Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club

At America’s stadiums,
Dungeness crab sandwiches, Kansas City ribs, and slow-cooked pork tacos take
center field.

 “If you’re gonna pay more for a
hot dog or a burger or an order of fries,” New York City restaurateur Danny
Meyer proclaimed in a recent phone interview about stadium food, “they better
be damn good.” You can’t blame him for being passionate.

  Meyer, a lifelong baseball fan,
has partnered with the New York Mets to bring versions of his popular Manhattan
restaurants to Citi Field, the team’s new stadium in Flushing, Queens. Mets
fans can now get “Shack-Cago” hot dogs at his Shake Shack, Kansas City ribs at
Blue Smoke (also by Meyer), and slow-cooked pork tacos with tomatillo-chipotle
salsa at El Verano Taquería, a taco stand inspired by chef Floyd Cardoz, of New
York’s Tabla restaurant.

 “It became clear that New York
was far behind the curve when it came to food options at sporting events,” said
Meyer, who’s had Mets season tickets since 1986. “If we do our jobs well, the
food will be yet another reason fans will become excited to go to the

 Thanks largely to the Baltimore
Orioles, baseball fans no longer have to endure soggy hot dogs and watered-down
beer. Since the team introduced regional cuisine to Camden Yards in 1992—think
pit beef platters and Maryland crab cake sandwiches—Major League Baseball
stadiums across the country have been retooling their menus to reflect a taste
of the home team.

At Minute Maid Park in Houston,
for example, you can now sample sizzling beef fajitas at Tex-Mex favorite
Rosa’s Taqueria, with grilled bell peppers, sweet onions, and fresh cilantro,
on a soft flour tortilla made while you wait. At Seattle’s Safeco Field, fans
go crazy for Ivar Dogs—deep-fried cod topped with coleslaw and tartar sauce on
a freshly baked bun from popular seafood chain Ivar’s. And at Citizens Bank
Park in Philadelphia, hungry crowds line up for the roast
pork–provolone–broccoli rabe sandwich from South Philly original Tony Luke’s.

 “It’s imperative that ballpark
cuisine have regional flair,” says executive chef Ed Lake, who oversees
concessions at Citi Field, Citizens Bank Park, and Fenway Park in Boston and
works with a team of culinary professionals to develop locally inspired menus
that reflect a taste of the neighboring community.

So which baseball stadium has
the best eats? We surveyed experts, including league officials, chefs (from
Danny Meyer to stadium supplier Aramark’s Ed Lake), and super-fans like Kevin
Reichard, publisher of the go-to stadium news website, and
everyone agrees: AT&T Park in San Francisco is the champion of stadium
food. “It’s got an amazing variety of local gourmet foods,” says Reichard,
who’s visited every major ballpark in America. “Even the hot dogs are
outstanding.” Among his favorites are the fresh Dungeness crab sandwich served
on garlic butter–brushed sourdough, and Palo Alto’s own Gordon Biersch garlic
fries made with fresh garlic and parsley. Meyer agrees: “AT&T Park
propelled stadium food to the next level.”

 And while he’s hoping fans will
enjoy the cuisine he’s brought to Queens, don’t expect to see duck confit—or
anything else too fussy—at Citi Field. “Not a chance,” says Meyer. “Just
because you can shave black truffles on pizza doesn’t mean you should.”

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