Minnesota Twins fan Alex Renteria, right, bites Walleye on a Spike as Nate Jackson has Deep Fried Cheese Curds. / Andy King/USA TODAY
Hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack ... and dolphin sandwiches? These days, baseball fans get their choice between traditional and contemporary ballpark fare as stadiums expand menus to include everything from pork chop on a stick to fresh-shucked oysters.
Josh Pahigian, co-author of the newly revised The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip, says ballparks are just catering to fan cravings.
“Menu items that in some way reflect the local culture are particularly appreciated,” Pahigian says. “Back in the day, ballparks offered menus limited to the basics, and those fans with more refined palates went out to dinner before or after the game. Now many fans arrive at the park early specifically to enjoy the many ballpark flavors.”
Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, opened in 2010 with a distinctive menu. “The Twins wisely decided to feature items that have been popular for years at the Minnesota State Fair,” Pahigian says. They include Walleye on a Spike (local fish, battered and deep-fried), Deep Fried Cheese Curds (little chunks of the solid parts of soured milk, battered and fried) and Minneapple Pie (a deep-fried apple turnover sprinkled with cinnamon sugar).
The new Marlins Ballpark in Miami has unique concessions. At the old park, a Cuban sandwich was the trademark. New this year: dolphin sandwiches, fresh-shucked oysters and stone crab, and Latin American dishes ceviche and chicharrones.
Other stadiums with local flavors: Baltimore’s Camden Yards (crab cakes), San Diego’s Petco Park (fish tacos and shrimp burritos) and Milwaukee’s Miller Park (bratwurst, of course).
“Part of me is a traditionalist, so I can appreciate the older parks like Fenway, Wrigley and Dodger Stadium,” Pahigian says. “But I might as well embrace the regional culture and enjoy whatever the locals are eating.”