Nationals Park to add specialty food items for 2017 playoffs

The Washington Nationals have added an extensive menu of fall specialty items to be available exclusively during the 2017 postseason beginning this Friday at Nationals Park. Here’s a rundown of what to expect, and where you can find it:
Washington Nationals Park Fall Classic Grilled Cheese Throwin Cheese menu

The Fall Classic Grilled Cheese
What is it: Grilled Cheese with braised short rib, baby arugula, pickled red onions, balsamic cherry jam and smoked Gouda on artisanal sourdough bread.
Where to find it: Throwin’ Cheese in section 114.

 

Nationals Park Maple Doughnut Croque MonsieurMaple Doughnut Croque-Monsieur
What is it: Virginia country ham, Gruyère cheese and maple béchamel on a griddled glazed doughnut.
Where to find it: Throwin’ Cheese in Section 114.

 

Nationals Park Cookie Dough Helmet

The Cookie Dough Helmet
What is it: Chocolate chip cookie dough topped with soft serve vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and mini chocolate chips in a souvenir Curly W helmet.
Where to find it: Breyers stands in Sections 115, 129, 136 and 310.

 

Washington Nationals Park Crab Pretzel postseason food concessions

The Crab Pretzel
What is it: A jumbo braided soft pretzel topped with jumbo lump cheddar cheese topping and Old Bay Queso.
Where to find it: Pretzel locations in sections 107 and 320.

 

Nationals Park The District Duel Jumbo Sausage

The District Duel
What is it: A
 foot-long half smoke sausage topped with latin braised beef and giardiniera.
Where to find it: Taste of the Majors in Sections 115 and 314.

 

Nationals Park Half Smoke Burger Biscuit Virginia Country Kitchen

Half Smoke Burger Biscuit
What is it: A seared smoked burger patty, cheddar cheese and spicy onion relish on a buttermilk biscuit.
Where to find it: Virginia Country Kitchen in Sections 130 and 315.

 

Nationals Park The Natitude Half Smoke Sausage Patty

The Natitude
What is it: A half-smoke sausage patty, crab mac & cheese, and crispy Virginia ham on a brioche bun
Where to find it: Grill Stands in Sections 110, 129, 141 and 211.

 

Washington Nationals Park Crab and Corn Chowder playoffs food concessions

The Lucky Catch Oyster Company “Shuckers”
What is it: A new portable cart serving:

  • Local Virginia oysters on the half shell with atomic cocktail sauce and pickled ginger mignonette
  • Lobster bisque with sourdough croutons and garlic chives
  • Corn & Crab Chowder (pictured) with organic corn, sweet potatoes, edamame, crabmeat, smoked bacon and cream

Where to find it: Good question. The Nats have not yet announced the location.

 

Nationals Park 2 foot long sausagesLocal Artisan Jumbo 24″ Sausages.

What is it: Your choice of three different 24″ jumbo specialty sausages (that’s right, two feet long) including:

  • St. Louis Style: – 24″ pepperoni & cheddar sausage topped with peppers, onions, mini cheese ravioli, and marinara.
  • Chicago Style: 24″ Italian sausage topped with Italian beef, giardiniera, and atomic horseradish aioli.
  • Milwaukee Style: 24″ bratwurst topped with beer bacon braised sauerkraut and crispy cheese curds.

Where to find it: Senators Sausage stands in Sections 108, 134 and 224.

 

Washington Nationals Park Bar CocktailsFinally, we can’t forget the beverage department, where the Nats will offer the new Cinnamon Apple Curveball Cocktail, featuring Smirnoff Vodka, Amaretto, and fresh Apple Cider garnished with a cinnamon stick and apple slice.
Where to find it: All bars serving liquor throughout Nationals Park.

New safety netting, food, in-game entertainment, and racing presidents merch among changes at Nationals Park in 2016 (photos)

Washington Nationals fans and players gave several changes to the Nationals Park experience a test run on Friday as the Nationals played the first of two preseason exhibition games against the Minnesota Twins in advance of Monday’s season opener in Atlanta.

Among the most talked-about changes was the new safety netting strung from section 116 to 129 above the team dugouts (I previously wrote about its anticipated impact on the fan experience). Fans behind the dugouts, who had enjoyed eight seasons of unobstructed interaction with players, will now view the game from behind a high protective net. An informal survey of fan reactions ranged from “awful” (from fans in the first few rows) to “not as bad as I thought” from fans who sit further back.

