Ball Park Food

When I was a kid in Detroit, one of the great things about going to Tiger Stadium was the traditional ballpark food: the hot dogs, popcorn, and Stroh’s ice cream bars. Over the years I have been to 13 major league stadiums and have had a lot of ball park food. Since I was at spring training in West Palm Beach this year, I have some thoughts, experiences, and some opinions on ball park food that I thought I would share.

Main courses like hot dogs – A hot dog is always a safe bet except at the old Kingdome in Seattle; they were horrible. Most standard hot dogs are getting smaller unless you go big and pay big. The other thing to remember: for you it’s the experience; for them it’s the revenue stream. In Baltimore, they offer hot dogs from a local company, so the quality is well know. The Dodger Dog is legendary. Most smoke or half smoke sausages are great choices. At Nationals stadium, the dogs are from the Famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, and they are excellent, almost as good as at the world famous restaurant.

Pizza – If you don’t order the pizza at home, what makes you thinks it’s somehow better under a heat lamp? Some stadiums serve personal pizzas from chain brands which will be a safe bet. But if you have ever eaten left over pizza at home, Papa Johns is fine.

BBQ – This one is really tricky because it truly depends on the ballpark. Baltimore has Boog Powel’s BBQ which is delicious. The bbq sandwich at some parks is like your school cafeteria used to serve on Wednesday on a hamburger bun (without the pickle). The BBQ in Kansas City and Texas is very good. If the city doesn’t have a BBQ tradition, it may not be a good idea.

Regional specialties – LA has sushi. I’m not sure I can get behind that on a hot summer day. Philly has the best pretzels. The Florida Marlins have Cuban food which always is one of my personal favorites. Chinese food is making its way to the ball park. There was a wok location at the Fredericksburg Nationals ball park.

French Fries – Ball parks have taken the humble fry to a new level. In Baltimore they have the Chesapeake fries with Old Bay seasoning. Other stadiums have chili cheese fries. Some stadiums sell the New Jersey boardwalk fries. Fries are a safe choice at the ball park.

To pull the tarp on my love of ball park foods, nothing replaces the experience of the ball park. It doesn’t matter if it’s baseball, football, soccer, or basketball – ball park food is a thing. Food enhances the experience and when kids are involved, can galvanize a family memory.

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