La Velle E. Neal III, Strib sportswriter, gives Target Field's eats a thumbs up
Target Field's array of different concessions has made us curious about the wider world of MLB snacks. Which is why we tracked down La Velle E. Neal III, who has been covering the Twins for the Star Tribune for 13 seasons and has visited 23 of the 30 major league ballparks, for his take on stadium fare.
1. As the Strib's Twins writer you must get to a lot of ballparks around the country. In your opinion, which has the best concessions? What are the standouts and why? I haven't had a chance to sample all the food at ballparks on the road. I like the variety at Safeco Field [in Seattle]. You can get sushi there (big surprise!), and while the food in the media dining room there is solid, I usually hit the Panda Express. Don't know how many parks have Panda Express around, but Safeco does.
The one that stands out to me is Baltimore. I usually walk out to the right field area and hit Boog's BBQ for a pork sandwich and baked beans. I used to walk to Altman's Deli for lunch, and was pleasantly surprised a few years ago when I found an Altman's Deli on the walk to Boogs!
2. Have you had a chance to sample any of the concessions at Target Field? What's your favorite so far? All I've had so far is the Murray's steak sandwich on opening day. It's pretty damn good. My only complaint is that the garlic toast that comes with it is as hard as a dog biscuit!
3. What are your thoughts on the ballpark serving things like wild rice soup and swank Vincent burgers? Can you call yourself a legitimate baseball fan if you go to a game and get stir-fry instead of an old-fashioned hot dog or peanuts? I think that's evolved. To me, ballparks that incorporate popular local fare enhance the game experience. For instance, the Twins are playing at Philadelphia this season, and that ballpark better have a cheesesteak sandwich so good that I'll have to smoke a cigarette after eating it!
4. What are the culinary offerings in the park's press box like? The food stunk at the Dome. A lot of us started hitting the carvery on the concourse for turkey sandwiches the last two seasons there. I must say the Twins have stepped up their game considerably at Target Field. One day they only offered tacos, but the tortillas were top-notch and the fixings were great. They offer made-to-order omelets before day games now. And the salad bar has more options.
5. In the past sportswriters have been notorious for unhealthy lifestyles (all the traveling and stadium food). Yet Sportsjournalists.com has a running "biggest loser" weight-loss thread. Are things changing? Many ball writers are workout warriors. But there are many like me, sadly, who fail to break bad habits. It's the whole cycle of covering games at night, not being able to go to bed because your adrenaline is pumping from deadline, staying out and eating late--which often is eating badly late. And I didn't even mention the booze that can be consumed after games. The last two home games I was able to make nice salads in the improved press dining room. That was a big deal to me. Then I did it in Kansas City too. The challenge will be controlling myself when I go to places like Philly and crave that cheesesteak.
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