New netting at Washington Nationals Park baseball stadium

New netting stretches above the dugout from section 116 to 129

New netting at Washington Nationals Park baseball stadium

Fans in the best seats will find their perspective affected the most

At its debut Friday night, the net certainly caught both fans and players by surprise. Many children behind the dugout followed a tradition of bringing baseball gloves to the game, and — oblivious to the net between them — screamed for players to toss them a ball at every half inning. Sadder still, a few players throughout the night forgot and tried, leading the ball to either bounce back onto the field or fall into the dugout. Old habits die hard.

Between innings, Nats fans will find that in-game host Michael Ploger has been replaced by a fresh young face named Derek. Ploger moved on to a new career as a sports reporter.

Nationals Park in-stadium host

As part of a new sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch, the former Miller Lite Scoreboard walk has been rechristened the Budweiser Terrace. On game days, from the time the gates open until 30 minutes before first pitch, beers at the Budweiser Terrace bar will be $5.

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The Red Loft has been renamed the Bud Light Loft, and the adjacent Beer Pen hospitality area is now the Budweiser Swing Big Beer Pen

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The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk has been renamed the Budweiser Terrace and new signage carries a “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” theme

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Extended song lyrics are painted on the terrace steps

Food concession changes for 2016 are relatively few compared to previous years. The always-crowded Shake Shack on the terrace has been doubled in size, taking over the adjacent space once occupied by sister chain El Verano Taqueria (El Verano moves to a small freestanding kiosk nearby).

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Shake Shack has doubled in size to handle the inexplicably long lines

The Nationals’ off-season “pitch your product” contest resulted in two new food concessions. On the main concourse behind left field, Haute Dogs and Fries replaces original Nats Park vendor Hard Times Cafe. Goodbye Cincinnati Chili. Hello hot dogs with toppings like New York Reuben and Vietnamese Banh Mi, plus lamb sliders and tater tots.

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Haute Dogs and Fries replaces longtime Nationals Park vendor Hard Times Cafe (the awning touting wings and nachos will presumably be replaced soon)

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The Banh Mi Hot Dog at Haute Dogs and Fries

The other local winner, Pinch Dumpling, is up on the Gallery level, as part of a conscious effort to bring more exclusive food items to the fans in 300- and 400-level seats. The steamed or fried beef, pork, or vegetable dumplings should be a welcome addition, though I’m worried that with a price of $10 for six dumplings, its location behind the $5 Grandstand seats might not be the smartest real estate decision.

Pinch Dumplings Nationals Park

Pinch Dumplings debuted Saturday on the Gallery level behind section 302

Pinch Dumplings - Nationals Park Washington

Six Dumplings from Pinch Dumplings include your choice of side (such as slaw) for $10

Across from Pinch, two new concessions by DC restaurateur Mike Isabella are expected to open on April 7: Catchfly will feature Southern-style food such as ribs, coleslaw, popcorn chicken and waffle fries. Kapnos at the Park will have gyros, falafel, cheese steaks, fried Greek potatoes and hummus.

Mike Isabella Catchfly Kitchen and Kapnos at Nationals Park

Two new concepts by DC chef Mike Isabella, Kapnos at the Park and Catchfly Kitchen, will open on the Gallery level when the regular season begins

Wondering where your jerk chicken went? After two seasons next to the Nationals Park Kids Zone, Jammin’ Island BBQ has moved back upstairs to a cart next to the Bud Light Loft. Its previous location will be something called “MLB Knockout,” presumably an extension of the Kids Zone.

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Nursing mothers at last have an air conditioned private lounge at Nationals Park that even includes play space for toddlers. The new Lansinoh Nursing Mothers Lounge opened late last season and is located on the mezzanine at section 223.

Nursing Mothers Lounge section 223

The new Lansinoh Nursing Mothers Lounge on the mezzanine level (Photo: JDLand)

Splurging for PNC Diamond Club tickets? A complete renovation of exclusive dining area and lounge behind homeplate has dramatically expanded its capacity. The facility was stripped of most baseball memorabilia and expanded to two levels that appear to be jam-packed with chairs and tables. The expense account crowd might feel a little more like cattle with this new setup, but they’re more likely to find a table during rain delays, and the club seating no longer extends to a tent outside the stadium.

