Italian cold cuts and ove-dried tomatoes
An Italian sub from Grazie Grazie, a new vendor at Nationals Park this year
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The ballpark is often a place to fling dietary inhibitions to the wind like a towering foul ball. The atmosphere gives fans the green light to order hot dogs that span the entire length of a ruler, to luxuriate in traffic cone-colored nacho cheese, or to knock back draft beers in sizes typically reserved for gas station soda fountains. When Nationals Park opens the 2021 season however, Washington will ask a very limited number of fans to exercise a lot of restraint with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced an abbreviated 2020 season in which the stadium hosted plenty of World Central Kitchen cooks, but no paying spectators. Here’s a quick look at what concessions at Nationals Park will look like this year. Hat tip to Scott Allen of the D.C. Sports Bog for reporting from this week’s media tour.

The Nationals Opening Day game set for Thursday, April 1, has reportedly been postponed for COVID concerns after an undisclosed Nats player tested positive.

Public safety protocols

  • D.C. is limiting attendance to 5,000 fans (priority for season ticket-holders), who can buy seats in pods of up to six people
  • All fans (and staff) are required to wear a mask at all times except when they’re actively eating and drinking at their seats
  • Fans will enter and exit the ballpark using assigned gates to limit crowding
  • Signs and plexiglass barriers will be in place throughout the park to promote social distancing
  • Ballpark vendors are going completely cashless, and fans will be asked to download a ballpark app to facilitate digital payment
  • All food will be served in closed or covered containers
  • Water fountains will be shut off
  • The Family Picnic Area will run a half capacity with spaced-out tables
  • The Budweiser Terrace bar will still be open, but without furniture
  • The The ULTRA Loft (formerly the Bud Light Loft) and Swing Big Beer Pen will be closed while capacity is limited to 5,000 fans

New technology

  • The stadium crew installed touchless condiment dispensers for dressing up hot dogs
  • QR codes affixed to seats will link fans to a mobile ordering system that will prompt concessions stands to prepare orders for pickup at portable concessions stands
  • All toilets and urinals have been outfitted with contactless flushing systems

New food vendors

  • Grazie Grazie: The sub shop from Taylor Gourmet founder Casey Patten will serve sandwiches (Italian, turkey, Caprese) and salads
  • Arepa Zone: The Venezuelan fast-casual place on 14th Street NW and in Union Market, will serve pork, chicken and beef arepas
  • Taqueria del Barrio: Anna Bran Leis’s Mexican restaurant in Petworth will bring chicken tinga and barbacoa tacos and nachos to three different sections
Tacos from Taqueria del Barrio are new to Nationals Park
Tacos from Taqueria del Barrio are new to Nationals Park
Courtesy of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club
  • Jimmy’s Famous Seafood: The 47-year-old Maryland restaurant will serve crab cake sandwiches and crab cake nachos
  • Fuku: David Chang’s stadium-friendly fried chicken brand, will serve fingers, sandwiches, and waffle fries.
The Fuku sandwich includes a 6-ounce chicken breast cutlet brined in habanero chile puree with pickles, and a spicy Fuku mayo on a Martin’s potato roll.
The Fuku sandwich includes a 6-ounce chicken breast cutlet brined in habanero chile puree with pickles, and a spicy Fuku mayo on a Martin’s potato roll.
Fuku [official]
  • Harris Creek Oyster Co.: The Eastern Shore oyster company debuted at Nats Park in 2019 but has a new stand in Section 104
  • True Made Foods: The Alexandria, Virginia, condiment company that eschews all refined sugars has a new deal as the exclusive provider of ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, and barbecue sauce at the ballpark

Other Eater favorites

Check out the full list of Nats Park vendors here

  • District Drafts: Locally brewed pours from 3 Stars, Atlas, DC Brau, Denizens, Fair Winds, Hellbender, Lost Boy (cider), Old Ox, Port City, Red Bear, Right Proper, and Silver Branch
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl: For classic D.C. half-smokes
A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
A classic half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl.
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.
  • Max’s Kosher: Shawarma, falafel, and hot dogs from the long-standing Jewish deli in Wheaton
  • La Casita: Pupusas from one of the D.C. area’s top Salvadoran food companies

Temporarily Closed Vendors

  • Medium Rare, See You Tater, and Haute Dogs & Fries won’t be operating in the opening group of vendors

Sports betting

A new BetMGM sports book will eventually operate out of the former Centerfield Social event space. An app available to people within a two-block radius of the ballpark will be forthcoming, too.

Updated Thursday, April 1, 8:57 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect that Chiko and Hank’s Oyster Bar are no longer vendors at Nationals Park

Nationals Park

1500 South Capitol Street Southeast, , DC 20003 (202) 675-6287 Visit Website

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