A rambling and by no means a comprehensive look at the eats at three prominent baseball stadiums in the Tri-State area – Philadelphia, (New Jersey not represented) and New York.
The ballpark closest to me is Citizens Bank Park, a gem of a ballpark just on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Of all the new parks I’ve been to, I think this one captures the ambience of an older Fenway or Wrigley the best, while of course having all the modern amenities. The food at Citizens Bank Park is superior – there are authentic cheese steaks from one of the classic Philadelphia emporiums, Tony Luke’s. There are fine fresh grilled sausage sandwiches. There is BBQ (cooked over coals), and the Chickie and Pete’s Crab Fries, succulent hot crisp French fries loaded with Old Bay seasoning, an area favorite and among the best we’ve had of this type of French fry. The line at Chickie and Pete’s is always long as are the lines at Tony Luke’s. The only negative about Citizens Bank Park are the hot dogs. These are the worst I’ve had in any park. They are precooked, wrapped in tinfoil and left under a warmer. By the time one eats them, they are barely warm. These are to be avoided. It is possible in a few locations to find a more freshly made hot dog, but it’s not worth the trouble. For Philly it’s the cheesesteak and crab fries.
We’ve been to the new Yankee Stadium twice, but have not sampled the gourmet fare. We opted for their fresh grilled Hebrew National Hot Dogs which are served on toasted buns. These are as good as a ball park hot dog gets. Yankee Stadium offers high end eats including gourmet sandwiches from Lobels (the famous butcher) and they have garlic fries which I didn’t think would be a good idea for sitting through a four-hour game.
At Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, I made a beeline for the Shake Shack concession. This is set in a stand-alone building along with Blue Smoke BBQ. I hadn’t been that impressed the one time I managed to snag a Shake Shack burger in Madison Square Park (they’ve since opened a second uptown location that I haven’t been to), but this burger, ordered plain with no cheese, was perfection. A grilled sirloin burger on a fine bun. To say this is the best burger I’ve had at a stadium would be an understatement. At last I saw why the Shake Shack burger has so many devoted fans. Nearby was Box Frites (apparently unique to Citi Field) which serves superbly cooked crisp golden French fries, with a choice of several dipping sauces (one only per order). I chose the mayonnaise. These were wonderful, on the level of the crab fries in Philly although they are not truly indigenous to New York the way crab fries are to the Philadelphia-Delaware-Baltimore region. The hot dogs are by Nathans, which were once exalted, but which I feel have degenerated into below-average street food. I didn’t try them at Citi Field. Citi Field has several exclusive eating clubs including a $41 buffet that I examined but didn’t try. It didn’t look that interesting, and as far as I was concerned, much less desirable than the Danny Meyer stands and Box Frites.