Ladies and gentlemen, the New York Mets are in first place. Let it sink in for a minute, because you certainly haven’t heard that one in awhile. Sure, it’s exactly one game into the season, which leaves precisely 161 to be played. But there’s definitely a palpable buzz surrounding the team as it takes the field this year following six consecutive losing campaigns. Built around a core of talented young pitchers, the Mets are primed to make a run at a playoff berth (and, equally as importantly to some fans, reign supreme in NYC over the Yankees) for the first time since 2006. There is finally the promise of quality baseball being played at Citi Field well into the dog days of summer.
In contrast, the quality of the food and beverage options available at Citi Field — which opened in 2009 — has never been questioned. Between collaborations with big-name chefs and local businesses, the stadium has always boasted an impressive array of culinary offerings. Citi Field will welcome several additional vendors in 2015, so we’ve divided our guide to eating at the ballpark into “existing” and “new” categories, spanning 10 dishes. Think of it as a cheat sheet to peruse before you attend Monday’s home opener. And just remember: Ya Gotta Believe!
Existing Food Items
1. Shack Burger (Shake Shack)
Danny Meyer’s burger hotspot has been a fixture since the stadium’s inaugural season, attracting throngs of people to the field-level outfield concourse for what can often be a multiple-inning wait. With the Mets (hopefully) playing well this year, forego the line altogether and pony up to sit in the Delta Club, which features burger and shake in-seat delivery.
2. Filet Mignon Steak Sandwich (Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors)
The secret is out about “magician of meat” Pat LaFrieda’s steak sandwich, a late-2013 addition to the stadium’s expansive food options (we have the recipe!). Stacked high with reserve, 100 percent black angus hand-cut beef, Vermont Monterey Jack cheese, sautéed sweet Vidalia onions and beef au jus on a locally baked and toasted French baguette, the hearty melt — exclusive to Citi Field — just might be the single best item found at the park. Hit up the stand located on the Promenade (upper) Level for shorter wait times, and try to save room for the maestro’s signature meatball hero with whipped ricotta, as well as his new steak frites.
3. Elote (El Verano Taqueria)
The second Danny Meyer establishment to crack this list is his popular taqueria, also found on the field-level outfield concourse (and ordered from Delta Club seats). The elote — Mexican grilled corn doused in (not-so) healthy amounts of spicy mayonnaise, cojita cheese and cayenne pepper — might be Citi Field’s biggest sleeper item. Tacos (go for the sampler platter that packs in one of each type) and generously stuffed quesadillas round out the menu.
4. Roasted Turkey Sandwich With Mozzarella (Mama’s of Corona)
Nestled in a corner just steps from the bustle of the field-level outfield concourse is the World’s Fare Market, an accumulation of eclectic global cuisine. There’s surprisingly decent sushi from Daruma of Tokyo, quality gyros, several gluten-free and healthy options and homemade Italian sandwiches from local eatery Mama’s of Corona. Grab one with turkey and fresh mozzarella and be sure to ask for extra gravy. Wait times throughout the market are surprisingly nonexistent.
5. Thick-Cut Fries With Homemade Sauces (Box Frites)
What are any of these meals without a side of fries? Box Frites delivers thick-cut Idaho potatoes fried until perfectly crispy and served alongside homemade dipping sauces that include bacon aioli, smoky blue cheese, chipotle ketchup and garden basil. The garlic-Parmesan fries topped with grated Pecorino are tough to beat, though this year’s new mac-and-cheese frites will undoubtedly give them a run for their money. Look for them on the field-level outfield concourse or order them straight to your Delta Club seats (I think we’re trying to tell you something).
New Food Items
6. Lemon Chicken (Rao’s Specialty Foods)
Looking to try out Rao’s famous lemon chicken? You could know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy and somehow scheme a reservation at the iconic location in East Harlem. Good luck with that. Or you could visit the brand-new station at the Caesars Club on the Excelsior Level for a pasta bar, chicken cacciatore heroes and the signature chicken drumsticks, slow-roasted in a rotisserie and basted with homemade lemon cooking sauce.
7. S’mores-Dipped Bacon (Pig Guy NYC)
Yes, you read that right. And now we have another great reason to visit the World’s Fare Market. Recognized as a premier pig roast and barbecue specialist, with existing locations at the Brooklyn Cyclones’ MCU Park and city’s Gansevoort Market, Pig Guy NYC (christened such by local sports-radio hosts Boomer and Carton) is bringing thick-cut bacon on a stick to the big-league home field. One version will be glazed with a sweet and spicy maple rub, while another will be dipped in semisweet chocolate, crushed graham crackers and marshmallows. Trust us, it’s as decadently and delightfully indulgent as it sounds.
8. Short Rib Arancini (Pat LaFrieda’s Chophouse)
LaFrieda has clearly established himself as the stadium’s most exciting chef, and there’s no better place to experience the full repertoire of his cooking than at his namesake restaurant in the Delta Sky360 Club (his only sit-down venue to date, worldwide). In addition to steaks and burgers, the steakhouse will dish out short rib arancini this year. Expect piping-hot mini fried Arborio rice balls filled with braised short rib, pepper jam, sherry demi and chive oil. This is where you want to flock to before the game or during a rain delay.
9. Short Rib Grilled Cheese (Pressed by Josh Capon)
Josh Capon is the seasoned NYC chef (and lifelong Mets fan) behind acclaimed city restaurants Lure Fishbar, El Toro Blanco and Bowery Meat Company. He’s also a six-time champion of the Wine & Food Festival’s annual Burger Bash competition. The big-name chef is bringing a panini concept called Pressed to Citi Field this season. Offerings will include a slow-braised blank angus short rib grilled cheese with Taleggio cheese, fresh arugula and roasted tomato jam on challah brioche, as well as a marinated spring vegetable panini. Look for these creations along the field level’s third base line and in the Caesars Club.
10. Buttermilk Fried Chicken (Tribeca Grill)
Drew Nieporent (of Nobu, Tribeca Grill and Bâtard fame) has experience in the arena-food game, having recently overseen the stellar Daily Burger at Madison Square Garden. His Myriad Restaurant Group, which has operated around 40 restaurants worldwide, is behind a Tribeca Grill concessions stand opening in the Delta Sky360 Club. The main item will be a “batter up” piece of buttermilk-fried chicken with warm pizzelle cookies and a whipped maple butter.