Baseball’s Best Burger

Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets, takes ballpark food to new heights. We have these three men to thank.
drew nieporent, danny meyer, david pasternack


s any seasoned ballpark hopper can tell you, over the last ten years or so, stadium cuisine has evolved beyond hot dogs, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks. You don’t have to be in the skybox crowd to enjoy dishes like the juicy roasted pork and provolone sandwich with broccoli rabe at Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia; the shrimp tacos (dressed in garlic sauce, cabbage, and salsa) at San Diego’s Petco Park; or the Ichiroll, a decent spicy tuna roll named after Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki, at Seattle's Safeco Field. But with the opening of Citi Field in New York City this spring, the Mets have set a new standard for ballpark food, thanks to a partnership with restaurateur Danny Meyer—possibly the ball club’s biggest addition since Johan Santana. (It’s no coincidence that Meyer is also a huge Mets fan; he’s been a season-ticket holder since 1986.) No, you won’t be able to have the foie gras terrine from The Modern during the seventh inning stretch, but the food that Meyer’s team offers—in an outdoor food court beyond center field called Taste of the City—is the kind of grub you’d actually want on a sultry summer evening at the ballyard.

The team held a media event this afternoon to showcase the ballpark’s premium concessions, whose highlights included the Shackburger from Shake Shack (every bit as good here as the one you'd get at the end of a long queue in Madison Square Park). Mets fans now have claim to the best ballpark burger in the country, and for $5.75 (a dollar more than in Manhattan, thanks to the requisite ballpark price bump), it’s no more than what you’d pay for a burger at any other venue. In fact, I'm surprised that the price is so low, given the quality and the fact that burgers elsewhere are at least as expensive—and these unexpected bargains are reflected across Meyer’s whole menu at Citi Field. There are $9 pulled pork sandwiches on brioche buns and $10 spare ribs seasoned with Kansas City rub—again, on par with the versions served at the restaurant (in this case, Blue Smoke) they come from. Meyer also brings two new concepts to Queens: Box Frites (Belgian-style fries with dipping sauces) and El Verano Taqueria (assorted tacos). The frites ($7.50 for a large) are a sure-fire hit; the tacos ($7.25) were the only disappointment—uninspired and overpriced.

Also at the Taste of the City concourse—which, curiously, has no seating—is Catch of the Day, a fish shack run by Esca co-owner David Pasternack. The $8 fried flounder sandwich on a Martin’s roll was excellent, as was the Long Island clam and corn chowder ($4.75). Pasternack’s shop will also offer Bayside Fries (with smoked sea salt and cheddar cheese sauce) that were not available at the media spread, but the chef—who was in attendance, along with Meyer and Nobu owner Drew Nieporent (who consulted on the Acela Club restaurant in left field for premium ticket holders)—vowed that his fries “will become legendary in this building.” Meyer smiled at the comment and later quipped, “I think our Box Frites will give them a run for their money.” On April 13, when Citi Field opens for its first game, Mets fans will have the pleasure of deciding which newly minted ballpark chef is the winner.

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