We're pretty sure we speak for everyone when we say: Lllllet's pllllay ballll!
The sun is shining, Byron Buxton has teased fans with a scintillating spring, and the Twins have the earliest home opener in team history this Thursday against Cleveland (3:10 p.m.). Time to get those bats crackin' and those Crackers Jackin'. And also, get snackin': As always, your 2019 trip to Target Field includes a whole new lineup of food and drink options.
Who should you have on your roster this year? We scarfed down all of the general concessions rookies and ranked 'em with CP's highly scientific Strikeout!, Walk!, Home Run! System.
Chicken & Waffle Cone
This 2019-2020 season is already a historic one, folks: For the first time ever, we're awarding a newbie with a grand slam. This World Series hopeful sandwiches a slab of bacon thicker than David Ortiz's neck between two crispy, golden chicken tenders. You know how sometimes chicken tenders are actually kind of tough? These are genuinely tender -- the texture all nugs, strips, and fried-chicken affiliates should aspire to. With those three meats on base, a drizzle of sugary maple syrup steps up to the plate and sends the ball sailing over the fences. It's all sticking out of a generic Joy-brand waffle cone. Fitting, as "joy" is exactly what you'll feel as you wolf the whole thing down. ($10.50, Section 109 and 311 Grill Stands)
If you’re anything like us, not a day goes by where you don’t scream -- fist shaking skyward toward an absent god -- about the loss of Hormel’s transcendent Dome Dog. Massive and dripping, the supercharged cafeteria-grade wiener was hugged tightly by a grippy, aluminum foil incubated bun. It was so gross, and so good. Target Field has always opted for higher-end dogs (Kramarczuk's, Schweigert), but the two-foot-long (!) Boomstick signals the return of a gut-slugging, gas-stationy hot dog, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Well, scratch that: The overwhelming bun is more reminiscent of a dense hoagie, so it takes one strike. Inside that cradle of carbs, however, the Boomstick hides a girthy tube of over-processed beef, coated with a zingy cocktail of chili, nacho cheese, grilled onion, and jalapenos. The gargantuan treat is named after recently acquired designated hitter Nelson Cruz, a six-time all-star who has doinked 360 dingdongs throughout his 14-year career. ($27, Section 127)
Chef Gerard Klass's South-meets-'Sota soul food stylings are totally new-to-Target this year. Soul Bowl makes fans the Rocco Baldelli of their ballpark food experience: You build the lineup, with choices including #MPLS Mac and Cheese, Rick Ross Smoked Mushrooms, and Shaggy Yellow Rice. We got ours with Biggie BBQ Braised Beef and Jill Scott Greens piled atop gooey mac in a savory/sweet/mushy/chewy combo that handily rounds the bases. (Pick 2: $10/ Pick 3: $14, Soul Bowl, Section 120)
Roots for the Home Team Northside Fresh Salad
A complicated salad is a dangerous thing. So though the sweet potatoes, currants, and avocado lime dressing here are satisfying enough on their own, what’s best about them is that they don’t overwhelm the delicious garden salad basics -- tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers -- which taste like they’ve just been picked. That is, for once, a wholly earned “fresh” in the name of this dish. And the crispy wontons and pepitas on top give the whole shebang that little extra snap. (Price varies, Section 101)
Peanut Butter n' Jelly Candied Bacon Sandwich
This is a sammy that says, "Nice try, Elvis, but we like our PB and bacon without sliced bananas trying to health-ify it!" As a gussied-up take on a lunchbox classic, you couldn't do much better. You've got warm, oozy peanut butter on one slice of bread, just-this-side-of-sweet jelly slathered on the other, and crunchy candied bacon between 'em, with crisp grill marks lining the sourdough shell like a freshly dragged infield. ($10, Section 114)
Roots for the Home Team Bollywood Smash Salad
Sorghum, mint, and raisins help extract the flavor from the roasted cauliflower and chickpeas, and the sunflower-seed-topped bok choy slaw is crisp enough to hold its own against a tangy mango vinaigrette. Honestly, the worst thing we can say about this salad? It isn’t quite the Northside Fresh Salad, which is easily your top new vegetarian option at the ballpark. So, let’s say... recommended to salad-eating season-ticket holders looking for an occasional change-up. (Price varies, Section 101)
