Seattle has ballpark sushi, San Francisco spawned a garlic fry renaissance, and the world can thank St. Louis' Gateway Grizzlies for the Krispy Kreme burger. But there was a time when Dallas ran on the cutting edge of sports food innovation this town invented ballpark nachos, while the rest of the country still sang about peanuts and Cracker Jack.
Now that stadium foodservice has grown up around the country, garlic fries, fancy hot dogs with German names and Dippin' Dots have become as standard as the once-novel nacho.
Where can you turn today for your mid-inning thrills? Read on for the most surprising (for better or worse) dining options in DFW sports...
5. Dr Pepper Park
Bob Evans Teddy Express Tent
The all-you-can-eat-seat trend has spread across the Majors, so the Rangers' baseball buffet in the $34 Upper Home Run Porch is pretty much par for the course. Sure, you might not see a hell of a lot on the field, but your mind will be so clogged with nitrates, you'll won't make out much of anything past your own gut.
But being turned away from a dining area in the minors is a wholly different experience. Minor league baseball should be an escape from the drumbeat of Major League trends, a place to spin around a baseball bat and race between innings, to drink until the mascot starts to look like something found in nature, then relieve yourself in a room of troughs and concrete, not porcelain.
So the all-you-can-eat tickets at Frisco RoughRiders games come as a bit of a surprise. In true minor league, though, the buffet line's a mix of premium hot dogs (almost certainly gone before you get there) and the filler tube-steaks meant to take up space in the later innings. Get there early, though, and you've got a Major League experience with a AAA view of the game.
4. Ballpark in Arlington
Nolan Ryan Guaranteed Tender Beef Burger
Sure, let's say he's gone soft in his retirement, pushing paper in the Rangers front office and serving time as the franchise figurehead. Fair point. But no way are you going to sell me on Nolan Ryan's being anything close to "tender."
But here go the Rangers, trading on Ryan's good name as if he'd know "tenderness" if it charged up and punched him in the gut. This is indeed a fine burger, but not at all worthy of its namesake. If you're going to slap Ryan's brand on it, it's got to be tough as leather, older than dirt and fast as a high heater to the ear at making you forget your appetite.
3. American Airlines Center
Platinum Suite Dessert Cart
Take in a Mavs or Stars game, and you'll run into your usual selection of pretzels, dogs and nachos, plus some solid premium choices for a few bucks more. It's a fine way to break up a three-hour sit (especially in hockey's well-timed period breaks) and stave off hunger.
If, however, you find yourself in a catered suite upstairs, and your host has done their homework, there's no end to the possibilities. Maybe they're laid out the Latin barbacoa table, or maybe you'll wait out an overtime period in the company of a ginger-scented sea bass. All are finer dining options than you'll find almost anywhere in the house.
Until the dessert cart rolls around. No matter how wrapped you are with the match-up on the court, you've never felt more like a prisoner getting a cell visit from the library cart once this rolling sugardome pulls up to your suite door. The carrot cake is hefty and half icing, any stray pieces of fruit are unrecognizable under coats of candy and chocolate. Among the AAC suite regulars, the dessert cart's arrival is a mid-game holiday, discussed more than anything that could possibly happen on the court or the ice below.
If you're never going to play in the NBA anyway, why not take a second cookie? They're only as big as your head.
2. Pizza Hut Park
World of Beer
Of all the sports teams in DFW, you'd expect FC Dallas's home to carry the most European flair, and sure enough, theirs is the home of the finest little beer vacation in Texas sports. Considering that the Ballpark in Arlington's ultra-premium beer comes from no farther away than Fort Worth's Rahr & Sons (Texas Red, their custom ballpark brew), Pizza Hut Park's selection of European beers is a welcome bit of Euro flavor in a world dominated by domestic macro brews. Yeah, it's just one window. And the beer comes in bottles, not on tap. But you may find Newcastle or Harp--as well as more local brands, such as Blue Moon and Shiner.
1. Cowboys Stadium
$8 Red Mango frozen yogurt (with two toppings)
Jonestown made headlines early on with news about the $90 pizzas they'd be selling in the luxury boxes, before the rumors were set straight -- turns out the pizzas are a bargain at $60, same as they cost at Texas Stadium.
Way to put out the flames. And it's no surprise the rest of the food's so expensive in the Cowboys' new digs. You can't expect to get a whole row of flat-screen TVs to watch while you wait in line (assuming you're not staring up at the murals instead), and not pay a little extra for it.
But how does the man who spends $8 on a cup of Red Mango fro yo face their friends after returning to their seats? Apologize and say your girlfriend put you up to it, or eat it in a hurry in the company of strangers. But don't pretend you made the right call when that much scratch could've bought you a Bud Light.
Even in the world's most palatial sports venue, nothing extruded into a cup has any business running north of five bucks.
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