What to Eat at Barclay’s Center – Brooklyn Nets Game

Barclay’s Center is incredibly Brooklyn – or maybe – it’s incredibly new Brooklyn. As a Brooklyn resident who lives about 1.5 miles away, Barclay’s is the least noticeable stadium I’ve ever encountered. As you walk down Atlantic Ave or Flatbush Ave, the stadium just sort of pops up out of nowhere and it’s one of the few stadiums in the country with no parking lot. The exterior of the stadium has bands of brown steel panels wrapping around it, meant to blend in with Brooklyn’s brownstone residential buildings nearby.

The game day experience pays homage to its neighborhood’s history. Most of the food vendors are local favorites and the music played between timeouts included Beastie Boys, Nas, Biggie, and (of course) Jay-Z. The main plaza’s brick patterns mimic the nearby brownstones and the bathrooms have subway tile. The actual court is old school herringbone style and each end says “Brooklyn Nets” in NYC’s subway font.

Suffice to say, the stadium designers and those in charge of game day experience at Barclay’s Center had a clear goal of making the experience as Brooklyn as possible. Which is cool and makes sense as a strategy. When you have MSG across the river selling out games whether the team wins 60 games or 20, you have to differentiate yourself.

I moved to Brooklyn about a year and a half ago so I missed the years when Nets ownership (Mikhail Prokhorov) sold the team’s long-term soul in order to win a few regular season games early on. But it’s a shame that this cool, unique, local stadium experience has gone to waste with the product on the court over the past few years.

Help us, Joseph Tsai. You’re our only hope.

To the food!

Have to Have it

Cuban Sandwich from Café Habana – Café Habana is a delicious Cuban/Mexican diner that opened in NYC’s NoLita neighborhood back in 1998. It has since opened another location in Brooklyn and a few others across the world. Barclay’s has a Habana stand which offers their famous sandwich with “citrus marinated roast pork, ham, swiss cheese, chipotle mayonnaise and pickle, on toasted roll”. I forgot to grab a pic so here’s a stolen one from Yelp:

Try It

Italian Sausage – This was almost a have to have. I love how you can load as much sauerkraut and as many banana peppers as you want. The only problem is the bun sucked. You can’t have a giant bun that just falls apart. Worth a shot if you have a craving.

SAUSAGE METER RATING

 

Beer price per ounce

Premium Can (Brooklyn Lager): 16 ounces for $12. $0.69 per ounce.

Domestic Can (Budweiser): 16 ounces for $11. $0.75 per ounce.

What to Eat at Bell Centre – Montreal Canadiens Game

Spoiler alert: It’s Le Hot Dog. The first recommendation uttered out of a local’s mouth when I told them I was attending a Habs game that night was “you have to try the hot dog”. And it did not disappoint (more on that later).

Visiting Montreal is like listening to Prince for the first time. It’s too quirky, too unique, and too awesome not to try it. I keep telling people it’s like visiting another country before stopping myself and saying, “wait you idiot, it is another country”. But the rest of Canada doesn’t feel this way! Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver are fantastic cities but they all remind you of other US cities. Not Montreal. It’s one of a kind.

The official language of Montreal is French with about 60% of population being bi-lingual (thanks Wikipedia). The city literally has too many restaurants which is an incredible problem to have. For every 10,000 people in Montreal, there are 26.81 restaurants to satisfy their hungry souls. For comparison, The New York metropolitan area has 19.57 restaurants per 10,000 people and San Francisco (highest restaurant density in the US) has 21.44. Each year Montreal holds both the largest jazz festival in the world (Montreal International Jazz Festival) and the largest international comedy festival in the world (Just for Laughs Festival).

Montreal-eans (scientific name) love their food, music, comedy, and…their hockey.

Bell Centre is the largest hockey rink in the NHL but it doesn’t matter. I attended a generally meaningless game late in the season on a Thursday night and it felt like it we were in the playoffs. The atmosphere made it the best regular season hockey game that I’ve ever been to. And I’ve been to like eight whole hockey games.

The exchange rate is your friend. This meant a $10 CAD beer was actually $7 USD. This meant I drank a lot of them before, during, and after the game. So much so that I’ll be honest – all I really remember is that damn hot dog. Oh, and some meat sandwich that looked amazing after a few beers but one that my stomach rejected faster than driving on Dikembe Mutumbo in the 90’s.

To the food!

