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Does good food exist at a sports arena?

Just attended another game at the Oakland Coliseum. I am an avid Raiders and A's fan. Unfortunately I went there hungry. I decided to buy the ribs which were devoid of flavor. My question.. Does tasty food exist at sports arenas or is the problem the Coliseum?

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  1. The Coliseum is particularly bad (if I must eat at O.co, I get a hot sandwich from that lounge area; those aren't too bad), but in my opinion no ballpark has truly excellent food, at least as far as I've been to. I think the only time I'd want to search out ballpark food is when notable local chains have an establishment inside the ballpark, for example Primanti Bros in Pittsburgh, or Tony Luke's in Philly. But even with that sort of item, I'm not sure anyone would say that it is truly "good food."

    1. Oakland has lots of fantastic places to stop for food before or after events.

      Plus most events still let you bring in food from outside.

      I never think of of buying any overpriced, below average food inside.

      Last A's game we brought in taco's,burritos,chips and salsa from El Taco Zamorano and ate like Kings !

      It made the A's lost a little more palatable.

      1. At the Giants' yard, the ChaCha Bowl is supposed to be good. I've never had it, but made a "copy cat" recipe I found and liked it quite a bit. The vaunted garlic fries are a big disappointment, in my view-- they smell great, but three of 'em are more than enough.

        As others have said, bringing in food is probably the best option. We once brought Big Nate's BBQ (long time ago) to a game and were the envy of our section.

        6 Replies
        1. re: monfrancisco

          Thumbs down re ChaCha Bowl (I actually had a version @ a friend's house for a Giants party; and that was tasty, per your experience, but the actual one @ the ball park is pretty so-so).

          Haven't found any great in-the-park alternatives.

          We used to always get--and love-- the crab sandwich @ the Giants yard--but the one time we got it this year, the crab didn't taste the same (seriously meh).

          The carved meat sandwiches you get there are fine, nothing to write home about.

          We've taken to bringing food in.

          One time this year, I picked up sandwiches @ The Sentinel sandwich shop on Old Montgomery and hopped on Muni to the ball park, but by the time we ate, the bread was disintegrating. Plan to try again, ordering less "wet" fillings.

          I buy peanuts in the shell before I go to a game, since the ones at the ballpark are a million times too salty (and--as w/ everything there--expensive).

          I've even begun to make cracker jacks to bring along (beyond simple and, goes w/out saying, so much better than the kind in the box: pop some corn in the microwave, toss in a quick, light, home-made caramel sauce, add a little coarse salt and salted peanuts, break up into bite-size pieces)

          1. re: sundeck sue

            at the SF ball park we found the food from the tacqueria on the ground level entry quite acceptable and fresh. the hot dogs from Let's be Frank are above average.

            for the oakland coliseum, going by BART there are many options near either the Lake Merritt or Fruitvale stations for decent take out. on our last visit, had a very good draft Aventius German beer, reasonable at $11. for 22 ounces. bringing good food in and having excellent, not overpriced beer on site is far preferable to being stuck with mediocrity in both departments.

            1. re: moto

              I've hit up the taco truck at Spear and Folsom before a few Giants game. Use to work near ATT and the LBF cart kinda sucked...the guy operating it didn't get the dogs hot enough.

              Otherwise, the selection at ATT is very good, almost a distraction but just about anyone can find something, but it can get a little gouge-y.

            2. re: sundeck sue

              Thanks for the ChaCha bowl info. I'll stick with my copy-cat!

            3. re: monfrancisco

              Are you the guy who dumped a pint of BBQ sauce down the back of my shirt? (Yes, that really happened)

              1. re: sfchris

                Absolutely not! What a huge, huge drag. A kid once dumped a huge soda down MY back, and I thought that was bad, but sauce is way worse. I'm a pretty tidy person (at least in public).

            4. I haven't tried it yet myself, but I've heard decent things about the new food program at the UC Berkeley sports arenas. Can anyone confirm?

              4 Replies
              1. re: abstractpoet

                I went to one game last year and the food was the same as it ever was. Warm, steamed dogs in foil. Yum. As I recall the hummus was Sabra. I saw no difference. If they would only bring back Gremlins, the little cups of frozen OJ, from Cal's glory days.

                Best to bring food into the Coliseum. My last Raider game happened to be the same day as the Rockridge Out and About street fair, so we brought porchetta sandwiches from Oliveto.

                Still, a ballpark hot dog is always welcome.

