Baseball is almost here! After a long winter, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros will kick off this year’s MLB season on Sunday night. While we at Food Republic are as excited as the next guy for the first pitch, we’re just as interested in what is making news at concession stands around the league. Long gone are the days when the selection at stadiums was limited to soggy hot dogs and watery beer, having given way to today’s world of sipping Pinot Grigio while feasting on lobster rolls and fancy garlic fries.
With Opening Day looming, we’ve scouted out the hottest new items coming to MLB ballparks this season — among them selections from celeb chefs Michael Solomonov, Linton Hopkins and Pat LaFrieda. Here are the 25 food and drink stories that have made (or will make) headlines since the San Francisco Giants took home the hardware last October. See if your favorite team made our roundup and let us know in the comments section if you hear of any more new sandwiches, craft beers or pizzas being added to your hometown ballpark menu.
New Food And Drink Items In Major League Ballparks
- Chase Field, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks, will feature extensive new culinary selections this season. Among the offerings are “beer hot” bratwurst and Andouille sausage, and a turkey cheesesteak sandwich. We’re most looking forward to the achiote-basted grilled mushroom burrito, though, which is served with cilantro rice, black beans, achiote grilled mushrooms, pepper Jack cheese and salsa rojo, all wrapped in a red chile tortilla.
- New this season for Atlanta Braves games at Turner Field will be a burger kiosk featuring patties by chef Linton Hopkins and his team at Holeman & Finch. Here’s hoping that they plan to offer more than the limited-edition 24 burgers available each night at exactly 10 p.m. at the popular city eatery.
- The Chicago White Sox might not go very far this season, but their offseason menu additions may well be tops in the league. Among the new offerings are a pepper-glazed goat cheese spread, a double steakburger, a tuna, chicken and egg salad sandwich trio, four-cheese garlic bread with multiple dipping sauces and a Bloody Mary from local favorite Eleven City Diner. The “Winning Ugly Grand Slam” – a mixture of Italian beef, Italian sausage patty, pork chop and bacon covered with giardiniera, sautéed onions and peppers on eight-inch muffalatta bread — tops our list of must-try ballpark items for 2013.
- Those heading to Wrigley Field to cheer on their beloved Chicago Cubs will be able to sample from a wide range of new menu items. Among the novelties available this year are a pulled pork sandwich with Chicago-made Uncle Dougie’s BBQ sauce, a bison burger, a chicken sandwich, a city signature giant twist pretzel, nachos with southwest ingredients and a Chicago Dog, served traditionally inside a poppy seed bun and topped with sport peppers, pickle spear, tomatoes, onion, yellow mustard and celery salt. Remember, no ketchup on these!
- A trip to watch the Los Angeles Dodgers this season just might have you ballooning faster than the team’s payroll. The franchise that became famous for the “Dodger Dog” is introducing six new food items — variations of three hot dogs, a pizza, a burger and loaded nachos. And they’re not even bashful about naming them after their targeted demographic. The “Big Kid Dog” is covered with gooey mac and cheese and topped with crunchy Fritos.
- It’s a sad time to be a fan (one of 268) of the Miami Marlins. At least the stadium food promises to impress. Among several new items coming to Marlins Park this season are grilled mahi tacos, a foot-long nacho dog, a rice and bean bowl, and a smoked pork burrito. Those looking to work on their beach bodies are sure to be satisfied with the Sobe chop salad, consisting of fresh romaine and spinach, chili-dusted papitas, roasted corn, onions, peas, faro, cucumbers, tomatoes, queso blanco and cilantro vinaigrette. Got all that?
- We’ve already mentioned the wonder that is the Pat LaFrieda steak sandwich, a late addition to the New York Mets’ Citi Field last season. The team just announced an extended partnership with the “Magician of Meat,” bringing a LaFrieda-branded Chop House restaurant to the Delta Club and a second steak sandwich stand – this one to the upper level of the stadium – that will also dish out Korean-style steamed buns, short rib buns and boneless chicken buns.
- The Philadelphia Phillies announced that empire-building chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav fame will open an outpost of his wildly popular shop, Federal Donuts, at the home ballpark, selling both fried chicken and glazed donuts.
- And the Phillies are even catering to hometown beer geeks. Pennsylvania’s Sly Fox Brewery made two of their beers available in removable lid cans, an industry first. Their popular Pikeland Pils can be purchased exclusively at Citizens Bank Park.
- At least fans of the perennial AL West cellar-dwelling Seattle Mariners and cocktail geeks alike will be able to take solace in Edgar’s Cantina, an open-air restaurant and lounge named for retired hero (and probably the only legendary DH in history), Edgar Martinez. The new project coming to Safeco Field this season features drink selections from Anu Apte, the owner of heralded Emerald City staple Rob Roy.
- The Washington Nationals are primed to play some of the most exciting baseball in the league, and their home stadium has a couple impressive new local food items to boot. We’re talking Maryland blue crap dip and grilled asparagus with Virginia country ham. And we’ve saved the best for last. A warm, soft pretzel braid will be topped with béchamel, fresh crabmeat, cheese and Old Bay. Mmmm.
