Despite having been raised in the mire of Major League Baseball’s Red Sox-Yankees war zone (I’m from Connecticut), I don’t have strong opinions about the game. I would have to know some of the rules for that. I don’t. However, I do regularly send a thank you to the god of sports for the gifts baseball has given the world. The hats? Excellent. Pinstripes? Hot. A bunch of people dressed up as caricatures of past presidents elbowing each other as they race? True poetry. Most of all, I’m here for the hot dogs. Because what is more enticing than a juicy brat slathered in mustard? Nothing. Literally nothing. Except maybe nachos. Or deep-fried anything. When it comes to baseball, I’m here for the food.
So this one’s for my fellow sports-ambivalent hot dog enthusiasts. When the baseball fan in your life (and you know there is one, whether it’s your uncle who owns a pair of lucky socks he’s never washed or your friend from college who actually looks really good in their Shohei Ohtani jersey) offers you their extra ticket to a postseason game, you should say yes. Don’t listen to what anyone else tells you: you don’t have to know the rules of the game. For us, baseball is a delicious drunk picnic where you get to cheer, yell and sing along to John Fogerty. Besides, everyone else will love you for offering to wait in line for the food. Here’s what you should order at the concession stand, World Series edition:
Philadelphia Phillies at Citizen Bank Park
Get: a cheesesteak, duh
I may not know what a Phillie is or even if it’s a noun. But honestly, maybe words mean something different in Philadelphia. After all, one of the best chicken sandwiches at Citizen Bank Park is from a place called Federal Donuts.
While you can get a cheesesteak (a grinder with thinly sliced beefsteak and melted cheese) at most ballparks, there’s something that feels right about picking one up behind the stands in Philly. Campo’s and Tony Luke’s are both serving them at the park. The Campo’s specialty is “the Heater,” a spicy version that incorporates hot peppers, Buffalo sauce and jalapeño cheddar. Tony Luke’s, which is now known as Tony and Nick’s, is a larger franchise and dedicated to a more classic version of the famous sandwich.
For another Philadelphia staple, you can pick up Chickie’s and Pete’s crabfries, which the vendor describes as “crinkle-cut french fries sprinkled with a secret blend of crabby spices,” served with a white cheese sauce for dipping. Words again. I’m not sure what “crabby spices” entail, but I do love a salty mystery. There’s also soft serve in tiny baseball helmets. Which is really, really cute. So you should get some.
Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park
This might be obvious, but I’m a big fan of carbohydrates stuffed with other foods. It’s the magic of hot dogs. Sandwiches. Empanadas. Pierogies. Burritos. And something Minute Maid Park is serving up: pupusas. For the uninitiated, the pupusa is the national dish of El Salvador — thick cornmeal griddle cakes stuffed with cheese and beans. The delicious cousin of the arepa. You want one, trust me. You shouldn’t have to look too hard, either. The vendor serving them is called Elote and Pupusas.
A reminder about the Astros: they’re Texan. You should maybe get Tex-Mex. And Minute Maid Park has invested in nachos. They do not hold back. AstroNautchos. Kickin’ Nachos. Texas nachos. The AstroNautchos from Butcher in particular are really swinging for the fences. The chips are dusted in ranch and you can get your choice of barbecue meat on top — get brisket. The AstroNautchos are also an example par excellence of what seems to be a running theme with the park vendors: misspellings and puns.
It’s joined by Peaux Boys and kuesadillas, which are cooking up exactly what you’d expect. The po’boys in particular come highly recommended. However, because we can never leave out the dogs, look out for the Crawford Dog and the “La Piña,” which, obviously, features pineapple on top.
Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field
Get: the Churro Dog
Chase Stadium decided to offer new food this season AND a new form of eating: hate-eating, the long-awaited sibling of hate-watching. Big Dawgs makes specialty hot dogs with toppings in honor of the team playing the Diamondbacks on any given night. You’ll be attending the best-of-seven NLCS (I’ve learned so much)? Then order a Philly Dog, which you’ll find topped with whiz, Philly steak and grilled onions — yes, on top of a hot dog — and you think about how much you hate them as you chomp down. Or just enjoy your hot dog with steak on top. That’s fine too.
Chase Field is also a particularly good spot for spectators with food allergies or restrictions. A number of vendors have introduced “avoiding gluten options” and vegan or vegetarian versions of their menus items. This includes a gluten-free Greek gyro bowl, Beyond Sausage at BBQ Alley, plant-based steak tips at Copper State Steaks, a plant-based chicken fillet at Gonzo’s Grill and gluten-free hot dog buns at a number of stations.
The Churro Dog is also vegetarian, but it feels more important to mention that it comes with a doughnut bun and is covered in frozen yogurt, chocolate and caramel. It’s referenced as being “World Famous,” which I’m skeptical of, but maybe it should be.
Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field
Get: the Boomstick (to share)
“Everything is bigger in Texas” is a joke about Texas that even Texans love to make. And Globe Life Field has taken that to heart. At the 24” Stand (this name will make sense in a moment) you can pick up a two-foot-long Boomstick burger that looks kind of like it has all the sides thrown on top: chili, nacho cheese, jalapeños and onion rings. This is paired with the original Boomstick, a two-foot-long hot dog with the same toppings — except the onion rings are carmelized onions. It’s three pounds. Maybe plan to share it with a friend.
