Target Field is doing an increasingly decent job of giving fans a true taste of Minnesota while they're cheering on the Twins. While a person can feel free to stick with peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and beer, one can also take a tour of our diverse culinary landscape as they round the various fields at the stadium. What's cooking for the upcoming season:
If your ballpark tastes lean toward the traditional:
Andrew Zimmern's food truck, AZ Canteen, is back this year with a crispy bacon sandwich dolled up with jalapeño jelly and vinegar slaw -- it's a fat slab of pork belly roasted until crisp and tucked inside of a dog bun, garnished with slaw and served with potato chips on the side. There's also a "Minnesota" smoked meat sandwich (the meat is from local Lorentz Meats) with maple hot sauce and more vinegar slaw, and a Korean fried chicken sandwich with "spicy dip," grilled pineapple, and chile lime sauce.
Izzy's Ice Cream is a refreshing foil to all the meats, and the combination of Church Elder Berry and Salted Caramel flavors were as complementary as peanut butter and jelly. Highly recommended.
When it's time for booze:
Why bother heading to the game if you're not going to drink, and this year Panther Distillery, Minnesota's first whiskey distillery, will be on hand with several signature cocktails, including an Apple Fizz, a classic Manhattan, a Whiskey Sour, and a Whiskey Coke.
If you prefer your cocktails less understated and more whackadoodle, how about a loaded bloody? Like really, really loaded, garnished with an entire burger, a brat, a slab of bacon, or an entire slice of pizza? Suggested retail price $19, so you might have to leave little Johnny home if you decide to buy one of these suckers, because you won't be able to afford his seat.
If you're willing to have a little adventure, if you're gluten free, or if you're watching your waistline:
It's exciting to see Hot Indian Foods at the stadium this year, hot on the heels of their new permanent space in the Midtown Global Market. Chicken tikka masala and vegan aloo gobi over rice with crispy pappadums on top are on the menu. Chef Janine Holig says she pushed for the vegan dish, because "you can't have Indian without serving something vegetarian -- it's rude!" The chicken tikka was easily the best item we sampled all day, finishing it to the last bite, the true test of a great dish when it's being sampled next to dozens of others. She says that now that they're in the stadium, her small-town Minnesota family will finally get a chance to taste her food.
Roots for the Home Team Garden Goodies is back, which partners with local youth-operated community gardens to raise vegetables for salads that get tossed fresh to order at the stadium. A Mardi Garden Salad with bunches of cruciferous diced raw cabbage, beets, peas, potatoes, and herbs was dressed with peanuts and a smoky BBQ vinaigrette. A brilliant defense against copious meatstuffs that creep around every bend.
Local bar food to absorb that booze:
Schwans is serving all-things-for-all people can't-fail bar favorites Italian flat bread, buffalo chicken fire-baked flat bread that had a pleasant bubbly-crunch exterior, a BBQ bacon burger, and a caprese burger.
Red Cow is destined to be a big hit, with their 60/40 burger, 60 percent Certified Angus Beef, 40 percent ground bacon, cheddar, beer mustard and candied bacon; and more traditional Red Cow with lettuce, tomato, onion, and special sauce.
Prefer to support a warhorse beef institution? Manny's Steakhouse has Philly cheese steaks covered with a prodigious swipe of real Cheez Whiz.
Darby's Bar is going with can't-miss crowd-pleaser Tatchos: tots bombarded with nachos fixin's.
Just want to eat well?
We loved seeing Mac's Fish and Chips, easily ranking as one of the top five fish and chips slingers in the cities, and certainly the original. The hand-battered walleye had tempura-like levity, and the silky fish beneath is any Minnesota kid's dream.
The addition of a full service Barrio was certainly the piece de resistance, with full on views of the field, a comprehensive menu, and a signature margarita with Cabrito Blanco tequila, Cointreu, and freshly squeezed lime juice. And carnitas. Lots and lots of carnitas.
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