Have you ever wondered how each MLB stadium differed with the kinds of food and drink options that were available to fans?
30) Kauffman Stadium – Kansas City Royals
Look, when an investigation reveals you were serving expired food and committing a whole bunch more gross food violations (even during the World Series!) as recently as last fall, it’s going to take some time to earn the public trust back. Beyond that, why is a BBQ landmark like Kansas City serving Sweet Baby Ray’s (a Chicago-based operation) as its ‘cue of choice?
29) Wrigley Field – Chicago Cubs
The Cubs’ baseball operation has overgone enough of an overhaul. Overhauling the concessions operations will be slow going as the venerable stadium undergoes a massive multi-year renovation. For now you’re not likely to find a ton of boundary-pushing ballpark fare.
28) Rogers Centre – Toronto Blue Jays
The sausage carts outside the stadium are really, really delicious.
27) US Cellular Field – Chicago White Sox
Even the staunchest Cub fan will begrudgingly acknowledge the superiority of Chicago’s South Side team when it comes to the food department. Local chain Beggars Pizza was a welcome addition to the mix last year. Another favorite is the corn off the cob — a fresh-cut pile of corn doused in the elote-inspired toppings of your choosing.
26) Busch Stadium – St. Louis Cardinals
While we’re normally in favor of all things BYO, Busch Stadium seems to let Cards fans bring their own food to make up for what’s available inside. El Birdos Cantina has a build-your-own nachos station, while toasted (that’s the Midwest term for deep-fried) cannelloni are the sole regional representative, unless you count the beer.
25) O.co Coliseum – Oakland Athletics
Try to forget for a moment that the Coliseum looks like a prison camp from the future and that Billy Beane’s regular season HOF-ers will inevitably choke hard in the playoffs. Progress is being made with the local beer selections (Pyramid Alehouse, Linden Street Brewery) and brick-oven pizzas at the West Side gastropub.
24) Angel Stadium of Anaheim – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Thankfully, Angel Stadium reaps a bit of the benefits of its SoCal location with Stone leading a list of craft breweries on draft, which also includes Saint Archer and Lost Coast. Last year’s season gained local pizza chain Oggi’s and SoCal chain Chronic Taco. But there’s a surprising lack of much else going on — and that includes gimmicky food, which is practically a requirement these days.
23) PNC Park – Pittsburgh Pirates
The Quaker Steak & Lube is one of the best options here. The wing chain gets overshadowed by Pittsburgh sandwich legend Primanti Bros. (you want the capicola & cheese) and local burger chain BRGR.
22) Globe Life Park in Arlington – Texas Rangers
Globe Life Park is riding this whole bacon thing HARD. Like a state fair underwritten by cardiologists seeking work, Arlington’s “Just Bacon” stand offers bacon cotton candy, bacon lollipops, bacon beer, bacon sunflower seeds, and chicken-fried bacon on a stick.
21) Minute Maid Park – Houston Astros
Nothing like hitting the ballpark to drink… SO MUCH ORANGE JUICE! Thank you, thank you. You can also get your meat fix (and frighten Robin Ventura) with a Nolan Ryan beef burger and chase it with brews from St. Arnold. Also: a “Street Eats” station serves up food truck-inspired fare like pulled pork tacos and Buffalo meatball subs, along with other rotating chef specials.
20) Fenway Park – Boston Red Sox
No amount of Gulden’s mustard will hide the fact that Fenway franks are just plain, sweaty Kayem hot dogs wrapped in nondescript buns. The baseball temple plays it too safe (re: boring) when it comes to eats — sticking mostly to burgers, dogs, and helmet sundaes — although, they do manage serviceable lobster rolls and a thoroughly greased sausage & peppers from the cart on Lansdowne.
