Mets top Yanks in stadium food battle

Yanks stick it to Rangers in finale
Too much pitching a good problem for Yanks

When it comes to ballpark food, I am not particularly impressed with any of it. On most nights, I’ll grab a sandwich — a bigger, better and cheaper sandwich than any I can get at the stadium — and chow down at my seat. If I’m feeling like stadium food, I’ll grab a few hot dogs or a Premio sausage with peppers and onions. After all, I’m at the stadium for the game and not a five-star meal.

But like it or not, baseball stadiums have turned into wannabe food havens. This trend seemingly began in Baltimore when Camden Yards and Boog’s Barbecue ushered in a new era of increased attention to food. Now, around the nation, local cuisine from pierogies in Pittsburgh to cheese steaks in Philadephia and basically whatever you want in Seattle permeate stadiums. There’s just something about cooking for 40,000 people, though, that makes generally reliable meals not that appetizing.

With the two new stadiums in New York City promising everything from fine steakhouse dining to Shake Shack and Blue Smoke offerings, it was only a matter of time before outgoing Times food critic Frank Bruni wrapped his chops around ballpark cuisine. In yesterday’s paper, he unveiled his review, and while the Yankees currently have a better record than the Mets, the Flushing Nine apparently have better food. Bruni writes:

New York is actually playing catch-up, and making a spirited game of it. At Yankee Stadium there are special stations at which all-stars like April Bloomfield (of the Spotted Pig in Manhattan) and Masaharu Morimoto (of Morimoto in Manhattan and Philadelphia) show up occasionally to cook.

At Citi Field there’s an Acela Club under the supervision of Drew Nieporent, one of the restaurateurs behind Nobu. But those dining experiences are available only to fans with premium tickets. I stuck to the (relatively) cheap seats and supped at concessions any fan could approach.

The teams have poured considerable energy into these, too. The Yankees serve not only sushi but also thick steak sandwiches from the butcher Lobel’s of New York. The Mets drafted Mr. Meyer to help with barbecue, soft tacos and more, and they turned to the renowned seafood chef Dave Pasternack to oversee a stand called Catch of the Day. But at the chopping block as on the playing field, it’s easier to devise a game plan than to execute it.

Using an assortment of adjectives restaurateurs would prefer not to see in a Times column, Bruni finds the food an improvement over Shea and old Yankee Stadium offerings but underwhelming nonetheless. At CitiField, Bruni encounters “under-seasoned” pork and “paltry” portions. He finds the Lobel’s steak sandwich at Yankee Stadium to be “overcooked and soggy” and the Johnny Rocket’s burgers “clumpy.” In the end, Shake Shack and Blue Smoke triumph over Brother Jimmy’s and the aforementioned Johnny Rockets.

I haven’t been out to CitiField yet, so I am in no position to judge the food. At Yankee Stadium, I have tried the heralded garlic fries and the Brother Jimmy’s pulled pork. Neither impressed me much. The fries were indeed quite garlicky but also lukewarm and soggy. They were far from crisp or crunchy. The pulled pork wasn’t just under-seasoned; quite simply, it had no taste. It is Brother Jimmy’s in name only.

In the end, the Yankees and Mets and the casual fans of these two teams will be happy with the new and expanded food options. Me? I’ll take a beer, a hot dog and a warm sunny day. I go for the baseball, not the brisket.

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Yanks stick it to Rangers in finale
Too much pitching a good problem for Yanks
  • http://pinstripealley.com Edwantsacracker

    Seems like the fans don’t mind as much as the food critics. Both times I went to the stadium there were huge lines for the steak sandwiches and philly cheesesteaks and all kinds of things I would never buy at a ballgame.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

      I had the cheesesteak on Sunday. I liked it a lot…not $10.75 a lot, but it was still good. The last game I went to, I had the chicken fingers and they were pretty good. My only complaint is that the fries, regular or garlic, are never crunchy.

      • http://pinstripealley.com Edwantsacracker

        Yeah, the 10.75 is what is keeping me away too. I’m the kinda guy who will buy my food from the vendors on the way into the stadium to save a couple bucks.

  • GaryBusey

    I got to sit down in the new Stadium’s all-you-can-eat section, and the food was either really good or pretty gross. The burgers and steak and cheeses were sub par, while the chicken fingers and Alaskan crab claws (yes, crab claws) were really, really good. Plus, I will go to an all-you-can-eat of anything, regardless of the quality, so strike that experience up as a win for me.

    • Roddy

      I have been to both and CitiField takes the cake hands down. The pulled pork is just amazing, the Tacos are awesome and the prices are descent (by stadium standards). Yankee stadium is WAY overpriced for everything and the food while not terrible is not up to par with Citi. The Philly cheese is good but like someone said above, for 10.75…

      I’m thinking I will continue to stop at the deli and get me a Pastrami and Cheese for 4.75.

  • Andy Stankiewicz

    You can’t beat a good ole hot dog and beer at a ballgame. Now the prices are crazy but someone has to pay for AROD,CC and the rest.LOL.