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For kids of all ages, a new pin trading station has been installed near section 138, where hundreds of pins can be purchased or simply traded, Disney-style.

Pin trading station near section 138

The Nationals pin trading station (Photo: JDLand)

Finally, the Nationals promised better selection and pricing at the Team Stores in 2016, and what better way to expand selection than by introducing a whole section filled with racing president souvenirs. Racing president blankets, racing president patches, racing president hats and t-shirts, racing president magnets, racing president banners, and stuffed presidents are but a few of the souvenir items featuring George, Tom, Abe, Teddy, and Bill.

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The new racing president throw blanket

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The new racing president throw blanket

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New racing president patches

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Racing president hats

Abe Lincoln baseball cap

Racing president hats

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Racing president pennant

Teddy Roosevelt Magnet

New racing president magnets

Nationals Park introduces Pepe Food Truck by chef José Andrés

The Nationals’ debuted another new local food option for fans at Nationals Park with the introduction of Pepe Food Truck by celebrity Spanish chef José Andrés.

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Pollo Frito

The spicy and rich Pollo Frito at Pepe Food Truck

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Mushroom sandwich

The Elana, featuring Portobello mushrooms and carmelized onions on crispy bread

The truck, named “favorite truck in all of Washington” by Washingtonian Magazine, made its debut inside the right field plaza outside the new team store on Friday night.

Like the popular celebrity sandwich stand G by Mike Isabella on the first base side of the concourse, the small menu features a handful of premium-priced sandwiches with gourmet ingredients.

Pepe by José Andrés stands out from other food options at Nationals Park in three significant ways. First, unlike other sandwich stands in the Park, the sandwiches here are served piping hot. On Friday night, even after a long walk back to the opposite side of the stadium, our sandwiches were hot and toasty, but a welcome departure from the typical pre-made sandwich or frigid bun.

Second, the menu will not be fixed. On Friday night, the four sandwiches included a spicy fried chicken sandwich, a confit chicken breast sandwich with bacon, a rich “sausage burger”, and a dynamite vegetarian sandwich with portabello mushrooms and carmelized onions on a delightfully crispy bun.

Finally, you won’t find Pepe Food Truck at every game. In true food truck fashion, you’ll have to pounce at the opportunity when you see it, because it may be gone the next minute. Pepe won’t be at Nationals Park on Saturday, but they’ll be back for Sunday’s series finale.

Friday’s Menu:

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Menu

Nationals Park to debut new team store and food concession Tuesday (menu)

The Washington Nationals announced that the long-awaited opening of the new flagship Nationals Park team store will arrive Tuesday night as the Nats open a homestand vs. the New York Yankees.

Nationals Park Virginia Country KitchenAlso opening Tuesday is the newest locally-themed concession, Virginia Country Kitchen, behind section 113 on the 3rd base side, serving buttermilk biscuit sandwiches, house made kettle chips, and Virginia-made beverages.

The new team store on the centerfield plaza has been under contruction since before the 2014 season, and will be more than double the size of the former flagship store across the plaza. That location will eventually be turned into a restaurant.

Here’s the full Virginia Country Kitchen menu, courtesy of the Reston Patch:

    • Virginia Ham Biscuit: Country Ham, Cheddar Cheese, Apple Butter
    • Old Dominion Chicken Biscuit: Crispy Chicken Breast, Pickle Chips, Firecracker Ranch
    • TJ’s Mac-n-Cheese: Inspired by Virginia made cheeses
    • Virginia Crunch: Popcorn, Smoked Bacon, Bourbon Caramel Sauce, Virginia Roast Peanuts
    • Blue Ridge Bourbon and Tea: Virginia’s Filibuster Bourbon, Peach Schnapps, Iced Tea, Mint
    • Beverages including Redd’s Apple Ale and Star Hill Grateful Pale Ale, Two Shillings Red Wine and James River White Wine from Williamsburg Winery

Photo:JDLand

Fans at Nationals Park can now douse their own “HarpCake” with chocolate syrup

Max Scherzer Bryce Harper Chocolate SyrupThe HarpCake cupcake at Nationals Park by Fluffy ThoughtsAfter Bryce Harper’s walk-off home run Saturday, fans watched as pitcher Max Scherzer doused the outfielder with chocolate syrup, a ritual Scherzer created this season as an alternative to the traditional shaving cream pie in the face.