Have to Have it

Hot Dog – it’s the bun. The bun adds a sweetness that compliments the delicious god-knows-what meat up top. And it’s simple. No onions, peppers, sauerkraut, etc. Just a dog, mustard and relish and it works.

Hot-Dog-O-Meter: 9.0 out 10. The second best dog I’ve had at a stadium behind only Saag’s at Oakland Collesium.

Try It

Smoked Meat Sandwich – It was OK going down. A little dry but not bad. It was anything but OK coming out the next morning. I’ll leave it at that.

What to Eat at Oakland Alameda Coliseum – Oakland Athletics Game

Oh, the Coliseum. As a baseball fan who lived in the Bay Area for 5+ years, I spent a many a afternoons/nights at this wonderful bowl of concrete.

Living in San Francisco, smack dab in the middle of the Giants mini dynasty of World Series titles, many Bay Area natives would raise their noses, lift their pinkies, and question why I would go to so many Oakland Athletics games. With such a beautiful stadium (AT&T Park) and wonderful team next door, why bother?

Yes, AT&T Park is probably the best ballpark in baseball. And yes, the Giants are were the class of MLB franchises. All I can say as a fairly diehard baseball fan is: it’s just different.

AT&T Park has beautiful views, fun pregame bars, and plenty of food options. The Coliseum has $6 tickets, tailgating, and a more classic baseball experience and food platter.

I read a Reddit AMA a few years back where the author answering questions was a guy who visited all 30 MLB stadiums in 95 days and wrote about his experience at each one. Someone
asked him, “Which stadium has the best fan atmosphere?” Here was his reply:

Here is where I can answer two questions at once. I was asked what my least favorite stadium was in the country. That was O.Co Coliseum and it isn’t even close. Upon entering the concourse a frown was plastered across my face and I was immediately put in a bad mood. The concrete walls and distance from the actual field are not a great atmosphere to enjoy baseball.

That all changed when the game began. The atmosphere in the park emanating from the stands put a smile on my face so big that I just smiled again at the memory. The best fans in baseball reside in the stands of O.Co Coliseum. I went to two games there, the A’s won one, and lost one. I honestly could not tell you which game they won and which game they lost. Normally, fans sit on their hands until the loudspeaker instructs them to “Makes some noise” or “Everybody clap your hands”. Not in Oakland. Every chant I heard was organically started in one section and then grew throughout the rest of the stadium.

The second the city of Oakland builds that fan base a 38,000 seat stadium, the Athletics will win a World Series. It will be the scariest place in the world for visiting teams to come and play.

It’s just different.

Bay Area MLB Decision Tree

To the food!

As little as two years ago, I had two simple rules for eating at the Coliseum: 1. Get a Saag’s sausage 2. Get a churro.

However, to my horror and dismay, I returned this year to find that the the Coliseum inexplicably GOT RID OF SAAGS SAUSAGES!?!?

Replacing it, is something called Evergood. It was fine, but just not the same.

Try It

Evergood Gourmet Sausage – Section 118: As I washed away my tears of not having a Saag’s dog, I tried this one. If you have to have a dog, give it a shot.

Have to have it

Churro – stadium vendor:  still delicious as ever

Beer price per ounce

Premium Draft: 16 ounces for $10. $0.63 per ounce.

Domestic Draft: 16 ounces for $8. $0.50 per ounce.

 

What to Eat at Citi Field – New York Mets Game

I’m a guy that’s picky when it comes to my chop shops. I don’t like to drop off my imaginary cars at just any old store. I’m also a baseball fan. I love traveling around this great country discovering new MLB stadiums. I’ve knocked off 13 out of 30 of them so far (+ old Olympic Stadium in Montreal).

These are all reasons why I love Citi Field and New York Mets baseball.

At Citi Field, I can drive my car on over to Queens, drop her off at a number of different locations around the ballpark, catch a ball game, then head on back. It’s this type of service and selection you simply can’t find anywhere else in the country.

Despite the area around Citi Field resembling something out of Grease Lightning, the actual ballpark is a work of art. Modeled after the old Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers once played, it features a rotunda at its front entrance named after Jackie Robinson. When you head up the escalator, you feel like you’re approaching a cathedral as you pass a few of Robinson’s inspirational quotes. Another cool quirk in the park is Shea Bridge which links two outfield sections and is an homage to New York’s 2 million bridges, or something.

