There are a lot of new things happening at Nationals Park for the 2021 baseball season—and we’re not just talking about changes due to Covid restrictions. Even with capacity currently limited to 5,000 fans—a number that’s projected to grow at the 41,000 seat stadium—the Nationals have partnered with an exciting new roster of chefs, restaurants, and purveyors— many of them as local and diverse as the city’s dining scene itself. Joining the lineup: hit Wharf sandwich shop Grazie Grazie, Venezuelan vendor Arepa Zone, and David Chang’s fried chicken chain, Fuku, among others.
Of course, there are significant pandemic-era changes. One of the biggest is that the stadium is going almost entirely cashless—so no passing a few bucks to vendors in the aisles for Cracker Jacks and beer (hawkers in the aisles only take credit/debit or electronic payments*). Fans are advised to download the MLB Ballpark App (more info here), which lets you access digital tickets and place mobile orders for concessions. You can scan a QR code at your seat or at a concession stand, tap the “mobile ordering” section in the app, pick your food/drink items, pay, and go grab the (now all covered) food and beverage containers.
It’s still possible to order directly from the concession stands. Fans can purchase items using eCash, touchless systems such as Apple Pay, or a standard credit or debit card. If you only have cash, you can exchange it for Nats Bucks at various locations in the stadium, including ticket sales and guest services.
The no-contact theme continues another key element of the ballpark experience: hot dog condiments. The Nats have partnered with Alexandria-based, veteran-owned True Made Foods for naturally sweetened ketchups, mustards, and other toppings, which are dispensed from no-contact machines.
Another thing to note: due to the limited capacity and the changing nature of the pandemic, some concessions may be closed for individual games based on attendance and demand. Due to their location in the stadium and distancing rules, Medium Rare, See You Tater, and Haute Dogs & Fries are temporarily closed. Meanwhile, local favorite Chiko has been replaced with fried-chicken-sandwich spot Fuku. See below for a full rundown of what’s new:
New, renovated, and expanded food concessions:
Arepa Zone (Center Field Plaza)
The popular Venezuelan-snack vendor, which operates food trucks, a Union Market kiosk, and a 14th Street restaurant, is featured at the “Avoiding Gluten Kiosk” (more fun than it sounds, we promise). The menu includes items like arepas stuffed with pork shoulder, shredded chicken, or shredded beef.
Fuku (Section 238)
Restaurateur David Chang may have closed his only full-service DC restaurant (Momofuku CCDC), but his spicy-fried-chicken chain is still here. The kiosk will serve fried-chicken sandwiches, crispy “Fuku fingers,” waffle fries with spicy-sweet seasoning, and more.
Grazie Grazie (Section 114)
Nationals Park is home to a lot of tasty sandwiches. We’re excited for this branch of Taylor Gourmet founder Casey Patten’s Wharf shop to join the roster. The menu includes Patten’s take on an Italian cold cut sub; herb-roasted turkey with mozzarella, prosciutto, and pesto; and a Caprese sandwich.
Harris Creek Oyster Co. (Section 104)
Fans of Chesapeake Bay oysters can get freshly shucked bivalves from this family-owned company, which has been operating on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for 13 generations. It debuted at the park in 2019, but is in a new location: the Blue Point Boat in Section 104.
Jimmy’s Famous Seafood (Sections 114, 140, and 306)
You don’t necessarily need to drive to Camden Yards for a tasty ballpark crabcake. Jimmy’s, a Baltimore fixture since 1974, joins the opposing team with three kiosks for crab cakes, crab nachos, and more.
Taqueria Del Barrio (Sections 129, 216, and 314)
Joining the growing roster of women-owned businesses at the stadium, including Hank’s Oyster Bar and Civic Vodka, are three locations of Anna Bran-Leis’s Petworth taqueria. Look for crowd-pleasing dishes from like chicken tinga and beef barbacoa tacos and nachos.
New, renovated, and expanded drink options:
Cutwater Spirits (Section 132 and multiple locations)
The Nats are jumping on the canned-cocktail trend with several locations of San Diego-based Cutwater Spirits. A new “Cutwater Still” bar is located in Section 132, and cans of its lime-vodka soda, margaritas, and vodka mules will be available elsewhere. On hot days, look for frozen Cutwater pops at the Ultra Loft.
District Drafts (Multiple locations)
Now in its eighth season, the local-beer kiosk has now expanded to 13 locations throughout the stadium. Offerings include brews from 3 Stars, Atlas, DC Brau, Denizens, Fair Winds, Hellbender, Lost Boy, Old Ox, Port City, Red Bear, Right Proper, and Silver Branch.
*Correction: There will be hawkers in the aisles, but they won’t take cash.