The Citi Open, D.C.’s marquee pro tennis tournament, returned to Rock Creek Park this week. As stars like Venus Williams, Andy Murray, and Nick Kyrgios provide the on-court entertainment, both local and national restaurants and vendors fuel up fans right outside.
World Central Kitchen founder and superstar chef José Andrés headlines the food and beverage lineup this year and pulls up his Pepe Food Truck to serve Spanish sandwiches near picnic tables. Not to miss out on a good trend, Andrés came up with the idea to serve $80 caviar sets with potato chips at the posh Citi Lounge.
Mark Ein, who took over management of Citi Open in 2019, brought back Levy, the company behind the concessions for at Audi Field and FedEx Field, to manage food operations.
“My mindset is that this is as much of a food and wine festival as it is a tennis tournament,” Ein tells Eater. “It’s really the best of D.C. Every year, it’s even more about celebrating tennis in D.C., and the D.C. community.”
Over in the Citi tent, big-name D.C. chefs like Victor Albisu (Taco Bamba) and Kevin Tien (Moon Rabbit) dish out small plates and riff on favorites during daily food demos with tennis stars.
At the bars, Real Azul Tequila — which is not yet available for purchase in D.C. — pours a “Real Ace” paloma. In the shadow of the stadium, the 25-year-old producer proffers free tequila tastings daily from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Guests also have access to Michelin-rated Italian fare this year. Maryland native and celebrity chef Nicholas Stefanelli plates two hits from Northeast’s Masseria: Sicilian arancini rice fritters and lasagna “alla Norma” with eggplant and tomato basil ricotta.
Inside massive Market Square, which features indoor and outdoor seating and a frose stand, there’s local options from Dolcezza Gelato, Duke’s Grocery, Ice Cream Jubilee, King Street Oyster, Roaming Rooster, Oro Pizza, which sends out pies in a tile-mosaic Marri Forni oven sporting a tennis ball pattern.
Roaming Rooster replaces David Chang’s Fuku for fried chicken needs this year in three flavors: Nashville hot, Buffalo, and honey butter. The fast-growing local chain is about to open its tenth location. Serena Williams got her poultry fix across state lines this weekend, making a surprise visit to El Pollo Rico’s Arlington location.
King Street Oyster also makes a Citi Open debut this year. Its four locations in Virginia and D.C. are about to be joined by another in the new City Ridge development in Northwest. Serving lobster rolls, oyster po’boys, tuna tacos, and fish and chips in Market Square, King Street Oyster Bar also doubles down with freshly shucked oysters in the Citi Lounge.
Beyond the Market Square tent is the Chandon Garden Lounge and a beer garden. Grab-and-go options range from salads to charcuterie packages. Duke’s Grocery returns to serve its fan-favorite burger and an arugula salad.
As temperatures are expected to hit the 90s all week, Ice Cream Jubilee cools off fans with multiple scoop stands across the grounds. For the tournament, it’s making a gin-and-tonic sorbet in a distinctive neon yellow-green hue of a tennis ball. Georgetown Cupcakes also slings sweets on-site. The week-long tournament that averages 72,000 attendees wraps up on Sunday, August 7.
To kick off the tournament, an off-site Citi Taste of Tennis party was held Sunday, July 31 at the Omni Shoreham hotel with tastings and demos from an array of chefs.