The next time you take yourself out to the ball game, don’t just buy some peanuts and Cracker Jacks. For one, why would you buy peanuts and Cracker Jacks when Cracker Jacks already have peanuts in them? And secondly, food at baseball parks has gotten much, much better since Sultan of Swat served up dingers with a side of stale popcorn, inside a box featuring what we can only assume is an illustration of a child-slave sailor and his loyal attack dog.
Every modern MLB cathedral has more copious and varied food options than Babu’s Dream Cafe, but some stadium fare simply slugs harder than the rest. Here, we took on the challenge of ranking every current MLB stadium by their food. But first, let’s clear a few things up. We aren’t including beer. So, apologies to everyone who sticks to a liquid diet during the ballgame. Secondly, while we are certainly taking the overall spread of stadium selections into account, we are heavily weighting our rankings with regards to each stadium’s best overall dish. A rotation is only as good as its ace, after all-and, when you do make it to any of these parks, you probably only have the stomach (and budget) to eat one meal, anyway. You deserve a winner.
And while-as in life and baseball-there are winners and losers on this ranking, all of these national-pastime meals add character and culinary ambience to their respective parks, and in their own little way, can make even the most boring of games (Orioles vs. Pirates in mid-August, anyone?) somewhat bearable.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, please rise and remove your caps.
30. Oakland A’s: RingCentral Coliseum
Best item: Championship Plaza Food Trucks (Section 114)
As the city just across the Bay Bridge has the shiny new(ish) park and myriad banging food options (more on them, later), the old, “also-is-a-football-stadium” in Oaktown is a little rough around the edges…and scarce in food options. Things are scrappy. And not in a shrewd, Moneyball way. Alas, the food trucks at Championship Plaza are here to save the day. Feast on everything from Mexican food and gyros to Southern staples and Hawaiian BBQ.
29. Tampa Bay Rays: Tropicana Field
Best item: TB Cuban at Cubanos (Sections 146/148) and Ybor Station (GTE Deck)
Here’s the thing: Tropicana Field is probably the worst stadium in baseball. Sometimes, balls actually hit the ceiling and stay there. And the team has one of the lowest budgets in the entire league, leading to the unfortunate nickname, “Tampa Bay Triple A’s.” Despite all this apparent bleakness, the home of the Rays has some legitimate foodstuff (that doesn’t involve orange juice) for fans to enjoy while dodging balls falling from the roof.
The real heavy hitter here is the St. Petersburg-style Cuban sandwich that’s available all over the stadium. You’ve got your ham, your pork, Swiss cheese, salami, the optional mustard/pickles, on toasted Cuban bread. You’re not in Havana… or even Miami… but hey, as far as your tongue is concerned, you might as well be. Despite this stellar sandwich, and a new lineup of local favorites, there’s still not enough here to place the Trop higher on this ranking.
28. Kansas City Royals: Kauffman Stadium
Best item: Belfonte ice cream (All over the stadium)
It is incredibly frustrating that a town so steeped in BBQ legend does not have a better selection of BBQ inside the park. There is no stand-out BBQ joint that can live up to what the town (and probably the tailgaters) can offer. This is a Mike Moustakas-sized let down, and a big reason Kauffman is so ranked so low.
Shockingly, the best thing you can get at a Royals game is a few scoops from Belfonte-a KC ice cream staple that’s been around 1969, the same year the Royals themselves were founded. Coincidence? Yeah, probably. Still, this local ice cream legend is the ideal antidote to those hot Midwestern day games out on the boiling metal of Kauffman’s bleachers. It’s also a cure for empty stomachs and, if used correctly, malaise. It’s even better than a loaded bullpen. Then after the game is over, you can go out and get some ribs. Things aren’t so bad after all. Unless you are rooting for the Royals to win in 2021. Then yeah, things are kind of bad.
