Bring Your Turkey to Nats Park, and Get It Deep-Fried for Free

The restaurant Medium Rare has been offering the service for years. Now it's expanding.

Photo by Evy Mages

Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher has been offering to deep-fry customers’ turkeys for free every Thanksgiving for more than a decade. This year, though, social distancing and occupancy restrictions threatened to limit his generosity—until the Washington Nationals stepped in. The ballpark, which has a Medium Rare concession stand, is partnering with Bucher to host and greatly expand the service this year.

Bucher started the tradition in 2008 as a way for customers to enjoy a fried turkey without burning their houses down, but it’s since evolved into much more than that. The first year the restaurant cooked about 80 turkeys. “I thought there’s no way we’ll ever do more than this,” Bucher previously told Washingtonian. But as he was heading home that day, he noticed a piece of paper tucked under the windshield wiper of his car.

“I’m like, ‘Damn it. Who gave me a ticket on Thanksgiving?! I’m all pissed off, and I go look, and it’s a note from a family that was living in a shelter saying, ‘We want to just thank you for cooking our turkey. We would have had no ability to cook Thanksgiving dinner without your help.’ Now we can never stop.”

If you’d like your turkey deep-fried, head to Center Field Concourse adjacent to the C Garage on Thanksgiving Day between 8 AM and 3 PM. Eight fryers will be able to crisp up 24 turkeys per hour. It’s best to reserve a time slot in advance here, although limited walk-ups will be allowed. Remember to completely thaw your turkey first, and don’t bring a bird that weighs more than 12 pounds. To keep things running smoothly (with proper social distancing), everyone will receive a claim check when they drop off their turkeys and then get a text when they’re golden and crispy.

While the frying is free, Bucher is encouraging people to donate up to $25 per turkey to fund his “Feed the Fridge” non-profit, which provides fridges stocked with free meals across the region for students and others in need. (You can also donate to the cause here.)

Meanwhile, Medium Rare is also continuing its tradition of feeding seniors who could use a hot meal. The steak frites restaurant is offering free Thanksgiving dinners to anyone over the age of 70 who is celebrating the holiday alone.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.