Why do dads get to eat prime rib on their special day, and moms end up at a brunch buffet, one of the sorriest excuses for a meal that America has ever invented? Know what Mom would really like on Mother’s Day? She’d like a leisurely afternoon game at San Francisco’s incomparable AT&T Park, where the spunky, underrated Giants play the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.
Every year, the Giants organization and the food service concessionaires upgrade one area of the ballpark; this season, they focused on the dramatic third-floor right-field section, where they installed clear wind screens and opened new food carts. The vista is literally breathtaking from Section 302, an aerie that takes in the whole field and all the action, plus a sweeping panorama of the water from the Bay Bridge to the Pier 48 shipping dock.
From the new King Street Carvery, a "California cookout concept" previously only available in the pricier Club sections, come two winners: sliced-to-order Vienna brisket sandwiches with horseradish ($8.75), and my favorite, the McCovey’s pulled pork sandwich ($9.25), sweet, tangy, long cooked pork on a soft bun, piled with creamy cole slaw.
Believe me, a grilled portobello sandwich ($8.25) is the last thing I would ever think of eating, period, but the Carvery’s Italian-marinated super-sized flat mushroom, smoky from the grill, tucked into a tender brioche bun with lettuce and tomato, is meaty yet light, perfect with a 7-ounce pour of big, friendly red wine. No less than 98 wines are available, from $8 to $10.50.
On a lower level, as you step off the escalator on the promenade behind home plate, you will practically run into theHebrew National hot-dog cart, the home of the best piece of food in the whole stadium, the Chicago dog ($6.75), and the second best, the Coney Island dog ($6.75). This year, I noticed a huge improvement in the service at this cart. It runs much more efficiently and quickly than in past seasons.
The Chicago dog in a soft, fresh bun gets chopped onion, mustard, relish, tomato wedges, a kosher pickle spear and salty sport peppers. The Coney Island dog is smothered in tasty, cumin-scented chile, hot enough to melt the grated orange cheese piled on top with chopped onions.
To accompany: 50 different brands of beer ranging from $5.75 for a 14-ounce domestic draft to $9.75 for for a 20-ounce micro brew.
For dessert, bring her a strawberry shortcake made with sweet organic Yerena strawberries delivered straight from the farm, real whipped cream and a soft crumbly shortcake ($6.50). I must admit a weakness for warm, buttery, made-to-order caramel corn ($5.75), available only in Club sections.
Finally, if Mom somehow harbors a fondness for brunch buffet, fetch her a grilled crab-salad sandwich on buttery Boudin sourdough ($15), very generously filled; and a split of Laurent-Perrier Champagne ($14), both available at the Crazy Crab booth in the Scoreboard Plaza.
She can bask in the sun and take pleasure from being waited upon by her family. Bring binoculars and a radio for her, so she can hear a running commentary as she watches, akin to supertitles at the opera. She may not believe it — because I didn’t at first — but watching a game at this ballpark feels like a day in the country.