If there’s one food that’s synonymous with the nation’s pastime of baseball, that would be the hot dog, something that’s been hawked by vendors at ballgames for nearly 130 years (via Ballpark Digest). Coming in a close second and third is the double play combo of peanuts and Cracker Jack, both of which get a shout-out in the 1908 anthem "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" (via Baseball Almanac), which is sung by fans in all 30 MLB stadiums (as well as in all the too-numerous-to-count minor league, independent league, and collegiate summer league stadiums) during the 7th inning stretch.
While the holy trinity of tube steaks, nuts, and caramel popcorn may have been enough to keep early baseball fans satisfied (well, that and copious amounts of beer), today’s fans expect an upgraded experience complete with gourmet goodies. In fact, one of the best parts of the first trip to the ballpark each year is checking out all the new concessions they have offer. While this year’s MLB stadium experience is shaping up to be stripped-down one, with Ballpark Digest noting fans should expect a more limited selection of food items than in seasons past, there are still a few treats that are sure to score a home run with most in the stands. Stadium Talk runs down this year’s best ballpark food picks — here are some of the highlights.
Camden Yards: It’s all about the Old Bay
Baltimore’s best known food is, of course, the crab cake, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards (better known as just Camden Yards) still does offer those on its 2021 menu. The crab cakes were selected by Stadium Talk as their pick for the best thing you can eat at the Baltimore Orioles ballpark because they’re so iconically Maryland as well as being something few other ballparks offer.
If you’re not feeling crabby, though, you can still get a taste of the seasoning that makes the Old Line State famous by ordering Old Bay Elote from a Camden Yards stand called Corona Street Taco (located near Section 70). This ear of corn on the cob comes slathered in garlic mayo and topped with queso fresco, sour cream, and chopped cilantro, but it’s finished off with a sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning for a Mexican-meets-Chesapeake fusion that’s sure to be a new fan favorite.
Fenway Park: Lobstah and chowdah
Seafood also reigns supreme just up the coast at Fenway Park. The home of the Boston Red Sox has been standing in the heart of the city’s Back Bay since 1912, which Stadium Reviews says makes it the oldest active MLB stadium. (The runner up, Wrigley Field, is two years younger.) While the Red Sox may have Boston in their name, they are beloved not just in Massachusetts but throughout New England. It’s only fitting that their iconic foods then are a New England-style clam chowder (great for those chilly April games) and lobster rolls. Both chowder and rolls are available from a number of food stands at Fenway Park according to the MLB’s website.
In case you can’t get to a game and are watching the Sox on TV, you might like to know that Red Sox concessions vendor Aramark released the recipe for those Fenway Park lobster rolls so you can make them at home, too. They start with a salad made of lobster meat, chopped celery, lemon juice, mayo, parsley, tarragon, salt, and pepper. The salad is scooped into a buttered, toasted hot dog bun (New England-style, if you can find these), then sprinkled with chives and garnished with a lemon slice. While a Sam Adams on the side is not required, it is highly recommended.
American Family Field: You can never be too cheesy
The Milwaukee Brewers, fittingly enough, used to play in a stadium called Miller Park — and yes, they sold plenty of that hometown brew. In 2021, however, the park has gone through a name change, and now the Brewers play at American Family Field as in the insurance giant (per Ballpark Digest). Luckily, the team itself hasn’t (yet) re-branded as the Milwaukee Underwriters, and the ballpark still sells more beer than it does insurance policies.
In addition to all the booze you’d expect from Brew City, the Milwaukee ballpark is known for bratwurst outselling its hot dogs (via Baseball Stadiums). If you really want to get a taste of the Dairy State’s signature foodstuff, though, you should order something as cheesy as possible, of course. Stadium Talk recommends the Ultimate Cheese Fries, which are beer-battered twister fries topped with cheddar cheese sauce, bacon, and fried cheese curds (both types of cheese sourced from the Wisconsin-based Sargento Foods).
New for 2021 is something equally cheesy, the Yeli Melt. This grilled cheese sandwich, as OnMilwaukee notes, is a favorite of MVP outfielder Christian Yelich — evidently he’s into Monterey jack and sharp cheddar on a sourdough panino (cheeses again by Sargento). The cheese fries are available at a stand outside American Family Field section 214, while the Yeli Melt can be had at stand 129, according to the Brewers’ official website.
Coors Field: The wild, wild West
Coors Field, which along with Busch Stadium is one of the few remaining ballparks to bear a brewery’s name, is actually the birthplace of Blue Moon beer (via Priceonomics). While beer of some sort (most likely Coors-owned or affiliated) is what’s on the beverage menu here, the Colorado Rockies’ home field in Denver likes to walk on the wild side when it comes to food offerings.
In years past, Stadium Talk says they offered a po’boy made of Rocky Mountain Oysters which aren’t seafood, as the Rocky Mountains are nowhere near an ocean. Instead, they are, well, a bull’s personal parts which were detached when that bull became a steer and then battered and fried — because everything, no matter how unspeakable, just tastes better that way.
Sadly, these bull bits apparently haven’t made the cut for Coors Field’s 2021 menu according to their website. There is, however, a stand (actually two stands, located in sections 107 and 331) called Biker Jims where you can get several different types of sausage made with meats more exotic than your run-of-the-mill beef, pork, or Impossible stuff. While Jims is apparently out of reindeer sausage right now, they still have plenty of jalapeno cheddar elk. For a truly one-of-a-kind sandwich, though, you’ve got to try the Jackalope. While these antelope/rabbit hybrids may not exist in the wild, Denver’s Charcutnovo mixes both meats, along with pork, cherries, and habanero peppers, into a delicious sausage that’s not so much mythical as it is legendary.
Chase Field: The delicious Churro Dog
Right about the time of a game’s middle innings, you may get a hankering for something sweet (especially if your team is down by a few runs and you’re starting to get a bitter taste in your mouth). If you’re at an Arizona Diamondbacks home game, you’re in luck, since Chase Field is home to what may be baseball’s best dessert: the Churro Dog. As AZCentral describes it, the Churro Dog is actually three desserts in one, with the churro being sandwiched inside a long john donut and topped with frozen yogurt.
While Churro Dogs are available at several different stands on the 1st and 3rd levels at Chase Field according to the official website, you can enjoy them on non-game days, too, courtesy of the recipe the D-backs shared with the MLB.
To make a DIY churro dog, you’ll first need to heat up a frozen churro, then roll it in cinnamon sugar and plop it between two halves of a sliced-open chocolate-glazed long john. Top it off with several scoops of vanilla froyo or ice cream, then give it a few rounds of whipped cream and drizzle the whole thing with both chocolate and caramel sauces. Though, you may need to hit the showers after you’re done eating it.