The concession stands at Busch Stadium will be stocked with the classics — peanuts, hot dogs and burgers — for Opening Day, but Cardinals fans will also find “walking tacos," chicken and waffle sandwiches and deep-fried Oreos.
Fans want more food options, said Michelle DeMarco, executive sous chef with Delaware North, the stadium’s concessionaire, at a recent preview day. “Popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, burgers, beer — those are always going to be a large part of the baseball experience, but I think today’s baseball viewers are expecting a little bit more out of their food, as well,’’ she said.
Here are five of the more adventurous new offerings. If you’re wondering about calories, DeMarco says they haven’t been calculated.
“My unofficial statement is ‘fat free.’ You buy the food, you get the fat for free,’’ she says.
1. Walking tacos – Nachos have always been a big-seller at Busch Stadium, so this portable variety will no doubt have legs.
Sour cream, shredded cheddar and salsa are spooned into an open bag of Fritos or Doritos, and then topped with nacho beef, pulled pork or chicken carnitas.
And they’ll come to you. The nacho beef variety will be sold by vendors inside the stadium, while all three will be sold at stands outside sections 266, 432 and 199.
2. Chicken waffle sandwiches – Made-to-order waffles filled with fried chicken breasts, chicken carnitas or pulled pork with coleslaw. The waffle sandwiches are served with white queso tater tots.
DeMarco describes these as a “shareable meal for two.” They’ll be available at a new “Crowd the Plate” stand outside section 148.
3. Quadruple gooey burger – This one-pound burger is actually a stack of four grilled patties and four slices of American cheese, topped with the proverbial special sauce, shredded lettuce and tomato and served with white queso tater tots.
It’s another of those “shareable” items, according to DeMarco.
“I’m thinking it could serve my family of four, but there are a couple of hungry men out there who might be willing to try it,” she says.
Price: $18. It can be found at the “Double Play Tap and Grill” outside section 135.
Watching your waistline? There’s also a half-pound gooey burger made with two patties and two slices of cheese.
4. Deep-fried Oreos – Oreo cookies are dunked in funnel cake batter before taking a hot bath in the deep fryer. A serving is four cookies, with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
Price: $7. They can be found at the Red Bird Club (section 251) and the “Crowd the Plate” stand outside section 148.
Also new: 7-inch Oreo churros, served with Oreo crème dipping sauce.
And executive chef Larry Johnson tells us they’re experimenting with deep-fried Twinkies. The fry's the limit ...
5. Craft cocktails – A second Barrel Aged Cocktail Bar has been added outside section 130. New “craft cocktails” this season include the Crisp Caramel Apple, made with Crown Royal Regal Apple and Sprite. There’s also the Dark and Stormy, a mixture of dark rum and ginger beer that could help take the edge off long rain delays.
How does Busch Stadium compare?
In the National League Central Division, the Cards are vying against the Milwaukee Brewers and their pulled pork parfaits and nachos-on-a-stick. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a new brunch burger. It’s served with cheddar cheese, fried egg and bacon on a glazed doughnut. With sprinkles.
In the American League, it’s just as over-the-wall. At Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, they’ve cooked up a FOUR-pound burger: two eight-ounce patties, eight slices of cheese and 32 slices of bacon. It’s called Fan vs. Food, and anyone who finishes it gets a free shirt and two tickets to a future Rays game. In Baltimore, there’s The Walk Off, a sausage wrapped in a pretzel roll covered in crab dip. You can see photos of more ball yard treats at SB Nation.
In the meantime, USA Today gave the Busch Stadium breaded chicken waffle sandwich top billing in its look at the 17 best new ballpark foods.
But in a food-and-drink ranking of all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums published in the Huffington Post, Busch Stadium placed at 26, with the reviewers criticizing the lack of regional food on the menu. They named Safeco Park in Seattle as No. 1: “It kind of feels like every buzzy food trend from recent years is somehow represented, but in a way that somehow manages to not feel completely out of place.’’
Bring on the walking tacos.