We recently detailed some of the fine culinary creations coming to a Major League Baseball ballpark near you. But as all baseball fans know, fabulous and far-out fare is hardly the province of just the big leagues. The choices at Minor League Baseball ballparks are often far more creative than the team names. With the MiLB season about to begin, here is a sampler platter of some of the concession offerings across the country in 2016.
Trenton Thunder (Class AA; Eastern League)
Last September, ARM & HAMMER Park hosted the World Famous Case’s Pork Roll Eating Championship. As the name might suggest, the event was a mouth-watering success, so much so that the pork stylings will be a year-round option in 2016.
“We had such great feedback from our fans … that we had to find a way to bring these great items to our fans for every game this season,” said Thunder GM/COO Jeff Hurley.
The result is Pork Roll Paradise on the first-base side, which will offer such pork roll classics as the Thunder Dog, a 1/5 lb hot dog and a quarter-pound pork roll with American cheese on a torpedo roll. The “Oink, Cluck and Moo” is just what it sounds like: pork roll, egg and cheese on a Kaiser roll. The Swine Sandwich matches pork roll with pulled pork and bacon bits, while the Pig Pen brings together chopped pork roll, pulled pork and bacon bits on a bed of mashed potatoes. Finally, what do you get when you sub out a traditional cheesesteak with pork roll and bacon cheddar cheese? That would be the Hog Steak.
Sacramento River Cats (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League)
On the other side of the country, a familiar aroma will waft across Sacramento, as the River Cats introduce their own barbeque tent, called the Sactown Smokehouse, at Raley Field.
“We cook 20,000 pounds of tri-tip a season,” executive chef Andrew Guerere told the Sacramento Bee.
“Typically, we smoke 300 pounds of tri-tip a day during the summer. It’s one of the biggest things we do. At the Smokehouse, we’re going to bring back ribs. We’ll also do tri-tip, smoked chicken and sausages.
“I’m still playing with the ribs. I’m experimenting with a cherry soda marinade.”
After all that meat, is there room for desert? If so, the River Cats bring you fried cheesecake. That would be New York-style cheesecake wrapped in dough, deep fried, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and serve with blackberry dipping sauce.
“My personal favorite is the fried cheesecake,” River Cats general manager Chip Maxson told the Bee. “It’s phenomenal.”
Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League)
The RiverDogs have has completely re-vamped the menu at Joseph P. Reilly, Jr. Park for the ballpark’s 20th season, which can only whet the appetite for RiverDog foodie fans such as Rachael Ray and Adam Richman.
“Our goal every season is to develop fun and exciting menus for our fans to enjoy at the ballpark,” said food and beverage director Josh Shea. “This being the 20th season at The Joe, we felt it was the right time to have creative changes in our overall setup and food options this season and to stay current with food trends.”
The new tricks for the ol’ hot dog include the Picnic Dog, an all-beef Hebrew National six-inch dog topped with slow-cooked baked beans and topped with Jalapeno bacon. The other new offering is Hawaiian Dog, which is piled high with pineapple relish and topped with lemon and herb aioli.
New at the Pie House in 2016, the Drunkin’ Brat is a bratwurst cooked to perfection and placed in an Italian pep roll and topped with beer cheese. Need a drink? The Palmetto Biscotti shake combines Biscotti cookie dough with vanilla ice cream, caramel syrup, and Palmetto espresso porter brew to create an amazing one-of-a-kind beershake experience.
Chelsea’s Cantina introduces the Lowcountry Bowl, served with Spanish seasoned rice and topped with pulled pork, smoked collard greens, mac-n-cheese and drizzled with appetizing barbeque sauce. The Southwestern Chicken Bowl is served with Spanish rice and topped with Chipotle shredded chicken, roasted corn salsa, black beans, cilantro coleslaw and drizzled with lime-infused crema. Finally, the Spicy Chorizo Bowl includes Spanish rice topped with tasty Chorizo, roasted corn salsa, black beans, cilantro slaw and drizzled with lime-infused crema.
