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Eat The Mets (from left): The line at Shake Shack, Pat LaFrieda’s steak sandwich, Mama’s of Corona.

Exactly one week from today, Jon Niese will take the mound at Citi Field and the 2013 New York Mets season will officially be underway. It’s no secret that there are not many reasons to be excited this season if you are a Mets fan. And yet as Opening Day approaches, I find myself sincerely believing that my beloved team will prove its many skeptics wrong and somehow shock the baseball world. Despite this sense of (false) hope, the sad fact remains that the majority of my trips to Citi Field the past few years have been largely devoid of any joy.

One bright spot, however — save for the long-anticipated promotion of several touted prospects — is the quality and variety of food and beverage items available at the team’s home park. Perhaps it has something to do with the drastic contrast between the choices here and those at its predecessor, Shea Stadium. Between the many, many hours I have spent in line at Shake Shack and the time I have committed scouring around the ballpark’s crevices for hidden gems, though, I have gotten to know the culinary offerings quite well. Here is my advice on the six places to check out for food and drink at Citi Field this season. And just remember: Ya Gotta Believe!

  1. Shake Shack
    I’ll start with the obvious choice. Danny Meyer’s burger hotspot has been a fixture at Citi Field since the stadium’s 2009 inaugural season, attracting throngs of people to the field level outfield concourse for what can often be a multiple inning-long wait — remember, though, we’re talking Mets baseball. Personal tips here include standing in the much shorter line at Blue Smoke and sweetly asking the cashiers to pop into their neighbors’ station for you (pitifully low chance of success) and begging those fortunate enough to sit in Delta Club seats to order a burger and shake to their seats for you (very slightly higher success rate).
  1. Pat LaFrieda’s
    The secret is out about Pat LaFrieda’s steak sandwich stand, a late-season addition to the stadium’s food options last year. Featuring hand-cut black angus seared filet mignon, Monterey jack cheese, sweet caramelized onions and served with a secret au jus on a French baguette, the hearty melt just might be the single best item found at the ballpark. Yes, $15 is a steep price to pay for any sort of stadium grub, but it’s more than enough for a full meal and worth every penny — just trust me on this one.
  1. Big Apple Brews
    Craft beers are becoming more commonplace in sports venues nowadays, and this station in the outfield concourse makes it easy on you by providing a single stop to sample from around 40 brews, including various IPAs and imported ales. At roughly $8 per beer at last check, pricing is even somewhat palatable for arena standards. That in itself should be a reason to hop on the 7 train instead of heading out to watch that other team in the Bronx (hey there, $11.50 Coors Light).
  1. World’s Fare Market
    My personal favorite stop at Citi Field is the World’s Fare Market, located on the field level behind right field. An accumulation of eclectic global cuisine, the market includes surprisingly decent quality sushi from Daruma of Tokyo and Korean selections from Café Hanover. My personal suggestion is to hit up the gyro stand, which is complete with full accoutrements and satisfied even this hard-to-please Greek writer. Equally fulfilling are the delectable homemade Italian sandwiches from local eatery Mama’s of Corona – be sure to ask for extra gravy. Gluten-free and health-conscious fans will also find options here and wait times are surprisingly nonexistent.
  1. Rum Bar
    Did Jeremy Hefner (who?) just give up his seventh run without recording an out in the first inning? Of course he did! No worries — head to the bar located right outside of the World’s Fare Market for some frozen drinks courtesy of Rums of Puerto Rico. The generously poured cocktails are sure to ease the pain of yet another Mets midseason swoon. By now, we are pretty sure you can tell that we are seasoned fans.
  1. El Verano Taqueria
    The second Danny Meyer establishment to make the list is this popular taqueria, also located in the outfield concourse. You can choose from three types of tacos or spring for the sampler platter, which has one of each. One of the Mexican specialty items is the elote — Mexican grilled corn doused in (not-so) healthy amounts of spicy mayonnaise, cojita cheese and cayenne pepper — in my opinion the biggest sleeper food item in the stadium.

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