What to Eat at the Ballpark?

Posted by Kurt Smith on Saturday, May 11, 2013
If you’ve been to a game recently, you know that there is food available for every taste. Not only is there usually a restaurant or two on the premises now, but out in the concourse areas you can find pizza, burgers, barbecue joints, delicatessens, vegetarian and kosher choices, and there’s even Asian- and Mexican-style cuisine at some ballparks.

And that food staple that is every bit a part of baseball as the RBI, the hot dog, is now available in any format you could imagine. You can get footlong dogs, quarter pound dogs, chili dogs, veggie dogs, or kosher dogs, and depending on the ballpark, you can get them adorned with grilled onions, sauerkraut, cole slaw, hot peppers, or any of a dozen styles of cheese.

It used to be so simple. What one got to eat at the game was something one never even considered spending time thinking about. Oh sure, maybe I got nachos or popcorn or ice cream to go along with my hot dog and a beer, but I always had a hot dog and a beer.

I got to thinking about this recently while at a game at beautiful Coca-Cola Park in Lehigh Valley, PA. Even minor league parks these days have a wide variety of food selections, so walking around the concourse, I was struck by that discomforting moment of indecision—which, while probably a good problem to have in a world with so many starving people, still can be troublesome to people who love to eat. What if I pay $12 for a dry, chewy roast beef sandwich, when I could have had the BBQ nachos?

So I decided to walk around the entire ballpark and burn a few calories while I’m deciding. OK, there’s generic stands…don’t want a hot dog or slice of pizza. A barbecue stand. Hmmm, maybe a smoked turkey leg sandwich. There’s the big grill in right field. Philly cheese steak fries sound great, but not exactly the healthiest thing and I’m trying to watch that these days. There’s a gyro stand, sounds good but looks expensive. (Yes, this was all at a minor league park!)

Finally I settled on a chicken burrito, which was $8.50 but gave some good value, about what it would be in one of the Mexican takeout joints like Chipotle that are becoming more common. And relatively healthy, at least by my standards.

No regrets. At least not this time. But doing what I do here, I couldn’t help thinking (WARNING: shameless plug coming!) that I wished I had had a fan’s guide for this fine ballpark.

If you only get one or two opportunities to visit a venue, you’re probably going to want to try that local favorite, that go-to item that you can only get in that city, right? In Flushing (Mets) it’s a Shackburger; in Milwaukee it’s the brat with Secret Stadium Sauce; and in Philly it’s the Tony Luke’s cheesesteak. The problem is that every ballpark has competition for that great food item. You can get a great slice of Two Boots pizza at Citi Field, a cardboard canoe of cheese curds at Miller Park, or a Bull Dog at Citizens Bank Park.

That indecision at the ballpark can make for a real crisis of confidence in your ability to enjoy the ballgame. Well, at least the newly inspired culinary part of it.

Stay tuned, I'll soon be providing some generic tips for deciding what to eat at the game, just in case you don't have a Ballpark E-Guide handy!

Tags: ballpark food 
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