What to Eat at Rogers Centre – Toronto Blue Jays Game

“Sorry buddy,” the eager man said to me after he mistakenly stepped on my heal as I was leaving Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario. It took everything in my power not to reply, “I’m not your buddy, guy.” A few more beers would have done it. Lost opportunity.

“Look at this,” Matt said as we walked out of the stadium. “The CN Tower is just right here. I feel like it gets taken for granted.” Matt is a guy I work with who lives in Ottawa but spent a few years living in Toronto. He’s always up for an excuse to attend an event and he’s generally more optimistic and enthusiastic about life than Bill Walton.

He’s right. There are some baseball stadiums that have turned into national monuments. Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston, are easy examples. Stadiums that are so old and so full of history, people plan vacations around their visits to them. But I can’t think of another baseball stadium that has a nationally recognized figure like the CN Tower literally on the same lot. This was my third Toronto Blue Jays game and I tend to forget about it now.

Maybe one reason for my neglect is that Rogers Centre has had the roof closed each time I have attended. Baseball indoors has always been weird to me. The best part about seeing a baseball game live is that it feels like a picnic. It’s usually warm weather, you have a few beers and hot dogs with your friends, and you just hang. There are 162 games in a regular season so there’s little need to get overly passionate about the one particular game you are watching. It’s a perfect sport to casually watch while you sit back, relax, and enjoy your company while getting sun burnt.

Rogers Centre will open its roof one day though. If this winter ever ends. The stadium is well known for the hotel that is attached to the outfield which I am all about. I don’t know why, but Canadians love to attach hotels to stadiums and I support the cause. I’m a sucker for anything weird and quirky about a ballpark. Do whatever your heart desires. My only rule is don’t be boring.

Unfortunately, the beer selection at Rogers Centre is incredibly boring. How did one of the most diverse cities in the world sell its soul to become the Budweiser capital of North America? Seriously, Toronto. We have all moved on from fizzy, bland water-beer in the states for a quite a few damn years now. It’s time to catch up. And outside of poutine and one smoked meat sandwich stand, I didn’t find too many unique food offerings either.

“Oh, don’t worry, we have both kinds of food options here at Roger Centre. We have a hot dog AND a much larger hot dog!”

Which brings me…

To the food!

Have to have it

Poutine

Because Canada

Pass it

Hot Dog and Pretzel Bites

I was so excited for this combo. What an offering the Rogers Centre gods hathe offered me. I wanted to love it so much. But the pretzel bites tasted stale and hot dog bun fell apart before I could even lift it. Sigh.

Beer Price per Ounce Meter

25 oz Domestic Tall Cans $15 CAD. $0.60 per ounce (roughly $0.48 USD)
Premium Draught Beer 14 oz $9 CAD. $0.64 per ounce (roughly $0.51 USD)
Premium Draught Beer 20 oz $12.75. $0.64 per ounce (roughly $0.51 USD)
Domestic Draught Beer 14 oz $7.50. $0.54 per ounce (roughly $0.43 USD)
Domestic Draught Beer 20 oz $10.75. $0.54 per ounce (roughly $0.43 USD)

A Minnesota Wild Game As Described by Five Prince Songs

My trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota welcomed me with -5 degree weather and why not? When you travel you should travel like a local. This analysis of Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul is dedicated to the area’s favorite and most famous local son (may he rest in peace). Below is my visit to a Minnesota Wild game as described by five Prince songs.

Life Can Be So Nice

Have you ever talked to someone that is just a little too nice? It took about 20 minutes in a Lyft to get from downtown Minneapolis to the Minnesota Wild’s Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and by the time we reached our destination I think the driver was ready to adopt us as family members and give us the shirt off his back for warmth. The week was full of frigid temperatures and crappy weather. WHY IS EVERYONE SO HAPPY HERE!?!?

Did you know St. Paul Minnesota was named after a chapel that was established in the area by a Catholic French Canadian minister? Why no I did not overly nice and educational Lyft driver.

Joyful Sound

Walking into the stadium was a bizarre sound experience. I don’t know if it was the acoustics or how the seats are spaced away from the entrance but I literally couldn’t hear any game action in the outside concession area until we stepped up to the tops of the aisles. You usually can hear the crowd, announcers, game action, etc. Not here though. Nothing.

Let’s Go Crazy 

Played after every Minnesota Wild goal. What a city.

Sexy M.F.

During a timeout in the game, the every-popular kiss cam started up on the jumbotron and I counted three out of five men sporting mustaches. Seriously it was like Matt Hamilton appearing over and over again.

EvolSiDog

My food of choice was a bacon wrapped hot dog with coleslaw and Louisiana hot sauce. The dog was delicious with plenty helpings coleslaw. It could have used a little more hot sauce and the bun was unspectacular. It gets an A+ for creativity though.

 

Beer price per ounce

Local Cans: 16 ounces for $11. $0.69 per ounce. (Options: Summit EPA, Surly Furious, Fulton Lonely Blonde, Bent Paddle Golden IPA, Castle Danger Cream Ale, Insight Sunken City Saison)

Michelob Golden Light Draft: 16 ounces for $10. $0.625 per ounce.

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.