Which Ballpark Has The Best Food?

December 13, 2014

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.

Try A Local, Bad Beer at the Game

December 10, 2014

Ballpark beer is so ridiculously priced nowadays that I’ve been staying sober at the game. It’s just not worth it to me; I’ll be a designated driver and get my free soda or have a few at a nearby tavern.

I suppose the plus of this is fewer inebriated people at the game; just Google “Ten Cent Beer Night” to learn what can happen when 50,000 sports fans can afford unlimited alcohol. And apparently some fans will still pay $9 for a Coors Light; far be it for me to stop them.

Many teams h...
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New Book About Old Comiskey

August 9, 2014
Looks like my buddy Floyd Sullivan at ChicagoNow, author of the endearing and humorous fan essay "Waiting For The Cubs" (see my review of that book here), has written a new book about the old Comiskey Park.

Well, I guess you can just call it "Comiskey Park" now, since the "New Comiskey Park" is now called "U.S. Cellular Field".

Check out Old Comiskey Park: Essays and Memories of the Historic Home of the Chicago White Sox, 1910-1991 here.

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A Universal Ballgame Parking Tip

July 30, 2014
In two recent ballpark outings, in Boston and Baltimore, I have learned that not only has the price of parking at a ballgame escalated, but also that the price is higher for high demand games these days.

Thankfully in Boston I always know better than to drive to Fenway Park; I know traffic in Kenmore Square on game day and parking prices are going to be insane. This last visit was no exception, but even I was surprised at what some lots almost a half mile away from the ballpark were charging. ...
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The Wrigley Rooftops Need Better Legal Counsel

July 9, 2014

I have been keeping up with interest on the ongoing saga that is the Cubs vs. Wrigley Rooftop owners. The latest story, other than the Rooftop owners offering a “two sign” concession to the Cubs, is that the recent Rooftop defamation lawsuit against a local sports consultant was thrown out of court.

When you get a suit thrown out of court that quickly, you’ve probably put up a weak argument. At least, that’s the perception.

If you’re unfamiliar with the background of this, briefly, t...
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Reaching 203

June 28, 2014

Joe Mock at the Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, Alabama

Fans whose yearly vacations revolve around a baseball road trip probably know the name Joe Mock. If they don’t, they should.

Mock is the author and webmaster at Baseballparks.com, the premier website for baseball roadtrippers. He is also the author of 2001’s "Joe Mock's Ballpark Guide", a delightfully illustrated book about the 30 MLB parks in use at the time. He regularly contributes to USA Today’s Sports Weekly about the North Amer...
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Cool New Stuff at Citizens Bank Park

March 28, 2014
It’s pretty cool to park in Lot S at Citizens Bank Park, even if there isn’t a ballgame going on.

Lot S is the Media Lot, and yes, expert that I am on all things Citizens Bank Park, I didn’t know that either.

Thanks to Ken Dunek and JerseyMan Magazine, and to the kindness of the Philadelphia Phillies, I was invited to a Phillies 2014 Media Event, where the Phillies and the nice Aramark folks tell hungry newspeople what’s new at the ballpark this year. Oh, and to share hot dogs with chee...
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Baseball’s Biggest Loss of 2014

March 9, 2014
Few things were funnier than my father’s occasional profanity-laden philosophy.

Before baseball's last collective bargaining agreement, I asked him if he would quit watching if the players went on strike again. Like everyone else, he was angry as hell about 1994 and once said to me that he wouldn't care if he never saw another millionaire play baseball again.

But this time he said, "You know Kurt, I've been thinking about that. In life you have to give up ****. I gave up smoking, I gave up d...
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StubHub’s “All-In” Pricing

January 31, 2014

Recently I received an e-mail from the nice folks at StubHub, informing me that the ticket resale giant now features “all-in” pricing, meaning that the price you see listed on the screen is the actual price that you’ll pay for the ticket.

In their page describing the format, StubHub compares the ticket pricing structure to “a well-known competitor” that adds a couple of fees to the original price of the ticket, so that the consumer ends up paying $72 for a $54 ticket.

Wonder who that ...
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Metal Detectors at Ballparks

January 28, 2014
Recently it was announced that all of the MLB venues will be requiring fans to go through security screenings to get into the ballpark starting in 2015. Fans must either walk through a magnetometer or have someone use a wand on them.

My first thought, which would surprise no one who knows me, is the scene from the movie “The Naked Gun”. Leslie Nielsen is attempting to provide security for the queen, and at one point takes one of the metal wands and noisily and forcefully runs it all over a...

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