What better way to celebrate the WEEK OF ALEX than attending the all American pastime on a leisurely Saturday evening? Sure, there's plenty that I have to do on the house, but Saturday's game was also bobblehead night at the park, and I couldn't miss that. So my friend Martin and I headed out to Nationals Park on a warm but nice evening for a game to watch the Nationals host the Phillies.
Think of this post as a simple recap of my night and some great tips if you're looking to attend a Nats game here in D.C.
We live a quick 15 minute drive to Nationals Park in Southeast D.C. To get there from Old Town you need only cross the Wilson Bridge to Maryland, take 295 North, slow down for the two speed traps on the way there, and take the South Capitol St. exit for Nationals Park. There's also a great parking lot just beyond the home plate gate that's only $15. It really can't get much easier than this.
Here's a local tip: If you want to park in this hidden gem of a lot, it's really easy to find. Coming from 295, you cross the Frederick Douglas Bridge on S. Capitol St headed north. Take an immediate right onto Potomac Ave. SE at the first light when you get across the bridge, then make a U-turn. You have to do this since you can't make a left turn at the light. After the U-turn, proceed straight through the light on Potomac Ave. and make a left at the first intersection. It's a very industrial area, so just look for signs that say "Stadium Parking." After making the left, you will make the very next left and then continue straight to the gravel lot. Once you park you have only about 100-200 yards to walk to the stadium. No real tailgating at this lot because it usually smells a bit because of the trucks parked there, but for $15 you have protected parking with easy in and out access.
With the Phillies in town, we knew there would be a huge influx of Phillies fans, so if we wanted to get the bobblehead giveaway before they were all given away we would have to get there early. You gotta have priorities people. The game was scheduled to start at 7:05, so we arrived around 5:45.
Even though the whole area was swimming with Phillies fans that had all taken the two and a half hour bus trip in from Philadelphia, we got there early enough to get the sought after (at least by me) Ian Desmond bobblehead. Did I just hear you say "Ian who?" Don't worry, unless you're a Nationals fan, you probably won't know who he is. At any rate, a booblehead can be a critical piece of home decor so I needed to make sure I would pick one up. (Right Wendy?)
With my bobblehead in hand, Martin and I went off to find some dinner. If you've not been to Nationals Park, you will probably be a bit shocked by all of the various food choices. There are so many great options, it's often hard to choose. There's Hard Times Cafe chili, Ben's Chili Bowl half smokes, Boardwalk Fries, BBQ, Curly W Pretzels, pizza, ice cream, gelato, gluten free options, healthy options, veggie options, sooooo many food options, and this year they've added a few new places on the centerfield Scoreboard Walk area on the second level. Yesterday we decided to give these new food choices a look.
The additions include Blue Smoke BBQ, Box Frites, El Verano Taqueria, and the place where we ended up, The Shake Shack. I've heard lots of good thing about The Shake Shack, so I'd forgo my normal Hard Times chili and give this new place a go.
I ordered the portobello burger and their signature fries. Martin got a burger and strawberry shake. Here's a photo of my meal. Martin forgot to take a picture of his, but it was gone before he realized it...that should tell you what he thought of the food.
My burger consisted of two portobello mushrooms crispy fried and cheese filled. As far as "burgers" go it was really, REALLY good. The fries were also quite good, not too salty, very crispy outside and soft in the middle. This meal makes my game day food choices from this point forward much more difficult. I'm also quite tempted to try the shake the next time we go.
After we ate, we made our way to our seats to enjoy the game. Wendy and I are season ticket holders and have been since 2008. We have great seats down the first baseline and have gotten to know many of the people who sit around us. It makes attending game quite a bit more fun. But since there are 81 home games in a season, we split the whole season up among friends and coworkers. Otherwise I'm pretty sure our whole life would be about going to baseball games. Here's the view from our seats.
As I said, when you sit in the same seats every game, you get to know the people who sit and work in your section.We know the ushers, on-field security personnel, ball girls, mascots and entertainers, vendors, and other fans, some of whom are real characters. One such character is a guy named Trip. If you watch a Nats game on TV, you will usually see Trip dancing at least once.
Though we were surrounded by Phillies fans, and the outcome of the game ended up with a Nats shutout, we still had a good time and got to enjoy the racing presidents from the best vantage point in the house.
We've got tickets for several games between now and the end of the season, so I'm sure we will be trying out the various other food options we've not yet sampled. I'll be sure to report back to you with my scientific findings on the overall tastes so you can be sure to get your money's worth the next time you attend a game.
What's your favorite ballpark food? Are you a purist and just like the old fashioned hot dog and pretzels, or maybe you like the local specialties (like Stadium Mustard in Cleveland or Cheesesteaks in Philly)? Or do you just hate sporting events in general? Let me know what you think.