Curds & Cakes Cheese Curds
Debate raged so fiercely over these damn curds that the City Pages Ballpark Eats Review Squad --once considered the tightest-knit pals and colleagues -- nearly crumbled. One faction enjoyed the jumbo-sized, mega-breaded balls of cheese, while the other considered them doughy salt-bombs. The ideal curd is either raw and squeaky or gooey and stringy; these are neither, instead occupying a craggy in-between. At the same time, they’re golf ball-sized deep-fried Ellsworth Creamery curds that you dunk into ranch dressing, and that’s a formula that's awfully hard to fully fuck up. Reasonable people can disagree about Curds & Cake, which is headquartered in Foreston, Minnesota, so we’ll give ‘em a walk… though that fourth ball is hotly contested. ($8-$15, Home Run Porch)
It’s Greek to Me shareable boards
Fresh, crisp, and health-minded, this platter from Lyn-Lake’s longtime Mediterranean destination won’t offend anyone. In theory, it’s a lighter option that features juicy chicken souvlaki skewers, feta spread, Tzatziki yogurt, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives, cucumbers, pistachios, assorted fruits and veggies, and crispy pita bread. In practice, unless you’re eating at a table inside the Bat & Barrel pub, navigating those divergent tidbits into your crew’s maws sounds like a challenge. If you’re arbitrarily dying for a spread of finely curated Greek treats, you could do a whole lot worse. Bonus trivia: A cursory Google glance reveals that pitcher George Tsamis, who spent 1993 with the Twins, is of Greek descent. How about that! ($42, Bat & Barrel)
Hot Indian Foods Vegan Channa Rice Bowl
There’s something to be said for how widely available predictably-adequate-if-unremarkable Indian food has become in the U.S. You can walk into a baseball stadium hungry for a veggie option with a little more bite than a salad, and know exactly what you’re in for: a masala sauce with a familiar blend of spices, acceptably seasoned garlic rice, chickpeas of the correct consistency, and a crispy fruit slaw. Sometimes you don’t want to be surprised. ($11, Section 120)
Grown-Up Grilled Cheese
When you’re a kid you think being grown up is gonna rule because you’ll be able to stay up late and you won’t have to go to school and you can eat whatever you want. But as you get older you start to understand the downsides of adulthood. Work. Taxes. A gourmet thick-slice brioche grilled cheese with marinated tomatoes that are so acidic they completely overpower the smoked cheddar and provolone. ($8, Section 114)
The hoagie bun? Stale yet, somehow, overly puffy. The shaved sirloin? Flavorless and grey. The cheese sauce? Barely apparent. The peppers and onions? WHATEVER. The entire endeavor is as joyless as it flavorless, which is really saying something when applied to a junky classic like the noble cheesesteak. All that’s made worse by the pretentious way this new sandwich college is branded: craft sandwiches. Get outta here like a 460-foot Miguel Sano moonshot. ($10, Section 114)
Billed as a "change-up" on the traditional 'roid-raging Bloody abomination -- which last year came topped with an entire breakfast sandwich and weighed as much as a newborn -- this lighter option mixes a fruit juice blend with vodka and champagne. It tastes overwhelmingly of the too-sweet OJ poured from plastic jugs at church potlucks, with little fizz and even less fun. The fruit skewer includes fresh berries and grapes, but also honeydew, a terrible filler melon bringing its batting average way down. Plus, something just feels wrong about it. An afternoon at the ballpark calls for light beers, domestic drafts... a Surly or a Summit if you're feeling fancy. This one's a whiff. ($16, Hrbeks)
Prices for 2019 concessions were made available Wednesday afternoon, and this post has been updated accordingly. Looking for more on Target Field's new "Gate 34 Experience," where you'll find rotating food and drink vendors including Thumbs Cookies, Spinning Wylde Cotton Candy, and Dearest Baker? We have that.
Click here to see a slideshow of new Target Field eats; all photos by Lucy Hawthorne.