July 08, 1996
July 08, 1996

Table of Contents
July 8, 1996


We came, we saw, we scarfed. We checked out the fare at all 28
major league ballparks and judged their culinary offerings
according to our home-cooked rating system: zero to four hot
dogs, including halves.

This is an article from the July 8, 1996 issue Original Layout

Atlanta Braves
Gotta Try: Eating before you get to the ballpark.
Avoid: The corn dog, an uncooked frank in a cornmeal condom.
Beer List: Includes Marthasville, described by one Atlantan as
"popular with Southern women."
Ambience: Muggy and buggy and smells like a urinal.
Rating: [Half a hot dog]

Baltimore Orioles
Gotta Try: The moist Maryland crabcake sandwiches, chased by a
cinnamon-batter Uncle Teddy's hand-rolled soft pretzel.
Avoid: Too many glasses of the Orioles' unofficial drink, served
in the bar of the Camden Club restaurant in the warehouse beyond
rightfield: It's orange Stolichnaya.
Beer List: Extensive, which may explain the long line at the
designated-driver sign-up booth.
Ambience: On cobbled Eutaw Street beyond the right- and
centerfield bleachers are Boog's barbecue and Bambino's Ribs, a
pair of CholesterAll-Stars.
Rating: [Four hot dogs]

Boston Red Sox
Gotta Try: The clam chowder from the Legal Seafood stand, behind
the home plate box seats, has been described as "real thick,
with lots of clams." Then again, so has Jose Canseco.
Avoid: The Bigbat pretzel. It's shaped like a bat, although it's
not nearly as flavorful.
Beer List: Baseball under the lights: Amstel Light, Bud Light,
Coors Light, Michelob Light, Miller Lite and Rolling Rock Light.
Ambience: To quote the beer maker, It doesn't get any better
than this.
Rating: [Three hot dogs]

California Angels
Gotta Try: The cinnamon rolls, irredeemably unhealthful and
spackled with frosting.
Avoid: Any of the many piscatory offerings, which include a
variety of sushi. To be safe, don't even watch Angels outfielder
Tim Salmon.
Beer List: Try the Corona with a wedge of lime for a
quintessential SoCal experience.
Ambience: Perhaps it's the beguiling cinnamon-roll scent, but
something about the place makes people hungry. Years ago a plane
buzzed the Big A trailing a banner advertising a local
appearance by singer Jimmy Buffett. Angels third base coach
Moose Stubing asked, "What's the big deal about Jimmy's buffet?"
Rating: [Three hot dogs]

Chicago Cubs
Gotta Try: Smuggling in Char-Cheddar Dogs from the world-famous
Wiener Circle, a hole-in-the-wall south of Wrigley on Clark
Avoid: Concession-stand sausages, which haven't been the same
since Smokey Links were dropped from the menu a few years ago.
Beer List: Old Style is the opium of the bleacher masses. So is
Bud, endorsed by Harry Caray, one celebrity spokesman who
clearly uses the product.
Ambience: Ivied walls and frat-house clientele.
Rating: [Two hot dogs]

Chicago White Sox
Gotta Try: The peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches dispensed at
the Kid's Corner counter, built chest-high to an eight-year-old,
the better to embarrass you as you order.
Avoid: The pizza, which can't hold a coronary candle to the
Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas served at Uno or Gino's downtown.
Beer List: As of mid-July, 12 brands will be served up at dat
typical Chicago gaddering place: Da stadium sports bar.
Ambience: Charm-free, like the dull brown exterior of the
stadium itself.
Rating: [Three hot dogs]

Cincinnati Reds
Gotta Try: The Gold Star cheese coney, a hot dog buried in chili
and shredded cheese. Cincinnati is, after all, Chili City.
Avoid: The one-dollar dog. Given the contents of a standard hot
dog, the economy frank is too frightful to countenance.
Beer List: The best is Oldenberg Holy Grail Nut Brown Ale,
brewed six miles away in Fort Mitchell, Ky. The worst is Hudy
Delight, containing more bad hops than the Riverfront infield.
Ambience: Only one smoking box in the joint, but it might be
available soon.
Rating: [One hot dog]

Cleveland Indians
Gotta Try: Anything from the calorie gallery behind the first
base stands, where a bakery offers giant cookies, cinnamon
rolls, brownies, eclairs, etc. The Peterson Nut Company, across
the street from the Jake, has the city's best nut never to have
worn the number 8.
Avoid: Italian sausage sandwiches failed at the Jake. Are the
black-peppercorn Polish sausage sandwiches any better?
Beer List: Three specialty kiosks serve 14 brands, including
Cleveburg's own Great Lakes and Crooked River. Careful, the
latter brand is flammable.
Ambience: Baseball's most exclusive bistro. It's fully booked
through the end of the season.
Rating: [Four hot dogs]

