Since 2010, when the USTA first invited Masaharu Morimoto to join the roster of food options at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the eating and drinking options at the annual U.S. Open tournament have grown from hot dogs and hamburgers to lobster rolls, gourmet chopped cheese, black bean hummus, and, of course, Morimoto’s own hand rolls. Though there’s still a brisk demand for the classics — on average, 225,000 hot dogs and hamburgers are served every year — the arrival of new chefs and local favorites means there are more choices than ever. Here are our favorites:
Chopped Cheese from Crown Shy
Stadium food has always had a tense relationship with regional authenticity. A chopped cheese sandwich, hero food of the bodega, is certainly regional and demands authenticity. James Kent, who has arrived at the tournament for the first time, does the city’s favorite sandwich proud. Gooey and free-form, the beef and cheese rest in a sesame roll with a watery lettuce crown. It’s a messy two-hander.
Black Bean Hummus by Kwame Onwuachi
This year, the menu at Aces — the cavernous seasonal restaurant burrowed into the wall of Arthur Ashe Stadium — gets an assist by Tatiana chef Kwame Onwuachi. (I co-authored Onwuachi’s cookbook and memoir.) His contribution to the menu is a pan-African inspired swath of black bean hummus, augmented by berbere spiced lamb, sweet pickled raisins, and a North African flatbread called m’semen.
Spring Rolls from Melba’s
Melba Wilson, the niece of soul-food legend Sylvia Woods, appears at Food Village (as the sprawling concessions area is called) for the first time this year. Traditionalists can stick to Melba’s mac and cheese, red velvet cake, and fried-fish po’ boy. I suggest Wilson’s deep-fried spring rolls, stuffed with peas and rice, cheddar cheese, and greens. Like Carlos Alcaraz, they combine muscular flavors and precise technique for winning results.
Lamb Gyro Pita Sandwich at King Souvlaki
Since 1979, when John McEnroe won the Open, King Souvlaki has been selling the best gyros in New York. Sold first out of trucks, now joined by a Bay Ridge restaurant and this concession stand, the sandwiches are a turned-to-11 balance of well-spiced lamb, a mess of fries — all gyros should have fries — and garlicky tzatziki, wrapped in fresh pita.
Pulled Pork Slider by Hill Country
Satellite barbecue can be dry and tough and terrible. But this pork shoulder is smoked at Hill Country’s Manhattan mothership before it’s ferried to Flushing. The sweetness of the meat is offset with a spicy chowchow and tangy vinegar sauce on a potato bun.
Porcini Tartufo Pizza Bianca from San Matteo NYC
The Casella brothers — Ciro and Fabio — have been channeling Salerno to Manhattanites for more than a decade. Here, despite not having a pizza-specific oven, the pies have a pleasant tangy crust and suitable char, with oozy burrata and a thick layer of mozzarella.
‘O.G.’ Chicken Sando from Fuku
Remember when there was going to be a Fuku on every corner in Manhattan? There are many fried chicken sandwiches at the U.S. Open this year, but Fuku’s “OG” option — the official name — is a crunchy, craggy breast brined with habanero and topped with mayo that’s tinged orange from gochujang.
Aperol Spritz from the Apé Truck
For years, the Honey Deuce — a sweet mix of Grey Goose, Chambord, honeydew balls and lemonade — has been the official U.S. Open cocktail. It still is, but this year, after a new partnership with Aperol, there are also Aperol Spritzes served from a cute little Aperol-branded Apé truck as well as a more sprawling indoor-outdoor patio.
Porterhouse Steak from Champions by Benjamin Steakhouse
If eating at a fully realized steakhouse while gazing at the hoi polloi outside the glass window — themselves gazing at deity-like athletes on the court — is your vibe, Champions Bar & Grill by Benjamin Steakhouse, that midtown redoubt of classic dry-aged meat, is your place. The menu is largely identical to the 41st Street location, so think thick-cut slabs of bacon, shrimp the size of Barbie dolls, and a 36-ounce porterhouse steak.
Honeycomb Fudge Slam from Van Leeuwen
Having won the ice-cream capitalization wars, Van Leeuwen grows like kudzu in the city and in the freezers of the nation. But only at the U.S. Open can you get its honeycomb fudge slam, an exclusive flavor for the tournament. If you prefer the classics, a large selection of Van Leeuwen is available too.