Opening Day for the Washington Nationals is this Thursday, March 30, and hungry and thirsty fans have a handful of new options to look forward to during the duration of the 2023 Major League Baseball season in Navy Yard.
While the pandemic sparked some shakeup in concessions over the past few years, there’s still plenty to eat and drink while taking in a full-capacity game or show in the 41,000-seat ballpark (1500 S. Capitol Street SE). The 2023 concessions roster includes debuts from homegrown favorites Swizzler, Capo Italian Deli, and Jammin’ Island BBQ, plus in-house additions like Char Bar Kosher, Chesapeake Crab Cake Co., and Bullpen Tacos.
A few DMV-area vendors aren’t back at the park this year. That includes Grazie Grazie, Medium Rare, Harris Creek Oysters, Taqueria del Barrio, Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, and Duke’s Grocery (which just opened a huge location near Nats Park).
Along with its MLB Ballpark App, a few new high-tech features are designed to get fans back to their seats to catch the latest inning as fast as possible. Grab-and-go marketplaces scattered around the ballpark (Sections 110, 136, 141, 314) invites diners to walk up, pick, and purchase food and drink via a touch-less checkout system equipped with cameras. District Drafts, back for its 12th year, slings canned beer from area breweries from one speedy stand. Other bars scattered around the stadium are headlined by big booze brands like D.C.’s Pratt Standard Cocktail Co., Virginia’s Devil’s Backbone, Stella, and Cutwater Spirits. And a massive BetMGM sports book attached to the park features six betting windows, 17 kiosks, sleek lounge seating, and a 40-foot bar (1500 S. Capitol Street SE).
D.C.’s 2019 World Series-winning team hosts the Atlanta Braves for Opening Day at 1:05 p.m. on Thursday. And this summer’s concert series at Nationals Park welcomes big headliners like Pink and Bruce Springsteen.
Here’s a taste of what ticket holders can expect inside Nationals Park this year, which maintains its cashless policy implemented during the pandemic.
New food vendors
- Capo Italian Deli: The D.C.-born deli with locations in Shaw, Foggy Bottom, and Tysons brings the ballpark its sizable Italian subs and cold pastas (but sadly, none of its famous Fauci Pouchy cocktails). Section 105
- Jammin’ Island BBQ: The local favorite returns to Nationals Park for the first time since the 2018 season with Jamaican-style barbecue featuring Filipino influences. Think: chicken, ribs, and burgers slathered in its tasty Caribbean jerk sauce. Sections 218 and 243
- Swizzler: The D.C. food truck known for environmentally conscious versions of American cookout classics debuted its first standalone store in Navy Yard in 2020. For its big ballpark debut, three stands serve its grass-fed beef smash burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, and fries cooked in non-GMO sunflower oil. Sections 106, 130, and 320
New internal concessions
During the 2022 season, the pro baseball team and hospitality company Levy Restaurants named South Florida fine-dining vet James Pryor its new senior executive chef at Nationals Park. Along with a revitalized menu at the scenic Budweiser Brew House, there’s a few fresh in-house options under his watch.
