With the crack of a bat and the crunch of a roasted peanut, baseball season has returned, and in Phoenix, that means thousands of fans packing into Chase Field in Downtown Phoenix, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Besides being a great stadium at which to catch a game, Chase has plenty to offer the Valley's baseball fans. It was the first major league stadium to include both a pool and hot tub and has nearly a quarter-mile of concession stand area. That's quite a lot of ground to cover, but if you know where you're going, you can make a successful food run in less time than it takes for the crowd to take its seventh inning stretch.
Craft Beer at Game Seven Grill
Located in Gila River Casinos Plaza
This 20,000 square-foot restaurant is new to Chase this year and offers a full menu that includes "the hottest wings in baseball." The restaurant opens three hours before game time and the kitchen closes about an hour after the game begins. It gets pretty packed, so if you want to get a table, call ahead and make a reservation or be prepared to wait.
The 10 Best Things to Eat and Drink at Chase Field
However, the best bang for your buck can be found at either the outdoor beer garden or inside at the bar. Neither requires reservations and both have plenty of standing room available, even right before the game. And unlike all the places inside the stadium, Game Seven Grill offers a fairly large selection of premium and craft beers both on tap and in the bottle. If you're with out-of-towners, guide them to the Camelback IPA, brewed locally by Phoenix Ale Brewery. It's available on tap and, for just $6, will beat anything you're going to find inside the park.
Red Corn Chicken Taquitos at Macayo's
The limited menus at the three Macayo's locations within the walls of Chase offer the kind of deep-fried finger-foods that taste best when your feet are sticking to a dirty stadium floor.
We went for the red corn chicken taquitos, a good buy at $8 for six. They'll come out extra-crispy, buried in a layer of sour cream and cheese, and sprinkled with a diced tomato mixture similar to pico de gallo. The combination of super-crunchy corn tortilla, shredded chicken, sour cream, and cheese pairs perfectly with a tall glass of cheap beer.
Green Chicken Tamale at ReyGloria's
Located behind section 137
This family-owned tamale stand is famous not just with Chase Field regulars but with baseball fanatics across the country — and this is where you'll get some authentic south-of-the-border eats. A former Chase Field security guard won over Diamondbacks owner Derrick Hall with his traditional tamales, earning him his own concession stand in the stadium. Thus ReyGloria's was born.
The menu is short, with just three types of tamale to choose from: red or green chile or green chicken. All are safe bets, but we enjoy the heartier green chicken. A single tamale will make a good snack, but if you're looking to make a meal of it, opt for two or even three. They keep the masa moist in steamers during the game and unwrap the tamales to order. Each comes covered in a blanket of shredded iceberg lettuce and salsa with a side of sour cream. The salsa packs a punch but is a slow burn that will have you reaching for the cooling sour cream after a couple of bites.
Candy Shop Popcorn at Burger Burger
Located on the Insight Diamond Level, section 214
To satisfy your sweet and salty tooth, head up to the second level of the stadium where the private suites are located. At Burger Burger, you can get a variety of dressed-up burgers and fries, but they also have a selection of candy shop popcorns, a modern twist on the classic baseball snack Cracker Jack.
You'll have to choose among tempting flavors, including dark chocolate, peanut butter, and chocolate malted milk ball, and we couldn't pass up the peanut butter variation. For $6.50, you'll get a brown-paper-lunch-bag-size portion of gooey, peanut-butter-smothered popcorn. As you make your way through the sugary clusters, you'll come across unbroken chunks of peanut butter cup as well as lightly coated clusters that provide a salty interlude.
Sonoran Hot Dog at Red Hot Grill
Located behind sections 126 and 320
Arizonans love their bacon-wrapped hot dogs, which is why it only makes sense that you can enjoy one while watching America's pastime live. The $7 Sonoran-style hot dog from Red Hot Grill comes wrapped in mesquite-smoked bacon and covered in pico de gallo and ranch-style beans. They finish it off with an artistic drizzle of mayonnaise.
The pico de gallo is fresh and bright, a nice symmetry to the smoky barbecue beans. The bacon plays second fiddle to the hot dog in this dish, which features a thick and juicy dog that we'd be happy to eat on its own. The only downside about this hot dog upgrade is the mess. The insubstantial buns were clearly not designed to hold such a hearty dog, leaving beans and mayo pretty much everywhere. Be prepared: Have napkins on hand.
The Snakebite at Jack Daniel's liquor bars
There's a list of four cocktails found at the bars of Chase Field, the most popular of which, folks will tell you, is the Snakebite. All four will run you $11 but come in tall glasses. The Snakebite is a punch-like cocktail of Absolut berry acai vodka, red wine, club soda, and sour mix with a skewered grape and a few pieces of melon floating on top. The red wine and sour mix keep things from being too sweet, and you'll probably be able to down the whole thing in less than an inning.
Loaded Nachos at Gluten-Free stand
Located behind section 107
Gluten-free-ers will be happy to know that Chase has an entire stand dedicated to gluten-free eats and drinks. That's right, they even carry gluten-free beer. The stand has a nice selection of gluten-free snacks, including a pulled-pork sandwich and hot dogs, though your safest bet would be the loaded gluten-free nachos. They use corn tortilla chips that wouldn't contain gluten in the first place but also come from individual-serving packages, meaning those with serious gluten sensitivity probably don't need to worry about cross-contamination.
They'll ask you just what you want smothering your chips, and we suggest skipping the overly sweet barbecue pulled pork. The beans, nacho cheese, and sliced jalapeños are just fine on their own.
Indulging in one — or two, or a few — of the specialty items available at Chase is an adventure in its own right, but there's nothing as satisfying as cracking roasted peanuts during a baseball game. At the Diamondbacks' stadium, a bag will cost you $4, and the best part is that you don't have to leave your seat to get them, since walking vendors will come around hawking them throughout the game. Throw the shells on the floor, share them with your neighbors — it's a rite of passage when it comes to the sport.
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Buffet at Arizona Baseball Club
This might be the best-kept secret of Chase Field. Take the elevator up to the second level and work your way over to the section behind left center field. That's where you'll find the Arizona Baseball Club, a buffet restaurant open to anyone with a ticket to the game.
For $34.99, enjoy all-you-can-eat privileges from an impressive menu. Chef Michael Snoke changes the selections with every series and takes his inspiration from the visiting team's hometown. When the San Diego Padres were in town, for example, he offered achiote-braised pork loin street tacos to channel the flavors of southern California. They also offer high-end options you wouldn't expect to find at a baseball stadium buffet, like a selection of local cheeses, Queen Creek antipasti, and Queen Creek olives.
The best part of the experience is that no matter what you paid for your ticket to get into the stadium, you can make a reservation to sit on the patio at the Arizona Baseball Club. And reservations are recommended for patio seats.
Tailgate on a Plate at Extreme Loaded Dogs
Located behind section 208
When it comes to stadium hot dogs, this one might just be our favorite. There are plenty of quirky hot dog options from Extreme Loaded Dogs, but this is one of the most popular and memorable of the batch. As the name implies, the hot dog comes loaded with everything you might enjoy at a typical tailgate: sweet and tangy barbecue beans, barbecue sauce, cheese, and three little mounds of potato salad. The foot-long wiener is best enjoyed with a fork and knife, and though the prospect might sound strange, this tailgate really works.