Ballpark Food And Drink News From The Offseason
- A big shout out from the ever-increasing lazy fan community to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics. The four clubs recently worked with MLB.com on a mobile application — available this season — called “At The Ballpark.” The app permits fans, among other things, to order food and beverages from their phone straight to their seats.
- Not so long ago, a seat at Fenway Park was one of the most coveted in all of professional sports. Now, the Boston Red Sox have resorted to offering two-for-one franks, $5 draft beer and free meals — that’s a hot dog, Goldfish and a carton of juice — for kids under 14 (in the first three innings) at home games, in an attempt to draw fans to the ballpark.
- Supporters of the loveable losers Chicago Cubs will have two novel spots to commiserate with other fans this year, though neither venue is located within the team’s famed stadium. Wrigleyville’s 1048 Sky Lounge is a completely renovated, formerly private space opening to the public this season with a direct line of sight to center field and a menu of all-inclusive food and drink. Meanwhile, travelers passing through the city’s O’Hare International Airport can now stop at the Cubs Bar & Grill, a sports bar with a replica Wrigley Field Marquee, menu items from the ballpark, framed memorabilia and club souvenirs available for purchase. It’s located in Terminal 3.
- For the first time in years, there’s hope on the horizon for the Cleveland Indians. And it has nothing to do with the signing of Nick Swisher. The team announced the rollback of concession prices, slashing hot dogs to $3 and 12-ounce beers to $4. Wait, isn’t this is the same organization that had to forfeit a 1974 game when a riot broke out at 10-Cent Beer Night?
- The most notable contract the Milwaukee Brewers handed out this winter has to be the renewing of Miller Lite as the team’s exclusive beer sponsor. The team also announced the opening of the Miller Lite Party Deck, a 70-person-capacity entertainment space that includes an all-inclusive food and beverage experience. Finally, some culinary news out of Miller Park that doesn’t involve Randall Simon assaulting a sausage.
- The Philadelphia Phillies certainly had a food-minded offseason. Just how much does the team’s marketing department think fans love the city’s famous soft pretzels? Enough to create a t-shirt that feels like one. You heard that right. Soft pretzel–textured tees will be available for purchase this season at Citizens Bank Park.
- The San Diego Padres may not be the most talented team in the league, but the organization is certainly on its way to being recognized as one of the most sophisticated. The third annual Padres Wine & Food Festival — held before a home game — is scheduled for August 16 this summer. The events will include specialty food and drink items, as well as pours from more than three-dozen California wineries.
- The San Francisco Giants are doing their part to maintain their reputation as having some of the best ballpark grub in the game. For the second consecutive year, the team is planning to host “Off the Cove,” an event showcasing the budding food truck scene in the Bay Area. Tickets to the festivities — there is one planned in both May and August — include access to a private area with multiple food trucks and admission to that night’s game. Partial proceeds benefit a local organization that supports low-income food entrepreneurs.
More Food And Drink News From Around The League
- While not exactly recent news, we have to mention that Rocky Mountain oysters will once again be available this year at the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field. That’s deep-fried bull calf testicles, for those of you out there scratching your heads (though it should be pointed out that pig or sheep testicles can also be used in the dish). Maybe it’s not just the altitude helping batters hit all those balls out of the park.
- The wife of Los Angeles Angels superstar Albert Pujols launched a line of cookware this winter. The CEO of Pujols Kitchen (yes, that’s a real company) designed the 16 items to reflect and enhance the original cutlery used in Dominican Republic and Latin American homes. Proceeds are being donated to providing cookware and food for families in poverty around the globe.
- The Miami Marlins haven’t done much to keep their biggest stars on the roster, but that didn’t stop them from assembling a team of the league’s biggest stars to contribute to a cookbook, compiled by the wife of much-maligned owner Jeffrey Loria. Chances are, if you wait a bit to purchase it, there’ll be a 75% discount.
- The biggest question currently facing the Seattle Mariners is undoubtedly the status of the ever-popular Ichiroll, a variation of a spicy tuna roll named after departed star and current New York Yankee Ichiro Suzuki. With the item facing an uncertain future following the trade of its namesake, fans are surely clamoring for a replacement menu item tied to a current Mariner. May we suggest a King Felix Crab Roll? A Jason Bay Scallop Roll? A Justin Smoak’d Salmon Roll? A Jesús Monteroll? Sorry, M’s fans. We’re really, really sorry.
- Apparently it didn’t take long for Ichiro-inspired sushi to re-establish itself elsewhere, as the New York Yankees introduced the Suzuki Roll at the very end of last year. Featuring spicy salmon and yellowtail, cucumber, avocado and mango, the item receives customary Pinstripe pricing at $15. We’re not mathematicians or anything, but are you telling us that one roll of Yankee Stadium raw fish costs the same as six hot dogs at Fenway Park? Some rivalry we’ve got here.
- Could Nolan Ryan join the ranks of our Grilling Gods? The Texas Rangers principal owner revealed this winter that he will be releasing The Nolan Ryan Beef Cookbook, with an emphasis on Texas barbecue dishes and traditional Sunday dinner favorites. The strikeout king did always know a thing or two about high heat.
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