National Pastime Sports Bar & Grill
201 Waterfront Street
National Harbour, DC
Some places and food just go together. As a lifelong baseball fan, for me, this sport is all about hot dogs. Its part of the experience of seeing MLB games live. Strangely enough, having been through enough pork processing plants in my lifetime and gaining a full view into what goes into hot dogs, you would think I’d stay away from them. Alas, I can’t when it comes to watching America’s favorite pastime. This isn’t even limited to the outdoor environment, as if there is a game on in the bar, I’ll look to see if there are any ‘dogs in the house. Yup, I’m predictable that way.
For those fans of the sport, you’ll know that Canada lost one of its top professional teams to the Americans. The glorious Montreal Expos franchise that gave birth to so many amazing players has relocated to Washington, DC. The Nats as they are affectionately called are a fairly forgettable bunch, without a winning season in six years of their new existence. I wondered when I came across this sports bar within this massive hotel facility, if it was tied to the franchise (I did see a logo on the front glass), given its name. Its a little mixed, as I did see a lot of football paraphernalia adorning the room, including a pretty cool display case with helmets from all of the NFL clubs. Looking for a quick bite to eat and to catch a glimpse of whatever sports game was on the gigantic screens that covered on side of the room, we were quickly seated by a slightly unenthusiastic hostess at one of the high tables in the middle of the floor. A prompt order of some non-alcoholic beverages – since we were on the clock – and so began our lunch.
I’m sure the atmosphere changes at night when the sun goes down and hotel stayers flood the booths and tables. Its a very spacious place, doesn’t feel confining in any way, even if it was filled with boisterous crowds I imagine. A comfortable sports pub, clean enough for the ladies and even perhaps kids. Given the inside-a-hotel location, this would make sense to make it appealing to all – e.g. families. Dad gets his sports and beer, mom is happy is tidy and not too filled with leering testosterone-filled males, and the kids get their burgers and fries. Win, win for everyone. Now only if the Nationals could win some matches.
My order was this strangely configured/placed chili-cheese hot dog. I asked for a side salad instead of fries, with some Italian dressing on the side. My mate had a Caesar salad and it was smothered in the creamy white stuff, so I was glad I’d taken the precaution to do the dressing on my own volition. Can you see how they squished or rather curved my hot dog into this wire basket lined with paper? It turned me off right away, as what’s a hot dog if its not straight? A boomerang dog? Throw in the fact that the toppings were strewn unevenly and they had made their way onto the paper and away from the wiener, and this visually was a loss for me. The meat was nothing special in and of itself either as I started to dig in. Not a special smokie, or seasoned in a particularly interesting way. Just your average ball park frank. It was a mess to eat and in hindsight, I should have got it plain with just some ketchup, mustard and perhaps relish. Ah well, live and learn. The whole concept of hot dogs and baseball gets lost at times when its not at a ball park. Mental note to self, don’t tempt fate again…