19) Great American Ballpark – Cincinnati Reds
You can get local favorite Skyline Chili at not just a solitary location, but several scattered throughout the park. Some corners of the tasting public may not see this as a good thing, but there’s a certain charm to the stuff when you’ve been drinking beer, and you should be doing that, as Cincinnati has really upped its game in recent years and that’s become increasingly reflected within the park.
18) Comerica Park – Detroit Tigers
Many ballparks dabble in the “hey we made a crazy hot dog” game, but the introduction of Comerica Park’s poutine dog was particularly inspired (hey, Windsor is just across the way, Canadian fare makes sense).
17) Tropicana Field – Tampa Bay Rays
Besides the Cubano and a citrusy corporate name, the Rays’ stadium just added a new, uh, lineup which includes mac & cheese in a cone, pulled pork-laden baked potatoes, and an outpost of Tampa’s most popular food truck, Taco Bus.
16) Chase Field – Arizona Diamondbacks
The 18in corn dog stuffed with cheddar, jalapeños, and bacon makes their Sonoran dog (the bacon dog you’ll actually want to eat) look dietary by comparison.
15) Turner Field – Atlanta Braves
The stadium, which will be demolished after the 2016 season, also has outposts of La Taqueria — one of Atlanta’s best Mexican spots, a Kevin Rathbun Steak Sandwich, which sells… steak sandwiches, and a SweetWater beer island.
14) Citizens Bank Park – Philadelphia Phillies
Kudos to The Vault for bringing in more local flavor over the years with cheesesteaks from Campo’s and Tony Luke’s, Federal Donuts, and “The Schmiiter” sandwich from McNally’s.
13) Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles Dodgers
Sure, the Dodger Dog is iconic and delicious, but don’t sleep on the selection of fine Italian subs coming from perennial meatball sandwich powerhouse Eastside Market. Also, FROZEN BEER! Yup, the Kirin Ichiban frozen drafts come with a layer of chilly foam that both keeps your brew cold and protects it from spillage.
12) Progressive Field – Cleveland Indians
Progressive Field made headlines for dropping prices last season to $4 for 12oz domestic beers. Add on a $3 hotdog, and you can enjoy a classic baseball meal for less than that beer costs at most stadiums around the country.
11) Miller Park – Milwaukee Brewers
If you’re going to do the “hey we made a crazy food item” thing… THIS is how you do it. Nachos on a stick. Wisconsin loves frying stuff. They love cheese. And foods on sticks are sensibly portable. Beer-wise, well, it IS Miller Park, so obviously that’s going to be reflected in the beer options.
10) Nationals Park – Washington Nationals
Look, even though it’s not a “local” thing in this case, having a ballpark Shake Shack is going to score you some points with the committee — that’s just how it is, okay? The presence of local brews like DC Brau and Atlas is pleasing, though they could be a bit better distributed throughout the stadium.
9) Coors Field – Colorado Rockies
Local favorite green chile burritos are on hand, as is the made-to-order Helton burger, which is a decided cut above the token “upscale” stadium burger you encounter at most ballparks, and the stadium’s collective burger game became even MORE impressive with the addition of Oskar Blues’ CHUBurger in its outfield party deck, along with an array of OB’s beers.
8) Yankee Stadium – New York Yankees
Where Yankee Stadium does well, it does really damn well. The meatball Parm from Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi’s Parm is just as delicious as it is at their NoLita restaurant, and a Lobel’s location means there are steak sandwiches carved to order. It’s hard to not pit the NYC teams against each other, and Yankee Stadium’s total lack of craft beer compared to its neighbor in Queens bumps it down on this list.
7) Marlins Park – Miami Marlins
Opened in 2012, Marlins Park is the youngest MLB stadium, and its location in Little Havana is (somewhat) an inspiration for the food. The big winner is Taste of Miami, a corner of the stadium crowded with local restaurants. South Beach hotel & bar the Clevelander also shows up with the Magnum hot dog, a bacon-wrapped 1/2lb kraut- and mustard-covered dog. While craft beer options are lacking, you ARE in Miami and a Dolphins game can’t be your only excuse to indulge in frozen Bacardi beverages.
