The best arms race in baseball, hands down, is weird ballpark food. With Opening Day around the corner, we ranked 19 of the most ludicrous menu items teams are serving up this season.
No. 1: Chicken Churro Sandwich (Detroit Tigers)
“Chicken tender topped with Michigan maple syrup on a churro bun”
There is not a single thing wrong with this. It feels like a twist on chicken and waffles in a way I can absolutely get down with. Sometimes you don’t need to cram nine million things into a single food item. Just give me some fried chicken and something sweet and I’m yours. I do wish there was a heat element to this, but it gets top marks just for using the phrase “churro bun.”
No. 2: Friar’s Fries (San Diego Padres)
“Fries, pork belly lechon, chicharron crumbles, pickled red onions, sweet drop peppers, cilantro aioli, scallions, smoked mozzarella”
The entire “loaded fries” concept is a bit of a minefield. My general opinion is throwing stuff on fries is the easy way out in making a “wacky” item that lacks imagination. Friar’s Fries are an exception. You have salty, sweet, and sour, and just when you think it’s all over they hit you with smoked mozzarella. Bravo, Padres.
No. 3: KFC (Minnesota Twins)
“Korean fried chicken with a honey, garlic and gochujang sauce”
Yes, I have two fried chicken sandwiches in the top three. Fight me. The KFC sounds simple, but once you dive into the ingredients you know it’s a banger. I’d eat two right now and regret it later.
No. 4: The Pig Mac (Detroit Tigers)
“Smoked pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, onion straws, sliced jalapeno peppers, drizzled with BBQ sauce on an onion roll”
As someone who lives in North Carolina, I have a natural and well-earned mistrust of any city outside the state serving up pulled pork. That said, on paper, this hits all the right notes. I need to know whether the pork is served with a proper vinegar-based sauce, or that thick, brown, flavor-masking goop made for children with unevolved palates. The sliced jalapenos are a nice touch.
No. 5: The Rattler (Texas Rangers)
“Watch out, this sausage has a bite! A rattlesnake sausage grilled to perfection and served on a fresh hoagie roll. Drizzled with Venom sauce. Served with Lay’s potato chips.”
I don’t really know what to think of this, but I do know I want to try it. I’ve only had rattlesnake once, and it was largely uneventful, but this iteration leaves me with questions. What is Venom sauce? Why are you serving this with plain-ass chips? The mind boggles.
No. 6: Greek Fry (Milwaukee Brewers)
“Fries topped with gyro meat, tzatziki sauce, feta crumbles and diced tomatoes.”
Another entry in the “loaded fries” conversation. I like this idea in theory, but it feels a little uninspired. Personally, I would like to see a squeeze of lemon and some parsley to really tie together all these flavors.
No. 7: Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders (St. Louis Cardinals)
“Two breaded and fried homestyle chicken breasts with Nashville hot oil and pickles on a slider bun.”
Nashville hot chicken is one of the greatest contributions to the American culinary landscape. This would rank higher on my list, but serving it in St. Louis breaks my brain a little bit. I’m sure it’s good, but probably no better than something I could find locally, which makes it a middle-of-the-pack item.
No. 8: NE Italian Sandwich (Minnesota Twins)
“Mortadella, salami, ham and ‘nduja, Alemar cheese fromage blanc with greens and pickled vegetables on Baker’s Field bread.”
Kudos for adding some ‘ndjua here, Twins. For the uninitiated, it’s basically spreadable sausage pate and it’s wonderful. Other than that, this is a pretty bog-standard Italian sandwich, which is excellent, but doesn’t really get me too excited overall.
No. 9: BBQ Brisket and Pork Platter (Chicago White Sox)
“In-house smoked brisket or pork served with a choice of two sides: mac ‘n cheese, baked beans or spicy coleslaw, also served with spicy pickle chips and a slice of white bread”
It’s a BBQ plate. Pretty average. Nothing too special or overwhelming. I’m sure it’s fine. I have some serious questions about the “in-house” smoking process. Is someone really coming in hours in advance to smoke this correctly? I just don’t know.
No. 10: Top Dog (St. Louis Cardinals)
“1/3-pound hot dogs, bratwursts, and Italian sausages with over 24 cold toppings and six hot toppings available”
This is a hot dog or sausage. It’s fine.
No. 11: The Stack! (Texas Rangers)
“Nachos like you have never seen them before! Crisp tostadas layered with Tostitos tortilla chips and your favorite nacho toppings including pulled pork, Rico’s nacho cheese sauce, Rico’s jalapeno peppers and our stadium chili. The perfect nacho for sharing.”
I was really torn on how to grade this one. On the one hand, no, I have not seen nachos on top of tostadas before. I also don’t know if I need to see nachos on top of tostadas. Where this gets marked down is the immense amount of branding on every item. It feels too processed to me, and that’s a turn off. I like that this item has an exclamation point in its name. Makes it feel dangerous.
No. 12: Loaded Poutine Fries (Detroit Tigers)
“Crispy waffle fries topped with smoked brisket, cheese curds, smothered in brown gravy”
Poutine is glorious, but this has an inherent structural problem. You have runny brown gravy, so you need a solid item to contain it. Waffle fries aren’t the appropriate fry selection for this dish! An unforced error that should have been caught in testing.
No. 13: Chi Town Fries (Chicago White Sox)
“Hot and crispy French fries topped with nacho cheese and our famous Chi Town pico.”
This is when loaded fries get really lazy. Nothing wrong with them, but I wouldn’t order these on a menu.
No. 14: Chicken Sandwich (Milwaukee Brewers)
“Hot chicken topped with cabbage slaw, honey mayo and dill pickles.”
They knew this item was so boring it didn’t deserve a fun name.
No. 15: Walking Taco (Chicago White Sox)
“A bag of Doritos served with nacho cheese, chili and jalapenos”
Look, I’m sure this is delicious, but I can’t imagine an item that sounds more thrown together by stoners at a 7/11 than this. I have never had a walking taco. In fact, I was so surprised my coworkers all knew what a walking taco was that I was convinced they were gaslighting me. I can go to the gas station right now and make this item myself, so there’s no need to pay a stadium premium for it.
No. 16: Tiger Corn (Detroit Tigers)
“Blueberry coated popcorn mixed with cheese popcorn”
Dammit, Tigers, you were doing so well! This is a mess. I can get down on the salty/sweet combo of kettle corn or Cracker Jack, but mixing blueberry with cheese is an abomination. I know you wanted it to reflect your team colors, but this is an affront to tastebuds everywhere.
No. 17: The Smokehouse Parfait (Cincinnati Reds)
“BBQ pulled pork, mac and cheese with coleslaw in a bread cone”
Leave it to Cincinnati to take a perfectly fine item and mess it all up by serving this shit in a cone made out of bread. The entire point of a barbecue platter is you can sample around, take your tastebuds on a lap. In parfait form, you’re required to eat barbecue in a regimented, planned order — and that’s not in the spirit of barbecue.
No. 18: The ‘Slugger’ (Cincinnati Reds)
“1/4-pound hot dog corn battered and fried (and red!)”
Jesus, Cincinnati, give it a rest. You made a corn dog — good job. Then you’re advertising the fact this is one of those cheap red hot dogs you find on the bottom shelf of the grocery store. That is not a selling point, and you deserve to be scolded for it.
No. 19: S’mores Frybox (Cincinnati Reds)
“Crispy fries with marshmallows, chocolate syrup, cinnamon graham crackers and M&M’s”
Now you’re just trolling me, Cincinnati. Dessert fries? You monsters.