I'm a huge fan of ballpark food. In my fantasy world where I inherent a fortune from an obscure king of a remote island in which I am somehow unknowingly the sole survivor of the royal lineage, I travel to ballparks across the United States to try out the grub (among other things). Last summer I went to Wrigley in Chicago for a couple of games despite not having received my surprise inheritance yet. We left Dallas around 5 a.m. and by the time we got to the game that afternoon I was famished. We were in a mad dash to get to the stadium because bleacher seats at Wrigley are first-come first-serve, so we didn't have time to eat.
We were almost to the bleachers, and I was precariously on the verge of pulling my pigtails out and having a full on 2-year-old's tantrum when I got a whiff of grilled hot dogs and onions. I was O.U.T. I was so over it, I didn't care if I sat in the bar across the street, I absolutely was not passing that cart. Remember in Good Will Hunting how Robin Williams missed Pudge Fisk's home run in the World Series because he "had to see about a girl"? Well, I had to see about a hot dog. And it was glorious. And we got seats. And it was a great day.
Fortunately getting to a Rangers game doesn't usually involve such drama, but still deciding what to eat is the hardest decision I make that week. Hot dog, nachos or garlic fries? And now they have all these new things that make it so much more difficult. I stalk people around me to gauge their level of satisfaction for clues on what to get.
If you peruse the stadium you'll find a lot of new things. "We always like to give our fans options and create new things for them," says Casey Rapp with Metroplex Sportservice, who manages the concessions at the Ballpark. Some of those new options include Nolan Dogs, hot knots, Frito pie, chili, wings, Buffalo chicken tenders, whole dill pickles and Big Game Pretzels. There's even a fruit bar (I pity the fool!). The Rangers have also invested in a few higher-end items like a Food Network cart that makes Texas steak sandwiches and beer cheese dogs. Then, the Bayou Cookin' cart has gumbo and red beans and rice, while the Asian Wok cart has stir fry and noodles. In several places around the park there are barbecue pits for fresh chopped beef sandwiches. Grilled bacon dogs, pulled pork nachos and hand-dipped Blue Bell ice cream bars are new this year as well.
So, I put on my fast running shoes, took $500 out of the ATM and tried every single one of those new items. It was a long night and my kids were exhausted from all the walking and waiting in lines, but no one said being a foodie was easy.
C'mon? Like really? Pfft. I would need a doubleheader or maybe a game and a half to eat all that.
I highly recommend the bacon-wrapped hot dogs, though. Served right off the grill, the bacon is crisp and the onions add great flavor. Also, those Blue Bell bars dipped in hot chocolate are the best dessert I've had at a ballpark. Party tip: Eat both of those things alone in a corner where no one you know can see you; otherwise, they'll want a bite. Closet eating is totally under-rated.
Then there's Dollar Hot Dog Day, which is every Wednesday. Rapp tells me the Rangers sell an average of 40,000 hot dogs at each of these promotional events, which explains why the lines can be so crazy long. If you don't mind possibly missing an entire inning waiting, then by all means, get your hot dog on. But, I'd splurge a few extra bucks for an upgrade at a faster kiosk if at all possible. Although sometimes, it's just a dollar dog kind of day -- I get that.
On Thirsty Tuesdays ballpark fans can save a dollar off 16-ounce draft beers, 24-ounce soft drinks and water. And at every Sunday home game, fans 13 and under can get Blue Bell Ice Cream for just $1. Just don't bribe kids to get you ice cream. Security frowns on that.
The Rangers are out of town this week, so maybe now is a good time to start thinking about what you might want to eat. They'll be back in town to play the White Sox May 23-25 followed by the Royals next weekend, May 27-29. Here we go nachos, here we go!