27. Detroit Tigers: Comerica Park
Best item: Gyro sandwich (Big Cat Court)
If we were ranking craft beer selections, Comerica would probably edge its way to the top, as they were one of the first parks in the majors to truly embrace the craft beer movement and offer a balanced lineup of quality, local brews. But in true, bad luck Tigers tradition, we aren’t doing that. Womp womp. As you patiently wait for Miggy’s 500th dinger, there are some solid, quirky desserts, like the apple pie egg roll and the Nutella egg roll at Big Cat Court and an uber-trendy Buffalo cauliflower dish at the Corner Tap Room (in section 115). But the true standout is the gyro sandwich, available at the highly populated Big Cat Court just by the entrance. While Comerica is finally catching up with Detroit’s surprisingly vibrant and diverse food scene, it still isn’t fully there. We’ll consider them to be in the “rebuilding” phase.
26. Chicago White Sox: Guaranteed Rate Field
Best item: Elote/corn off the cob (Sections 104, 127, 142, and 529)
The Second City’s second-favorite baseball team (but Obama’s No. 1!) might have the worst-named stadium in any major American sport. But, they do have one of the best snacks in the Big Leagues in the form of a surprisingly fresh-tasting elote, available either straight on the cob or off it, in a bowl, loaded with toppings like chili, salt, butter, and mayo. And while this elote is particularly delicious-and the rest of the concessions are stacked with some local favorites like Beggar’s deep dish and ice cream bars from Prairie Farms-there’s just not enough substance here to compete with the rest of the league. Kind of reminds you of the White Sox themselves, right? I’m seeing a recurring theme here…
25. Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Centre
Best item: Funnel cake poutine (Section 134)
Canada’s only ball club (RIP Expos) obviously needed to throw its maple leaf-adorned caps into the fray by going all out on poutine. And while there is a decent sausage poutine served throughout the stadium, the real standout here is a recently debuted dessert poutine that gravy and cheese curds for fried dough and powdered sugar, and swaps out savory for ridiculously sweet. But again, like so many of these low-ranked stadiums, it’s just a little disappointing that there’s not a more substantial “best dish” to push the stadium formally known as the Skydome over the top. At any rate, now Jays fans can indulge in this hedonistic dessert as they watch their team screw up in the playoffs. O Canada!
24. St. Louis Cardinals: Busch Stadium
Best item: Bacon-wrapped hot dog (Section 168)
This wiener is pretty much the only thing at Busch Stadium that will beat can after can after can of fresh light beer (or as I call it, America Sauce). Let’s go over the toppings: a jumbo hot dog wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon and topped with baked beans, pico de gallo, spicy aioli, and crispy fried onions. Wash it down with some America Sauce, and you have a perfect encapsulation of baseball, summer, and good old USA excess. But in an era when ballpark food has become so elevated, you’d like to see Busch offering up a better option than a simple wiener to make fans remember the good ol’ days when the Cubs sucked, Pujols raked in Cardinal red, and the Cubs sucked. It’s been a tough few years.
23. Los Angeles Angels: Angel Stadium
Best item: Chronic Tacos (Section 223)
The Angels have one of the most exciting young pitchers in the league in Reid Detmers. They also have one of the most exciting young tacos in the league in this carnitas taco. The tacos come from Chronic Tacos, a local SoCal joint that has become the one of the most popular food stops in the whole park. But with your choice of meat, simple pico de gallo, and some shredded lettuce, the tacos-like the Angels this season-are nothing to really right home about.
22. Los Angeles Dodgers: Dodger Stadium
Best item: Dodger Dog (All over)
Classic Dodger Dogs-the long, sort of mushy, very skinny, beef/pork-blended hot dog that’s one of the most famous foods in baseball-is sort of terrible, especially if you get the steamed version (available through most of the park) rather than the much more flavorful grilled version (available only at select vendors). But it’s that processed, salty flavor that also sparks nostalgia for childhood summers and the smell of tee-ball tees and not-quite-broken-in mitts that makes going to Dodgers games, especially for local Angelenos, a must-do. This year, there is even a plant-based version available, which is smoked with maple hardwood chips in order to recreate that charred flavor. And while the classic Dodger Dog has its (obvious) admirers, and there are some substantial also-rans like the cannolis from Tommy Lasorda’s Trattoria or the elote from Think Blue BBQ.
