At the Phillies field, there’s more than peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
By sheer luck, I’ve seen some good stuff at Citizen’s Bank Park: Jayson Werth’s steal home last season; Two thrilling 2008 playoff victories, including Game 2 of the NLCS, when Brett Myers went three for three and Shane Victorino went go-go-gadget-springs on a deep Casey Blake whack to the centerfield warning track. So I don’t feel too bad that my first outing of the 2010 season, an April 18, 2-0 loss to the Marlins, was a bit of a snooze. Sure, a game with only four more hits than there were innings probably isn’t making highlight reel, but at least our ballpark provides ample distraction. In the eating and drinking department especially, the Cit’s the shit, earning good looks for its homegrown concessions, plant-eater options, local brews and recycling initiatives. Enjoy these ballpark pointers. They guarantee a good time no matter the game’s outcome.
Sure, the Bud Light Roof Top will probably never be renamed the Dogfish Aprihop Roof Top, but CBP does the Philly’s beer-geek rep right. Just inside the Third Base Gate, Ashburn Alley can be a bit of a cluster as fans descend on Campo’s and Chickie’s during pre-game warm-ups, but the bricks-and-mortar Brewerytown never seems to be as thronged. On Sunday, its line was the Hall of Presidents to Campo’s Splash Mountain, and I strolled right up, past fans with priorities probably better than mine, for a draught of Prima Pils as crisp and golden as Victorino’s glove. A second tap spouted Flying Fish Extra-Pale, and the bottle fridges behind contained the Jersey brewery’s Farmhouse Summer Ale as well as Dogfish Head’s endlessly drinkable 60 Minute IPA. (They also stock Red Bridge for gluten-intolerant beer drinkers.) Just overhead, the unfortunately named Roof Top offers a smattering of patio furniture; standing-room ticket-holders, get here early and stake a claim. These are the best $17 seats in the house.
You’d think you were at a Dave Matthews concert, with all the white smoke rising at the edge of the Alley. But closer inspection shows the 8-foot-long grill belching the plumes at Bull’s BBQ, my second Citizen's Bank Park stop. Pils in hand, I got into a riptide-swift queue that barely gave me a second to admire its wares—glistening turkey legs, rib racks big as keyboards—before a sweet Two Street lass was asking what did I want, hon. I get the same thing every time: the pulled-pork sandwich, rusty red and more than a little wet with Greg “The Bull” Luzinski’s Georgia-style brown sugah barbecue sauce, which you can buy in bottles right there for just $5. Get the mac ’n’ cheese too, not exactly traditional baseball food, but so rich and gooey, no one will mind.
In March, the Aramark overlords announced CBP would be premiering a new hot dog for the 2010 season. They came up with three dogs, all to be served during the last round of exhibitions, and fans voted for their fave. Frankly, I was rooting for the Summer Dog on a pretzel roll with cool cuke wheels and ancho sauce, but the South Philly Dog with its expected accoutrements—broccoli rabe, cherry peppers, sharp provy—won, a victory as predictable as the Phils over the Nats. I spent the bottom of the fifth hunting for the correct Hatfield Grill; there are a lot of them, but only one portable behind Section 125 serves the SP Dog. Though the seeded Amoroso roll smothers the skinny grilled Hatfield frank like a clandestinely applied pillow, the rabe was so authentically bitter and garlicky I thought Aramark had tapped my grandmom for her recipe. (Fans with restricted diets, cop gluten-free dogs and vegan dogs at the South Philadelphia Marketplace behind Section 128.)
Also new this season: a revamped Alley Grill, opposite the Schmitter stand and Terrace level escalator, featuring made-to-order double cheeseburgers, PETA-approved vegetarian black-bean burgers with cilantro sour cream and cement-thick milkshakes from local creamery Turkey Hill. The sweet, swirled black-and-white capped off a ninth that saw the Marlins score a run off Madsen and our pinch-hitters—Ross Gload?—topple in order. The taste of defeat is never sweet, but Citizen’s Bank Park makes it slightly more palatable.
For more on Philly's food scene, visit blogalicious-adam.blogspot.com.
Lunch at Rybrew is quick and cool