Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Strangest Foods at MLB Stadia (Pt. 3)

By Kevin Beane

Also see: The Strangest Foods at MLB Stadia (Pt. 1) and Pt. 2

Try to contain your excitement: it's time for the season finale of the Slant Pattern's look at the most unusual culinary options in the MLB, with a look at the NL Central and NL West.

Great American Ball Park — Here, they like to fry things. Fried bologna sandwiches, which are good. Fried kool-aid. I don't even understand this as a concept. They also have a "hand-slapped burger," which doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, although I grant it sounds better than "spatula-slapped burger." There's also the "hot mett," which is a apparently a spicy-ish kielbasa-esque dog made with a German meat you've never heard of, mettwurst. It has a hard casing, and I want one. I want their hot dog topped with pork rinds, too. I'm an Indians fan and therefore do not like the Reds, but I must say this is the most fun menu I've come across in the course of this project.

Busch Stadium — Here, we have fried cannelloni, spicy corn nuggets (which are probably about the same going out as they are coming in), and a Food Network-approved Red Hot topped with Provel and and barbecue sauce. "Meh," I say.

Miller Park — The namesake Miller Brewing company does not allow food to be served in the stadium so everyone can enjoy their selection of beers more fully.

But seriously folks, almost every stadium has batting helmet ice cream, but Miller Park has batting helmet cheese curds. Clearly, a ballpark after my pre-diabetic heart. Obviously they take their cheese seriously in Wisconsin, and they also have a cart devoted to different types of grilled cheese sandwiches. Plenty of sections offer chorizo sausage, for some reason.

PNC Park — The Pirates sort of gave vague, advertisey descriptions of their vendors rather than listing many foods. I do commend them for having an in-stadium Quaker Steak and Lube, which is a great restaurant, and the ballpark location focuses on wings (with sauces like Arizona Ranch and Louisiana Lickin') which by my lights is the greatest sports food. You can also get a gyro salad at the park. Why haven't we thought of gyro meat in salads before?

Wrigley Field — Tired of beef or pork hot dogs? How about a bison dog? Or get a hot dog with Fritos on it. They serve many, many things in cups at Wrigley Field, including a cup of vegetables called the "Veg Out Cup," in case you were feeling guilty for eating healthy. They also have a malt cup, for when you are feeling retro.

AT&T Park — The great thing about AT&T Park is if you don't like the concessions, you can just go fishing in the bay and hope for a breed of fish you like. If you think of San Francisco as being a bit yuppie, you probably won't be impressed that they have wine carts to supplement their beer carts ("GETCHER ZINFANDEL HEEEEERE!") and lemon chicken. Not a lot of interesting options here.

Chase Field — I don't have the biggest sweet tooth, but I do like turtles and I wish the candy-bar sized variety didn't contain just two pitiful ones. So props to Chase field for selling oversized turtles. They also try to out-yuppie San Francisco with spicy scallop and calamari martinis, but on the other hand there are macaroni hot dogs (which we've covered in this series before) which have french fries on them (which we haven't).

Coors Field — Loaded tater tots, minestrone, a Denver cheesesteak (I couldn't find a description of this), and not much else except for a couple of disappointments: Not one menu item called "The Mile High ____," and either Coors Field is in the process of transitioning their vendors, or they decided to name half their stands and restaurants from an "English For Beginners" textbook ("Bar," "Potato," "Salad," "Nacho," etc).

Petco Park — Another snoozer, unless you like tuna sandwiches. If you do, you have several options. They also have carne asada, which I'm surprisingly not seeing much of considering how many ballparks cater to Latino tastes. Not even the Eater website could make this park sound interesting, although through them I learn they also have a Food Network signature item (a steak sandwich with blue cheese and "Peppadew pepper mayonnaise") and that one park bar has "lots of cougars on the prowl." Sure, your food options are boring, but will you care when Diane from Chula Vista is going to town on you?

Dodger Stadium — I guess if you make the famous Dodger Dogs, you can sort of rest on your laurels, as the Dodgers adhere to the NL West dictum of boring ballpark food. However! They do have an all-you-can-eat buffet! For $24, you can have access to all the hot dogs and ballpark-esque snacks (peanuts, nachos, etc.) your heart desires. Apparently, in 2010, they had pretzels the size of a standard pizza, but I couldn't verify whether or not they still do.

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