Baseball's opening month has arrived, and some ballpark foodservice operations are serving up treats that go beyond the traditional hot dog and cold beer.
This season, baseball fans are being treated to local delicacies, new in-stadium restaurant-themed venues, menu items developed by local chefs and other specialties intended to reflect the character of their home team’s cities.
“We had to find new ways to delight Giants fans and reflect the incredible culinary heritage of San Francisco,” said Bill Greathouse, senior vice president for sports for Centerplate, which operates the foodservice at AT&T Park and at many other stadiums across the country.
Reflecting San Francisco’s penchant for using local products, AT&T Park offers Giants fans local beers, sundaes from a local chocolate producer and lamb burgers and sausages made with meat from Dixon, Calif., about 65 miles away.
The All-American Lamb Sausage, introduced in 2011, exceeded Centerplate’s expectations, so it's back for the 2012 season, accompanied by a lamb burger. The lamb sausage costs $6.50 and is being served at the California Cookout stations on section 106 of the Promenade level and section 314 of the View Level. The lamb burger costs $11.50 and is at the Derby Grill on the Promenade Level, section 136.
Seattle appreciates local food, too, and management at Safeco Field, home of the Mariners, teamed up with hometownand restaurateur Ethan Stowell last year to introduce barbecue brisket and pulled pork, as well as crêpes and tortas. This year he has introduced three new signature items:
• Local Italian sausage, grilled onions and banana peppers on a bun, for $8.50
• Cheddar bratwurst with sauerkraut (braised in Washington state Riesling) on a bun, for $8.50
• Local grass-fed beef with shredded iceberg lettuce, American cheese, sliced tomato and burger sauce on a potato bun for $6.75
The sausages are available at Double Play Sausage +, at sections 136 and 340. The burgers are at section 106.
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Tampa Bay Rays fans can enjoy The Cuban Burger at the Burger Up! stand at Tropicana Field, which was introduced to the stadium’s First Base Food Court last year. A variation on the Cuban sandwich popular throughout the state of Florida, the burger is made of two quarter-pound hamburger patties topped with ham, pork, salami, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles, served on Cuban bread. It’s $13 with fries.
Taco Mac, a 27-unit chain based in Atlanta, scored a promotional home run this year with the Taco Mac Family Zone at Turner Field, which debuted on this season’s opening day for the Braves in the space previously occupied by Cartoon Network’s Tooner Field.
“It’s a promotional vehicle for us,” said Bruce Skala, vice president for marketing of Tappan Street Restaurant Group, parent company of Taco Mac. He noted that the space doesn’t serve food, but it does feature Major League Baseball’s first Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, which fans can use for $5 per drink.
The family-oriented venue also features a tree house where kids can play with a giant tomahawk and slide down the Taco Mac buffalo slide.
Braves fans also can get in on the culinary styling of local chef Kevin Rathbun, who has opened a Kevin Rathbun Steak concession in Section 203 through the field’s foodservice operator, Aramark. He’s offering just one item: a New York Strip steak sandwich on a brioche bun with au jus and horseradish mayonnaise, for $15 with kettle chips.
“I just thought it was a good idea,” Rathbun said. “I liked the sandwich so much and I like to see the Braves on occasion, and I thought, why not get my own steak sandwich when I’m there?”