21. Cincinnati Reds: Great American Ball Park
Best item: Skyline Chili (all over the park)
Skyline Chili-much like Reds legend Pete Rose-is beloved by fans, but dramatically divisive, and sometimes controversial, pretty much everywhere else. While Cincinnatians (Cincinnatites? Cinncers?) consider their messy pseudo-chili a city landmark in itself, out-of-towners might not be able to grasp what makes the famous Skyline puddle so damn endearing to Queen City taste buds. So, while some might consider the Great American Ballpark to be a chili mecca, others might want to dry heave at the thought. Basically, this park lives and dies on the strength of Skyline, which certainly handcuffs its standing on this list.
20. Colorado Rockies: Coors Field
Best Item: Helton Burger (Section 153)
Coors Field has tons of unique food and drink offerings, including a bonafide brewery right on the premises (where Blue Moon itself was first crafted). Also, if you are so brave, you can try your hand at Rocky Mountain Oysters, which are essentially deep-fried bull testicles, in section 144. But if you’re looking for more classic baseball game fare, check out the #17 Helton Burger Shack, a nostalgic diner-esque joint named for legendary Rockies first baseman Todd Helton. Get hand-whipped milkshakes, crispy onion rings, and the Helton burger-a juicy mix of brisket and sirloin with diced onions, sliced pickle chips, and special sauce.
19. Boston Red Sox: Fenway Park
Best item: Fenway Frank (All around Fenway, including the Right Field Roof Deck)
Part of the charm of baseball is the nostalgia (also, the coaches have to wear full uniforms, which is hilarious). The game is essentially played the same way it was hundreds of years ago. It’s like a historical reenactment every summer, with limited commercial breaks and zero boring butter-churning. Back when the Great Bambino was slinging fastballs in Fenway, they ate hot dogs. And the Nation still does. This is certainly the most charming wiener in the majors, and the rest of the roster is bolstered by quirky new additions like lobster poutine from Yankee (!) Lobster, and the surprisingly healthy inclusion of hearty salads from Fenway Farms. But just as the Sox lineup is lacking oomph since Big Papi hung up his cleats and profanity-laden speeches, we’re not seeing a lot of compelling dishes in Beantown’s old ballpark. Still, Fenway managed to escape the lower third of the ranking based on the strength of the Fenway Frank. They’re wicked ubiquitous, brah.
18. Texas Rangers: Globe Life Field
Best item: Boomstick (Section 143)
Everything, apparently, is bigger in Texas. And while that’s a dumb cliche no writer should ever lead a paragraph about Texas with (oops), it definitely applies to this big-ass, two-foot-long hot dog. The dish itself is Globe Park’s originally notorious Boomstick-soaked with chili and cheese that is probably the best thing available in Arlington. Yes, it’s incredibly aggressive. The Rangers have made a name for themselves in the concessions-world by going all out (or maybe in?) with stunt foods that make heart doctors cringe. And while all this is definitely notable, it’s not going to be the perfect fit for every prospective MLB-diner.
17. Milwaukee Brewers: American Family Field
Best item: Bratchos (Sections 123, 216, 221, 417, 433)
There are some things in life you shouldn’t try to explain or make sense of. They are things that just need to be accepted as what they are, nothing more, nothing less. Such is the case with American Family Field’s Bratchos (get it?): a fried wad of cheese, seasoned ground beef, crushed Doritos, and sour cream on a six-inch toothpick. It’s like a deep-fried plastic bag, dancing in the wind. Aside from that, there’s sausages from Klements, and a very Wisconsin-esque array of cheese curds all over the stadium. But if you prefer your arteries unclogged, you might feel a little stifled. Though if that’s the case, what are you doing in Wisconsin, anyway?
16. Arizona Diamondbacks: Chase Field
Best item: Churro Dog (Sections 114, 123, 315)
The Churro Dog has more clout than anyone on the current D-Backs roster. This dessert dog, on the other hand, to paraphrase The Big Lebowski, is a churro-based snack for its time and place… it fits right in. It even won “best donut-based food” by MLB.com, which is pretty much the Academy Awards for donut-based ballpark foods. The Churro Dog 2.0 amps things up by throwing an Oreo churro inside the traditional donut bun (with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, and extra Oreos). It’s one of the preeminent stadium foods and a benchmark for all baseball desserts. Because as ballpark food logic dictates, your dish is only as good as the heart attacks that should inevitably follow. But, it is a novelty. And when your number one food is a calorie-laden, saccharine dessert that would even make an 8-year-old at a birthday party a little hesitant, it’s a little hard to crack the top half of this list.