Colorado Rockies
Gotta Try: The brisket-of-buffalo sandwich and, of course, the
Rocky Mountain oysters.
Avoid: The Rocky Mountain oysters and, of course, the brisket-
of-buffalo sandwich.
Beer List: Your choices are, admirably, not limited to the
macrobrew with which the field shares its name: The on-site
Sandlot Brewery is a malt meritocracy, and it does business even
when the Rockies are away.
Ambience: View of Rockies enhanced by view of Rockies. And vice
Rating: [Four hot dogs]

Detroit Tigers
Gotta Try: The frozen daiquiris, which render the Tigers almost
watchable. The barbecued ribs, says one fan, "slide right off
the bone, just like they should."
Avoid: Little Caesars pizza, on principle: The chain is owned by
Mike Ilitch, who is also the proprietor of baseball's worst team.
Beer List: Twenty varieties, from Molson Golden to Molson
Canadian to Molson Ice.
Ambience: The Tigers are the best appetite suppressant in the
big leagues.
Rating: [Three hot dogs]

Florida Marlins
Gotta Try: Bru's Wings, the chicken wings cooked up by former
Dolphins bruiser Bob Brudzinski. They're finger-breakin' good.
Avoid: The rabid corn dogs.
Beer List: The Port of Call stand carries 24 brands, including
Southpaw Light, one lefthanded pitcher you'll be happy to send
Ambience: With Caribbean mojo chicken, Cuban sandwiches, arepas
(Venezuelan flat grilled corn-flour muffins with mozzarella
filling) and paella, the Marlins are Latin America's team.
Rating: [Three and a half hot dogs]

Houston Astros
Gotta Try: The footlong jalapeno sausage on a stick. It's so
greasy that the stick is a dipstick. Doctors at the concessions
counter conveniently schedule the next day's angioplasty.
Avoid: The Lone Star burger. Dry. Unmoist. An arid, unirrigated
testament to cheeseburger dehydration.
Beer List: The Bud Light, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud and Red
Dog are poured ice-cold from 16-ounce cans. Texas-brewed Shiner
Bock is available in 12-ounce bottles only. The Bud Light on tap
tastes as if the keg has not been changed since the '86 playoffs.
Ambience: Slightly above the caves of Cro-Magnon man and oddly
devoid of regional influences. There is no seafood and no shrimp
save for John Cangelosi.
Rating: [Two hot dogs]

Kansas City Royals
Gotta Try: The "grilled pretzels, charcoal-baked," if only to
learn what a grilled, baked product tastes like.
Avoid: Popcorn. The Royals have added four new poppers this
year, but this is still the worst maize since Willie's final
season, with the Mets in '73.
Beer List: Includes Zima. 'Nuff said?
Ambience: Kansas City is famous for its barbecue, so the poor
quality of the ballpark's is conspicuous.
Rating: [Two and a half hot dogs]

Los Angeles Dodgers
Gotta Try: The long, lean Dodger Dog, which costs $2.50 and is
available at 44 stands. There was a near riot in 1991 when,
briefly, the dogs were steamed rather than grilled. Fans were
steamed, and the vendors were grilled--and soon the hot dogs
were returned to the Weber. Have a Cool-a-Coo ice-cream sandwich
for dessert, and thank us later.
Avoid: The Yoshinoya Beef Bowl, which isn't the new title
sponsor of the Rose Bowl but rather an L.A. fast-food Japanese
restaurant whose stand is inexplicably popular at Dodger
Stadium. The "beef" in the Beef Bowl--served on a bed of rice,
complete with chopsticks--consists of limp strips of what looks
like uncooked bacon. Grisly and gristly.
Beer List: Includes Sapporo, the better to wash down the sushi
(10 pieces for $5.25) sold by vendors in what Aramark general
manager Lon Rosenberg calls "traditional Japanese garb." Says
Rosenberg of the sushi: "It does really well when Hideo Nomo is
Ambience: May be baseball's most beautiful setting.
Rating: [Three hot dogs]

Milwaukee Brewers
Gotta Try: Gas-grilled bratwurst dressed in Sportservice's
Secret Stadium Sauce, a beguiling, spicy red condiment somewhere
between ketchup and barbecue sauce. Especially good to tuck into
while watching the nightly scoreboard races, which pit three
animated sausages against one another.
Avoid: The salted, buttered popcorn, which will make the first
number in your blood-pressure reading resemble Ted Williams's
lifetime average.
Beer List: Miller-intensive, to be sure, but the acclaimed
Leinenkugel's ("Leiney's" to cheeseheads) is also available.
Ambience: It's all in the County Stadium parking lot, the best
tailgating site in sports. "If you didn't have tailgating,"
says Sportservice general manager Tom Olson, "there wouldn't be
nearly as many people here."
Rating: [Three hot dogs]

