Today marks the U.S. Open's kick-off, and while action on the courts is the draw, the event's proponents have been touting its food cred for years. According to the city's head critic, The New York Times' Sam Sifton, one of the best meals to be had while watching the Open is a BLT with wine or beer while seated on the floor of your apartment. In other words, watch it on TV — don't bother with food on site. But through September 11, some 700,000 fans will eat at the Levy Restaurant-run food court and restaurants there this year. So, how to optimize your eating? It's all about time.
How much time do you have? Enough to eat at some storied restaurants in the neighborhoods in and around Flushing and Queens? Where are you staying? Do you want to eat celebrity chef crafted dishes, like Morimoto's sushi with homemade soy sauce and Tony Mantuano's winebar fare at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center? Or just grab something quick and easy at one of the more than 15 food court stalls?
If you're traveling to the Open, you can check out The Daily Meal's Travel guide to How to Eat Well During the U.S. Open for recommended hotels and places to eat before you leave. You can also check out the event's official dining guide. But you'll want to read on for a comprehensive guide to the food (including gluten-free options) from the Food Village food court to white tablecloth restaurants, and nearby food pilgrimmages.
Curious what players eat in the Player's Lounge pre- and post-game? According to James Blake, "A lot of protein. Chicken, fish, and steak." Asked at the Taste of Tennis, other players agreed. Mardy Fish said he eats lots of fish, chicken, and rice before a match. And Marin Cilic confided, "Ask any tennis player, and they're going to say we eat a lot of carbohydrates. That’s the thing we always have to eat and fill up our body with. It gives us more energy and saves us afterwards, helps us to recover and then we eat a lot of protein to recover, like fish and steak." (Photo courtesy Getty Images for BNP)
Chef Jim Abbey, who has supervised culinary operations at the U.S. Open since 2006, estimates that 300 to 400 pounds of chicken and more than 200 pounds of bananas will be served each day of the tournament in the Player's Lounge. This year, they can also feast on Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto's sushi, and a variety of gluten-free options, which are becoming increasingly popular with players, especially since the success on the court Novak Djokovic has displayed that some are attributing to his gluten-free diet. "I like everything, meat, mashed potato, pizza, Japanese food," Fernando Verdasco said. "So, in this tournament the player’s restaurant is nice and serves quite a few kinds of food and I really enjoy everything."
But not everything in the lounge is so healthy. Cilic admitted to loving desserts — chocolate cake — and Tommy Haas cited pizza and burgers. You shouldn't have trouble finding those things, along with other indulgences at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Take, for instance, the dish chef Mantuano noted as this year's secret weapon at the Open. Last year, he predicted Rick Moonen's shrimp and tilapia Moon N' Doggie as the Open's big hit. "This year's secret weapon is a cocktail," he confided. "You have to try it. I brought it back from Istanbul where I was visiting. It uses watermelon — it's a bumper crop this year for melons because we had so much rain — and you mix that with Raki and it makes for a really refreshing, fantastic drink."
Either way you want to go, healthy or indulgent, you should be able to follow suit using this eating guide to the U.S. Open.
ON THE GROUNDS: WHAT'S NEW AT PUBS AND RESTAURANTS
ACES will feature new signature sushi rolls by Iron Chef Morimoto. The restaurant will also be doing food a la plancha so you can have fresh scallops, salmon, sea bass, ahi tuna, and jumbo shrimp grilled to order. New sides feature local produce and include pole beans, corn cut off the cob, and asparagus. Champions steakhouse's new side is lobster mac and cheese with fresh claw meat and Parmesan crust, and they're serving a new chowder with clams, lobster, and shrimp.
Moët Champagne is sponsoring the Open this year, and with that there's a range of Moët offerings: Moët & Chandon Rose Imperial, Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage, and the new Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial, which they're touting as "the first Champagne created to be enjoyed over ice." The first two can be found at bars and restaurants everywhere at the Open, but Ice Imperial is only at the new champagne bar adjacent to Mojito restaurant. More details about restaurants on the grounds follow.
This Club Level restaurant is billed as the premier destination. This is a white table, Club Level restaurant featuring chilled seafood towers, crab cakes, seared scallops, lobster rolls, and the like, but one of the highlights has to include Iron Chef Morimoto's sushi.
Champions Bar & Grill
This steakhouse is right across from ACES. There's a leather and wood clubhouse setting, and TV's broadcasting action on the court as you choose from Creekstone Farm's Angus beef or their touted cedar plank salmon.
This ground floor spot in Arthur Ashe Stadium serving Latin food and (of course) mojitos is open to all. Touted dishes include: smoked pork bocaditos with sweet plantains, and diablo shrimp and scallop ceviche with orange, lime, chile, and tomato. (Photo Levy Restaurants)
South Plaza Café
In 2010, the café featured food from Susan Feniger, Carmen Gonzalez, Tony Mantuano, Rick Moonen, and Jonathan Waxman. An adjacent café serves food from chef Mantuano's Wine Bar Food cookbook. The popular flaming ouzo shrimp and portobello fries return.
This outdoor, tree-lined patio café has been expanded this year to include a bigger bar area. The menu features: chop salad, burgers, sandwiches, and specialty cocktails.