A new Kids Meal highlights some of the new menu offerings at Scoops that includes a basic grilled cheese sandwich on Texas toast served with fresh seasonal fruit. The Uptown Grilled Cheese features smoked Gouda cheese with a crispy slab of peppered bacon and sliced fresh tomatoes and is grilled to golden perfection. The All-American Grilled Cheese features a hefty five slices of American cheese grilled until its golden brown and gooey. The Brie & Blueberry Grilled Cheese features a savory and creamy brie topped with fresh blueberries to offer the perfect combination of sweet and flavorful.
Located next to the Palmetto Beer Garden, Smokin’ Joes features smoked brisket sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, and the brisket ramen bowl. It returns in 2016 with a pair of new menu items.
The Sweet-N-Sour Duck Wing Bowl provides a hearty portion of duck wings brined in down-home sweet tea and smoked to perfection. This latest edition to Smokin’ Joe’s is tossed in sweet-and-sour sauce, placed on top of a tasty ramen bowl and served with fresh veggies. The Burnt End Sandwich is a slow-cooked beef brisket chopped and cooked once more in a Memphis-style barbeque sauce that is placed on an Italian pep roll and topped with pickles.
State Fair is a new stand that will be located right beside the Spinx Grab-N-Go stand.
Among its items is the Chicken-N-Double Waffle Burger, a chicken burger dipped in waffle batter and deep fried, and then placed between two waffles and drizzled with Siracha honey sauce.
The Rolled-Up RiverDog is a new take on the classic RiverDog combination (hotdog with slaw, pickled okra, barbeque sauce) that is rolled up in an egg roll and deep fried.
The State Fair will also feature the Deep Fried Pecan Pie Cheesecake on a Stick, because all of the best things in life come deep fried and skewered.
Springfield Cardinals (Class AA; Texas League)
The Cardinals are putting some new twists on classic concessions. Everyone has probably experienced soft-serve ice cream in a souvenir helmet, but the Cardinals are going next level by offering a helmet full of chicken nachos. And speaking of souvenirs, if nachos aren’t enough to entice you, you can purchase them served in a souvenir glove and chase them down with a root beer float.
Perhaps the most fan-friendly addition to the Cardinals’ menu is a pizza-sized pretzel with three dipping sauces. Don’t try to eat it alone.
Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League)
The Suns appreciate the accomplishments of other great Jacksonville legends, even ones who never played baseball, or sports, for that matter. That’s why along the concourses at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville, there is stand called Singh for Your Supper, named for three-time golf Major champion and former world No. 1 Vijay Singh, from Ponte Vedra Beach. On the third-base side, Sweet Tea-bow recognizes Florida Gators Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Under the concourse on the third-base side is Dunkin with Dee, named after Jacksonville native and former NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion Dee Brown of the Celtics. Behind home plate is Southern Fried Free Bird, honoring Jacksonville rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd and featuring Chicken “Limp” Biscuit— a crispy whole breast chicken filled with real butter, all on a warm, Southern-Style buttermilk biscuit.
Among the common fare, there’s a Pork & Slaw Dog, loaded with barbecue pulled pork, cole slaw and a dill pickle spear, and a Philly Dog, which combines a hot dog and Philly Cheesesteak. Two concession stands will offer Classic Grilled Cheese, as well as an All-American Melt of American and pepper jack cheese, bacon, and tomato served on Texas Toast. For fans in the dugout box seats and suite level, options include the Swiss Bleu Mushroom Grilled Cheese—sautéed mushrooms and onions melted with Swiss cheese and Bleu cheese between two slices of sour dough bread—and “The Ultimate,” which combines American and pepper jack cheese with barbecue pork and creamy cole slaw on sour dough bread.
The combination of chicken and waffles takes its ballpark forms as Buffalo Chicken Bites in a Waffle Cone (available at Southern Fried Free Bird) and the Chicken and Waffles served in the luxury suites as donut-flavored waffles served with home-style chicken tenders.