                1. re: abstractpoet

                  UC's on-campus catering (Cal Dining) has taken over concessions at Cal FB games, and the food is very average, nothing special. Last season they had a vendor grill sausages on charcoal that was very good...this year they're gone. Also Top Dog served brats and dogs on the Eastern rim last year but are gone now.

                  OTOH, they did have a couple of food trucks on the Eastern side during a night game. There were long lines so I didn't even pay attention.

                  If there's any news about food, it might be in the exclusive donor clubs...including full bars. However since I'm not a big donor, I haven't checked it out.

                  Any way, the deal about Cal FB or BB is there's plenty of food/drink option around the campus area and not only are they reasonable in price (student eats) but superior to what's in the stadium.

                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    So I misremembered -- it was actually the food at Oracle Arena that I saw a positive mention for:


                    Again, can't confirm, but it does it least look/sound better than the culinary atrocities on the baseball side...

                    1. re: abstractpoet

                      Eater reports that Farina pizzeria has an outpost at the Arena: http://sf.eater.com/archives/2013/11/...

                      The A's closed a deal on a lease extension that allows them to choose the food concessionaire, so there may be (hopefully) changes there as well.

                  2. I think it's a problem with any mass food service operation like that.

                    I usually bring my own food to the Coliseum, but when I don't, I usually splurge on all-American junk food (nachos! chicken tenders with ranch dressing!) rather than trying to find good food.

                    Otherwise, it's taco trucks for me.

                    1. Usually Ba Le or Sinaloa for me, don't get stuff at O.co

                      1. I remember in the 90's at the Colosseum when they had the BBQ Pork Bun guys going through the crowds, from Jade Villa. The cry - "bah beh kue! Pok! Bunnnnnn!" It's probably the first place I had a BBQ Pork Bun. Jade Villa had pretty good taste, at the time, their meat was kind of low grade and fatty, the seasoning & MSG was overdone, and it was too sweet. Which is to say, everything over the top in a good way.

                        Anyway, Jade Villa is gone, my discernment of BBQ Pork Buns has improved, they wrecked the Colosseum by expanding it for football, and I haven't been back. Sorry.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: bbulkow

                          Actually, the food choices at the Coliseum were decent (if not exciting) until more recently than that. When PacBell opened they tried to keep up with the trend toward higher-end food choices. They really started to go downhill about the same time the ownership started making their big push to move to the South Bay. It's as if anything they can to do make the Coliseum experience worse, they'll do.

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            With the possible exception of one place in Philadelphia, the dim sum at Jade Villa was the worst I've ever had. There's a place that truly deserved it when it went out of business.

                          2. Haven't been to a Giants game in forever, but in the initial year there was a stand that had non-prepackaged hot dogs. Maybe on the lowest level behind homeplate.

                            Several years ago, I do recall reading an account on-line that reviewed the best food at each park. Some of it (mid East Coast?) sounded good.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: chocolatetartguy

                              That's the Chicago dog stand. When it first opened it was ok. Now it (and all the other sausages/hotdogs in the park) are just awful when compared to other ballparks on the east coast.

                              Pasty, cold oversized buns that split in half immediately and low quality meats.

                              I try one every year and this year after another crappy dog that split in half in its rediculously oversized bun I was so frusterated, I actually wrote an email to the ballpark management, but they never replied.

                              1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                I remember that account, reviewing the best food at each park. It raved about the crab roll as the best thing at the Giant's ballpark, maybe even calling it the best thing at any ballpark in the US. And at the time, we were in enthusiastic agreement, thought it more than worth the (hefty) price.

                                But as I say above, something happened, at least the one time we got it this year. Just not the same, the crab fair to middling in taste and texture.

                                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                                  My favorite way to have good food at AT&T is to get it at the Ferry Building. Finding the that direct-to-ballpark ferry from Larkspur arrives too close to first-pitch time for me, I began to take the regular ferry and walk to ballpark. This allows me to get something much better to eat than ballpark fare. It is just over a mile to the park from the ferry building (and a mile back). Only proviso: great Cane Rosso sandwiches can be a bit sloppy to eat during the game. Bring many napkins. Anyone whose route to the park is near the Ferry Building might consider it.

                                2. Not at an "arena" but the food at the San Jose Giants games played in San Jose Municipal Stadium is pretty good. Edible, freshly cooked barbeque.

                                  Who needs the major leagues?

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: 512window

                                    "Who needs the major leagues?"

                                    Not HeadRN! Who apparently is an A's-Raider fan.

