Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Baseball Buffet

Last week was the start of baseball season, and that means me over the next few months in front of my TV watching the Giants get older and wasting money. Sigh. Everyone knows being a San Francisco Giants fan can be frustrating. (Which is probably why I'm really a Yankees fan before calling myself a Giants fan.) There's the Bond effect. A new recycled manager from San Diego. And no real closer.

But all Giants fans can attest to the true reasons for watching the Giants play, and that's AT&T Park. Despite its many name changes (Pac Bell, SBC, ABC, EFG, etc.), it's one of the best place to be on a sunny weekend by the bay. Last week, a co-worker who has season tickets had an extra ticket for a night game. So I got to go to the game for free, and that gave me a chance to stroll the many new eateries added at the yard (the Giants are sprucing up the stadium with fancy new eateries and gadgets in preparation for hosting the All-Stars game this July). OK, this isn't new but I thought I should feature what's probably the most popular food item at the park, and that's the Gilroy Garlic Fries. I have to say, I haven't eaten the garlic fries because I generally don't eat deep-fried food. But I can say I've smelled my share of garlic fries. They sell for $6.50 a tray.
Panda Express apparently got the boot and in its place is this new Chinese food stand called Edsel Ford Fong. Never heard of them, and not really impressed by what I saw. I was excited to hear they had a Vietnamese sandwich for sale ... until I saw that it was $8. Aiya! I'll just pick up my bahn mi from the Tenderloin and just smuggle it into AT&T.
Safeway is a major sponsor of the Giants and I noticed several more Safeway stands around the park. While some of you might smirk at Safeway, I have to say they offer more reasonable offerings for people on a budget. Here they were selling Italian foccacia and turkey pesto sandwiches for $9 each and soup for $6.75. (Hey, that's pretty reasonable when you hear what's offered below!)
I don't know if this is new. Murph's Pub looks new to me, but maybe it's because I don't drink that often at games so never paid much attention. (You know, they could have spent the extra cash to buy a "Y" for its name and call themselves Murphy's.) Even if it's old, it seems to have expanded their presence and apparently, according to someone in line, they sell the best chili dog ($6.50). They also offer fish and chips ($9) and all sorts of Irish beer and Irish Coffee ($9.75), which is quite nice for a night game.
This is where you can get everything Niman. There was a Niman Ranch cheeseburger and a Niman Ranch hot dog. They also sold an ahi tuna sandwich with cream cheese for $10. California Cookout isn't new, but it is where I ended up getting the Niman Ranch hot dog for $6.50. I figured you have to have a hot dog at a baseball game, and in San Francisco, it might as well be Niman Ranch.
The Niman Ranch hot dog from California Cookout was actually very tasty and plump. The only downside? The bun was soggy from the juices so it was hard to pick it up and eat like a real dog. I would say it's a base hit, not a home run.
One of the newest offerings at the park is this stand selling what's called Crazy Crab sandwiches. I love crab and was excited about the idea of trying this out, until I found the stand and saw they were selling their sandwiches for $15. Yeah, you'd be crazy if you paid for this.
During the seventh inning stretch, I went hunting for another snack. I found this new North Beach stand that was selling a variety of Italian-influenced items, such as meatball sandwiches ($7.50) and a ravioli bowl ($7.25). I got the Stinking Rose 40 Clove Garlic Chicken Sandwich ($7.50), below.
The North Beach Stinking Rose Garlic Chicken Sandwich was a shredded chicken sandwich, similar to braised or boiled chicken. It was tasty and had a lot of juices so you know what that means? Yes, another soggy bun for the Single Guy Chef. So you have to eat this with a fork. I liked the flavor, although it wasn't very garlicky. It was a lot of chicken, though, so quite a value deal for the park.

In the end, there were a lot more food I need to discover at AT&T Park. But I still feel my tried-and-true food item that's most satisfying is the individual pizzas (cheese or pepperoni) because it sells so quickly that your pizza is often fresh and it's filling, all for $6.50.

For the night I was at the game, I'm happy to say the Giants beat the Padres, 5 to 3. Yes, it was the only game they won so far this season. Like they say, it's still early. But if this is any indication, I'd probably be more focused on checking out the variety of food at AT&T Park than the play on the field. (Thank God the Yankees are in town this weekend!)

Update: So the Giants won their second game of the season tonight. Just barely, at 6 to 5 against the Padres. Ironically, it was against the same pitcher (Clay Hensley) they beat last week when I was there. Maybe we should always play against this pitcher?


Anonymous said...

So when are you going to give us a review of the Oakland A's ballpark food?!? -- David

Single Guy Ben said...

Um, when the Yankees make a visit to McAfee Colisseum and the A's have something interesting. Oh no, the smack talk begins!

Anonymous said...

You're really a Yankees fan?? For shame! ;-)