Minnesota Twins
Gotta Try: The Jumbo Dog, baseball's biggest. More than a meal,
it's a double-bypass in a bun.
Avoid: The paper cup filled with plastic-foam-packing peanuts.
Sorry, that's the popcorn.
Beer List: Grain Belt, an award-winning brew named for the
lowest rank in all of karate.
Ambience: It's so lacking that this season the Twins opened an
alfresco pregame gathering place across the street.
Rating: [One and a half hot dogs]

Montreal Expos
Gotta Try: The ribs at Rusty 10, an in-house restaurant named
for ex-'Po Rusty Staub. Team president Claude Brochu imported
the recipe from Park Ave. BBQ & Grill, his favorite joint near
the Expos' spring-training complex in West Palm Beach.
Avoid: Place Tevere in the Stade Olympique. It offers the
unctuous oxymoron that is French pizza. Also think twice about
the "catcher's gloves," described by Sportservice as "puffed
dough in the shape of a catcher's glove, with a baseball" etched
on the palm. The glove is stuffed with spicy Tex-Mex filling,
pork sausage or ground chicken, but the ball does not, as of
yet, have a cushioned-cork center.
Beer List: Canadian national brands, some of which have a higher
alcohol content than U.S. beers.
Ambience: Induces what the French call ennui.
Rating: [Two hot dogs]

New York Mets
Gotta Try: Carolina Barbecue Co. in rightfield does commendable
beef, pork and turkey sandwiches on a steak roll, in sauce the
makers claim is "soon to be famous." But don't hold your breath.
Better yet, after eating this, do hold your breath.
Avoid: The Buffalo Mild sauce that comes with the Chicken
Tenders and Wow Wings. Neon orange and watery, it suspiciously
matches the field-level seat paint.
Beer List: Microbrew carts dispense two New Amsterdam varieties:
Amber and Blonde, apparently named for Mets groupies.
Ambience: You'll get buzzed, if only by airplanes landing at
adjacent La Guardia.
Rating: [Two hot dogs]

New York Yankees
Gotta Try: The sweet Italian sausage, which is not made from
Phil Rizzuto.
Avoid: The Pastrami-Seasoned Turkey Sandwich. This is a Sybil of
a sandwich built around a cold cut with an identity crisis. Is
it pastrami or is it turkey? You make the call.
Beer List: Among the microbrews are Rhino Chaser and Old
Thumper. Have you noticed? Beers now have better names than
Ambience: SoHo prices, SoBro locale.
Rating: [Four hot dogs]

Oakland Athletics
Gotta Try: Hot links from Oaktown's famous Everett & Jones
Barbecue. The extrahot induces eyelid sweat. East Bay's Your
Black Muslim Bakery claims to sell an "all-natural cinnamon
roll," which is like finding an all-natural Baywatch actress.
Avoid: The nuclear nachos.
Beer List: Order a Widmer-Hefeweizen, and prepare to hear your
server say, "Gesundheit."
Ambience: Alas, Al Davis is the maitre d', but vibrations from
the constant construction jackhammering do aid the digestive
Rating: [Three hot dogs]

Philadelphia Phillies
Gotta Try: The Phillie Phanatic uses an ingenious hot dog
launcher to strafe fans with frankfire. Snag a wrapped wiener,
wash it down with a Rita's Water Ice.
Avoid: The Superpretzels. In a city rightly famous for its soft
pretzels, some customers say the Vet's taste as if they were
defrosted and guess they were frozen about the time Walt Disney
was. Instead, on your way to the park, get some pretzels fresh
from the oven at the Federal Pretzel Baking Company in South
Beer List: There are 28 brands, priced from $4.75 for domestic
drafts to a landmark $8 for Anchor Steam. Alas, the Phanatic
does not yet douse the crowd with a beer cannon.
Ambience: Penitentiarylike, except at the stadium restaurant in
rightfield. It has sit-down tables but this disadvantage:
There's a view of the field and, thus, the Phillies.
Rating: [Two hot dogs]

Pittsburgh Pirates
Gotta Try: Primanti's Pittsburgh-style cheesesteak, a hamburger
patty topped with cheese, slaw and fries, all jammed between two
slices of Italian bread. True 'burghers douse it with Louisiana
hot sauce.
Avoid: Sitting near anyone who has eaten the above.
Beer List: Iron City and Penn Pilsner, the latter sold thanks to
new Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy.
Ambience: It's only found in the barbecue tent outside gate A.
Rating: [Two hot dogs]

San Diego Padres
Gotta Try: Rubio's fish tacos, the equal of any served in
Tijuana. Also, former Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones makes a
wildly popular chicken dish called Foul Territory--and actually
chats with customers while serving it.
Avoid: The sweet tamale, stuffed with pineapple and cinnamon.
Foul territory indeed.
Beer List: Bud and Miller dominate in this puritanical park,
where alcohol is available only at food stands and beer is not
available in the Padres' clubhouse. This is, of course,
sacrilege in a stadium named for a sportswriter.
Ambience: Laid-back, back, back, back, back.
Rating: [Two hot dogs]

