We attended last night’s Brewers@Nationals debacle (if you had the sixth in the “which inning will the Nats pitching implode” pool, you were a winner!), the result redeemed thanks to gorgeously sunny weather, the company (!), a well-designed stadium, and the Ben’s Chili Bowl outpost behind our section down the left-field line. I still haven’t been to the real Ben’s, a horrible oversight, but last night I very much enjoyed their chili cheese fries and a half-smoke “all the way” — chili, cheese, onion, mustard. Ben’s chili is spicy, thin yet meaty, I like it a lot as a topping, would like it less as a stand-alone chili. A good example of how most ballparks are offering a wide variety of quality food, not just withered hot dogs and crackerjack of old.
My ballpark food standards are low: I grew up watching the Mariners lose in the Kingdome, where I swear as late as 1999 the hot dogs were still from the 1977 vintage, and only marginally more wrinkled and grey than they started out, and probably less warm. Our Seattle trip planning has not involved the M’s since their move into Safeco Field, which boasts perhaps the best array of ballpark food in America. It’s on the list for next time, with any luck. Nationals Park is also pretty good for food — the regular old ballpark frank I had on my previous visit was fine, nothing revelatory but also nothing even remotely Kingdomey — and maybe over time they will add even more local restaurant outposts to Ben’s and Five Guys, and maybe one or two more I’m forgetting.