15. Washington Nationals: Nationals Park
Best item: Chili half-smoke hot dog (Ben’s Chili Bowl, Sections 109, 141, 318)
Does it get any more patriotic than eating a hot dog while watching America’s game in our nation’s capital, in Nationals Park, watching the Nationals? On top of that, the park has DC’s legendary half-smoke soaked and smothered in the District’s famous chili. For once, Congress is doing something right. And by Congress, I mean the guys who make food at the baseball stadium down the street from Congress. I’m sure Congress wasn’t really involved at all.
14. Philadelphia Phillies: Citizens Bank Park
Best item: A cheesesteak (Tony Luke’s, Ashburn Alley)
In the (very unfortunate) absence of the legendary “Schmitter,” which was pretty much the only reason to go to a Phillies game since 2009, a cheesesteak should rightfully take its place on the Iron Throne of Philly’s ball team. Citizens Bank has a few cheesesteak options-including Campo’s-but the honor here goes to Tony Luke’s, the sandwich that’s always in the “Best of Philly” conversation. If there was a better selection of cheesesteaks to indulge in at Citizens Bank, Philly would have ranked much higher.
13. Houston Astros: Minute Maid Park
Best item: Texas Smoke (Section 306)
Texas Smoke and its legendary brisket get bonus points since celebrity chef and Texas Smoke owner Bryan Caswell is a legit Astros fanboy. It embodies local flavor (massive plus) just as much as any stadium offering, and is substantial enough to beat diminutive slugger Jose Altuve in a fist fight. The Astros have an overall solid selection of concessions, including barbecue-stuffed baked potatoes from the Butcher, and a Shake Shack in centerfield. But the crown jewel is Texas Smoke. The good times are rolling for the ‘Stros, and their fans can just sit back and watch…with a plate full of brisket, of course.
12. Chicago Cubs: Wrigley Field
Best item: Italian Beef Sandwich (Buona Beef, Bleacher Platform 14)
Yes, you can get the classic Chicago dog with a poppyseed bun and neon green relish. And, if you’re feeling pizza, there is the adorable, six-inch deep dish from Giordano’s at Wrigley, as well. But members of the Cubbies faithful know that the city’s real signature dish is the Italian beef sandwich. While we prefer our version from Al’s, Buona Beef does a nice job with its overloaded sandwich, topped with hot giardiniera and dropping with au jus.
11. Miami Marlins: LoanDepot Park
Best item: Salchipapas (Bites de la Calle, Section 8)
Despite what might be the lamest ballpark name in the MLB (especially when lowercased), the food at LoanDepot park remains supreme. We highliy suggest any of the menu items at Bites de la Calle behind section 8, including nachos and smothered hot dogs. But the real highlight are salchipapas, which are essentially sliced sausages atop french fries that are drizzled with ketchup, mustard, mayo, and aji chili sauce. Plus, you can still snag fresh ceviche at Suviche, pulled pork nachos from Magic City BBQ, Cubans from La Cocina de Goya, and empanadas from Novecento. Basically, you don’t even need to pay attention to the field when you hit up LoanDepot park this summer. And you probably won’t want to, anyway.
10. Atlanta Braves: Truist Park
Best item: Anything at Waffle House (Section 311)
Since fans in Georgia need something to wash down the cultural insensitivity of the Tomahawk Chop, they can turn to the South’s greatest export (aside from Juvenile, obviously), Waffle House. Yes, Truist Park has a Waffle House, in-house. And while you won’t find the full menu here, the scaled-down effort is more than sufficient: waffles, hash browns of all styles, and the Texas Philly sandwich. It’s enough caloric, down-home cooking glory to help fans forget they had Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine on the same team, in their primes, and only captured one championship and basically the only thing you need to know about Truist Park. Oh, and they have a Chick-Fil-A. Just don’t expect to hit it up before a Sunday matinee.