New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Class AA; Eastern League)
The Fisher Cats are having something of a concessions makeover in 2016, which all sorts of new options all around Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
“We’re always working with our partners at Professional Sports Catering to improve the fan experience, and I think everyone is going to love all the upgrades we’ve made,” said Fisher Cats President and GM Rick Brenner. “Nothing beats a great meal at a ballgame, and we’re proud to offer more options than ever before.”
The first-base concession area will feature Franx, highlighting the ballpark staple: a grilled foot-long Kayem hot dog, Hickory’s BBQ, with variety of pulled pork, pulled chicken, cheesy corn casserole, coleslaw and a wide selection of signature sauces, and Burgertopia, with half-pound burgers and all the toppings you can pile on.
Behind home plate, The Wrappery, presented by Stonyfield Organic, serves up the healthiest menu, complete with salads, wraps and some guilt-free dessert options. Sweet, the latest dessert window, will feature a new fudge brownie sundae and soft serve ice cream. Fans can also indulge in a deep fried Oreo from the Fried Dough Cart.
Three upgraded mobile food carts will be added as well: Salsa, serving hand-rolled burritos and super large nachos, Smokies, offering four varieties of smoked Kayem sausage along with their signature foot-long hot dog and Steakadelphia, bringing the flavor of a Philly cheesesteak straight to your seat.
West Michigan Whitecaps (Low A; Midwest League)
The Whitecaps, already known for pushing the eatery envelope with such items as the Fifth Third Burger and the Hot-to-Tot, are going next level with the Dutch Love.
Responding to fan demand via polling, the Dutch Love emerged victorious, and how could it not? It’s turkey pot roast, gravy, cheese curds and fries in a pita wrap. Ballgame!
“When we first started the food voting, fans chose outrageous items like the Declaration of Indigestion (foot long hot dog and cheesesteak combination) and the Baco (taco shell made of bacon) but for the last two years they’ve voted for taste,” Whitecaps Director of Food and Beverage Matt Timon said. “With last year’s winner, the Hot-to-Tot, and now Dutch Love we’ve added two items that have great flavor. The Dutch Love is one I’ll enjoy all summer. It’s tasty!”
Dutch Love’s 26% edged out the Deep Fried Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Pie’s 22%. Coming in third was the 1,300 calorie High Five Burger with 20%, and fourth place was the bacon-wrapped corn Franky Ears.
This year, fans will also get to build their own gourmet hamburger. The Build Your Own Burger cart will have a selection of waffle, pretzel, brioche and traditional burger buns. Add the 1/3 pound hamburger, turkey burger or vegeburger and choice of cheese. Then select toppings such as guacamole, bacon and sriracha ketchup.
Other new concessions items include Cole’s Pub Cheese Stuffed Pretzel Sticks, soft pretzels with Founders Dirty Bastard Mustard served in the Founders Craft Clubhouse, chicken chips, Buffalo chicken sticks and turkey pot roast and gravy. Returning fan favorites are the above-mentioned Hot-to-Tot, deep-fried Nutella and Oreo churros. The famous Fifth Third Burger lives on as well.
Omaha Storm Chasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League)
Helping to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Werner Park, the Storm Chasers have enhanced their concessions, including a new barbeque station called Sarpy Smokehouse, and the 370 Creamery, with yummy ice cream treats and shakes.
Eat Your Opponent Dogs will also make a return and have their own dedicated portable food stand on Bob Gibson Boulevard (third base side). Maui Wowi will also be a welcome addition, with a stand providing smoothies and coffee concoctions. A new-to-market concept is Grab ‘N’ Go, featuring Budweiser and Bud Light beverages and other prepared items in a convenient store-like checkout.
“We are always looking to build upon the atmosphere at Werner Park for our outstanding fans,” said Storm Chasers President and General Manager Martie Cordaro. “Especially as we enter the 5th Anniversary of the Storm Chasers playing at Werner Park, we aim to provide the best fan experience possible.”
Image courtesy of the Trenton Thunder.