- Bullpen Tacos: Swing by for tacos and nachos, including chicken and beef options. Section 133
- Chesapeake Crab Cake Co.: This stand celebrates the Bay’s seasonal crustacean with crab cake sandwiches, crabby dogs, crab pretzels, and Chesapeake nachos. Section 109
- Char Bar: Specializing in certified kosher fare, Char Bar serves pulled barbecue beef brisket sliders, deli and falafel sliders, hot dogs, and potato wedges and knishes. Right Field Plaza
With over 20 area-owned businesses part of the ballpark’s concessions and beer programs, it’s easy to eat and drink local (check out the full list of Nats Park vendors here). Scoops shop South Mountain Creamery (Section 115, 136, 310) is back with a timely cherry blossom ice cream flavor making its debut at Nationals Park. Other returning favorites include:
- District Drafts: Nationals Park pours 3 Stars, Atlas, DC Brau, Denizens, Fair Winds, Hellbender, Old Ox, Port City, Right Proper, Solace, Other Half, and City State. Find the homegrown lineup at various dedicated sites around the stadium. Sections 110, 119, 129, 141, 223, 305
- Arepa Zone: The Venezuelan fast-casual place on 14th Street NW, with outposts in Foggy Bottom, Fairfax, and inside Union Market district’s La Cosecha market, serves pork, chicken, and beef arepas. Center Field Plaza, Section 304
- Ben’s Chili Bowl: A beef-and-sausage half-smoke from Ben’s, served “all the way” with brown chili, mustard, and onions, might be D.C.’s most iconic dish. Sections 110, 140, 307
- La Casita: Pupusas from one of the D.C. area’s top Salvadoran food companies. Section 117
- Roaming Rooster: The fast-growing local chain imports its wildly popular buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches to Nationals Park. The Ethiopian-owned business got its start in 2015 as a food truck and now has 11 standalone stores across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Section 238
- Hard Times Cafe: Founded in 1980, the reliable chili chain across Maryland and Virginia brings its famous chili, nachos, and chili dogs back to Nationals Park this year. Section 132
- Capital City Mambo Sauce: The longtime creator of D.C.’s beloved sweet-and-tangy sauce has an entire stand devoted to its product and wings. Section 231
- Rocklands BBQ: Serving wood-smoked barbecue to Washingtonians since 1990. Section 118
Tried and True
Shake Shack: Prepare to burn an inning or two waiting in line, but the smash burgers and soft potato buns from Danny Meyer’s chain are worth it. Section 240
Budweiser Brew House: The beer-fueled hangout is filled with nostalgic baseball decor, a built-in bar, and patio seating with a breathtaking view of the field. Patrons can book four-top tables for a casual alfresco meal overlooking center field. Center Field Plaza
Nats Dogs: No day at the ballpark is complete without a hot dog (for meat eaters at least). Find all-beef tubes at stands in Section 229. The Nats-branded string of on-site stands also includes options for ice cream, coffee, and snacks.
Opening Day deals
- Nicoletta Pizzeria: The fast-casual waterfront offshoot from the team behind Osteria Morini and Nicoletta Italian Kitchen reopens at The Yards on Thursday, March 30 with Curly W-themed Opening Day specials and new seasonal offerings like fruity, frozen lemonades (spiked or not) and square-shaped Detroit and grandma pies starting at $8.
- District Winery: Specialty pricing for the two hours before and after all Nationals home games ($10 cocktails, $7 wine by the glass, $5 beer, and half-off bottles).
- Trouble Bird: Opening Day after-party with drink specials and a DJ starting at 4:30 p.m.
- Ice Cream Jubilee: Opening Day sundae served in a Nats cap with a free sugar cookie.
- Aqua 301: $4 Modelo Especial cans, $6 margs, $5 DB Juicy Magic IPA.
- Shilling Canning Co.: Chef Reid Shilling releases a limited-time Pikesville hot chicken sandwich as a nod to his hometown, made with Amish fried chicken thigh, charred cabbage slaw, B&B pickles, mayo, benne seed bun, and homemade chips.
Other Navy Yard options
- All-Purpose Capitol Riverfront: The Navy Yard pizzeria celebrates Opening Day with the 6th annual release of Full Count, the restaurant’s popular DC Brau collab, for $5 before the game. 79 Potomac Avenue SE
- Duke’s Grocery: The beloved British-style pub with an essential burger has a shiny new Navy Yard location that opens early at 10 a.m. for Opening Day. The night before, a Spice Girls-themed party rounds out Women’s History Month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 1201 Half Street SE
- Tap99: The self-pour bar across from Nationals Park unveils a newly constructed streetery and debut menu items like a “Pickle Me Silly” brick oven pizza. 1250 Half Street SE
- Chicken + Whiskey: The chicken chain’s ballpark-adjacent bar debuts a game-day patio dubbed the “Pollo Pen” on Thursday with drink specials, a DJ, games, and prizes. 70 N Street SE