Sharing would allow you to save some room for the other tasty offerings at Globe Life Field. One of the new items this year is the magnificent mashup none of us saw coming: the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos pretzel. While I was nervous when Flamin’ Hot Cheetos teamed up with Mountain Dew last year, I have no reservations about the pretzel. There’s also as much brisket as you would expect from Dallas. Brisket egg rolls. Brisket mac and cheese. Brisket tacos. Want brisket for dessert? There’s even a brisket croissant, a savory-sweet situation that has slices of brisket surrounded by pastry and topped with a doughnut glaze.
And here’s what we WOULD get if these teams were still in it…
Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards
Get: the Yard Dog (but only if you’re brave)
The Orioles were apparently this season’s Cinderella story until they blew it. More importantly, for our future eating selves, Camden Yards is consistently recognized for having some of the best food in the MLB.
This year’s big news was that Boog’s Barbecue brought back its in-house smokers. This much-beloved spot is the place to go for a beef sandwich. However, while smoked meat is exciting-ish, there’s something about a local offering that makes a ballpark snack particularly special. In Maryland, this means you have a wide variety of foods incorporating crab and a mountain of Old Bay seasoning. There are crab cakes, Old Bay seasoned fries, crab-dip-covered waffle fries, and a “Fried Pretzel Boule,” which is like a pretzel bread bowl filled with crab dip. There’s no explicit guidance on whether this item is intended for a single consumer or, say, a fraternity house pledge class. But is there such a thing as too much crab dip? Well, yes, probably, but we applaud you for finding the outer edge of your limits.
Camden Yards also has the holy trinity of hot dogs. Three foot-long hotdogs. One bun. Feel free to cross yourself and send a prayer up as you dig in. The Yard Dog, as it’s called, is topped with crab dip and potato sticks sprinkled with, you guessed it, Old Bay.
Additional kudos to Camden Yards for putting an emphasis on affordability. In a nod to the local area code, a number of their basic snacks cost only $4.10. But, yeah, tuck all this away for next year.
Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium
Get: the Dodger Dog OR anything served in a tiny helmet
I don’t really understand how moving a sports team across the country works, so I’m under the impression that, in 1957, L.A. ruthlessly stole the Dodgers from Brooklyn in some kind of city-on-city heist á la “Oceans 11.” Do not correct me.
Maybe because of these purported shady beginnings, Dodger Stadium is not necessarily known for its food. That’s karma, folks. However, the Dodger Dog is iconic. It’s a 10-inch hot dog and it’s a classic: a pork dog topped with ketchup, mustard, onions and relish. The Dodgers reportedly sell more hot dogs than any other MLB team. Additionally, Dodger Stadium, like most MLB stadiums, upped its food game in recent years. At the Hornitas Cantina, along with a variety of aguas fresca, you could have ordered carne asada nachos inside of a cute plastic Dodgers helmet, if the team didn’t totally implode against Arizona. LA Grille served chicken kebab bowls in helmets as well. At Base Bowls, you could have ordered a Korean short-rib bowl that comes in a large half of a baseball. Baseball is not afraid of gimmicks, and I’m not afraid of eating an entire platter of nachos just so I can wear a fun hat.
The Dodgers also boast one of the only non-New York City locations of a fried chicken spot partially owned by Nas. Wast Coast traitors can enjoy Sweet Chick’s chicken tenders and Nashville hot chicken sandwiches. Sometimes betrayal is worth it.
But, alas, all this is for next year.
Atlanta Braves at Truist Park
Get: corn ribs
While we all might wish this Atlanta team would introduce a new name, the stadium where they play has introduced some wild new food. There’s a chance you should attend a 2024 game simply to help devour snacks. One can only hope that the Submarine Sandwich from the Carvery is available next year too, since it’s three feet long and piled with turkey, bacon and fried green tomatoes. For context, here are a couple of other things that are three feet: a kitchen table, varieties of sunflowers and my four-year-old niece. There’s also the Cleanup Burger, which instead of buns, utilizes Belgian waffles to house four beef patties topped with eggs and maple syrup.
If the sound of all of that meat has overwhelmed you, you could have considered an order of corn ribs. The corn is cut in strips down the side of the cob, fried and drizzled with an avocado crema. In fact, you may just want to give yourself a fried food moment at Truist. New this year was the Closer, a hot dog covered in mozzarella whipped potatoes and then fried. It was like the best parts of a mozzarella stick and corn dog combined.
For dessert, the go-to move was to track down the popsicle stand, King of Pops. It moved around the park, so actually, next year, it might be better to wait for it to come to you.
Minnesota Twins at Target Field
Get: chana tikka
Your first thought at a baseball game might not usually be “I could go for some curry right now.” I’m asking you to re-think that position. If you’re still not convinced, the chicken tikka that Hot Indian served at Target Field in Minneapolis this year would have changed your mind. They’ve also had a chana (chickpea) option for the vegetarians out there. In another homage to South Asian cuisine, Union Hmong Kitchen dished out noodle bowls and teamed up with fellow ballpark vendor Kramarczuk’s to offer Hmong sausages, a pork sausage that incorporated flavors like ginger and cilantro.
Speaking of which, Kramarczuk’s is where you wanted to get your brats. There’s sauerkraut. There’s onions. There’s mustard. These are the signs that they’re doing it right. This is maybe not a fact, but I believe in it so fully that it feels undeniable: a good mustard makes ketchup completely irrelevant. If this upsets you and now you want your meat wrapped in something other than a bun, there’s also Bub’s Aussie Gourmet Pies, which are exactly what they sound like — delicious, savory handheld pies.
For dessert, there was a lot of talk about the mini-doughnuts from Papa Pete’s, but I was more enticed by the new-this-year peach cobbler yeast doughnut from Soul Bowl. It’s covered in peaches. I don’t think you need to know more than that. Again, for 2024.