While more than 700,000 visitors will come to Flushing Meadows to see the world's greatest tennis players, they won't have to go far to find chefs on the same level.
The US Open was one of the first sporting events to embrace upscale food options for fans. Unlike at other events, fans can spend all day at the venue, and the two-week tournament is an opportunity for chefs to showcase their food in an entirely different setting -- and to sell a lot of it.
"I was not prepared for the ravenous appetite of tennis fans," said Momofuku founder David Chang, who had a Fuku, his chicken-sandwich restaurant, in the expansive Food Village inside the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the first time last year.
Besides Chang, this year's lineup includes celebrity chefs Josh Capon, Marcus Samuelsson, David Burke, Masaharu Morimoto and Tony Mantuano.
"We don't compete with each other," Burke said. "But it's just like a sports team. The better the players, the better the performance."
Here are the highlights of this year's offerings:
A Fuku burger!
Chang, who said he's often asked when he'll sell burgers, finally delivers. He created the 163 Burger ($14) exclusively for this year's US Open, featuring two Pat LaFrieda beef patties topped with cheese, lettuce and hozon sauce -- a fermented stone-ground seasoning made in the style of miso paste -- between Bing Bread from New York's Hot Bread Kitchen.
At its two locations, Fuku also sells its beloved chicken sandwich featuring a habañero-brined thigh, pickles and Fuku butter ($13); its bacon ranch chicken sandwich ($15); and Fuku fingers and fries, a spicy twist on the traditional strips ($14).
Here's the beef
In the South Plaza, the Pat LaFrieda Meat Co. is slinging filet mignon steak sandwiches ($18). The Black Angus filet is topped with Monterey Jack, caramelized onions and au jus served on a toasted roll. This location also sells a chicken parmesan sandwich for $15.
In the Food Village, NYC barbecue outpost Hill Country Barbecue Market offers a chopped-brisket sandwich ($15) topped with dill pickles and sliced onions.
At Court 12, Creperie by Le Chef Paul features the Le Steak Crepe ($16), with skirt steak, caramelized onions and gruyere. For a sweeter option, try the La Pomme Crepe ($11), filled with apple confit, brown sugar and caramel.
Korilla BBQ, a former food-truck favorite that hit the big time, has two different concepts at this year's tournament. Its KBOP Bulgogi ($15) is a rice bowl with thinly sliced ribeye steak, caramelized kimchi, bean sprouts, fire-roasted corn and garlic spinach. For $8, you can opt for the Kimcheese Fries, waffle fries topped with cheese sauce, kimchi, pico de gallo, green onion and shredded seaweed.
Poke Yachty features poke bowls, including spicy tuna ($16) over sushi rice with vegetables and dressing, or other bowls including classic tuna, salmon, crab or shrimp. There's also a vegan tofu bowl ($13).
Bringing it home
You'll have to make reservations at Champions Bar & Grill Featuring BLT Prime, but you'll get to take a picture of bacon on a clothesline with your phone. Burke calls it "Instagrammable" food: extra-thick-cut candied bacon with black pepper maple glaze.
Summer seafood's last hurrah
Lobster rolls are a favorite at the Open, and Capon adds his twist. Lure Fishbar's Lobster BLT ($25) is topped with applewood-smoked bacon and Jersey tomato on brioche, served with salt and vinegar chips.
The ouzo shrimp ($15) is a fan favorite at Mantuano's Wine Bar Food in the South Plaza. It also serves a tuna crudo ($15).
Samuelsson has taken over the reservation-only Mojito Restaurant, with a standout pescado a la plancha: red snapper served with coconut-crab fritters, coriander, radish and tomato escabeche.
At Aces on the club level of Arthur Ashe Stadium, another reservation-only spot, Morimoto designed signature sushi trays to go alongside chef Ed Brown's seafood dishes.
A grand finale
For one other grand debut, Chang partnered with Wylie Dufresne, who he called "the best chef in New York," to deliver another exclusive. The Double Berry Ice Cream Sandwich by Du's Donuts and Coffee (Dufresne's doughnut shop in Brooklyn) is $8 and features vanilla-bean ice cream sandwiched between strawberry and blueberry doughnuts and coated with strawberry and blueberry crumble. Chang said it's how he likes to eat as a fan at a sporting event. "I like simple things. Peanuts. Popcorn. Beer. Things you can hold. You want things that are gonna taste good in 20 minutes."
Echoing the simplicity theme, Chang knows he has a winner.
"Who doesn't like ice cream sandwiches?" he said.