Opening Day 2010 is today; what’s more fitting than sharing all the tricks I picked up eating through CitiField last season?
Fortunately, as a plan ticket holder, I was invited to attend a pre-season workout on Sunday, with the Taste of the City concessions open for fan enjoyment. Unfortunately, many of the tips/tricks that I wanted to share as a “What to Eat Around CitiField” have turned out to be somewhat obsolete now… BOO.
But first, my time at CitiField previewing: first up as you walk into the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, the new Hall of Fame museum! It is directly on your right as you enter the rotunda, adjacent the large Mets store behind the staircase. Lots of great memorabilia are housed here, including our two World Series trophies, game-worn items, plaques for the various Hall of Famers, and assorted other items. This is the first season the museum is open – yes, that means I got to see it before most of the general public 😉 – so I avoided taking a lot of pictures because of all the other people around. A must-see if you’re a Mets fan!
Now, onwards to the food. The degree of my anal-retentive ways was made clear when I returned home from the stadium and looked through my posts about Citi Field from last year and realized that I’d taken a photograph of every menu in the Taste of the City area… as I did again during the preview without knowing I’d done so last year. Perfect for comparison’s sake, yes?
Tip #1 would have been “If you really want to get Shake Shack, make one of your friends wait on line for SS while you go to Box Frites, which has a line but moves super quickly. Grab a large with the blue cheese sauce, and head back over to your friend who has probably moved up two people since you left, and munch on amazingly crisp frites while you continue to wait for SS. SS’s fries are nothing amazing in any case, and this way, you’re eating before you even notice how long you’ve been waiting or how much of the game you’ve missed.”
The large is HUGE – easily over twice the size of the small, and only a nominal amount more – perfect for sharing with a friend – and last year, the line was so fast, it was impossible to wait for more than a few minutes. These are easily among the best frites I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot of frites.
This year, with the addition of two new menu items, the game seems to have changed. There was no line as I scooted up to the cashier – this was, after all, about 10:15am on a Sunday before a pre-season workout, nothing where there were sooo many people at that time – so I placed my order quickly. Having had Box Frites at just about every game I attended last year, I opted out of the regular frites and instead went straight to the two new types of frites.
A little birdie named TT whispered in my ear about disco frites, which immediately set me off into a frenzy. If Box Frites’ appeal lay partially in the line moving super fast – afterall, all they need to do is scoop out frites into a box for you, and hand you the pre-packed sauce containers you request, so that doesn’t take too long – then what would necessitating ladling gravy and scooping cheese curds, cheddar plus red pepper flakes on top do to the wait time?
I found out immediately. It took a good 2-3 minutes to receive my box of disco frites (a cute name for basically poutine), which could be chalked up to it being the first day they’re really serving them. Or it could be the time it takes to assemble such a box of goodies. Who really knows? I guess I will find out throughout the season how wait time has been affected.
As for the disco frites, well, per usual, super crisp frites but the gravy sogged them up eventually. I like the concept, but I am not entirely in love with the execution. I think… dare I say it? … if they fried the cheese curds before topping… well damn that would be some good disco frites, yes? As it is, $10.50 for a huge portion that is at LEAST a 2 person snack… maybe even 3, eating other stuff… not a bad price, per se, but I wouldn’t opt to get this again unless the person I’d be sharing with really wants it… and swears s/he will drink the gravy from the bottom when we are finished with the frites, and let me video and post on Feisty Foodie, just because that would be awesome.
Just because I can, I also ordered the garlic parmesan frites, which for some strange reason came out nearly immediately. Maybe these are easier to toss? All I can tell you is: freaking.awesome. I love garlic, and I feel like these were tossed in a buttery garlic mixture before being topped with large grated parmesan. So delicious; the frites stayed crisp, crunchy in places, and just awesome. I’ve had garlic fries at other stadiums and thought this would be more of the same; good at first but soggy later. Not so here. These stayed crispy the entire time I ate from the box, and I eventually took some (like, half, because you can’t buy poutine and not eat it right away think it might be good later, if you think it’s soggy now well! eat it now!) home and it was STILL crispy! SO GOOD. These are total win and will work their way into regular rotation for my frites needs at Citi Field.
Tip #2 would have been “Skip Shake Shack if you’ve been to the Madison Square Park location – the line is always super long at the ballpark – and head to Blue Smoke (reviews the pulled pork sandwich and the ribs) next door, which rarely has a very long line and is pretty damn awesome, especially the total VALUE of the chipotle chicken wings. $8 for 6 wings is cheaper than what they charge in the city, and they are large, filling and delicious… especially with their blue cheese that you can reserve for your frites if you like.”
BUT. Do you see the above menu? Do you see an issue? The ribs have gone up in price by $2, which makes them less of a value from the $10 it was last year. The sandwich has gone up in price as well… but do you see what I am staring at in disbelief?
