Since I went to Arizona primarily for spring training baseball, I thought I should do a post about the food I ate at the various ballparks I visited.
One of the reasons spring training is so popular is that you can see your favorite hometown team and a whole bunch of others as well. That’s because more than 15 Major League Baseball teams practice in the Arizona area as part of the so-called Cactus League.
During my week, I was able to visit three stadiums: Scottsdale Stadium (home of the San Francisco Giants), Hohokam Stadium in Mesa (home of the Chicago Cubs) and Phoenix Municipal Stadium (home of the Oakland A’s).
Spring training reflects a simpler time in baseball, when it was all about getting out on a sunny day, playing on the grass, getting yourself a bit dirty on the mound while spectators sit in the stands munching on hot dogs. Most of that hasn’t changed much with the smaller stadiums giving an intimate feel, offering up the standard ballpark fare of hotdogs, hamburgers, peanuts and beer.
Of the three stadiums I visited, the Phoenix Municipal Stadium had the fewest options for eating. I tried a chicken gyro ($7.25) that tasted like processed chicken and a BBQ pulled pork sandwich with chips ($8.75) that was a bit better. (The A’s is actually moving to Hohokam after the Cubs move to a new stadium next year, so maybe it’ll pick up the options at the Cubs’ games.)
Hohokam had a more festive feeling, with fancy beer and cocktail stands and a whole vendor dedicated to hot dogs of varying styles. I had to get the Chi-town dog ($6.25), which is the homage to the Chicago dog. What makes a Chicago dog? It’s the topping of a whole sliced pickle with mustard and sweet peppers. It was good, but I had better in Chicago, natch.
Still, the Cubs stadium had a food area that included one food truck (selling almost entirely deep-fried foods so I skipped it), a Jamba Juice stand, one selling noodles and one vendor selling pork short ribs sliders (two for $8).
The pork short ribs sliders tasted good and comforting, with shredded carrots and pickles. But I didn’t really enjoy the bun it was served in, which was thick and tough, and reminded me of a big golf ball sliced open.
A lot of the vendors at Hohokam also showed up at Scottsdale Stadium, home of the Giants, which draw some of the biggest crowds during spring training (rivaling the crowds for the Cubs). Scottsdale Stadium actually is near a lot of dining options in Old Town Scottsdale, so even though the food option in the ballpark is better than most, it competes with some better food at nearby restaurants.
I did try the BBQ chicken sandwich at the Giants game, which turned out to be a rip-off because they charged $10 for the sandwich, a bag of chips and pickles. I don’t eat potato chips, and the pickles were just a couple of slices of those hamburger pickles. And the chicken sandwich was kind of rubbery.
I think of all the food options I tried, the stir-fried soba noodles were the best choice for me, offering up some tasty and filling noodles with chicken for about $8. The chicken had a nice seared taste and there were some fresh vegetables, too. The only thing was it had too much soy sauce, so a tad salty (which is why you need some beer).
Despite the lackluster food at the stadiums, you still can’t beat spring training baseball. Beautiful weather, friendly crowds, and enthusiastic players all add up to a relaxing day of just doing nothing.
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