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I didn't dare get in line for Ben's Chili Bowl. It is so well-positioned that I think so many fans will jam it. It is like trying to get a Philly cheesesteak at Citizen's Bank Park, in Philadelphia - if you get in line for it, you're going to miss some innings.

The lines for Red Hot & Blue, etc. on the concourse in left were a mess, but here's a hint: Noah's Pretzel's serves Ben's half smokes. Once we got through the throngs waiting in line for BBQ and Boardwalk fries there were maybe a dozen people in line for Noah's. We only went there for the gluten-free pretzels for my wife (and gluten-free beer, a nice surprise!). I don't know how long that will last, but I'm guessing that it will normally be a better option than the Ben's stand proper.

The Red Porch and upstairs bar look like a great place to kill time before the first pitch, especially in this weather.

EDIT: a friend tells me that you can get a half-smoke with the works at all of the Nats Dogs stands around the stadium as well (there are a few of them). If that is all you are looking for from the Ben's stand no need to wait out the hordes.

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It was a grand game. We are part of a season ticket group, and were lucky enough to have got tickets for the exhibition game saturday night -- it allowed us to get acclimated to the park. We did not get tickets to opening day as part of our group.

On a whim, we decided to try to get $5 grand stand tickets, but by the time we got down to the park at 2.30 pm, the line was really long. While one of us waited in the $5 line, the other went over to a ticket kiosk, and low and behold, we were able to get really great tickets, 6 rows from the field. Presumably, they had been holding these for last minute season ticket purchases, and dumped them last minute. We were very happy.

As for our two day/night food ritual:

For the exhibition game, no luck going to Ben's, but lots of luck going to Cantina Marina's -- short lines -- good fish tacos (very peppercorni) and cajun corn dogs. Also, despite the cold, a really good chocolate milkshake from Giffords. Decent veggie burgers from grand slam grill.

Today, once we got in, we went straight to Ben's -- for good as always veggie chili and a turkey dog. Later back to Cantina Maria's for another cajun corn dog, good blackened crab cake sandwich, and REALLY GOOD FRIES -- spicy an crispy. And best of all, again no lines. We also planted ourselves early at the Red Loft bar for a couple B's and people watching.

Beer lines and choices could be a bit better, but will probably be fine as the season progresses (i miss dominion).

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A game-winning, walk-off home-run on opening day, and nobody posts?!

All I needed was time ;) I may fall asleep with this big smile on my face.

A Hollywood ending, that Hollywood would reject as preposterous if handed to them. I'm proud to say that I actually called that one, I told my guest, "Zim loves these situations, he might just hit it out."

No, I couldn't believe it when it actually happened.

I also called the Chipper Jones homer, damnit all. I said to my friend, "He never had trouble hitting home runs at R.F.K., watch, he'll probably do it here." Wish I'd been wrong on that one.

I didn't try any new food items this time, just a hot dog, some fries and a couple of Cokes.

I DID try the hot chocolate at Giffords. It wasn't terribly hot, but it did come with whipped cream on top. Tasted okay to me on a cold night.

I noticed several draught beer options on the Mezzanine, including Blue Moon, Leinenkugel wheat, Stella Artois, Bass Ale "Home Run Ale" (Leinenkugel again?) among others.

Still no hot dog vendors in the stands.

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a friend tells me that you can get a half-smoke with the works at all of the Nats Dogs stands around the stadium as well (there are a few of them). If that is all you are looking for from the Ben's stand no need to wait out the hordes.
This is true, and invaluable information. The stadium is incredible - I think that the lower concourse food lines will continue to be very long for the first few weeks/months of the season, if only for the fact that it's the only councourse where you can walk around the entire stadium... On a side note, maybe we can set up some "on a whim" events this season for Dr.com members who are going to a game?

