The Texas Rangers rolled out some mouth-watering, stomach-upsetting new concession items this season: a state fair stand with nothing but fried foods, nachos with tater tots instead of tortilla chips, bacon beer. There is also a thing called the “sausage sundae.”
But that’s all on the ground level, where the nice seats are. What if you’re sitting up at the top? What can you get to eat in the cheap seats?
We decided to find out. Our rules:
1. No getting food on the lower level and taking it upstairs. That’s cheating.
2. No plain old burgers, hot dogs, chicken tender baskets, or popcorn. We already know how that stuff goes.
Without further ado, the results!
200 (Lexus Club) Level
Bratwurst (Section 214, 240). A pretty good, peppery link of brat, buried in grilled onions and a truly insane amount of sauerkraut. “It’s good!” the cheery grill lady said, and she was right. The bun disintegrates instantly on contact, like some kind of foamy espionage device, so grab a spork.
Nachos (Section 216). Gone are the days where only plain cheese nachos could be had on the upper levels. Get your super nachos (ground beef, cheese, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños: $11) right by your seats. There are also Totally Awesome nachos for $17.50. “What makes the Totally Awesome nachos Totally Awesome?” we asked. The guy told us, “It comes in a batter’s helmet, and it’s twice as big as the super nacho. That’s why it’s called that.” He was right about the batter’s helmet, but he missed something: the Totally Awesome nachos allow you to upgrade to shredded beef or chicken.
Room Service (Sections 217-235). Certain sections of the Lexus Club level let you order food from your seat. Fill out your selections on your paper menu, and your friendly server will have your items out to you shortly. In addition to the standard fare you could find on the level, items like salads, Frito pies, and 9-layer dip are available.
The strange thing: most of the items on the menu are $0.25 to $1.00 cheaper than if you went to a vendor selling the exact same thing. Tipping the servers is expected, so you won't save money in the end, but you're not being gouged for the special treatment. How do they charge less for seat service? There are hidden storage rooms along the concourse which, if you get a look inside, are giant tables stacked with ready-made foods under heat lamps. This is the stuff the servers bring out to you.
Check SeatGeek to try to get a good price on a seat in food-service sections (or go on a drizzly Tuesday and self-upgrade like we did).
All-You-Can-Eat Sections in the Outfield. To be fair, we haven’t been to the all-you-can-eat sections in a while, not since the fall of 2012. But back then, at a Rice alumni get-together, the food was pretty much traumatizing. Like, fuzz-on-the-burger-buns. At least the ice cream was edible!
Speaking of ice cream, vendors on all levels are now selling Dreyer's instead of Blue Bell.
Booze. There’s a good Beers of Texas bar at 210, with Lakewood Lager, Rahr Helles Blonde, St. Arnold's Lawnmower, and ZiegenBock. 16oz draughts are $10. Texas Rangers red and white wine is also available for a whopping $13.25 per mini-bottle. (We didn't try these - wine at a baseball game is just wrong.) (Also: we’re not making this up. The Texas Rangers have their own wine.)
Next-door to the Texas beer bar is the Dublin Up Irish Pub, which distinctly lacks Irish staples and provides you with spirits and cocktails. Tito's vodka and the like will cost you $10.75. Wine, margaritas, Shock Top, and Bud Light are also available.
If you need a lager to pair with your nachos, the nacho stall offers Landshark and Montejo. And, of course, light beers are available almost everywhere.
300 Level (Upper Deck)
General note from Michelle: I'm weirdly excited about there being pizza available at the regular grill vendors. I went to my first Rangers game back in 2011, and I was starving, but I'm not a dried-out-burger or hot dog person. That was all there was, really. I wandered all the way down to the ground level (which is a feat because there's a single escalator that switches directions based on traffic flow, so a very long ramp walk was involved) to find a pizza and missed two whole innings. Pizza being offered on the top level is nice for whiny pizza lovers like me.
Bratwurst (section 313). This stand closes when attendance is low, which is a common theme in the upper decks. The 300 level was practically a ghost town when we visited.
Bacon on a Stick (behind home plate).Brian, after his first bite: “I hate that I like this.”
Michelle, after her first bite: “I’m annoyed that I’m enjoying this.”
Why is bacon on a stick our surprise favorite food in the upper deck? Well, it’s not exactly fried bacon. It’s a thick cut of pork belly, smoked until it’s ready to fall apart between your teeth. Add a bit of maple glaze, and you got an addicting experience. There was definitely jockeying for the last bite. Bacon on a stick is a winner.
Brisket Sandwich (behind home plate). At $12.50, the most expensive item we got and the most disappointing. It’s pretty dry brisket, a slathering of Sweet Baby Ray’s, and a bun. You could assemble it at home for $1.50. It tastes like, uh, shredded meat and bread.
“That’s $15 million,” the barbecue guy said when he rang up our brisket sandwich. Still a better deal than the Elvis Andrus extension.
Turkey Leg (behind home plate). We didn’t get this, which was a mistake, because the turkey legs sitting on the grill looked a lot juicier and more appetizing than the shredded brisket turned out to be.
The Sno-Cone station (Section 324). It was too cold for us to be in the mood for sugary shaved ice, but on a hot summer day you can refresh yourself with a sno-cone in 6 different flavors. You dispense the syrup yourself to mix and match. This could be really great or really dangerous if you have children, or if you are secretly still a child.
Booze: Beers of the World provides you with the less-than-exciting options of Landshark and Budweiser on draft, but a good variety is available in cans and bottles. We think “the world” means Mexico. Another vendor has ZiegenBock and Rahr Blonde on draft plus assorted bottles and cans of local brew. Woodbridge wines are available as well. Warning: If you sit in section 335, vendors will not bring beer by, and you can't bring your beer in. This section is an alcohol-free zone.
Drama-Filled Conclusion/Summary/Marital Dispute
While we were chowing down on bacon-on-a-stick and drinking Lakewood Lager, Michelle’s husband delivered a rant that went something like this:
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“You don't go to the ballpark for fancy food and beer. You should be eating hot dogs and peanuts and drinking Bud. I remember going to ball games where there wasn't a choice in beer. You just ordered beer, and you got what you got from whoever was sponsoring the games that year. Why the hell can you get bacon beer at a ballpark? I don't want Lakewood Lager, I want a Budweiser! No, I don’t want to try your brisket sandwich. Where’s my bag of peanuts?”
If you feel the same way as Michelle's husband, then enjoy the relative bargain of Budweiser and Bud Light (at $5 for a 12oz draught, they're the best deal in the ballpark), and be assured the peanuts are solid quality.
Eventually he caved in and got a Lakewood Lager. And he liked it, dammit.
Bonus pro tip for baseball fans who find themselves at Yankees Stadium: Don't get the peanuts. They suck.