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Ben's at the Ballpark

(Bill O'Leary - TWP)

The most important news of the month has finally arrived, with the Nats announcing the complete list of their local food vendors a few minutes ago. Here they are:

Ben's Chili Bowl, Boardwalk Fries, Cantina Marina, Gifford's Ice Cream, Krazee Ice, Kosher Sports, Hard Times Café, La Piccola Gelateria, Mayorga Coffee, Noah's Pretzels, and Red Hot and Blue.

Highlights: Vegetarian chili (Ben's), garlic knishes (Kosher Sports), "The Dinger" (Gifford's), cappuccinos (Mayorga), and canned quotes ("The Nationals and Centerplate, our overall food and beverage partner, are committed to celebrating the culture and cuisine of the Washington, D.C. region in the ballpark," Stan Kasten said.)

I've never exactly thought of french fries and chicken strips and gelato as a celebration of the District, but there are surely reasons to cheer in here. Next up, craft beer. Anyone heard anything? I know some local craft brewers would love to send their suds through Mr. Kasten's taps, and I know some local drinkers who would love to drink those suds.

The rest of the release, with a few more menu details, after the jump. Is this all that we were hoping for, or more, or less?

An historical Washington institution, Ben's Chili Bowl has become a favorite among locals and visitors alike since opening its doors in 1958. Guests will be treated to Ben's Original Half Smoke, Vegetarian Chili, Turkey Burger, and Chili Dog.

Boardwalk Fries was conceived in 1980 and these tasty fries are served in major malls, arenas, stadiums, amusement parks, and universities. Boardwalk Fries will also be serving fresh chicken fingers at their location.

Cantina Marina opened in May of 2003 on the Southwest Waterfront and will offer fans a refreshing option in frozen specialty drinks as well as an exciting menu full of tex-mex, and Cajun food choices.

Opened in 1938, Gifford's Ice Cream & Candy Co. is the oldest and most distinguished ice cream parlor in Washington, DC. Gifford's stands will feature scooped ice cream, in addition to the "Dinger", a vanilla ice cream and chocolate cookie sandwich. A portion of the sale of each sandwich, also offered at all Gifford's locations, will be donated to the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.

Kosher Sports will be represented at two locations. Fans can enjoy grilled kosher hot dogs, garlic knishes, and other ballpark treats.

Krazee Ice will offer fans an icy treat with their tropical snow cones featuring their tasty home made syrups.

Hard Times Café opened their doors in 1980 and will serve, among other favorites, their famous selection of chili, including chili mac as well as chicken wings.

La Piccola Gelateria specializes in authentic Italian-style gelatos and sorbettos in a variety of flavors.

Mayorga Coffee specializes in the sourcing and selection of fine estate coffees directly from small shade coffee farms. Espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes will be served from their four cart locations.

A company that began in 2007, Noah's Pretzels will serve a variety of fresh hand rolled pretzels, along with the signature Curly "W" pretzel. The name "Noah's Pretzels" comes from Dwayne Herndon's (one of the two owners) youngest son Noah who is autistic. Autistic children many times have special dietary needs so Noah's will offer a gluten and casein free pretzel as part of their menu. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the gluten free pretzels will go to supporting autism in the greater DC region.

A favorite at RFK Stadium for the past two years, Red Hot & Blue will offer fans its esteemed barbeque items, including beef, brisket, pulled chicken and pork with a variety of sauces and side offerings.

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 25, 2008; 1:11 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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Next: Today's Top 5: Name of the Year is Back


How is Five Guys not involved? The place is fast becoming a DC landmark. Seems like a natural pairing.

Posted by: thediesel | February 25, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

No Greene Turtle?!?!?!?

Posted by: Chris in SS | February 25, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Five Guys, craft brews and baseball? I'd be an instant fan of the Nationals.

Posted by: twoeightnine | February 25, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

For me, after RFK's concessions these additions (and particularly Ben's -- woohoo!), make me a happier camper.

I just hope there are enough locations of everything to deal with the added demand from (presumably) increased attendance.

Posted by: SSFSCoWA | February 25, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

All we need now is some dogfish head beer and I'll be in heaven.

Posted by: .390 | February 25, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Nice attempt, but still not nearly as good as the concessions at Citizens Bank Park.

Posted by: Rob I. | February 25, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Now,if I could only afford a ticket.

Posted by: Mike Morgan | February 25, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

This is absurd no 5 guys?


How about some Boheiman National to save face?

Posted by: Go Skins Go | February 25, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

There's a Five Guys just down the street from the ballpark. Maybe they didn't want to compete with themselves.

Posted by: Section 419+1 | February 25, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Agree with the dogfish head!

Posted by: The Zorn Identity | February 25, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

i like five guys but no empanadas?

Julia's would have been better. Besides more latins are playing ball than african americans.

True or NO?

Posted by: five guys would have been neat... | February 25, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, Ben's won't go up on it's already high priced half smokes for Nats games.

Elijah won't like it if they do.

Posted by: | February 25, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"Next up, craft beer. Anyone heard anything? "

Yes. The Washington Business Journal reported on Feb. 8 that the Nationals were nearing agreement with Capitol City Brewing Co. for a deal to stock the new beer garden, among other locales in Nats Park. Note also that Anheiser Busch is going to be present in the new park, and they have recently taken a substantial stake in Dominion Brewing co., so I'm hopeful we'll get some Dominion products there as well.

