With ballparks featuring a full menu these days, I am asked this question by almost every radio show that is generous enough to have me on. It’s a fun question and I don’t mind answering it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge.
Truthfully, since there are items worth trying and not worth trying at every venue—and since they almost all have some version of nachos, pizza, cheesesteaks, burgers, and of course, unusually topped hot dogs—you can probably find something that’s a go-to item anytime you go.
But when I think about this question, a few ballparks stand out above the rest. Here’s why:
1) Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia. The Bank probably does the best job of showcasing the local favorites as any ballpark out there. It’s Philly, so of course there’s cheesesteaks…but you have a choice of Tony Luke’s, Campo’s, or a Schmitter, three very distinct variations on beef and cheese.
At a Phillies game, you can also get Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries, Federal Donuts chicken (my favorite), Planet Hoagie sandwiches or Seasons Pizza. The Harry The K’s restaurant features some Philly-fied items like cheesesteak spring rolls, and even the dogs, sausages, ice cream and cupcakes are made by popular local outfits.
No need to even leave the ballpark for a taste of Philly.
2) Camden Yards, Baltimore. The Orioles have been adding a few local favorites as well, like Gino’s burgers, Stuggy’s dogs, and Polock Johnny’s sausages. All of them offer a uniquely Baltimore-flavored item…like the Stuggy’s crab mac and cheese dog or the Gino’s Camden Giant (not there as I write this…but hopefully it will be back).
Camden Yards also has the popular new Dempsey’s restaurant in the warehouse with its special brews, and two flavors of barbeque…Boog’s and Jack Daniel’s on Eutaw Street. You can wait in line to meet the Orioles’ large first baseman, or try some bacon on a stick at Jack Daniel’s.
And of course there’s crab-flavored stuff…crab cakes, crab cake sandwiches, and fries in crab dip, all with a generous helping of Old Bay as required by Baltimore etiquette.
3) Citi Field, Flushing. Citi Field is the original baseball home of the Shake Shack, which has been annoyingly added to Nationals Park menu. The Shackburger and the shakes there command long lines, but no one complains.
But that’s far form the only top notch selection…there’s the tacos at El Verano Taqueria, the brick oven pizza at Two Boots, the high end steak sandwich (and meatball sliders now) at Pat LaFrieda’s, the bologna sandwich at Blue Smoke, and the unsung heroes at Mama’s of Corona, one of the best values in the ballpark.
Oh, and Citi Field has ten kinds of fries. True.
4) Turner Field, Atlanta. I know Joe Mock would disagree with me on this, but the Braves have really stepped up their food game…they’ve got some great variations on hot dogs, covered with Buffalo chicken and cheese or Georgia slaw, but they’ve also ratcheted up the pizza and beef. A chef tosses the brick oven pizza right in front of you, or you can watch butchers slice up Kevin Rathbun’s steak for your sandwich.
And I haven’t counted Dantanna’s skewers and Holeman & Finch gourmet burgers yet. Both well worth the price.
Turner Field had a decent enough selection with the Smokehouse BBQ, the Chop House restaurant, and their Taste of The Majors stand offering foods from different cities. But you can really eat well at a Braves game nowadays…and the drink selection isn’t bad either.
Those are four that stick out in my mind. There’s a few other ballparks that are pretty good too…Miller Park in Milwaukee has plenty of unusual items like spaghetti in a meatball and their own Secret Stadium Sauce; Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati represents the best of the Cincy chains like Frisch’s Big Boy and LaRosa’s pizza, and Nationals Park in Washington has the amazing Ben’s chili dog and Hard Times nachos. I have to knock a star off of Nationals Park though, since replacing Five Guys with the Shake Shack…a Citi Field item…doesn’t work for me.
So in case you missed my last radio appearance, there’s a bit about which ballparks have the best food.
Posted by Kurt Smith.