  • William

    Because of Shake Shack and Blue Smoke alone, I would give the edge to CitiField. Brother Jimmy’s really isn’t that good, even in the restaurants. It is basically a glorified chain, while Rocket’s is just that. Blue Smoke, on the other hand, is a solid to pretty good stand alone in the city (some things are excellent, while others are average), while Shake Shack is a honest-to-goodness burger joint.

    Aside from those two combatants, I think everything else is pretty standard and evenly matched.

  • UWS

    Me? I’ll take a beer, a hot dog and a warm sunny day. I go for the baseball, not the brisket.

    Amen to that, brother. Sushi at a ballgame? You’ve got to be kidding me. I wouldn’t touch that stuff with a 10-foot pole. Hot dogs, Cracker Jack, and beer are where it’s at!

    I have to disagree about the garlic fries, though. The time that I got them, they were hot, crispy, and delicious. One of the problems with cooking such huge quantities of food is that it is really hard to maintain consistency*. So it’s entirely possible that the fries will be crisp one time and soggy the next. Which brings me back to Ben’s (and my) original point. Haut cuisine and baseball stadiums were not meant for each other.

    *Joe Morgan alert

    • http://pinstripealley.com Edwantsacracker

      Yeah, nothing like sushi on a got summer day. gag

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      One of the problems with cooking such huge quantities of food is that it is really hard to maintain consistency*.

      I have no way of knowing ahead of time whether or not these fries will be tasty, because I haven’t eaten them yet.

      Sincerely,
      Theoretical Joe Morgan

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

    But, yeah, from now on, I’m just gonna do what I always used to do: buy food at home, eat it in the parking lot, save money.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Two words: Sandwich King. $4 for an enormous sandwich, $7 for a sub that takes me two meals to finish. Perfect for bringing into the Stadium.

      • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

        J & J Sandwich King in Flushing? Or is it simply the Sandwich King in Brooklyn?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          Astoria Sandwich King.

        • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

          I love using Google Maps, I feel like a damn spy.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

            It’s pretty awesome. I love looking up and down my street.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            I love using Google Maps, I feel like a damn spy.

            I prefer Mapquest/ Yo, they’re real good too.
            Google Maps is the best/ True that, DOUBLE TRUE!

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Nah, that doesn’t help Matt. The two words he needs are: Firehouse Deli.

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

          MMMMM, Firehouse…

          I’m going down to Costco in Port Chester today and that’s right near Firehouse. I think I know where I’m going for lunch today.

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

            I went with the Lethal Weapon w/hot peppers. I’m looking forward to it.

        • Kilgore Trout

          The real deal holyfield is incredible. I add gilled onions to it though.

          • KW

            Bronx Bomber for yours truly. The only way to fly!

      • Steve S

        You threw me off, I just called it Sal & Chris’. I started thinking how did I miss a good sandwich place. Amazing place, the sandwiches are massive

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          Ah, so we live in the same ‘hood?

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            I think when all this gets sorted out, JoePow and Steve S should get an apartment together.

            • Steve S

              Its always about me and some other guy Tommie. Why?

              Yeah, Joe, Im actually greek (thats another layup for tommie) so its required for me to live somewhere in the vicinity. Im actually right by Sal & Chris’ I live off of Ditmars on 29th street.

              • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                Nice. Ditmars and 42nd.

    • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

      One of the best things about Yankee Stadium is you don’t have to eat in the parking lot. You can bring it to your seat. Food and sealed bottles of water are okay to bring into the Stadium.

      My ritual is to get a $5 footlong sub at Subway and eat it in my Stadium seat.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Is there a size limit?

        Like, can I bring in a 6-foot-long party sub?

        • I Remember Celerino Sanchez

          Let’s put it this way: I would love to be there when you try.

          Of course, I would also be happy to argue your case for you to the Stadium authorities. “But your regulations say …”

  • Brian R.

    As far as quality in the general concession stands, I haven’t noticed an upgrade from either old stadium, but it’s still good enough for me. Hot dogs are gross by nature, so as long as they don’t decline, that’s fine. The service at the general concession counters at both stadiums I think have seen vast improvements!

    I haven’t explored the specialties yet except for the $15 Lobell’s steak sandwich. I must say I was not disappointed. A little soggy, yes, but the portion was generous and it was nice to have the option. I probably won’t make a habit out of it though.

    I think you nailed it Ben, even with all the options, a beer and a hot dog works for me.

  • Chris V.

    I sat in field level seats and ordered buffalo chicken tenders from the menu. They were delicious! $11 but I got 8 good sized tenders. I was impressed.

  • P O’neil

    there is only one blue smoke and shake shack. my brother works security there and he says the lines are always jam packed. I would rahter go to brother jimmys,nathans or johny rockets and get my food in five minutes.

