4. Petco Park
San Diego Padres
You could confine the discussion solely to the beer and you’re already talking about a serious contender, with in-park beer gardens from Stone and Ballast Point, not to mention the presence of other area standouts like Green Flash, AleSmith, Karl Strauss... this could go on a while. Point being, you will drink REALLY good beer here. But the food holds up its end too. The fish tacos are seriously legit, and you have local seafood king Anthony’s Fish Grotto turning out fish ‘n chips, fried shrimp, and other oceanic goodness. Seaside Market may SOUND like it’s bringing you seafood, but the move here is actually the celebrated tri-tip sandwich. Local burger favorite Hodad’s is on hand, as is local BBQ standout Phil’s (good stuff, and not just by Cali standards), and pizza’s ably handled by local chain Filippi’s. Want something sweet? How about a customizable ice cream sandwich on fresh-baked cookies from Baked Bear? How does everyone in San Diego seem to stay so steadfastly skinny again?
3. Citi Field
New York Mets
Having Danny Meyer involved in your food makes any ballpark a serious contender for the crown. But, while Nats Park got a boost from its one Shake Shack, Meyer has given Citi Field a Blue Smoke for pulled pork and brisket sandwiches, a Belgian frites spot with a slew of dipping sauces, and a Shake Shack. If burgers and BBQ aren’t your thing, NYC meat-god Pat LaFrieda has a meatball sandwich stand, a steak sandwich spot, and, well, more burgers for you. (Also, if you’ve made it into the Delta Club, go to the Chop House and get the 16 oz. dry aged NY Strip.) There’s also Catch of the Day from Midtown Esca crew, new sandwich shop Pressed from Josh Capon, the chef behind Bowery Meat Co., and a Rao’s for red sauce-classics.
Citi Field’s real kicker, though, is its beer. The AB regulars are obviously available, but a look at the full beer menu in the stadium is a testament to the city’s booming craft movement: Bronx, Rockaway, Coney Island, Greenpoint, Queens, and, of course, Brooklyn. So, a SmokeShack and a Brooklyn beer without the Madison Square Park line? A lobster roll outside on a warm day? Citi Field is basically fulfilling the dreams that help New Yorkers survive winter.
2. AT&T Park
San Francisco Giants
A stadium with a year-round herb garden built into the outfield is not f’ing around when it comes to concessions. The Murderers' Row of food includes Dungeness crab sandwiched between slices of garlic butter sourdough, Caribbean-style bibimbap, and the model ballpark garlic fries (no wonder Pablo Sandoval got so fat here). While the pre-game drinking options are growing by the season -- you know, just shipping container bars or private boozing parties at batting practice -- Public House offers a beer selection that could even rival bars that aren’t attached to baseball stadiums, with the advantage of having to-go cups for when you take your seat. And if that's not enough, Thrillist favorite Tony Gemignani even has a Slice House inside the park.
1. Safeco Field
Cask-conditioned ales, Firkin Fridays... no, these aren’t the selling points for some new high-minded craft beer bar, it’s just how they roll at Safeco, where the dizzying array of seriously impressive eating and drinking options reflects the strengths and tastes of the local market as a whole as well as any stadium out there. Standout local chef (and big-time Mariners fan) Ethan Stowell is seriously involved in the food program (since 2010), which is why every year they’re rolling out fresh offerings like Dungeness crab sandwiches on sourdough with lemon aioli or Pacific seafood gumbo. You can get craft cocktails made with small-batch spirits from the folks at local mixology staple Rob Roy. There’s legit sushi (RIP Ichiroll) and sake. Grass-fed burgers come topped with Tillamook cheddar. Honestly it kind of feels like every buzzy food trend from recent years is somehow represented, but in a way that somehow manages to not feel completely out of place. There are probably some sticks in the mud that bristle at the notion of this kind of highfalutin fare at the ballpark, but these are the same types who likely once decried nachos as “ethnic food.” This is how progress is made.
Matt Lynch is a senior editor at Thrillist who selected his fantasy baseball team this season based on ballpark food quality. Keep track of how it works out: @MLynchChi.
Sean Cooley is a Senior editor at Thrillist, and he's still amazed that RBI Baseball 3 gave Dennis Eckersley his own special throwing animation. Follow him @SeanCooley.
Liz Childers is an associate Food/Drink editor at Thrillist, and thinks the combination of Waffle House and Braves baseball is infinitely more American than peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Follow her @lizchilders1.