Beginning Sunday at Nationals Park, any fan can have the opportunity to reproduce the feat, perhaps even as a means of summoning another walkoff.

The exemplary bakers at Fluffy Thoughts Bakery, known for the Teddy Roosevelt and Jayson Werth cupcakes they sell in their stand behind section 135 at Nationals Park, are introducing the HarpCake, a “funfetti” cupcake topped with vanilla buttercream and chocolate, complete with an edible fondant hat plus brohawk and eye black.

More importantly, anybody purchasing one of these little bundles gets to douse it in all the chocolate syrup they want.

“We are trying it out for today, and if it works out we will have it for the next homestand as well,” said Owner/Cake Artist Lara Stein. “You just have to purchase a HarpCake and then go to town with the chocolate syrup. Put on as much as you would like! Who doesn’t love chocolate syrup?”

Demonstration video below. The HarpCake runs $6.50 at the Fluffy Thoughts stand behind section 135, while supplies last. And by the way, the cupcakes are outstanding.

The HarpCake cupcake at Nationals Park by Fluffy Thoughts

Details/Photos from new food stands at Nationals Park

Nationals Park Sushi - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

Sushi made to order at South Capitol Sushi

Nationals Park Sushi Menu - South Capitol Sushi - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

The Washington Nationals unveiled more than a half dozen diverse new food options to Nationals Park fans on Friday, and the early buzz was almost universally positive, despite several stands selling out of signature items.

In previous years, many of the stadium’s ethnic and “upscale” offerings had been isolated to the Scoreboard Walk and restricted Club level, but the newest concessions have brought more variety to the main concourses where most of the park’s foot traffic occurs.

Directly behind the Nationals’ dugout boxes at Section 129 is a new stand called South Capitol Sushi, where maki sushi is rolled to order.

Selections include vegetarian and cooked options, but bright, fresh raw tuna and salmon were on hand to be sliced to order for the spicy tuna and salmon avocado rolls. As a bonus, at $8.00 each, they looked to be a relative value considering the quality of the ingredients on display.

Nationals Park Sushi - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

South Capitol Sushi – Section 129

Lines were forming as early as 11:00am at the new Nationals Park outpost of “Top Chef” celebrity Mike Isabella’s G Gourmet Sandwiches behind section 136 along the first base line. The trimmed-down menu features five items from the 14th Street restaurant, including a hot chicken parmesan sub that was drawing raves in the stands, a delicious but very messy hot roasted cauliflower sub with romesco and pickled vegetables (extra napkins required), a cold stuffed Italian hero, and the eponymous “Drewno,” a delicious (if pricey) house-made kielbasa with sauerkraut, named not for the Nat’s reliever, but for Chef Scott Drewno from DC’s The Source.

If you’re hungry, the G Italian hero is easily the largest sandwich served at any of the Nats Park stands. The Italian meats are high quality, but they are inexplicably dressed not only with oil and vinegar but also mayo. The sandwiches were so popular that Isabella, who was on hand for opening day, ran out of food and had to shut down the stand by the fourth inning.

G Sandwiches by Mike Isabella at Nationals Park - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

G Gourmet Sandwiches by Mike Isabella – Section 136

G Sandwiches by Mike Isabella at Nationals Park - Washington Nationals Stadium Food

G Gourmet Sandwiches by Mike Isabella Menu

Mike Isabella's G Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich Nationals Park

Mike Isabella’s G Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich (extra napkins required)

Mike Isabella's G Italian Hero Sub Sandwich Nationals Park

Mike Isabella’s enormous G Italian Hero

Mike Isabella's Drewno G Sandwich Kielbasa Nationals Park

The Drewno features house-made kielbasa and sauerkraut

Nationals Park G Sandwich Chicken Parm by Mike Isabella - Photo by  MAURA JUDKIS Washington Post

The G Chicken Parm Sandwich (Photo:Maura Judkis/Washington Post)

On the third base side of the main concourse behind section 114 is the new Chesapeake Crab Co., offering a simple menu of crab cakes, a crab grilled cheese with brie on sourdough, or crab “snack chips,” an upscale take on nachos featuring Old Bay kettle chips, crab queso, roasted corn and tomato salsa.

Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. - Washington Nationals Park - Stadium Food

Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. – Section 114

Menu: Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. - Washington Nationals Park - Stadium Food

Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. Menu

Crab Grilled Cheese - Chesapeake Crab Cake Co. - Washington Nationals Park - Stadium Food Options

Crab Grilled Cheese with Brie on Sourdough

Crab Nachos - Photo by Scott Allen Washington Post

Crab Shack Chips (Photo: Scott Allen/Washington Post)

Vegans, vegetarians, and those looking for healthy options will welcome the new Field of Greens food stand behind section 113 on the third base side. The extensive menu includes cold salads, vegetables and fruit, plus a number of soy-based imitations of more traditional ballpark food, such as burgers, hot dogs, and even a cheese steak.

Field of Greens - Vegan Food - Washington Nationals Park - Vegetarian Option

Field of Greens – Section 113

Field of Greens Menu - Vegan Food - Washington Nationals Park - Vegetarian Option

Field of Greens Menu

Nationals Park Vegan Food Stand - Field of Greens - Veggie Cheese Steak - Washington Nationals Stadium

The Veggie Cheese Steak at Field of Greens – Section 113

Grilled Portobello Sandwich - Washington Nationals Park Stadium - Field of Greens - Vegan Food Stand

The Grilled Portobello Sandwich at Field of Greens – Section 113

Salads at Washington Nationals Park Stadium - Field of Greens - Vegan Food Stand

Veggie Chop Salad, Greek Salad, Fruit Cup, and Veg Out Cup at Field of Greens

Burrito fans can herald the return of Bullpen Burritos to Nationals Park. Bullpen Burritos was a fixture at the stadium when it opened in 2008, but the stand disappeared in 2010. Now it’s back, featuring made-to-order steak, chicken or vegetarian burritos and burrito bowls, with a choice of toppings including rice, beans, guacamole, roasted tomatillo salsa, and pico de gallo.

Nationals Park Bullpen Burritos

Bullpen Burritos – Section 140

Bullpen Burritos - Photo by Scott Allen/Washington Post

Bullpen Burritos Burrito Bowl (Photo: Scott Allen/Washington Post)

Fans up on the 200 level can now add a thai noodle stand, including vegetarian option other than the Shake Shake ‘Shroom Burger, to the popular food choices along the Scoreboard Walk. Intentional Wok can be found behind section 233, and offers a simple menu of pad thai, drunken noodles, or veggie noodles, all cooked by batch in woks and served in classic takeout food containers with chopsticks.

Nationals Park Chinese Food Stand - Intentional Walk - Washington Nationals Stadium Food Stand/Cart

Intentional Wok – Section 233

Nationals Park Chinese Food Stand - Intentional Wok - Stadium Menu

Intentional Wok Menu

Nationals Park Chinese Food Stand - Intentional Walk - Washington Nationals Stadium Food Stand/Cart

Pad Thai at Intentional Wok

Chinese Food Container at Intentional Wok Nationals Park

Intentional Wok serves noodles in traditional takeout food containers

And it doesn’t stop there. The Nats added another location for Ben’s Chili Bowl behind section 141, and adult beverage choices also received an upgrade, with two new carts serving local craft beers that will change throughout the season, plus several new outposts (near sections 113, 130, and 306) offering pre-mixed cocktails with barrel-aged bourbon.

To be clear, there have been good food options at Nationals Park for years. If you haven’t had Ben’s Chili Bowl Half Smoke, you haven’t had the full Nationals Park experience. The shawarma and falafel at Max’s Kosher Grill behind section 143 continue to be the sandwiches to beat in the stadium (but being strictly kosher, they are not open on Fridays and Saturdays). Jammin’ Island Barbeque makes great jerk chicken and ribs. Hard Times Cafe Cincinnati chili still warms the soul on cool evenings (and has the fastest service in the park), and Fluffy Thoughts Bakery behind section 135 is the undisputed dessert king. The Scoreboard Walk restaurants from Union Square Restaurant Group (Blue Smoke, Shake Shack, Box Frites, and El Verano) remain incredibly popular, and the team’s outside food policy is still the best in professional sports.

However it’s safe to say that until now, interesting and healthy food options for the average fan remained the exception in a sea of bland burgers and chicken fingers. The plethora of interesting new options should help both attract more fans and smooth out the lines at all of the food stands throughout the Park.

So what have you tried and what do you recommend?