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A friend tells me that you can get a half-smoke with the works at all of the Nats Dogs stands around the stadium as well (there are a few of them). If that is all you are looking for from the Ben's stand no need to wait out the hordes.
Unfortunately, at least where we were (section 419) the Nats Dogs stands had NO @#$%^ CHILI for the half smokes ;) (which we were told by the concessions staff was because the delivery truck couldn't get past the increased security). On the other hand, it only took about 5 minutes in line to get said chili-free half-smoke.

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The game last night was AWESOME! I am a native Yankees fan, but I have become a big Nats fan over the past three years since they cross paths about once in a blue moon. Zimmerman (Go Wahoos!) finally hit a game winning home run which didn't upset me (he did it against the Yankees on Father's Day a few years ago and I wasn't very happy).

The stadium is beautiful and, to be honest, we had no problems at all with the Metro from Vienna. Yeah, it is crowded, but we never waited more than two minutes for a train and always got a seat. And, the 500 feet or so walk from Navy Yard to the stadium is great. The only problem that I had was with the size of the seats. I was in section 117 (face value $50) and the seats were tiny and I am not that big of a guy. I have been to almost every stadium in the country and most spring training stadiums and these really seemed like the smallest seats I have ever sat in. It may be because I had 100 layers of clothing on me, but it seemed cramped.

As far as the food is concerned, our choice was solely based on the length of the line, and Cantina Marina was the winner! Shared a orn dog, gumbo and crabcake sandwich with my dad. I loved the corn dog, but that was also the first thing that I ate and I was starving, so I am not sure if it was an unbiased opinion. The crabcake and gumbo were pretty good too. So, while the lines were enormous, the concession options simply cannot be beat, as they work out the kinks and it gets less hectic, it will be an awesome place to eat.

Finally, in what was probably my 500th professional baseball game, I got my second foul ball off the bat of Chipper Jones in the top of the 6th. I could tell that it was about four seats to the left of me, and there was no way that I could have caught it over the 15 people trying to get it, so I stayed low and waited for them to drop it. Just a great cap on a wonderful night.

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On a whim, we decided to try to get $5 grand stand tickets, but by the time we got down to the park at 2.30 pm, the line was really long. While one of us waited in the $5 line, the other went over to a ticket kiosk, and low and behold, we were able to get really great tickets, 6 rows from the field. Presumably, they had been holding these for last minute season ticket purchases, and dumped them last minute. We were very happy.

Do you have any more info on these $5 tickets?? Thanks!

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Do you have any more info on these $5 tickets?? Thanks!

Sections 401 & 402 are reserved for day-of-game sales at the stadium ticket windows. All seats in these sections are $5.00 apiece. The six-rows-from-the-field seats Diannesh got would not have been $5.00 tickets (unless something went horribly wrong with the ticketing system).

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Food I ate, in order of goodness (most good to least good):

1) Hazelnut Chocolate gelato

2)Swiss Chocolate milkshake from Gifford's ("You're not waiting for hot chocolate? Step right up to the front of the line, sir!" ;) )

3) Potato & garlic knish from Kosher Sports

3) Hard Times wings (line was long but moved very quickly)

4) Ben's 1/2 smoke (not from the Ben's stand, but said it was a "Ben's" on the menu board. Not as piping hot as it could have been, and "all-the-way" was a bit too much of a gloppy mess for me.)

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If you sit between sections 100 and about 110 you might as well accept that you will be inhaling Boardwalk fries at some point in the game. I'd say about 2/3rds of the people in my immediate section enjoyed a cup full at some point during the game last night. The line at the stand moved at a decent pace during the 5th inning (there were still long lines everywhere). There were only two food options at the Boardwalk stand: a smallish fries for $5 or chicken tenders and fries for $9.50. The fries were tasty and crisp until I doused them in vinegar ;) yummmm

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My food choices, too, were entirely based on length of line. Had a grilled chicken sandwich, which was very dry, but probably less bad for me than a hot dog. I thought the onion- and relish-vending machines were a grand idea, even though all of them were out of onions. They are small stainless steel cylinders on the condiment stations. One turns a handle, and relish or onions are dispensed.

