Kansas City spare ribs, left, with Blue Smoke’s “Magic Dust.” Box Frites sells thick-cut Belgian fries with a choice of five dipping sauces. Photographs by Joshua Yospyn
New York-based restaurateur Danny Meyer, the man behind the lines at the burgers and frozen custard at the nascent Shake Shack in Dupont Circle, just ratcheted up the dining choices at Nationals Park. Last night we got a media preview of the stadium's four newest vendors: another outpost of Shake Shack, Blue Smoke (barbecue), El Verano Taqueria (tacos), and Box Frites (fries). Meyer opened the same vendors at the Mets' Citi Field park in New York two years ago. So do the pulled pork, chicken mole, and Belgian fries warrant buying a Nats ticket just to get a taste?
The pulled-pork sandwich was really good, with smokey meat on a fluffy brioche bun. The ribs, also from Blue Smoke, were plagued by tough gristle, although the slightly sweet sauce sort of made up for it. The fries from Box Frites were basically perfect: hot, salty, crispy outside, soft inside. But they definitely come at ballpark-inflated prices: $7.25 for a small box (of potatoes!) with one sauce. The carnitas tacos from El Verano Taqueria were the best of three varieties; the chicken was a tad dry and the steak a bit tough. But the side of elote, a cob of corn on a stick, slathered with mayo, cojita cheese, and cayenne, was outstanding. The best thing we had all night? The Shack Burger, and you can get one of those without the cover charge of a game-day ticket.