At the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, sports fans can taste the best of the borough: pulled-pork sandwiches from chef Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty ’Cue; tacos piled with beer-battered cod and mango salsa at Calexico, which began as a popular street cart; and smoky brisket dogs by Michelin-starred chef Saul Bolton.
“By tapping into the Brooklyn culinary scene and sourcing from local artisans and farms, the arena experience can be emblematic of a particular city or region,” says Chris Granger, executive vice president of team marketing and business operations at the NBA.
The Barclays Center’s concession stands, carts, and restaurants demonstrate how far food at stadiums and arenas across the U.S. has come since the days of industrial-cheese-drenched nachos and other standardized fare. Whether you’re rooting for football or baseball, soccer or hockey, your stadium food choices are likely to come from hometown celebrity chefs and local gourmet shops, and incorporate regional ingredients and twists.
At FirstEnergy Stadium, star chef Jonathon Sawyer’s Street Frites serves Cleveland Browns followers modern renditions of classics like the Carnegie Dip, made with beef brisket that’s been smoked at the stadium for three weeks and topped with caramelized onions, aged cheddar, and jus.
CenturyLink Field in Seattle, which hosts the Seattle Sounders soccer team as well as the Seahawks, has an outpost of Pike Place Market favorite Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, which doles out hot, bubbly servings of its famed mac and cheese, made with a blend of handcrafted cheeses.
It’s proof of what ESPN.com writer Keith Law considers the dominant approach at stadiums these days: “Food in a form that’s familiar but better quality.” Beyond the mac and cheese, gourmet versions of the burger serve as prime examples of the best stadium food on offer.
At Atlanta’s Turner Field, star chef Linton Hopkins’s H&F Burger serves the same notorious double-decker burgers that locals clamor for at his Holeman & Finch Public House. And TV personality and chef Andrew Zimmern brings his style of adventurous eating to Minneapolis’s Target Field with the AZ Canteen and its lamb-and-goat burger.
We surveyed sports writers like Law and and Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine as well as sports-obsessed chefs and restaurateurs to come up with the sports stadiums whose food can be as satisfying as the action on the field. Read on for the winners.