At the bottom of the seventh, I went to stand in line at Nat's Dogs for a hot chocolate. There were maybe six or seventh people ahead of me in line. I waited. And waited. And waited. And then I was second in line and it was the bottom of the eighth and the Nats were up 2-1 and I abandoned ship to go watch the game from the concourse. After the Braves tied it up, I was able to sneak back into the now-empty line between innings and grab a couple of hot chocolates, which were horrid. Really horrid. Swiss Miss and hot water horrid. The Gifford's next door didn't have HC on their menu, but I'll have to look more carefully next time.

Also, we bought in-park peanuts (which at RFK we'd always get from the street vendors). Dunno if peanuts are fresher at the beginning of the season or what, but they were very good -- much roastier than the ones we'd get at RFK.

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Okay, help me out here.

I go to Ben's pretty regularly with my buddy with whom I go to baseball games all summer. He's been eating at Ben's since the Senators left town.

He said he had a chili burger from the stadium and pronounced it "Ben's in name only". Claims that it's "Aramark with the Ben's name".

Now not having tasted it myself, I'm curious.

Can anyone confirm or deny?

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Okay, help me out here.

I go to Ben's pretty regularly with my buddy with whom I go to baseball games all summer. He's been eating at Ben's since the Senators left town.

He said he had a chili burger from the stadium and pronounced it "Ben's in name only". Claims that it's "Aramark with the Ben's name".

Now not having tasted it myself, I'm curious.

Can anyone confirm or deny?

Since Aramark no longer has the concessions contract for the Nationals, it's not Aramark with the Ben's name. I believe that Bens uses the same source for their burgers and chili at both locations. I haven't had the burger, but the half smokes are the same as always...

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Off topic, but anybody else with me in thinking that 161-1 is possible?

I think you mean $161.10, which is the food/beer cost for 4 people eating at the park.

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Off topic, but anybody else with me in thinking that 161-1 is possible?

Yes, just as I believe that I won't have to stand in a long line for concessions at the Park, and that team president Stan Kasten actually listens to my advice ;)

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Nice Post account of food choices and experiences today: Step up to the plate

The vendors had two choices when going into National's Park. Either have the concessionaire run it, Centerplate, and get 30% of sales back or run it yourself and have the park take 30% plus D.C. take 10%. Ben's and Red Hot & Blue are having Centerplate run their booths. Hard Times is running their own. If some of the food is not up to the quality at the restaurants then it is probably due to the people running it not having a vested interest in a quality product. Hard Times, and many others, didn't want other's running our site.

Just to be fair for disclosure.....I am a Hard Times Cafe franchisee but have nothing to do with the stadium location.

Randy

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Okay, so he was way off about the Aramark, but not totally on Mars about it not being actually run by Ben's (the same source said "I think the Hard Times and Five Guys is real", by the way, so the difference is apparently not lost on the public.)

Good to know, good to know. I'd still rather support local businesses when I can.

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The vendors had two choices when going into National's Park. Either have the concessionaire run it, Centerplate, and get 30% of sales back or run it yourself and have the park take 30% plus D.C. take 10%. Ben's and Red Hot & Blue are having Centerplate run their booths. Hard Times is running their own. If some of the food is not up to the quality at the restaurants then it is probably due to the people running it not having a vested interest in a quality product. Hard Times, and many others, didn't want other's running our site.

Just to be fair for disclosure.....I am a Hard Times Cafe franchisee but have nothing to do with the stadium location.

Randy

They may not be running the stand but I did see one of the Ali brothers (owners of Ben's) behind a concession stand checking in on things opening night.

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They may not be running the stand but I did see one of the Ali brothers (owners of Ben's) behind a concession stand checking in on things opening night.
...As was their longtime manager, whose name currently escapes me - darn!

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Off topic, but anybody else with me in thinking that 161-1 is possible?

Looking more like 3-159

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Could someone please explain to me the obsession about eating at a baseball park?

Folks aren't that interested in what is going on in the field?

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