  • Usty

    Love the premio sausage sandwich and a beer. Get it every time I come into the stadium. I noticed they lowered the price of the 16 oz domestic beers from $9.50 to $9.00 too. Shocked they didn’t have a press release on that one.

  • Marsha

    For all you Upper West Siders, bring a deli sandwich from Artie’s. They even throw in the sour pickles gratis.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Mmmmm…sour pickles.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      If you ask them five times and remind them how they forgot or gave you one pickle for three sandwiches the last time.

    • UWS

      I live two blocks away from Artie’s, so this would seem like a great option. Sadly, I usually go to the stadium straight from work. No sour pickles for me :(

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        Wait wait wait. You mean to tell me you live on the Upper West Side?

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          What a surprise, right?

        • UWS

          I know, I know. It’s a shock.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            You ugly, weird, slut you.

  • DocBooch

    You haven’t eaten at Yankee Stadium until you tried the nachos. By far the best eats going in there. Wasn’t impressed with the steak burger, the pretzel dog wasn’t bad though.

    The 10 dollar nachos are fully loaded and will fill you up, I couldn’t move for 4 innings.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Here’s the problem with nachos: I went to college about 15 minutes away from an Iron Hill Brewery, and these nachos are among my favorite things to eat anywhere. Yankee Stadium nachos just can’t touch that.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        Didn’t you also go to college in the same town as the Dogfish Head brewery?

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Dude… That’s fine and I usually agree with you on this Stadium stuff, but that’s a silly reason to knock the food at the new Stadium. I mean, the burgers at the Stadium will never be as good as Bonnie’s in PS, but that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to be able to grab a Rockets burger at the Stadium.

        I guess I just don’t get criticism of the food at the Stadium. It’s worlds better than the food at the old Stadium.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

          Oh, man. Bonnie’s. I love Bonnie’s. Nothing better than a beer and a burger from Bonnie’s after a long or short or any kind of day. Good call.

      • Marsha

        I concur. The nachos at Iron Hill Brewery are stupendous.

      • DocBooch

        Those do look delicious….did you try the Stadium ones?

      • Mattingly’s Love Child

        Way to to make me hungry an hour before lunch!

        Damn those look good!

        • Mister Delaware

          Alright, now I’ll ask the creepy “where did you go to school” question. Had to be West Chester, right? Or has Iron Hill expanded out of the PA/DE area?

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

            Nah. It’s still just in the PA/DE area. I went to Swarthmore. The Iron Hill in Media was a short drive away.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              SWARTHMORE?!?!?!??!

              Only steers and queers go to Swarthmore, and you ain’t got no horns, so that kinda narrows it down…

            • andrew

              Tiny school, I almost played soccer there but decided I wanted a school a bit bigger… really enjoyed the place on my visit though

    • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Um… Where the F is the pretzel dog?

  • Mattingly’s Love Child

    I lucked into some tickets when I was home (I know I’ve said on this site that I didn’t think I’d make it to any games this year, and then bam, I got to go to a game with less than 24hrs notice, pretty wild), and I did the rounds of the upper tier (we arrived late, and the whole point of going is to watch the game not evaluate the stadium).

    I was very disappointed in the food that I bought. First I waited in line for a Nathan’s Hot Dog for an inning and a half, to find out they were waiting to get more hot dogs from the lower levels. The Hebrew National that I bought was nothing like what I even get when I buy the reduced fat ones at the store. Then I bought an overpriced Yuengling to discover they were out of quarters (waiting to get more from the lower levels), so I had to give a friggin tip on top of getting ripped off. My father in-law got a “Dunkin Donuts” coffee that was pure coffee syrup nastiness.

    So to me, there are some kinks to be worked out. I’ll bring in a sandwich and maybe buy a beer (bringing quarters with me next time), but probably won’t waste any time with any of the other offerings.

  • DocBooch

    The pretzel dogs are in the grandstand section suite around section 421…forgot the name of it.

    • Nady Nation

      So you can’t actually try the pretzel dogs unless you have “Jim Beam Suite” passes, I believe.

  • DocBooch

    That would be true, except when I tried them it was at the Joel Osteen event so I think it was open to everybody. No one ask me for my ticket when I went in there

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    You know what would really make the food at the stadium taste super-delicious?

    If they put Joba or Hughes in the bullpen.

    Sincerely,
    Like, freaking 95% of the idiot minds on this Mo-forsaken planet

  • Rock

    Not that I go to the stadium for a gourmet meal, but the offerings at the NYS do pale in comparison to Citi Field and mostly its because the Yankees wanted control over the vending. While not all up to Bruni’s standards, the Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Taqueria and Frites offerings crush anything at the stadium. The Lobel stand should be good but I also found it disappointing and the efficiency of the Premio stands in the stand still remains embarrassing.

  • http://newstadiuminsider.com Ross

    NO WAY that Lobel’s steak sandwich is overcooked, and it is only soggy if you get them to drench it in au jus. That guy is clueless.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Ross will forever remain true to his Lobel’s steak sandwich.