- Something Oakland A's OF Mark Canha has mastered as he's moved through the minors and majors? Eating. The foodie outlines his favorite meals from Low A in Greensboro to Triple A in New Orleans all the way up to the Bay Area.
Mark Canha grew up in the Bay Area with a dad who collected food and wine magazines, traveled internationally for his job in semiconductor sales and delighted in recreating recipes he’d read about or tasted overseas. Those childhood meals created an insatiable hunger in Canha. So when he got a good-paying job that required him to travel (Major League baseball player), he decided to seek out the most delicious meals on each road trip.
But instead of just trading restaurant recommendations in the clubhouse, the Oakland A’s outfielder shares his meals with the world through the most delicious Instagram feed in professional sports. When his baseball career ends, Canha will make an excellent judge on Chopped. Until then, the Big League Foodie will keep making us hungrier with each photo he blasts into the ether. This one from earlier this week in Anaheim is a doozy…
Grass fed lamb chops from the position player show dinner at @theranchrestaurant in Anaheim, CA! This place uses farm fresh seasonal ingredients and makes one helluva lamb chop dish and some amazing popovers!! Great time with the boys! Big thanks to @theranchrestaurant for a great dinner!!! #stAyfoodie #theranch #showdinner #socal #anaheimeats #chops
Earlier this summer, Canha gave SI Eats a guide to some of the best meals at each level of baseball. From dining on a minor league budget to blowout meals with Major League prices, he always seems to find the best places in any town.
Low A — Greensboro, N.C.
Canha was drafted by the Marlins in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. He only spent about 10 days in rookie ball, so his first culinary memories as a professional baseball player came in Low A in Greensboro. He wasn’t posting photos of his food then, which is probably fine since he tried to squeeze in lunch and dinner each day from the ballpark spread of cold-cuts and carrot sticks. Breakfast often came at Smith Street Diner, home of pork tenderloin biscuits, corned beef hash and buttermilk pancakes.
High A — Jupiter, Fla.
Over in High A, Canha started to develop a taste for the finer things in life. Little Moir’s Leftovers Cafe would cook whatever fish was freshest in a sweet potato crust, so Canha dined on grouper, snapper, swordfish and mahi-mahi—when his budget allowed. “Fresh seafood isn’t cheap,” he said. “That was a splurge lunch for me.”
Double A — Jacksonville, Fla.
Here, Canha’s favorite spot was TacoLu Baja Mexicana in Jacksonville Beach. Shrimp tacos, brisket tacos, and carnitas tacos where the pork is braised in Coca-Cola and orange juice always taste better by the beach.
Triple A — New Orleans and Nashville
Canha hit the culinary jackpot with his Triple A stops. The Marlins’ affiliate is the New Orleans Zephyrs, and the A’s affiliate is the Nashville Sounds. (Canha was sent down earlier this season and recalled to Oakland on Aug. 25.) During his time in New Orleans, Canha did it right. He and his wife Marci moved into a house near the Tulane campus and lived like locals. “Whenever I’d talk to my teammates about New Orleans and how much I love it, they always say ‘Really? I hated New Orleans,’” Canha said. “The team stays in a hotel in Metairie, and then all the guys just go out on Bourbon Street.”
While Canha is happy to recommend New Orleans classics like Jaques-Imo’s, he wanted to steer people to places tourists might not otherwise patronize. “You can’t pick a favorite in New Orleans,” he said.
Canha was shocked to find great pizza at the shop attached to The Boot, an infamous dive bar frequented by local students. “You walk in and there’s college kids grinding on each other. The floor is sticky. Don't eat there,” he said. “But next door is Boot Pizza.” Do eat there.
Then have dessert at Creole Creamery.
More recently, Canha visited LaPetite Grocery and came away impressed.
Been wanting to check out @lapetitegrocery in uptown New Orleans forever now, and it was totally worth the wait!! This the seafood stew (kind of a bouillabaisse) with fish, shrimp, and clams with a side a stone ground grits in the background. @lapetitegrocery has to be one of the best date night spots for food and atmosphere in NOLA! Big thanks to @rlavarnway for joining me for our foodie man-date #stAyfoodie #nola #lapetitegrocery #uptown #magazinestreet #mandate
Canha also has plenty of recommendations in Nashville, starting with coffee and breakfast burritos at Barista Parlor.