9. Baltimore Orioles: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Best item: Crab cake sandwich (Harris Creek Oyster Bar, Section 73)
The picturesque, downtown stadium that Cal Ripken Jr. built (not really, they used city-paid construction workers) actually has some of the best food options of any ballpark in the junior circuit, in a town brimming with surprisingly choice eats. So, “best dish” was a tough choice, and respect must be paid to Boog’s BBQ (Boog Powell was a former All-Star for the O’s) and crab and mac and cheese hot dog. But in the end, the classic crab cake sandwich from Harris Creek Oyster Bar won because of its regional representation, and also because it’s just really damn good.
8. Cleveland Indians: Progressive Field
Best item: Grilled cheese (Melt, Section 111)
Fans of the Tribe can look forward to eating what is consistently considered one of the best grilled cheeses in the entire nation in section 111. One bonkers sandwich from Melt-try the Parmageddon loaded with pierogies-is enough to shed the “Mistake by the Lake” label The Land was slapped with over the past quarter-century. You also have a build-your-own-taco situation by the Land’s food truck darling Barrio, and a slew of idiosyncratic burger options from Zack Bruell’s Cleveland burger concept, Dynomite Burger. It’s almost enough Cleveland-based pride to make you forget the Browns exist. Almost.
7. New York Yankees: Yankee Stadium
Best item: Steak sandwich (Lobel’s, Sections 133)
For better or worse, the Yankees are the quintessential New Yorker sports team. And, for better or worse, the quintessential New Yorker thing is to charge a metric shit-ton of cash for the simplest pleasures-something the Yankees and their stadium fully embrace. The stadium is flush with hard-hitting sluggers this year, and as always, there’s a ton of hyper-expensive, and high quality food to dig into in the land of dingers. NYY Steak is a literal steakhouse sandwiched inside the stadium. Jersey Mike’s brings its legendary cheesesteak to the Pinstriped Palace. And Mighty Quinn’s makes sure every entitled Yanks fan has a quality BBQ option while sitting amongst the ghosts of Ruth and Mantle. But the cleanup hitter in the concessions lineup is the thick-cut steak sandwich from iconic Upper East Side butcher Lobel’s. It’s classy. It’s egregious. It’s wildly expensive. And at the end of it all, it’s a winner. This is basically the Bronx Bombers in sandwich form. Start spreading the news.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates: PNC Park
Best item: Pierogi Hoagie (Manny’s BBQ, Centerfield)
Pittsburgh certainly knows a thing or two about piling a bunch of stuff onto sandwiches, and the food offerings at PNC Park are no different. Similar to Boog in Baltimore, former Pirates star catcher Manny Sanguillen operates a BBQ stand behind centerfield, where he sits and signs autographs for fans. Manny’s BBQ offers tons of different platters, including pulled pork sliders with slaw and bakes beans. But the real star of the show is the Pierogi Hoagie with pulled pork, potato and cheese-stuffed pierogies, and crispy onions on a pretzel bun. And there’s no better place to bite into the quintessential yinzer classic than dahntahn at PNC Park with a beautiful view of the City of Champions over the outfield wall, n’at.
5. San Diego Padres: Petco Park
Best item: Quesobirria tacos (Puesto, Sections 119 and 120)
If you pay attention to food trends at all, you know that birria tacos are so hot right now. This version consists of crispy melted cheese, braised short rib, fresh guacamole, chile de arbol salsa, and pickled radish. And while it might be a little too trendy for grizzly old-school fans, you shouldn’t reject this dish just because it’s not a hot dog. And thus is the appeal of Petco’s concessions. The cavernous park in beautiful San Diego is known for having some of the best Mexican food in professional sports-and duh, you’re in San Diego, after all. You can also snag incredibly great guacamole and margaritas from the brand new Puesto, a locally owned, fan-favorite Mexican spot.
