When one looks at menus around Minor League Baseball, Tex-Mex food seems to be a popular cuisine. Just look at the 2016 MiLB Food Fight menu which included the Albuquerque Isotopes’ (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) Enchilada Dog, pulled pork nachos from both the Stockton Ports (High-A; California League) and the Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League), The Dude Burrito from the High Desert Mavericks (High-A California League), and pork carnitas from the Carolina Mudcats (High-A; Carolina League).
But the unique flavor combinations extend to ballpark concessions as well, with at least 32 teams having Tex-Mex concession stands. Some stand out more than others when it comes to their offerings. The Isotopes serve pizza from Dion’s Pizza, a local chain restaurant, with one of the most popular flavors including pepperoni and green chile. The Charleston RiverDogs (Low A; Sally League) have Chelsea’s Cantina, a stand that features the Low Country bowl with seasoned rice, pulled pork, collard greens, mac and cheese, and BBQ sauce. There are also the Southwestern Chicken and Spicy Chorizo bowls.
The El Paso Chihuahuas (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) serve nachos in dog bowls and continues its Southwest flavors with its Huevos Rancheros burger basket. The Fort Wayne TinCaps (Low A; Midwest League) have Manzana’s Mexican Grill where they put apples into some of their dishes like the mole sauce.
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (High A; California League) have a Mexican stand in right field where you can get the Sonoran Dog, a hot dog which is bacon wrapped with pico, guacamole, sour cream, diced onion, and cilantro. The Reno Aces (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) serve spicy carnitas tacos and the Arroyo Mexican Grill is next to the team store.
However, there are some minor league teams that have taken this love to a whole other level. The San Antonio Missions (Class AA; Texas League) have two mascots and they are both Tex-Mex themed. First is Henry the Puffy Taco. What is a puffy taco you ask? It’s when you drop a tortilla in the fryer but it doesn’t fully fry. It’s not soft and not crispy but puffy. Many restaurants in the area claim to have invented it but no one really knows for sure.
When speaking to MiLB.com blogger Ben Hill back in 2014, the Missions assistant general manager Mickey Holt said Henry began as a promotion with a restaurant by the ballpark who wanted to sponsor a taco race. Ever since, the taco has been a staple at Missions game along with Ballapeno who was introduced in 2000. It’s exactly what you think it is, a jalepeno decked out in baseball gear.
The Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) have also embraced the world of tacos with a Fresno Tacos game during the 2015 season. It was such a hit that the club implemented Taco Tuesdays for its 10 Tuesday home games this season. The team wears orange and green jerseys with the Fresno Tacos emblazoned across the front as well as a matching green taco cap. A different local taco truck is featured as a competitor in this year’s Taco Truck Throwdown. And on the concourse menu for Taco Tuesdays? There are $2 tacos, churros, and sodas. There is even taco merch in the team store including hats that look like tacos.
As the Tex-Mex theme spreads across the minors, one can only imagine what new, creative ideas will pop up over the next few years.