Lovin my local coffee shop @baristaparlor in the gulch in Nashville! I'm hooked on the Boss 302 breakfast burro with chorizo, eggs, potato, and sriracha-lime sour cream. Paired with the daredevil espresso makes Mark happy in the morning. Thanks @baristaparlor for being my ol' reliable in Nashville #stAyfoodie #nashvilleeats #baristaparlor #breakfastburrito #burro>burrito
For later in the day, Canha recommends 404 Kitchen.
Thanks so much to everyone for the recommendations of the 404 Kitchen in Nashville. This place is the real deal! The scallop toast with grilled sourdough and 🥑 ordered by @marcicanha was outstanding pair that with their cornbread and some pork bolognese with grana padano and you will be a happy camper like we were! A+ whiskey list too! #stAyfoodie #404kitchennashville #nashvilleeats #eeeeeats #minorleaguefoodie
The Big Leagues
Oakland: Canha began curating his Instagram feed when he reached the Majors, and he has racked up some amazing meals on the road. He's also found a favorite spot when playing at home.
To get you through that lull in the work day...garlic miso ramen from @ramenshopoakland !! This place instantly proved to be one of the most delicious restaurants in Oakland for me! The garlic miso ramen comes with ground pork belly, a shoyu marinated egg, and greens. Not to mention a phenomenal broth! #oaklandeats #bayareaeats #stayfoodie #noodlesinmynoodle #ramenshop
The rest of the Bay Area: The San Jose native has plenty of recommendations beyond Oakland. He calls San Francisco’s Benu his “favorite restaurant of all time.”
Before turkey day @marcicanha and I had ourselves the best quail dish I've ever eaten at Benu in San Francisco. When it comes to presentation and taste, this smoked quail was the most bad ass! Benu is a great spot to get that once in a lifetime meal or to celebrate a special occasion! Stay tuned in the coming weeks for some rankings of my favorite SF restaurants as well as East bay restaurants! #stAyfoodie #benu #michelinstar #japaneseeats #smokedquail #showdinner #quailingjennings
He also loves Chez Panisse, the pioneering farm-to-table restaurant in Berkeley run by chef Alice Waters.
Well people I can't believe it took me this long to find out for myself, but @chezpanisse in Berkeley is legit! @marcicanha and I ate at the upstairs cafe. This is the duck confit with potato-tomato gratin, spinach, and tapenade. If Chez Panisse isn't the best restaurant in the Bay Area, it certainly cracks my top 3!!! I will be back for the downstairs show dinner. #stAyfoodie #bayareaeats #berkeley #chezpanisse #eeeeeats #yeswecanha
New York: The NoMad Hotel serves chicken with foie gras smeared between the skin and the meat to create a crispy crust and a juicy inside. But before that, shrimp fritters.
One of the more fun and delicious places I've had dinner in New York. The @thenomadhotel has an awesome vintage-y vibe and some unreal eats like these shrimp fritters with scallop mousse. Also the roasted chicken with foie gras and black truffle is a must try! Thanks @thenomadhotel for a memorable dining experience and to my phenomenal company @marcicanha @alexbozz @katytay_mcgee #stAyfoodie #nyeats #nomadhotel #shrimpfritters
Phoenix: Meanwhile, when Canha needs to recharge in the desert, he does it with salmon superfood from St. Francis.
@stfrancisphx is my sleeper pick for one of the best in Phoenix! This restaurant is legit guys...for dinner and for brunch! This is their roasted salmon superfood featuring perfectly cooked salmon on top of quinoa, spinach, radish, cucumber, avocado, and a sweet chile vinaigrette! Great atmosphere and amazing food! #stAyfoodie #stfrancis #phxeats #AZeats
Seattle: For a sweet treat, get the doughnuts with raspberry jam at Lola.
St. Petersburg, Fla.: Clear on the other side of the country, Canha learned about great food’s soothing properties. In June, he got sent down to Triple A following a series against the Rays. The A’s returned to Oakland, but Canha had to wait to catch a flight to join the Sounds. So he visited FarmTable Kitchen and ate his feelings with a side of carrot foam.
"I'm going to have a bomb-ass meal,” Canha told himself that day about his FarmTable kitchen experience. “And I had a great meal."