I listened to a great podcast the other day by 99% Invisible where they covered MLB teams’ recent infatuation with nostalgia-inspired architecture in their stadium planning. Everyone wants to build a new stadium that looks like an old stadium (or one that pays homage to the past). Citi Field certainly fits that bill, but in a good way. In the podcast, they argue that because of this, every MLB stadium is starting to look the same, and that’s probably true.

Maybe one day, someone will come along and create something a little more unique and futuristic. Hey, and maybe they will actually pay for it out of their own pockets (HAHAHA – yeah, right).

To the food!

Have to Have it

Momofuku’s Chicken Sandwich – Section 102 – $12.50: Expensive? Yes. Delicious? Yes yes. A lot of Yelpers are disappointed in this version of David Chang’s famous New York staple, but I have to say – this is one of two foods I really look forward to having at a New York sports stadium (the other being Cafe Habana’s Cuban sandwich at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn). It’s simple, seasoned perfectly and the pickles provided are amazing. Come on, the Mets are terrible and tickets are $6. Splurge a little for good food.

Try It

Risotto Balls from Arancini Bros – Section 104: Another local staple – Brooklyn’s Arancini Bros. This has six different balls (insert joke here), some sweet, some savory. I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy these again but they weren’t bad. They’re worth a try if you’re into that sort of thing.

Pass It

Fries: I don’t know what it is, but for the life of me I can’t find good fries at a New York sports stadium. These were as cold and ruined as the Mets depth chart this season. Get it together, NYC.

Beer Price per Ounce Meter

Coors Lite (Can): 25 ounces for $12.50 $0.50 per ounce

Montauk Watermelon Session (Souvenir Draft): 20 ounces for $12.50. $0.63 per ounce.

Before the Game

McFadden’s (connected to the stadium)

Blue Point Toasted Lager (draft): 16 ounces for $9. $0.56 per ounce.

Bud/Bud Light (can): 16 ounces for $8. $0.50 per ounce.

A Sort-of Helpful Guide to Citizens Bank Park or Comparing its Beer to Yankee Stadium

I’ve been to Citizens Bank Park in Philly twice now. This past Memorial Day weekend, I was hooked up with baller suite tickets that included all you can eat food (very cool) and all you can drink beverages (very dangerous). Needless to say, #HotFoodTakes aren’t very helpful in this scenario. I had a hot dog and approximately 1,211 free Yuengling Lagers. Analysis: it was a good Saturday. 

About The Stadium

Citizens Bank Park was built in 2004. Located in South Philly’s “sports complex”, it’s probably the best stadium out of the three located there (the other’s being Lincoln Financial Field – Eagles and Wells Fargo Center – 76ers/Flyers). But that’s probably just because football/basketball/hockey arenas are rarely that cool. Let’s be honest. 

Your only real option for close pregame activities is at the Xfinity Live! location which is one of those things created by venues when they’re like “hey, we don’t have enough money, let’s take some out of tailgating too.” It’s located in the parking lot and a close walk to all threes stadiums. It’s not very unique but has a thousand TV’s, outdoor seating, live music, and plenty of decently priced local food/beer selection before the game. I recommend Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries

Comparing Beer Prices to Yankee Stadium – because why not?

Round 1

The 12-ouncers: Yankee Stadium has an incredible amount of mediocre beer selection. Because of this, they decide to charge you $0.50 more. It’s only right. Get rich or die tryin, amirite? 

Citizens Bank: $9; Yankee Stadium $9.50

Round 2

The 24-ouncers: Split round. Both 24-ounce options are the same price. 

Citizens Bank: $11.50; Yankee Stadium $11.50

Round 3

The 24-ounce “premium” beers: This is where the Philly Citizen’s make their Bank. The park charges $1 more than YS for some beers but it has a much wider selection. I’m sure there are better options at Yankee Stadium somewhere but they sure make them hard to find. For my past visit, Goose Island, Stella Artois and Heineken <- yes, these are considered premium – were $12.50 for larges. Blue Point beers, which are much better, were a dollar more.

Citizens Bank: $14.50 Yankee Stadium $13.50 – $14.50 

Although you could save a buck with a decent Goose Island option, I have to hand the final round to Citizens Bank Park. If I’m going to waste my future child’s college fund on drinking brews at MLB ballparks, at least give me some selection for the hole in my pocket. I haven’t even found a Bronx Brewery beer at Yankee Stadium yet. That’s just a damn tragedy. 

