The era of scarfing down day-old popcorn and sipping warm beer at the ballpark is over. These days, going to a spring training game means indulging in gourmet cuisine. Here are some menu highlights at local spring training stadiums.
If craft beer is your thing, put on your Pittsburgh Pirates jersey and steer your car to LECOM Park, which offers more than 50 different pours. You can even fill up a 64-ounce glass bottle at the park’s Growler Station, which is stocked with several types of beer from Clearwater’s Big Storm Brewing. While LECOM Park’s most popular food item remains the classic hot dog, concessions director Chuck Knapp recommends Florida favorites like grouper tenders and fried alligator. What you won’t find: Pittsburgh food. Knapp says trying to recreate iconic Steel City dishes like a Primanti Brothers sandwich (meat, cheese, cole slaw and fries between two slices of bread) is a fool’s errand. “If I was to try to knock that off, it probably wouldn’t go well,” he says. “That’s an institution up there.”
Where to go after the game: Pop across the street to Darwin Brewing Co., one of the most happening breweries in the area. In addition to fun runs, trivia nights and live music, you’ll find a mix of good food trucks and plenty of fellow yinzers to chat with.
Ed Smith Stadium
Longtime Baltimore Orioles first baseman Boog Powell’s playing career may have peaked in 1970 when he won the MVP award and recorded a 5.1 Wins Above Replacement figure, but fans today love him for his barbecue. Boog’s BBQ has been a staple at Baltimore’s Camden Yards for decades, and Powell’s son, J.W. Powell, brought the stand to Ed Smith Stadium for spring training last year. Boog’s is making a return appearance this spring. Don’t miss the pit beef sandwich, a Baltimore specialty made with thinly sliced grilled beef, onions and a creamy, spicy sauce inside a Kaiser roll.
Where to go after the game: Just down the street, you’ll find JDub’s Brewing Company, a perfect spot to toast a victory or drown the sorrows of defeat. The taproom has a solid rotating pick of beers brewed on-site, food trucks appear most days and the grassy back yard is a pleasant place to hang.
Cool Today Park
You can find almost anything at the Atlanta Braves’ new facility, which offers everything from a “tackle box” stuffed with fish, French fries and hush puppies to grilled chicken doused with “boom boom sauce” and even smoked brisket. The park’s most popular destination is the Tomahawk Tiki Bar, which serves cocktails, beer and grub like nachos, burgers and chili dogs year-round, even during those sad months after the World Series and before pitchers and catchers report. The bar provides excellent views of the action on the field, plus a good angle on the park’s massive video screen, so you won’t miss a crack of the bat.
Where to go after the game: Venice’s Off the Wagon Brewery and Kitchen is a 15-minute haul from the park and buzzes until late at night. Slurp a huge bowl of ramen or take down a burger while sampling brews from the attached 3 Bridges Brewery.