6) Camden Yards – Baltimore Orioles
They’re deep on local Baltimore flavor — with the money move being a pit beef from Boog’s BBQ (named for Orioles great Boog Powell, because he owns it, not just because they’re trying to cram in more nostalgia). There are also respectable crab cakes on hand (or better yet, a crab mac & cheese dog from Stuggy’s). Of course, a sausage and peppers from Polock Johnny’s (which has been around Baltimore long enough that, at the time, that name was totally okay), isn’t a bad move either. Beer-wise you could always keep it classic and go with a Natty Boh, though Heavy Seas and Flying Dog are also refreshingly plentiful throughout the park.
5) Target Field – Minnesota Twins
With sausages, an Andrew Zimmern presence, and an entire shop dedicated to state fair food, the Twins’ stadium basically plays into all stereotypes of its regional cuisine. AZ’s Canteen has dishes like the smoked meat sandwich with maple syrup hot sauce. Kramarczuk’s, a James Beard Classic winner, makes its brats and sausages daily in Minneapolis. And to truly remind you that you’re not a professional athlete, there’s the straightforward State Fair Classic: fried apple pies, fried pork chop on a stick, and fried pickles. Also the Midwest draft options of Grain Belt, Summit, Goose Island, and Surly don’t hurt things.
4) Petco Park – San Diego Padres
You could confine the discussion solely to the beer and you’re already talking about a serious contender, with in-park beer gardens from Stone and Ballast Point, not to mention the presence of other area standouts like Green Flash, AleSmith, Karl Strauss… this could go on a while. But the food holds up its end too. The fish tacos are seriously legit, and you have local seafood king Anthony’s Fish Grotto turning out fish ‘n chips, fried shrimp, and other oceanic goodness. Seaside Market may SOUND like it’s bringing you seafood, but the move here is actually the celebrated tri-tip sandwich. Want something sweet? How about a customizable ice cream sandwich on fresh-baked cookies from Baked Bear?
3) Citi Field – New York Mets
Having Danny Meyer involved in your food makes any ballpark a serious contender for the crown. Meyer has given Citi Field a Blue Smoke for pulled pork and brisket sandwiches, a Belgian frites spot with a slew of dipping sauces, and a Shake Shack. If burgers and BBQ aren’t your thing, NYC meat-god Pat LaFrieda has a meatball sandwich stand, a steak sandwich spot, and, well, more burgers for you.
Citi Field’s real kicker, though, is its beer. The AB regulars are obviously available, but a look at the full beer menu in the stadium is a testament to the city’s booming craft movement: Bronx, Rockaway, Coney Island, Greenpoint, Queens, and, of course, Brooklyn.
2) AT&T Park – San Francisco Giants
The Murderers’ Row of food includes Dungeness crab sandwiched between slices of garlic butter sourdough, Caribbean-style bibimbap, and the model ballpark garlic fries. Public House offers a beer selection that could even rival bars that aren’t attached to baseball stadiums, with the advantage of having to-go cups for when you take your seat.
1) Safeco Field – Seattle Mariners
Cask-conditioned ales, Firkin Fridays… no, these aren’t the selling points for some new high-minded craft beer bar, it’s just how they roll at Safeco, where the dizzying array of seriously impressive eating and drinking options reflects the strengths and tastes of the local market as a whole as well as any stadium out there. Standout local chef (and big-time Mariners fan) Ethan Stowell is seriously involved in the food program (since 2010), which is why every year they’re rolling out fresh offerings like Dungeness crab sandwiches on sourdough with lemon aioli or Pacific seafood gumbo. There’s legit sushi and sake. Grass-fed burgers come topped with Tillamook cheddar. There are probably some sticks in the mud that bristle at the notion of this kind of highfalutin fare at the ballpark, but these are the same types who likely once decried nachos as “ethnic food.” This is how progress is made.