What To Eat at Yankee Stadium – NYCFC Edition

When I arrived in New York last year, I felt like one of those highly touted high school football recruits sitting in a gym, looking at hats deciding between three choices. Only I have no talent. And the choice was between which local soccer team to follow. And no one in the world gave two shits. My choices:

New York Red Bulls:

Pros – first New York MLS team (as the MetroStars), soccer only stadium, working class following.

Cons – New Jersey.

NYCFC

Pros – newer team means I had a chance to get in on the ground with a new following, strong fan club, not in New Jersey.

Cons – linked to Manchester City (gross), plays games in a MLB stadium (yuck), no express trains to The Bronx on weekends (peeeee ew).

New York Cosmos

Pros– as a rebirth team, the club has a fun history (Pele once played for them), best logo, recently moved to Brooklyn

Cons– good chance they might not be around next year, good chance their soccer league might not be around next year, lower league team and performance.

As with most things in life, it came down to location, location, location. Yes, it’s a trek but getting to The Bronx every weekend is a one shot train ride and still faster than getting to New Jersey (on sometimes three separate trains). Plus, The Bronx is awesome. There are plenty of great local food joints and bars around the area for pre and post game. The area around Reds Bulls Arena is sort of like the area around the Thunder Dome in Mad Max. The Cosmos play in Coney Island, which is fun during the summer, but not many other seasons, and I have the Brooklyn Cyclones to fill that void in my life.

So I’m an official NYCFC season ticket holder. I get to watch David Villa defy age and Adre Pirlo defy what it means to try to defend someone on a soccer field.

To the food!

Have to Have It

Meat & Mozzarella Sandwich from The Mozzarella Joint – Section 237 – THIS was good. Super fresh mozz and delicious sauce. Mwah! The bread could have been a little better but this is the best thing we’ve had at Yankee Stadium thus far. The mozz guy said I could take a photo of him if I promised to tag him on Instagram. I’m a man of my word. If a word lasts for three months before getting around to it. How long do words last? Forever. FOR-EV-ER. Here you go, Mozz Guy. Be honored by my one follower on the gram!

Try It

Jersey Mike’s Cheese steak Sandwich: $11ish – Section 107 – OK, so it’s a chain and you can find a J-Mikes almost anywhere – at least on the east coast. But it’s a pretty damn good option that won’t let you down. Good proportion of meat, cheese, and peppers. I don’t ask for much.

Churro $5.50 – Section 236 – when someone offers you a churro, you get a churro. They have some Oreo version of a churro which just seems blasphemous.

Beer Price per Ounce Meter

Budweiser or Bud Light (Can): 25 ounces for $14.00. $0.56 per ounce.

Beck’s (Can): 25 ounces for $15.00. $0.60 per ounce.

Blue Point Lager (Draft): 20 ounces for $13.50. $0.68 per ounce.

I’m still navigating the beer selection, or lack thereof, at Yankee Stadium. I feel like Christopher Columbus trying to discover new land because there ain’t much around.

What To Eat at Madison Square Garden – New York Knicks Edition

I finally arrived at the Mecca. After living in New York for a full year, I had yet to venture to basketball’s holiest grounds. “Whoa”, I thought. “A good team played here once long ago”. A distant memory. I could feel the history. I also felt the pain of waiting in a 20-minute security line before finally scanning my ticket.

But hey, you can’t beat a stadium in the heart of Manhattan. Is there a better location for pregame/postgame festivities in the world? The stadium’s architecture is interesting. Very 70’s. It has a sort of bizarre catwalk traversing over the nose bleeds where we were sitting, but surprisingly it was still a decent view way back in the corner.

We were on CELEBRITY WATCH the entire game. It ended up being the sort of CELEBRITY WATCH you would expect for a Thursday night game and a 30 win team. Jason Long was the highlight. It’s been a rough year.

To the food!

Try It

The Burger

A damn good cheeseburger, MSG. Well done. Literally, it was well done, but still worth it. Give it a shot.

Pass It

Fries

Like an Eagles fan seeing James Dolan’s blues band as an opening act, I was forced to try something I didn’t want to try. The lady at the concession stand thought we ordered fries with our burger. We did not. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to turn down some hot greasy potato skins. I should have turned down some hot greasy potato skins. They were lukewarm and flavorless. I don’t even like salt on my fries and I wanted salt on my fries.

Beer Selection

Blue Point Brewery has made some solid local stadium deals which I’m OK with. I had their Toasted Lager which beats the usual Bud/Miller/Coors choices. I don’t remember how much it was. Probably about as much as a 5-year Carmelo Anthony contract extension.