There is a BOLOGNA SANDWICH ON THE MENU. Not only is there a BOLOGNA SANDWICH, which is ‘grilled and smoked, seasoned with BBQ sauce on a fresh baked brioche bun’ – um I don’t really care WHO IS PAYING $9.50 for BOLOGNA?! (Sorry guys, you want the next picture to be of my bologna sandwich, but even for the blog, I just couldn’t in good conscience do this, I just couldn’t.)
Even beyond that sheer ridiculousness, do you see that the chipotle wings are missing? Some genius thought they should remove the awesomely delicious and meaty wings from the menu and add a bologna sandwich for close to $10. Really, guys? Really? I’ll admit I don’t like bologna to begin with, but even if you do, really? Those wings were something I ordered almost as frequently as the frites! What the hell??? Grrr.
Okay, that out of the way, who’s actually tried the bologna sandwich, has pics, and can tell me how it was? I really just can’t bring myself to order it, I can’t justify that kind of expense (poor college student, remember). Ugh. I hope they BRING BACK THE WINGS SOON!!!
As for Shake Shack, easily my favorite burger in the city (I ate at the Madison Square Park location a record 3x in March – that is seriously high for me), I just don’t find it exciting to go at the park, partially because of the line, the premium for eating it at the ballpark (which isn’t that bad, honestly – $1-2 more than the MSP location), … it just adds up to only going a handful of times last season. BF likes going there, though, since we are there without going to a location specifically for that as we do SS at MSP. Either case, not much has changed on the menu besides the prices and the addition of cheese fries. (I did complain last year that the burger seemed to taste different here from the one in MSP…)
Here’s this year’s menu with the new prices.
The 4th and last place in that squarish section of Taste of the City, El Verano Taqueria, I didn’t really visit much last year. I did manage to try the tacos, which were tasty but not my general style, but here would have been Tip #3 – “For simple, plain and tasty chips and salsa, $3.50 gets you a decent portion and some very good salsa at El Verano Taqueria. Maybe worth waiting on line if you don’t have any interest in anything on your nachos beyond salsa… instead of paying $7.25 at Nachos Grande for just chips and salsa.”
But alas, as you’ll notice, this item is no longer on the menu this year. Thanks, El Verano Taqueria; guess I won’t be visiting you anytime soon (expensive elote?). Sigh. So far, that’s 3 for 3 of my tips that are obsolete.
One other place in the Taste of the City area, off to the side across the Shea Bridge (newly named), Catch of the Day. Last year I’d had the fish sandwich and the chowder and hated it, mostly because I got very sick after I ate there. I’ve been informed I need to give the sandwich a re-try, so I imagine I will be doing that soon.
The menu appears to have been expanded, however, to include a crab cake sandwich, which sounds interesting and is one of a few seafood items that the BF might be interested in trying (such that I would be able to post about it in the future!), seeing as I still feel leery of eating seafood from a stand at the ballpark.
Overall, the prices have all gone up marginally, but nothing too terrible I feel. Our ballpark still has some great eats for inexpensive prices, you just have to know what they are normally priced and accept that you are going to pay a premium for location.
My final tip, thankfully, is not obsolete! (Or I hope not!) Unfortunately, this stand was not open during the pre-season workout, so I couldn’t take pictures or check prices for you, but this place, which made the trip from Shea Stadium to Citi Field, is one of my absolute favorites, and one of my lil secrets – there is never a line here, which is actually a bad thing. I want them to stay, and as much as it pains me to have to share this with everyone… You have to get a Mama’s Special Hero from Mama’s of Corona.
Tip #4 – “The Mama’s Special Italian Hero is a steal of a deal and you should totally get a sandwich there because they are awesome and huge – you can easily split this with a friend, a large order of Box Frites, and whatever drinks, and be good for the entire game. I’ve done this before actually and highly recommend this to someone trying to eat at the park but not go entirely broke.”
There are only two locations – one inside World’s Fare Market, and one on Promenade Level – and there’s rarely a line, even when there is, it moves fairly quickly. I love Mama’s dearly, and have been meaning to check out their outside-the-stadium-location forEVER. I strongly recommend visiting them, even if you ignore every other tip I’ve listed here.
Also, a quick aside, the BF – a bit of a cannoli expert – really enjoys their chocolate covered cannolis and actually gets one every game (unless they’ve sold out). I’ve also enjoyed both their chocolate pudding and tiramisu quite a bit, which speaks volumes as I don’t like chocolate that much, pudding isn’t one of my favorite things, and tiramisu is… so I’m super picky about that. And both of them have been totally delicious and return-trip-worthy. Mmm, Mama’s. I can’t wait until my first game this weekend 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this guide to eating CitiField, including my now-obsolete tips… I really wish those menu items would come back!!! Someone MAKE IT HAPPEN!!! Like an Amazin’ season this year…
HAPPY EATING!!! and here’s to an EXCELLENT, mostly INJURY-FREE SEASON THIS YEAR!!! 2010 is our year, baby! Ya GOTTA BELIEVE!!! and boy do I!