In today’s modern media environment, with DirectTV’s NBA, NFL and MLB packages, I’ve heard many a friend and colleague argue that they much prefer staying at home to watch a game over going to the game itself.
Fifteen years ago, I would’ve laughed at that. However, today, with high definition, The Red Zone Channel, my 46” flat-screen and its ridiculous surround sound system, I see their point.
The picture on the television is as good as almost any seat, there’s no lines for the bathroom, you won’t get stuck in traffic, and if the game is a blowout, you can just change the channel to a more competitive game.
Still, nothing quite compares to going to a game, listening to the broadcasters on AM radio on the drive there, watching your team warm up before the game and the thrill and energy of cheering alongside tens of thousands of hometown sport’s fans.
However, the one thing, at least for me, that most separates the in-person experience from staying at home, is stadium food.
I’m a bit of a health nut. I watch what I eat almost every meal. The exception being when I go to a game. You can’t go to a Pittsburgh Steelers game in the middle of winter, surrounded by die-hards of the Steel City and chomp away on a salad. You’d get thrown out of the place.
I’ve seen live sporting events in almost every state in America, tasting stadiums' most celebrated treats. And here, for you, I’ve compiled a lifetime of research to give you a culinary review of America’s best stadium food, so that you won’t miss out.
Gates Bar-B-Que at Kaufman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, is not only one of the best stadium food items in the country, but it is some of the best BBQ I've ever had.
I can't think of too many reasons to go see a Kansas City Royals game, nor can I think of many reasons to go to Kansas period (e-mail your angry emails to Mattnespoli@hotmail.com). However, if you do find yourself accidentally lost in Kansas, searching for a wizard or something, two or three of these sandwiches will help pass the time in a pleasant fashion.
I was in love with this sandwich at first bite. The meat was so soft that I barely had to chew it, and its succulent texture left me to conclude that this meat had either been slow-cooked over a period of days, or it had been imported from another planet, coming from an animal we'd never seen on earth.
There is no other possible way to account for its tenderness and succulent juices.
I'm getting hungry, and we've still got six items to go.
Jeez, Matthew, It's just a hot dog.
Really? Is it?
Call me a traditionalist, call me a homer, call me simple; I don't care. Just please buy me another Dodger dog.
This foot-long treat comes in a warm and soft bun and can be topped with enough relish and mustard to feed a small village. It's the singular reason I go to Dodgers games.
And I'm not kidding.
I stopped being a fan of baseball in the early '90s when my hometown Pirates lost my favorite player, Bobby Bonilla, to free agency.
Yet still, I catch at least a dozen Dodger games a summer.
I sit in the upper deck with my transistor AM radio and headphones, listen to sports talk radio and consume as many of these delicious dogs as is possible to cram into one's body in seven innings (seven because this is Los Angeles, and nobody gets there until the third inning).
Now, I'm no Joey Chestnut, but let me remind you, sporting events are the only time when I allow my diet to stray, so I pack them in.
Jeter may have gotten his 3,000th hit this past weekend, but I'm coming up on 3,000 Dodger dogs by the end of summer. Put your money on it.
I've never been a huge fan of fries. However, that was before last summer, when I visited AT&T Park in San Francisco and had Gilroy's garlic fries.
I know, I know, garlic fries are nothing special, everyone makes them. But trust me, nobody makes them like this.
The garlic tastes so fresh, you'd swear they were growing it in the back, and the fries have an in-ordinary ability to stay warm for as long as it takes you to consume them.
Now, if that isn't enough to get you to drive to San Francisco and endure a Giants game, then have peace of mind in knowing that Gilroy's is the only "green" concession stand in all of sports.
Whatever energy you consume getting to the game, you will make up for by eating "green."
Let's hope they start a trend.
I live on the beach in Los Angeles, and seafood, especially oysters, is my absolute favorite food.
Still, if you aren't careful with oysters, you can get sick. So, I typically don't eat them from establishments I'm unfamiliar with.
However, a dear friend of mine convinced me that these oysters were safe and that I had to try them.
At first bite, I found both the taste and texture to be odd. They didn't taste like any other oyster I'd ever had.
However, as I continued eating, I began to really like them. By the end of the plate, I'd liked them so much that I ordered another.
At the end of my second plate, my friend started laughing. When I asked why, he revealed the truth.
I hadn't been eating oysters.
I'd been eating cow testicles.
Yes, you read correctly, I ate cow balls.
And you know what? I loved them.
I love cow balls!
So much in fact, that I go back at least once a year, to get myself some more cow balls.
Remember what I said about item No. 7, Gates BBQ, regarding the softness of their meat?
Well, wherever that meat comes from, so too does this delicious pulled pork at Bank of America Stadium.
This meat is so soft that it just might melt in your mouth before you get a chance to chew it.
Salted and spiced to perfection, this is one tasty treat. It's so good, that I'm putting it third on my list after just one visit to Panthers stadium (though in that one visit, I put back three of these bad boys).
Were I to be stranded on an island and could take only one meat product, without any bread or condiments, I'd be taking this delicious pulled pork.
It's said that Philadelphia makes the world's greatest cheese steak. Well, I spent the first 25 years of my life in PA, so I'm pretty familiar with their cheese steaks, and I've got to admit, Dallas has them beat.
The steak above, though it may not look too great, it is.
Made from 100 percent pure Kobe beef, this steak is succulent, cooked to perfection, seasoned beautifully and can be eaten without adding a single condiment.
Even better? You won't be tasting it for the next two days after. The same for which I can't say about any Philly Cheese steak.
When I got the idea to write this article, I knew instantly what my No. 1 item would be.
You can't compete with the Primanti Brother's sandwich.
You may die of a heart attack halfway through one of these bad boys, but you will die happy.
I made the general selection of "Primanti Brother's sandwich" because I didn't want to be forced to pick any one specific sandwich. They are all delicious, and there's a sandwich for everyone.
You can get any of the traditionals: ham, turkey, steak, roast beef, but this sandwich will be anything but normal.
However, each of their sandwiches share these commonalities.
1. Cole slaw
Every sandwich is topped off with a fist-full of slaw. I'm not a fan of slaw, but this is no ordinary slaw. It's not all runny and wet, it's dry, seasoned and delicious. I'd go to Primanti's if all they served was the slaw.
Yes. Fries. They put fries, IN THE SANDWICH. The first time I heard this I thought it was asinine, just like you're thinking now. However, think about it, every time you get a sandwich, you get an order of fries.
You take a bite of sandwich, and then you throw a few fries down your hole. Putting them in the sandwich not only saves you time, but it tastes delicious, AND you can get another order of fries on the side without seeming like a pig.
After all, the first order of fries is just part of the sandwich, right?
There's nothing fancy about the bread. It's just fresh, soft and delicious. Somehow, with everything that is going into this sandwich (meat, eggs, cheese, fries, slaw, veggies), this bread somehow manages to stay dry.
This bread has been called by some (meaning me), the eighth great wonder of the world.
If you haven't had a Primanti Brothers sandwich, then your life has been a hollow and vapid waste of time. Don't let more time slip through your fingers; catch the next flight to Pittsburgh.
However, I'm very sorry that you will have to suffer through a Pirates game to enjoy this sandwich.
Sometimes, life ain't fair.