Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres: Peoria Sports Complex
All week long we're sharing suggestions of where to find breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks near each spring training stadium. Have a favorite spot baseball fans should hit? Leave it in the comments.
Hooters, Cheesecake Factory, Chipotle, and IHOP. There's no shortage of slick-looking and corporate-run fooderies encircling Peoria's Cactus League ballpark, part of the larger Arrowhead Entertainment District (the name of which illustrates the chain-oriented nature of this particular area of the Valley). A few miles past all the polished nosheries, however, are a variety of more low-key eating and drinking establishments of a more mom-and-pop nature.
Concession stand cuisine can be a tad pricey, as can the cost of souvenirs. Save some green before hitting the stadium with a visit to this neighborhood diner for the morning meal. Dirt-cheap prices and huge portions will please the wallet, and its spread of straightforward-yet-scrumptious breakfast selections will satisfy that belly. For less than a five spot, one can snag two-egg breakfast that comes with bacon, toast, and a heap of hash browns. Or as many fluffy pancakes as you can possibly eat. Or a mess of golden French toast. Add another buck or two and enjoy huge omelets stuffed with meat and cheese or a huge slab of chicken fried steak. Remember, every dollar saved is another dollar for ballpark beer.
Blu Burger Grille
There's a non-stop sizzle (not to mention enticing bouquet of cooked meat) coming from the kitchen of this upscale hamburger haven, where patrons sit amid azure walls and feast on gourmet beef stuck between primo buns. Snag any of their six signature burgers made from Black Angus beef -- including the namesake Blu version adorned with caramelized onions, gorgonzola cheese, and applewood bacon -- or get creative by building your own masterpiece using ground turkey, salmon filets, or even bison and a slew of cheeses or toppings.
The only thing different about this location of the famed Carolina's Mexican food chain is its westside address and some of the décor. And, thankfully, that's all. Their homemade tortillas are equally epic, the machaca is similarly as juicy and succulent, and the famed Oaxaca Special burrito -- a savory mix of potatoes, potatoes, cheese, and buttery refried beans -- is just as popular. (It's just as cheap as its siblings to boot). Regulars also eat up a slew of both the green corn and red meat tamales, or simply get a bunch to go. Considering doing the same and try sneaking 'em past security and into the stadium.
Kabuki Sushi & Grill
Seattle folks have a torrid love affair with sushi, due in part to its huge Asian-American population and hundreds of raw fish joints. So expect to see more than a few Emerald City residents sucking down salmon rolls or sashimi at Kabuki while visiting the Valley to cheer on the Mariners during spring training. Head chef Daniel Park and his crew slice and dice with aplomb behind a longish bar preparing any of the more than three-dozen rolls (including the customary sushi offerings and such colorfully named house specialties as the wonton-encrusted Crunch Roll and the Rock 'n' Roll). Other Japanese favorites like udon and spicy miso soups, breaded tonkatsu pork, and yaki-gyoza dumplings round out a packed menu.
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The Moon Saloon
Expect to see plenty of your fellow bleacher creatures and baseball fanatics populating The Moon over the next few weeks, as its so close to the adjacent Peoria Sports Complex that you can practically catch a dinger from the diamond. The jersey-clad crowd hang out here both to pre-game of get in on two-for-one happy hour deals on pints, well drinks, and house wines after the final out is recorded. Each are perfect for washing down any of eight varieties of signature sliders (filled with such goodies as pulled pork, beer brats, and chicken parmesan) that are also on special 3 to 7 p.m. Cut-rate prices on top shelf liquors take place most nights, like $4 Skyy cocktails on Wednesday. It's cheap enough to buy a round for all the sports nuts at the next table.