On Cap City:

(You have to be a subscriber to view the entire article)

Posted by: tomterp | February 25, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

UPDATE: I located another article (again in the Washington Busines Journal dated Feb. 22, indicating that talks are still ongoing with Cap City and FIVE GUYS, regarding service in Nats park.

Posted by: tomterp | February 25, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Cap City is a poor excuse for local beer. Would have preferred Dogfish. But I bet it'll still be available at some specialty sales points, even if there isn't an official stand.

Ben's = awesome, if they can keep it close to the original.
Julia's = awesome, and they missed out.
5 guys = They're already 6 bucks out on the street. What would have been the ballpark markup for those?? I'm fine without them.

I think they did good.

Posted by: Matt Brown | February 25, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Cap City beer is uneven, but there are some drinkable varieties. (I love Dogfish Head, have some 90 minute IPA in my fridge as we type.)

"5 guys = They're already 6 bucks out on the street." Not sure what Five Guys you frequent, but that's WAY higher than I pay in Germantown, Fairfax or Herndon. The regular hamburger (2 4 oz. patties) is $3.89, and a regular fries is $2.10, and is enough to feed several people. Combined with taxes just over $6 but a LOT of food. A "little" hamburger (one quarter lb. patty) is only $2.89.

Posted by: tomterp | February 25, 2008 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Cap City's Kolsch is delicious. Dogfish Head would be something like $10 a beer anyway. I love the empanada idea. How about some tacos from Distrito Federal up in Columbia Heights?

Posted by: Anonymous | February 25, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I used to live just up the hill from Cap City in Shirlington, where they do their brewing now. I recall the Prohibition Porter was a bit lighter than I would have liked, but agreed on the Kolsch. Can't remember any other varieties.

Posted by: tomterp | February 25, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Can we at least have some more variety in vegetarian fare?

On Fisher's article, one of the commenters suggested that "fries are veggie." But french fries alone do not constitute adequate vegetarian fare.

The first season at RFK, the vendors served very good veggie dogs (SmartDogs, if I recall correctly). Since then, the veggie options have plummeted. The Papa John's pizza was close to inedible, the veggie dogs switched out to an inferior brand (which was seldom ever replenished in a timely fashion), and the fries were, well, fries. There needs to be more offered up: veggie burgers, salads, falafel, and so forth.

If there can be tons of good veggie options at music festivals, a ballpark - with more permanent prep facilities - should be able to do as good a job, if not better.

Posted by: Rudi | February 25, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Five Guys is holding out until a DC United Stadium is finalized. Then discussions can resume for Five Guys in Nationals Park.

Posted by: sitruc | February 25, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

No Burrito Brothers? Too bad. I still miss them from 2 years ago.

Dogfish Ale (if they get it) + HTC's Chili Mac = sheer heaven + an extra 20 minutes at the gym.

Posted by: Juan-John | February 25, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Rudi, I said that they were, not that they're the best suggestion ever. One would think they would have some veggie burger and dog options at some of the stands. We still don't know what Center Plate themselves have up their sleves for their own stands.

I'm happy. Cap City is local. Dogfish is from Deleware, and Natty Bo is not only a Balmer thing, they're from Milwaukee these days.

Posted by: EricS | February 25, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

They should get the felafel guy from Adams Morgan in the new ballpark. I know he's already thought about opening other outposts.

Posted by: Grooven | February 25, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

So does vegetarianism make people extremely self-absorbed, or do self-absorbed people tend to become vegetarians? It's a chicken/egg situation.

Posted by: mike8 | February 26, 2008 12:36 AM | Report abuse

Too bad the Vienna Inn isn't involved, I prefer their chili dogs to Ben's, and I've always suspected that most of the people that rave about how cool Ben's is have never been there.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 26, 2008 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Celebration? I guess that explains the Johnny Rockets at FedEx Field ... its a "Celebration of Dan Snyder"

Posted by: dcsween | February 26, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm hardly the best source for vegetarian offerings, but would note that Hard Times has a very competent veggie chilie, a very spicy offering, and Five Guys also offers a veggie item, a burger I believe.

As for chili-dogs, I've never had Bens but Hard Times' is very good, though we don't know if they'll offer the full menu.

Posted by: tomterp | February 26, 2008 7:46 AM | Report abuse

sitruc: Five Guys is holding out until a DC United Stadium is finalized. Then discussions can resume for Five Guys in Nationals Park.

WHERE Did you hear that from?

Posted by: indogirl | February 26, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

One of our posters on is reporting that a bartender at the Shirlington Cap City location told her husband that the deal with Nats Park is off. Obviously, an uncomfirmed rumor till further evidence emerges.

Posted by: tomterp | February 27, 2008 8:45 AM | Report abuse

I've also heard, from a member of Capitol City Brewing Co. management, that the deal to have their beer at the ballpark is currently off but nobody's burnt the bridges yet. It seems that Miller Brewing Co. (who must have a clause in the macrobrew concession deal giving them some say in the matter) won't allow any signage larger than Cap City's tap handles to advertise the availability of the brewpub's beers.

Posted by: Confirmation From Deep Chug | February 27, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to know about that 5 Guys / DC United comment as well? What's that all about?
and, is 5 Guys really the best/favorite burger in DC?

Posted by: ScoreboardGourmet | March 27, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

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