4. San Francisco Giants: Oracle Park
Best item: Carne asada burrito bowl (Mission St. Nachos, Sections 130 and 233)
While the Giants seem to somehow win the World Series every even-numbered year lately, their fans are kept satisfied during the odd years with one of the most eclectic and bountiful concession-stand lineups in the Majors, and it’s consistently mentioned as one of the industry’s standards when it comes to concessions. It’s almost as if each food stand was injected with some sort of performance enhancer, much like that one dude who hit a bunch of dingers in McCovey Cove a little while back. And the whole lineup is just so incredibly balanced. There’s freshly baked cookies and ice cream sandwiches from Cream. If you want something healthy, there is literally a fresh produce garden behind centerfield that’s used for smoothies and juices. There are Impossible burgers. There is an SF-classic Ghirardelli hot fudge sundae. But we kept coming back to the Mission-style burrito bowls for a true taste of the city: Spanich rice, pinto beans, nacho cheese, fire-roasted salsa, crema, and jalapeños. It’s almost as good as watching Buster Posey’s comeback.
3. New York Mets: Citi Field
Best item: Fuku chicken sandwich (Fuku, Section 102)
New York’s NL squad lacks for quality food like it lacks for young flamethrowers who look like they’re into Thor cosplay. That’s a baseball-nerdy way of saying they have a smorgasbord of excellent food choices in the concessions at Citi Field… and a litter of blonde, long-haired starters. You have your Shake Shack. You have risotto balls from Arancini Bros. You have your legendary steak sandwich from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors. Any of these could easily be the best food option at the majority of Major League Parks. But the deep-fried crown goes to David Chang (duh) and his transcendent spicy chicken sandwich from Fuku. It’s the best thing to happen to the Mets since Keith Hernandez and his mustache came to town.
2. Minnesota Twins: Target Field
Best item: Chana Masala (Hot Indian Foods, Truly on Deck)
The safe (and obviously still delicious) choice would be ordering a sausage from one of Kramarczuk’s outposts around the park. Instead, be adventurous and try the Chana Masala from Hot Indian Foods, one of the Twin Cities’ premier food trucks and purveyor of eclectic Indian dishes. Plus, in Minnesota it’s basically only summer for most of July and half of August. So you could use a little spice out in those bleachers when it’s snowing in April, June, and September. Overall, the Twinkies are so highly regarded on this list because they not only excel at traditional baseball fare-and pack a roster full of local favorites like the Cease and Desist Burger from Blue Door Pub-they also aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of what excellent ballpark food can be. Consider the chilled sesame peanut noodles or Korean fried chicken from Andrew Zimmern. And of course, the aforementioned Chana Masala. You’d be hard pressed to find options as varied, diverse-and most importantly good-anywhere in Minnesota, let alone at a sports stadium.
1. Seattle Mariners: T-Mobile Park
Best item: Almost everything
What can possibly be said about the food available at T-Mobile Park that hasn’t already been said? Should we wax poetic at the absurdity of having high-quality wantons and pork bao buns-courtesy of Din Tai Fung-at a freakin’ baseball stadium (section 133)? Can we go into detail about the perfection of the lobster rolls, sitting atop a King’s Hawaiian roll, at Sound Seafood (section 249)? Would you like to know about the infinitely customizable ice cream sandwiches from Frozen Rope, with gourmet cookies or brownies as buns and ice cream sourced from local favorites Lopez Island Creamery and Snoqualmie Ice Cream (section 132)? Shall we compare the effortlessly cool swing of a young Ken Griffey Jr. with the undeniable appeal of a Beecher’s poutine (section 329)? No. Because all you need to know is that the Mariners decided to serve Oaxacan chapulines-toasted grasshoppers in a zesty citrus seasoning-from Edgar’s Cantina and fans literally ate it up, turning it into a best-seller at the ballpark (section 212). Let that sink in: T-Mobile does food so well, they were actually able to sell American sports fans toasted bugs, and it was still a major success. While the traditional Seattle snack may be tossed salads and scrambled eggs, the Mariners’ cathedral has now set the benchmark that every other organization strives to meet by getting wildly creative, doubling-down on locally sourced strengths, and never being afraid to give the fans what they want-even if they didn’t know they wanted it.
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Wil Fulton is a senior development producer Thrillist. If you told him he could only eat one food for the rest of his life, he’d be frightened and confused. Follow him @wilfulton.