Game Day Fare: Fried Chicken, Local Brews and More
March 30, 2019 @ 12:00am
Capitol Riverfront caters to some of the city’s most passionate sports fans, with the Washington Nationals and D.C. United playing home games just blocks apart. That’s a lot of hungry and thirsty people to satiate before and after games. Fortunately, the options have grown considerably in the past few years, with plenty of bars and restaurants opening for business. Whether you’re looking for a sit-down meal from an acclaimed chef, a quick bite, a locally made beer or a strong cocktail, there’s a spot to match your culinary mood all within a short walk of both stadiums.
QUICK & EASY
The Big Stick
Sausages, burgers and sandwiches are the draw at this sports pub. Satisfy hunger in true DC style with the Half Street half smoke or a Maryland crab cake sandwich. The bar offers a good amount of draft and canned craft beers from DC and around the world, in addition to wine and cocktails. 20 M St. SE, DC; www.thebigstick.com
Orders of Korean-style fried chicken come in all shapes and sizes here, making it well-suited to a game day meal with friends. Heat seekers shouldn’t miss the blazingly spicy drumsticks, wings or strips. Sides of rice and pickled radish are there to tame the flames. The traditional soy garlic sauce is addictive as well – but without the tears. Chicken is certainly the signature, but the menu doesn’t stop there. “We also offer traditional Korean dishes along with Asian fusion items for those looking for a more adventurous time,” general manager Jeff Chang says. “I’d wash it all down with an ice-cold beer from a local brewery like Hellbender or DC Brau.”
Happy hour is offered two hours before game time until the start for both baseball and soccer. The restaurant also offers a $13 game-day pack filled with your choice of fried chicken, side, bottled beverage and box of Cracker Jacks to go. 1015 Half St. SE, DC; www.bonchon.com
Philly Wing Fry
Located inside Whole Foods, this counter from Top Chef star Kwame Onwuachi takes game day food to another level. Fill up on decadent, dry-aged beef cheesesteak, confit chicken wings and berbere-spiced waffle fries. Vegetarians can dig into a spicy mushroom sandwich with herbed lebne, smoked provolone and pickled Fresno chilis. 101 H St. SE, DC; www.phillywingfry.com
This fast-casual Korean eatery serves build-your-own tacos and bowls with a focus on fresh and healthy ingredients. Proteins like sweet chili-marinated chicken, bulgogi steak and hoisin tofu can be topped with variety of slaws, crunchy toppings and sauces. A small selection of local beers is available as well. 1212 4th St. SE, DC; www.takorean.com
Nats fans pack this homegrown brewery during home games, sipping pints from the bar’s extensive tap list. Choose from a rotating selection of more than 20 beers – including several cask selections – and fill up on food ranging from pretzels and fries to a half rotisserie chicken or double-patty burger. 300 Tingey St. SE, DC; www.bluejacketdc.com
Laidback Southern vibes course through this riverfront eatery. Fortify with a bourbon Shoo-fly Punch with ginger liqueur, mint, orange bitters and ginger beer, or a pour of the bar’s hand-selected Knob Creek bourbon. Food includes comforting favorites like shrimp and grits, buttermilk fried chicken, and a bacon pimento cheeseburger. 301 Water St. SE, DC; www.duesouthdc.com
This spacious pub has plenty of room to meet up before or after a game, including outdoor seating. Beers are brewed in everything from German styles like pilsners and hefeweizens to hoppy American ales. 100 M St. SE, DC; www.gordonbiersch.com
Mission’s Capitol Riverfront location includes 20 big-screen TVs, a dining room and four bars – including a balcony. That means low wait times for drinks as well as lots of room to gather. “We are always happy to reserve space for groups going to a game or just trying to celebrate,” general manager Fritz Brogan says. Happy hour is available daily, including game days. Weekends include late-night discounts from 10 p.m. to close along with DJs and live music. Earlier in the day, pre-game crowds can take advantage of the bottomless brunch spread featuring items like guacamole, beer and margaritas.
“We believe it’s more fun to eat in a bar than drink in a restaurant.” 1221 Van St. SE, DC; www.missionnavyyard.com
Willie’s Brew & Que
Grab a pile of napkins and settle in with a platter of smoked meats and pint of beer from Willie’s. There are also several burgers and sandwiches to pick from, along with items like mahi mahi tacos and supersized nachos. 300 Tingey St. SE, DC; www.williessportsbardc.com
RELAX & STAY AWHILE
The Capitol Riverfront location of this popular pizzeria offers riverfront and rooftop views with a side of Italian-inspired dishes – along with beer, wine and cocktails, including a couple of frozen options. It’s also convenient for baseball and soccer fans alike. “We are a two-minute walk from the first base gate of Nationals Park and one of the closest establishments to Audi Field,” general manager Michelle Stewart says.
All-Purpose’s current menu includes both a food and drink special to benefit charity. The first is a pizza created in partnership with D.C. United’s Screaming Eagles fan group; the “L’aquila” (eagle in Italian) pie is topped with tomato, fennel sausage, basil and stracciatella. A dollar from each pizza sold will be donated to Earth Conservation Corps. There’s also the DC Brau Full Count, brewed exclusively for the restaurant with $1 from each sale benefiting local nonprofit DC SCORES. The restaurant will open at 11 a.m. for all 1 p.m. midweek baseball games. Happy hour is daily from 4 to 7 p.m., and Steward says crowds can actually be lighter during games. “It’s like finding a hidden gem in the city,” she says of game day dining. 79 Potomac Ave. SE, DC; www.allpurposedc.com
Chef Haidar Karoum’s lively dining room transports guests with flavors of the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and more. Most dishes come as small plates, so sharing with the table is encouraged. Larger entrees can be split as well, such as the spice-roasted chicken or the crispy whole fish. 1331 4th St. SE, DC; www.restaurantchloe.com
Known for its wide-ranging American bistro menu, CIRCA is a crowd-pleasing option for a meal or round of drinks. “It’s a place you can come a couple times a week for a couple different reasons,” says Matt Carlin, president of Metropolian Hospitality Group, which operates CIRCA.
Unlike a sports bar, CIRCA’s kitchen brings more of an upscale approach to its menu. Two of the most-ordered snacks include the bulgogi beef lettuce wraps and the tuna poke nachos. There’s also happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The laidback vibe is also great for anyone who wants a night out without buying a ticket to the stadium.
“Even if you’re watching the game on TV, you can enjoy it,” Carlin says. “It’s not a wild place.” 99 M St. SE, DC; www.circabistros.com
The menu here is full of Italian and American comforts like burrata, fried meatballs and crispy calamari. Signature pizzas are named for America’s forefathers, from Thomas Jefferson to New Jersey’s John Witherspoon. 1237 1st St. SE, DC; www.declarationrestaurant.com
The Salt Line
This seafood spot takes its cues from New England coastal eateries. Chef Kyle Bailey’s fresh Maine lobster roll, stuffed clams and satisfying smash burger make stadium food an afterthought. Guests can also hang with a cocktail or glass of wine and slurp oysters from the restaurant’s raw bar. 79 Potomac Ave. SE, DC; www.thesaltline.com