San Francisco Giants
Gotta Try: The Stinking Rose 40-Clove Garlic Chicken Sandwich
and garlic french fries. "Bad for the breath and bad for the
diet," raves Don Solem, a Giant season-ticket holder who is fast
becoming a giant season-ticket holder.
Avoid: The tofu dog, the color and texture of a pencil eraser.
Beer List: Twenty premium bottled brands, though the coldest
draft is still the one that blows in off the bay.
Ambience: Haute cuisine served in a charmless dump, which is the
equivalent of Chardonnay decanted into plastic cups (something
they actually offer here).
Rating: [Four hot dogs]

Seattle Mariners
Gotta Try: The nachos, which are so popular that they have their
own stands. Alas, the lines flow as slowly as the "cheez."
Avoid: Drinking soda. In March The Seattle Times reported that
last fall a stand worker had seen a colleague use an ice shovel
to scoop up garbage, then ice.
Beer List: Red Hook is a popular local brand, though Starbucks
is still the city's favorite brew.
Ambience: A concrete crypt in which smokers are envied: They get
to hang out on the open-air concourses and stare out at Puget
Rating: [One hot dog]

St. Louis Cardinals
Gotta Try: The Missouri courts gotta try whoever recently
removed toasted ravioli from the menu. It's a ballpark delicacy
that was available only at Busch. What were they thinking?
Avoid: Ordering beer after the seventh inning, when they sell
only O'Doul's.
Beer List: Anheuser-Busch has sold the team but still holds a
bland-beer near monopoly in the stadium.
Ambience: So clean you could eat off the floor, though nobody
has since the Phillies last left town.
Rating: [Two and a half hot dogs]

Texas Rangers
Gotta Try: The Authentic Texas Barbecue, which is available
throughout the stadium. Beef brisket, baby-back ribs and
chicken are smoked to sticky perfection on the Ballpark's
$25,000 smoker, which can handle 700 pounds of meat at a single
Avoid: The Italian sausage. It's dry and lumpy and caused one
diner to conclude that he had "found Jimmy Hoffa."
Beer List: In a welcome innovation, the Ballpark cycles 10 new
premium beers through its gourmet brew stands each month so that
fans can in turn cycle the beers through themselves.
Ambience: Overwhelmingly friendly service in a gorgeous setting.
Alas, unbearable blast-furnace heat arrives by late July.
Rating: [Four hot dogs]

Toronto Blue Jays

Gotta Try: Bavarian Beer Nuts. (Oddly enough, this was the
original name of the Nazi party.)
Avoid: Yogen-Fruz. Is it delicious yogurt or is it a Swedish
skin condition?
Beer List: The Hard Rock Cafe in rightfield serves Moosehead.
Bring along some Woodpecker cider and mix it with the beer to
create an exceptional Moosepecker. In the rest of the park,
there is Labatt's Blue, Labatt's Blue Light, Labatt's Classic,
Labatt's Old Mix, Labatt's Ice...wait a minute: Who owns the
Blue Jays?
Ambience: As ex-Jay Lloyd Moseby once noted, the entire stadium
is a shopping-mall food court.
Rating: [Three hot dogs]

COLOR PHOTO: STAN GROSSFELD [Peanut shells at feet of baseball fans]


On the lingua franca of stadium vendors.


a) Still illegal in seven Southern states.
b) The privilege that allows congressmen to send mail free of
c) Stabbing a hot dog with a fork and inserting said sausage in
a bun.

2. ROLLERGRILL may be defined as:

a) The dyslexic female superhero who fights crime with Rollerboy.
b) What's left when you strike a Rollerblader with the grille of
your '74 Town Car.
c) The stainless-steel concessions-stand cooking device, with
rotating metal cylinders, from which hot dogs are forked and

3. In Cleveland, EIGHTY-SIX refers to:

a) Albert Belle's career number of days suspended.
b) Art Modell's IQ.
c) Product depletion at Jacobs Field, where concessions workers
might say: "We're eighty-sixed on bratwurst! Fork-and-frank
some Polish!"

4. New Yorkers know that SUBWAYS are:
a) Foul subterranean forms of mass transit.
b) Foul submarine-sandwich competition for Blimpie.
c) The occasional meager tips passed along by Yankee Stadium
vendors to kitchen workers and other support staff. The sums
rarely cover subway fare home.

5. A LOAD is what vendors call:
a) Cecil Fielder.
b) Any customer.
c) A full tray of wares, as in, "I just sold a load of licorice
rope to Cecil Fielder."