Here at the SnakePit, we like food, and consider it an integral part of the ballpark experience - I think we're probably the only SB Nation sport site with a section devoted to food. So, the news that the team were expanding the culinary offerings available at Chase was intriguing. I've tended to feel that the food available previously lacked much "local flavor": outside of Rey Gloria's tamales, there wasn't much, unless you consider Cold Stone Creamery and Streets of New York as particular icons. While they are both local companies, and I more than happily eat them, it's ice-cream and pizza.
It appears this has been addressed for 2015, with a range of perhaps more authentically local tastes on view, as part of a change in direction for the Chase Field experience this year. According to team president Derrick Hall, there will be a new "look and feel", getting away somewhat from the concept of concession stands in the traditional sense. That isn't limited purely to the food and drink: a number of the previous merchandise booths have been converted to walk-in mini-stores, for New Era, Nike, etc. The team shop on the main concourse has also been redesigned, and has its soft opening tomorrow, with additions like changing rooms.
But let's focus on the food, which gained national attention recently with the announcement of the Churro Dog: a churro, in a donut bun, with frozen yogurt, caramel + chocolate sauces, and whipped cream. Having now seen one "in the flesh", as it were, my first instinct is, it's going to be a messy eat - particularly the longer you leave it. This isn't like the D-bat Dog, where you can pace yourself over three or four innings: the Churro version will become a sticky puddle well before that. Fortunately, I don't think rapid consumption will be any kind of chore, for those of us with a sweet tooth.
The mastermind behind the dog, Levy Restaurants Executive Chef Michael Snoke (above), says both it and the D-bat dog stemmed from a desire "to do something familiar, but change it up, and make it better." The churro dog was the result of a thank-you event for suite holders, at which various varieties of specialized hot-dog were created, by Hall, Luis Gonzalez and others. However, Snoke took the sweet route and the Churro Dog was born. Unlike the D-bat Dog, which he said went through a number of iterations before reaching its finished form, the initial version of the Churro Dog was basically the final one, It'll be sold at Chase this summer, from stands at sections 114 + 123.
But what of the other additions? The most immediately obvious, visible on the way in, will be Food Truck Alley, to be located just outside Gate A, but which will be accessible to ticket-holders throughout the game. The aim is to have 2-3 food trucks for each home series, on a rotating basis, perhaps themed to tie in with other special events. Taste of Chase, at section 130, beside the Team Shop will gather together all the ballpark specialties, such as the D-bat, Sonoran and Venom Dogs, as well as the vegan Bisbee Tamale. There's also a Cuban sandwich Mrs. SnakePit is keen to try (though she did wrinkle her nose somewhat at it being on telera bread, which is Mexican)
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles has become a valley institution since they opened their first branch in 2002, and they'll be opening a location at Chase - they're behind Section 141, in what used to be Fatburger [That, along with Macayo's and TCBY are no more. Somewhere, Mark Reynolds sheds a lonely tear] Obviously, their signature dish is the chicken and waffles, but the other sides include fried green tomatoes, spicy corn fritters and mac & cheese. I'd also recommend checking out their red velvet cake, which is delicious and moist. This cake is not a lie.
For food on the go, I would recommend the offerings of America’s Taco Shop, with two spots, in sections 115 and 314. I tried a steak burrito and, not only was it tasty, it also proved eminently portable, an important consideration if you're roaming the concourse, or don't want to wait till you get back to your seat. While Fatburger may be gone, there's a worthy local replacement in the shape of Paradise Valley Burger Co., who have only been open for not much more than three years, but were recently on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. They can be found at section 121.
If you're looking for dessert, and don't quite feel up to a Churro Dog, then Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt has got you covered with their frozen yogurt [they provide one of the ingredients for the dog, incidentally]. You can customize it with a range of toppings, such as Gummi Bears [trust me, it works better than it sounds!] And if your idea of heaven comes deep-fried, then Ball Park Poppers will bring the tastes of the State Fair to Chase Field, from sections 106 and 312. Their items include deep-fried cheeseburger poppers, jalapeno poppers, sliders and "Grand Slam Cheese Sticks." I dunno, if there are no deep-fried Twinkies, it's not authentic State Fair...
And last, but certainly not least as far as certain SnakePitters are concerned: beer. The Draft Room, occupying what used to be the Arizona Baseball Club in right-center. This will offer up to 20 craft beers, and should help address another previous weakness of Chase, in comparison to other ballparks I've visited, such as Petco, which seem to have a much better selection of brews. It's open to all fans, and I suspect Turambar and I may be bringing you a more detailed review once the season is under way. The venue will retain both the Chef's Table carvery and the a la carte eating options from the Arizona Baseball Club, and it probably counts as one of Chase's hidden gems.
All told, it's nice to see the team not sitting on the captive market that is baseball fans. The aim, according to Hall, is to "make Chase Field a destination for those who simply enjoy great food," and the new offerings should represent an upgrade [really, having Macayo's representing Mexican food in Arizona was not very good]. While work was still clearly in progress, everything is scheduled to be completed in time for the final warm-up games, against the Cubs at Chase next weekend. I'm sure imstillhungry95 and our other Fang Fooders will provide more detailed reports on what to eat at the park, over the course of 2015.