Food, parking, organ music, and other changes at Nationals Park for 2013

The swagger that comes with high expectations wasn’t the only new thing on display at Nationals Park on opening day Monday. The Nationals have made a number of small changes to the ballpark experience for 2013.
Championship banner at Nationals ParkNationals Park Scoreboard Walk PhotoNationals Park Clubhouse Team StoreNationals Park Organist - Washington Nationals

In the park itself, NL East Champion banners now hang above the centerfield gate entrance, above the center field HD scoreboard, and outside the Presidents Club. The giant Scoreboard Walk photo has also been changed to feature Jayson Werth’s walk-off home run in the 2012 playoffs. In the scheme of things, the signage changes are small, which makes the recent whining by a prominent Phillies blogger all the more perplexing.

More significant are the retail changes. One of the two banks of ticket windows on N Street NW has been replaced by a flagship team store, and several team concessions inside the park have been renamed “Clubhouse,” with new locations added around both the main and mezzanine concourses. In some cases, these new concession locations block formerly open views of the field from the concourse.

For those who drive to Nationals Park, expanded retail development in the area is taking its toll on Nats’ official parking lots. Since Nationals Park opened, lots G, J, M, N, V, and HH have disappeared from the Nationals’ official parking options.

This season, the disappearance of $5.00 lot HH from the official parking map caused concerns for budget-minded drivers. We recommended this parking option in previous years, so it was some relief to find that the lot is in fact still operating on a cash basis. The price is now $10, and still a bargain.

The Nationals had an organist playing in the center field plaza before Monday’s game, and word on the street is that it was a trial run, with the Nats’ brass considering making it a permanent fixture at games. Notably absent from Monday’s opener were persistent scoreboard cheer-starters, noise meters, and other artificial enticements we’ve come to expect. Logic holds that if the Nats keep winning and selling out, it shouldn’t take more than a little organ music (and a couple of Bryce Harper home runs) to get the crowd going.

Nats fans still mourning the departure of slugger Michael Morse via trade got a bittersweet surprise during the seventh inning stretch. After “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” fans were treated to A Ha’s “Take On Me,” Morse’s walk-up song that became a crowd favorite in 2011 and 2012. Morse may be in Seattle now, but if fans continue to sing along, expect the Nats to keep using it.

Turkey Hill Ice Cream and Papa Johns Pizza at Nationals ParkShawafel at Nationals Park - Felafel SchwarmaShawafel at Nationals Park - Felafel SchwarmaShawafel at Nationals Park - Felafel SchwarmaPresidents Race Intro Video2013 brings new food options to Nationals Park, some of which may not be welcome. On the pizza and ice cream front, Flippin’ Pizza and Breyers have been replaced by Papa Johns and Turkey Hill. Papa Johns was the team’s pizza purveyor from 2005 through 2009, and fans cheered its departure three years ago when their bland mini pizzas were replaced by actual slices by Flippin’ Pizza. Unless the product has changed, this feels like a step backwards.

In the centerfield food court, local favorite Red Hot & Blue has been ousted in favor of H Street Lebanese mainstay Shawafel. Shawafel serves a selection of Lebanese wraps containing shawarma (chicken or beef/lamb), felafel, or fried cauliflower, plus french fries that are unquestionably the best at Nationals Park.

Shawafel is a nice, if redundant, addition. Max’s Kosher Grill serves superior felafel and shawarma on the other side of the concourse, but being kosher, they are closed on Fridays and Saturdays.

Up in the Club level, we’re told to expect cupcakes from Fluffy Thoughts Bakery in McLean. These are hands down the best cupcakes in the DC area, and Fluffy Thoughts is concocting some special baseball-themed flavors for Nationals Park. More on that later.

Of course, 2013 brings a major change to the fourth inning presidents race, where the Nats have introduced a fifth racing president, William Howard “Bill” Taft. The presidents are being introduced by a new video that was created during February’s cross-country trip to Mount Rushmore, with presidents dashing from Mount Rushmore through various landmarks on their way to the starting line at Nationals Park.

Perhaps the biggest change to the off-the-field experience is the introduction of Ultimate Ballpark Access cards for season ticket holders. The program promises many benefits that have yet to be introduced, so we’ll withhold judgment for now. The Nats have been very quick to fix early mistakes with the way cards are managed, so as flawed as it may be, it may be wise to wait a few months to see how the the program develops. One exception: Season ticket holders looking for a souvenir paper ticket are being charged $3.00 each for something that looks like it came out of an inkjet printer. The Nats should kill this fee if they can’t at least improve the quality.

What do you think of the changes so far?

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