They say the surest sign of spring is pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. And, yeah, that’s great if you’re a pitcher or a catcher. The rest of us will just be watching the games this summer, and if we’re watching, we’re eating. And that means the true sign that baseball and summer is right around the corner is when baseball’s food and beverage partners like Aramark, Levy Restaurants, and Delaware North announce the new items added to ballpark menus across Major League Baseball.
With so much to choose from, we break down our Top 10 menu items for 2018:
- Crème Brulee French Toast(Fenway Park)
Before we get started with our list of meals, you have to make some room for breakfast. Speaking as someone who was introduced to Fenway Park in the 1970s, the idea of anything more elaborate coming out of the lyric little bandbox than a boiled Fenway Frank is still a bit mind-blowing. But the Red Sox have long stepped up their concessions game during John Henry’s tenure, and now we have French Toast, with a house-made pastry cream, chocolate ganache, Vermont maple syrup and Fenway Farm’s strawberry sauce, topped with powdered sugar. Now if only the grandstand seats were big enough to accommodate expanding waistlines!
- Chick-Ago Sandwich (Wrigley Field)
Perhaps you saw the story: Sonic is introducing the Pickle Juice Slushie. Disgusting, right? Maybe, maybe not. The reality is, pickle-brine is in for 2018, and the Cubs are rolling out their own take. The Chick-Ago features pickle-brined, breaded chicken thighs, tempura sport peppers, tomatoes and dill aioli on an onion roll. Slushie not included.
- South Bay Lobster Tacos (Citi Field)
Aramark is declaring 2018 the year of the taco, as all of its partner ballparks will be featuring a taco trio selection in their concession menus. Perhaps the most intriguing of the taco selections will be offered by the Mets: a Maine lobster topped taco with sharp jack cheese, avocado salsa, citrus slaw, queso and jalapenos, in white corn tortillas. Why the Maine Lobster option in New York and not Boston? The Red Sox already have a lobster roll on their menu.
- Vegan Cauliflower Cheesesteak (Citizens Bank Park)
It’s not all hot dogs and hamburgers anymore. Baseball endeavors to be socially conscious, and more and more ballparks are adding Vegan options to their traditional culinary fare. Aramark is debuting vegan options in several ballparks this year, but we’ll give the nod to the Philadelphia Phillies for putting a vegan twist on the city’s best-known sandwich: Roasted cauliflower, poblano peppers, onions and vegan cheese sauce on a vegan roll.
- Rocky Mountain Po’boy (Coors Field)
The main ingredient here is the Rocky Mountain oyster. It’s not what you think. Like, really not. They have to do with cows. Anyhoo … this regional delicacy is topped with garlic slaw, guacamole, green chili ranch, pico de gallo and cotija cheese, on a po’boy roll.
- Ode to Detroit Dog (Comerica Park)
French Toast? Cauliflower? Cow … parts???
Yes, they still actually sell hot dogs at ballparks, and in Detroit, the Tigers are offering a throwback dog, which presumably you throw back with a beer or soda. This is a hot dog immersed in brisket chili, with habanero queso cheese sauce and scallions.
- Candy Cone Waffle Cone (Great American Ball Park)
What, no dessert? The Reds have you covered. Like, all over your face. Can’t decide between ice cream and cotton candy? Who says you have to? This holy matrimony puts soft serve ice cream and a tuft of cotton candy into a waffle cone. And sprinkles. Gotta have sprinkles.
- Spec-Tater (SunTrust Park)
So, we’re seven entries into our list and nothing from Atlanta or Texas? You know we save the best for last. Let’s start in Atlanta, where the Braves have decided there’s a better way to enjoy a potato besides French fries. In this version, a potato is loaded with jalapeno cheddar sausage, then wrapped with bacon. Because, bacon. Then it’s garnished with cheese, sour cream, scallions and more jalapenos. Because, bacon.
- Dilly Dog (Globe Life Park)
What you got, Rangers? Well, naturally, with all our talk of pickle juice and hot dogs, their going for the classic combo. First you core a giant dill pickle, then, naturally, you stuff a hot dog into its new pickle suit, then, of course, you batter up and deep-fry that bad boy. Dilly Dilly!
- All things Toronto (Rogers Centre)
I don’t know if we really have a trade war with Canada, but in 2018, there’s definitely a taste war. Aramark has tremendous additions to the menus of all its teams, some of them listed here already. But for whatever reason, the collection of selections at Rogers Centre is off the chain. Want a taco trio? Here’s a Korean Beef option. What some barbeque? How about brisket sandwich with a blood orange sauce? Going vegan? Here’s the Vegan’Acho Nacho, with red and white tortilla chips topped with vegan cheese, black beans, guacamole and pico de gallo.
And those are the boring options.
The two that really stand out are the Log Cabin Waffle Sandwich (Rosemary scented waffles stuffed with pulled pork, cheese curds and maple baked beans, and then topped with mole sauce) and the Distillery Poutine (Potato tots topped with pulled pork, cheese curds, whiskey-raisin gravy and green onions). And when you’re done and it’s time for dessert, there is the Jane Dough Cookie Dough (bites of cookie dough, with or without soft serve ice cream). Jane Dough will also be served at Citizens Bank Park and Minute Maid Park.
Images of Ode to Detroit Dog and Spec-Tater courtesy Delaware North. All other images courtesy Aramark.
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