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Best Ballpark Foods | metsgrrl.com

Best Ballpark Foods

Dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeons may complain that the ballpark isn’t the place for sauteed scallops or bison burgers, but frankly, I am personally delighted that with the advent of decent eats in Major League Baseball I am no longer confined to dried-out chicken fingers and soggy french fries. From the 14 parks I have visited thus far, here are my favorite foods from around the country. These were chosen not just for taste, but also for uniqueness, as well as local flavor:

  • Minute Maid Park‘s BBQ baked potato: While not a gourmet item (it’s available throughout the ballpark) I cannot even begin to relate the unexpected, simple yumminess of this treat. You would never order it if you didn’t know about it; I saw an Astros fan with one on her tray and asked, and was given the key to happiness. At a ballpark at which you cannot bring in any food, not even a Clif bar, it is good that you can buy something this filling and delicious. Sleeper foods are the best.
  • Yankee Stadium‘s steak sandwich: Ignore the idiocy of having a butcher on site, with a glass window facing the concourse so you can watch him at work. Ignore the ostentation of the package of meats (in exclusive pin-striped insulated bag) available for purchase at the ballpark, because, y’know, that’s where I want to do my fine meat shopping. Get in line for the Lobel’s steak sandwich, which is only available on the field level near section 139. No matter how long the line is, get on it; they only serve the steak sandwich so it will move quickly. Note: this is a Yankee Stadium steak sandwich, so it come with a Yankee Stadium price ($15 in 2009), but it can feed two.

  • Safeco Field Shishkaberries: These are chocolate covered strawberries… on a sharp stick. There’s a reason that these are sold in Seattle and not anywhere in, say, the Eastern or certain Central Division cities. (Otherwise this item would have gone the way of 5 cent beer night.) It’s a great breakfast at day game on a weekend, and you can check out the bullpen action while you’re picking them up too. You have to make a decision, a commitment to have these, given their location in the ballpark, they’re definitely a pregame food (unless your team is down and out, in which case, why not take a walk and drown your sorrows in some chocolate).

Shishkaberries!

  • Primanti’s at PNC Park: I was introduced to these incredible sandwiches after seeing the Who in Pittsburgh in 1982, and remembered them to the day I set out for PNC for the first time, eager to try them again. These delicious, overstuffed sandwiches come with cole slaw and fries – on the sandwich. Their ballpark versions were just as faithful, and do not disappoint. Don’t think, just order and eat.
  • Camden Yards‘ O-shaped pretzels: They are exponentially better than your standard ballpark pretzel, but to be fair, they are freshly baked and not carted around the stands in an insulated bag. Get there early and have one, along the right field concourse, not far from Eutaw Street. (Of note, and not at the main pretzel stand, this year I will be trying the Crab Pretzel when the Mets are there AGAIN in June.)
  • Citizens Bank Park Crab Fries: While I usually hate to give a nod to almost anything from Philadelphia, the crab fries are not only the best thing to eat at Citizens Bank Park, they are the only premium food item that you can obtain without getting on line the second you enter the ballpark. (Philly’s food lines are legendary.) Like the aforementioned steak sandwich, this stand (out in the right field corner) only serves this food item, so it moves quickly.

Ballparks in which I caution you to NOT to eat anything:

  • Wrigley Field: While it still remains #1 on my list of favorite all-time ballparks, the worst thing I have ever eaten in a ballpark was the Italian Beef sandwich at Wrigley. Please do not repeat my mistake.
  • Fenway Park: the food is edible but it is, at best, serviceable. Bonus points, however, for selling coffee in a reasonable sized cup and not a thimble, and for making healthy options (like fruit cups and carrots and celery) half-price for the first hour after the park opens.

Representing the Home Team:

My favorite item at Citi Field remains the taco combo at El Verano, which is right across from the Shake Shack. There’s rarely a line. Pick up an elote (Mexican corn on the cob) for a perfectly filling dinner. If I had to rate it, I would place it between the BBQ baked potato and the steak sandwich on the list above.

I am looking forward to exploring additional culinary options (the garlic fries in San Francisco!) and adding new favorites as I visit new ballparks this summer.

6 Responses to “Best Ballpark Foods”

  1. Sharon says:

    I was in San Francisco in 2001, and definitely felt that it had the best food in the majors. The Garlic Fries are actually really good up and down the Left Coast, but what I remember most about Pac Bell (as it was called at the time) was the Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Basket. It was magnificent!

    As for Houston, I remember having the best chili cheese fries of my life there in 2000. That baked potato sounds really good, though.

    We’re going to Minnesota next month – I’ll tell you all about the curds, etc. when I get back.

  2. Julie says:

    The garlic fries in SF have already been well documented. But I do look forward to your thoughts on the crab pretzel in Baltimore. Sounds interesting.

  3. clr says:

    Sharon, the best chili cheese fries I have ever had were at Safeco.

    We’re going to Minneapolis at the end of June – excited to see Target Field! I’m worried about what it’s going to do to the ballpark rankings, though.

    Julie, all I hope is that the garlic fries are how I remember them in SF.

  4. Sara says:

    You’re in for a treat at that Giants game. AT&T Park has great food and great beer. We should do a Mets-Giants-AllDownTheLine-ScoreboardGourmet food-off.
    And the sausages/dogs at A’s games are good too. Fish tacos in San Diego, for the novelty factor. Never been to Chase Field. Looking forward to your report.
    p.s. this is a great idea for a website.

  5. Kari says:

    Of course you’re going to be at Target Field at the end of June while I’M IN ITALY! Ugh. WELL – do NOT leave without the Murray’s Steak Sandwich! Y. um. Really. I’d be willing to take on the Yankees steak sandwich head to head. Bring it on Yankees! Oh – and ditto on the shishkaberries! P and I agree.

  6. Jammer says:

    I’m definitely biased to the Primanti’s since PNC Park is right around the corner, but those shishkaberries may just be worth a trip across the country lol.