If you've been putting off a trip to the ballpark because of the weather, don't worry. A recent media food tour of Progressive Field proved that there is plenty to do during a rain delay as long as you bring an appetite — and, of course, a well-stocked wallet.
A May 12 food tour lead by Chris Angne of the stadium's food service company, Delaware North, focused on what's new and yummy among the stadium's concessionaires. Among the highlights: chicken and waffle sandwiches, bacon-wrapped knockwurst on a pretzel bun, buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese, and of course, all the ice-cold beer you can drink — both craft brews and retro varieties.
Our well-organized pig-out started on the upper deck, where I had my first encounter with a roving hot dog vender in a red-and-white striped shirt. He convinced me to try a big, juicy Sugardale dog for $5.50. The dogs are served fresh and in my opinion are a must-have while watching the Indian's play Progressive Field. (Don’t forget to ask to add the Bertman's Ball Park mustard, the same classic mustard that has been used in Cleveland Indians concessions since the 1920s). Also on the upper deck are the "all-you-can-eat seats," where your ticket price includes unlimited hot dogs, peanuts, nachos, and soft drinks.
However, if you are in the mood to try something a little different, the main concourse is where you need to be. This is where I got to sample all of the newest menu items, starting with Your Dad’s Beer (Section 118), where the offerings include Pabst Blue Ribbon, Black Label, Iron City, Stroh's, and other blasts from the past, all priced at $4.50 a can. The idea, according to Angne, is that while you sip on your ice-cold brew, you can think back to your younger days when you used to snitch sips of your old Dad’s beer when he wasn't looking. Fans can also buy half-pound all-beef hotdogs fresh off the grill here, or try Your Dad’s Beer snack of the month. This month, the special is stadium jerky.
Next on the list is Sausages and Hot Dogs (Section 114), where you can load up your classic Italian sausage with all the grilled vegies, sauerkraut, and peppers you want. This hoagie was one big, heaping, hot-and-spicy mess of a sandwich, but if you're not afraid of getting a little messy, this one's is for you. You also might want to try Burgers Loaded (Section 107). where you can pick how you want your burger done, then chose among 14 toppings, including banana peppers, blue cheese crumbles, and cole slaw. Something else you might want to try is Major League Pizza (Section 152): Progressive Field’s own Chef James Major's inspired pies made fresh in the park. The classic pepperoni and cheese is good. Better was this month's feature: A perfect combination of Bertman’s mustard, light mozzarella cheese, sauerkraut, and spicy smoked sausage.
Conveniently close to Major League Pizza is Spirits of Ohio (Section 154), where you can wash down your pizza with a wide selection of locally crafted beer and wine. Fans can get a taste of brews like Mt. Carmel Amber Ale and Thirsty Dog's Raspberry Ale. The cool thing about this place is that before you order, you can check out the chalk board that lists all the ingredients, for a real sense of what might hit the spot. And I bet you’re still wondering where you can get the bacon-wrapped knockwurst, buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese, and maybe even some hot-off-the-grill steak sandwiches. Those are all on the menu at the Food Network Cart (Section 172). The bacon provides the perfect crisp counterpoint to the sausage; and the buffalo chicken mac and cheese has just enough spice to make your taste buds tingle. Not that ballpark grub will ever be mistaken for spa food, but the stadium is also offering some "healthy" alternative options.
Spuds and Suds (Section 164) sells gluten-free food, including hotdogs, fresh-cut fries, or a "twisted" potato, which is a whole spud spiral-sliced and deep fried. (The one we sampled was on the greasy side, even for ballpark food.) You can also go to the Grab N’ Go stand (Section 162) which offers flavored milks, cheese sticks, and fruit slices, or get a freshly made sub from the nearby Subway. Or if you want to forget your diet and give into deep-fried temptation, don’t go any further than the APP-etizer Store (Section 154). Have your pick from all the fried foods imaginable — from fried Oreos and cookie dough to fried pb&j sandwiches and fried macaroni and cheese. Also available here, first-rate chicken and waffle sandwiches, funnel cakes, and corn dogs. Mmm...good!