The Giants madness that overtook The City through October has hardly lessened, and now the big payoff moment has arrived: the home opener for the World Series champs.
Today’s game will kick off with the raising of the 2010 World Champion flag. Saturday night, the team will be presented with World Series rings, and on Sunday, Buster Posey receives his Rookie of the Year award.
To keep culinary decisions, at least, under control, here’s my 2011 ballpark food roundup. After all, a fan has to eat.
Our scenic urban ballpark prides itself on the scope of food and drink offerings, and ballpark regulars no doubt have developed favorites.
But each year the concessionaires — Bon Appetit for the Field Club and Club Level seats and Centerplate for the rest of the park — come up with new items. Don’t assume that the more expensive seats confer access to better food. Cooking for 40,000 fans truly levels the playing field.
The lines are usually shorter in the premium sections, but you can’t get what I consider the best item in the park there, the Chicago dog (much improved this year with a poppy seed bun). Head for section 114 by the escalator to the Hebrew National stand. Frankly, the most beloved and traditional ballpark fare, grilled hot dogs and sausages, are the same everywhere in the park.
For those looking to try something new, visit the North Beach stand in section 127 on the promenade, for an eggplant parmesan sandwich ($9.50) from the US Restaurant. Big scoops of cheesy, tomato sauce-smothered eggplant are slapped into a bun. This long-baked casserole only gets better as it sits, perfect for extended ballpark service. The stand’s meatball sandwich ($9.50) also works.
The new Baby Bull Sandwich ($12.50) sliced to order medium rare (when I had it) sirloin on a bun, with pickled carrots, onions and jalapeños on the side, is clean and satisfying.
Chipotle-dusted sweet potato fries ($6) go with it, a nice package available next to Orlando’s stand at Upper Centerfield.
In the spirit of providing something for everyone, a specially made Saag’s hot dog on a gluten-free bun ($6.75) and kettle chips ($3.50) are available near section 114 from a Budweiser micro beer stand, to protect the food from glutenous crossover.
Everyone else can take advantage of the $6.75 prix fixe combo of hot dog, peanuts and a soft drink, price unchanged from last year, at all Doggie Diner windows.
In the premium seating section, I like the new, over-the-top Blarney Burger ($10.25), a half pound of ground Angus beef topped with a half inch of corned beef, melted swiss, cole slaw and thousand island dressing, at Murph’s Pub, Club Level behind first base. It’s a home run. Completely satisfying. Just don’t eat it in front of the Panda.
And of course at the laudable farmers market stand at Club Level behind first base, there are two good additions: cut-to-order apple sticks with warm caramel ladled over them ($5) and a Kemper’s draft root beer float ($6.75).
So, now you know the best rookies in the 2011 lineup.
If you don’t want to miss any live action waiting in line, eat conveniently pre-game at the double-concept venue connected to AT&T Park from super-chef Traci des Jardins.
New this season at Public House is the curiously addictive chipped chopped ham sandwich ($12), a half inch of paper-thin slices of ham, melted gruyere and onions on a warm, Panorama Bakery Dutch Crunch roll spread with poppy seed butter, with a pile of ethereal house-made potato chips.
Recreated for Pittsburg Steelers fans watching the Super Bowl on Public House’s 21 television sets, the sandwich became so popular, it could not be taken off the menu.
At adjoining Mijita, the newbie of choice is the quesadilla mijita ($5.50), really an empanada or turnover of tender masa dough cooked on the griddle filled with lots of creamy white cheese scented with oreganolike epazote and mild green chiles. It’s topped with big spoonfuls of red chile salsa and bright green avocado and tomatillo salsa, a lovely bite.
Location: 24 Willie Mays Plaza, San Francisco
Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays; plus special hours game days
Price range: $6 to $18
Patricia Unterman is the author of the second edition of the “San Francisco Food Lovers’ Pocket Guide.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.