                                    Note to self, prepare to be deleted.

                                    1. re: poser

                                      Yeah, the Giants were bush league for so many years it took a theme park ballpark to save them:

                                      Oakland Athletics (3819-3502 W-L, 1968 - 2013 .521 winning percentage) - 4 World Championships, 6 Pennants, and 17 Playoff Appearances (in 45 years)

                                      San Francisco Giants (4625-4290 W-L, 1958 - 2013 .518 winning percentage) - 2 World Championships, 5 Pennants, and 10 Playoff Appearances (55 years)

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        A's would love to have a "theme park" like ATT.

                                        1. re: poser

                                          Yeah, but they don't need one to be good! Even though the attendance is lower, there are probably more fans actually there to watch the games at A's games.

                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                            "there are probably more fans actually there to watch the games at A's games."

                                            Yeah right LOL

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              Both of the parks food are so-so. As far as attendance.

                                              2013:Regular season home games

                                              SF: 3,326,796


                                              1. re: emglow101

                                                Yeah, but 90 percent of the fans in Oakland are actually there to see the game. If the percentage were that high in SF, they wouldn't need a Coke bottle slide and the carnival atmosphere. Not that the carnival atmosphere isn't fun, but it has little or nothing to do with baseball.

                                    2. As a longtime A's and Raiders fan, I think the food at Coliseum has gone downhill. I used to get a fish sandwich from the bakery run by the Black Muslims, but that's gone now of course. I usually just opt for one of the Saag's sausages.

                                      I had a pretty good tri-tip sandwich at Raley Field when I went to see a River Cats game.

                                      1. Forwarded by a shy 'hound . . .

                                        "Good Food at a Sports Stadium? There's an App for That"

                                        1. We walk in Oracle Arena, and my season ticket holder friend immediately points to my right to let me know what's new: Farina Pizza is now in the arena. IIRC, the margherita is $10, pepperoni is $12. He gets a pepperoni.

                                          It's a personal size pizza. No pre-slice or not debate needed here, the center is not soft and wet. Besides, it's pre cut into four slices. The cheese (generic mozzarella?) and pepperoni are nothing special. The sauce is tasteless. But the crust is thin with some chewiness, had a tiny bit of char here and there, not bad at all. I would not order this at a restaurant, but the crust makes this pretty edible.

                                          In past seasons, we've had a couple good experiences with the fried catfish in the arena. They showed up piping hot both times. The cornmeal crust was not greasy, and the fish was not badly overcooked. Will report back if we get it again this season

                                          1. Wasn't there some BBQ concession at the Coliseum that was supposed to be an outpost of a really good cue restaurant?

                                            The Saags sausages, and Evergreen hot dogs are your best bets, either behind home plate (A's games), or closest to the announcers box on the 2nd deck. Look for good grill marks on other peoples dogs to be sure.

                                            At ATT..... Uh, avoid the specialty foods and pray you might luck out with the ballpark standards like the hot dog. The food at ATT is especially lousy, considering how much they promote it on-air, and how gourmet the choices are supposed to me. Some people swear by the Field Level choices, under the stands, but I wouldn't have high hopes.

                                            Best bet for ATT is bringing food. There are lots of options, and a Whole Foods in walking distance.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                              At one time the BBQ stand was run by Everett & Jones, and it was run by Kinder's for awhile, neither of which are really good (though the Kinder's sandwich was one of the better options at the Coliseum during their run). It was also something generic unconnected to an established restaurant for awhile.

                                              The two stands have been converted into Budweiser bars.

                                              I avoid the standard ballpark dogs since they ditched Miller's.

                                              1. re: Pius Avocado III

                                                Well that solves that mystery.

                                                I still think the Saag's are pretty good. Best hot dogs I've had in the last couple years were at the Coliseum, but they were during post season games with higher turnover.

                                            2. Went to the Warriors game last weekend, and my biggest regret (aside from the Warriors' loss), was that I didn't get one of the bacon-wrapped hot dogs that vendors were cooking up on the pedestrian bridge from the BART station. They smelled amazing, and there were griddled onions and other toppings to choose from. Next time...

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: chompy

                                                I'd love to hear more about the bacon-wrapped dogs from anyone who's tried 'em!

                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                  They're your standard Mexican street bacon-wrapped dogs with grilled onions, peppers and mayo available. They are good.

                                                  There were several people with small portable griddles fanned out in the parking lot after the A's post-season games, providing an admirable public service.

                                                  1. re: Pius Avocado III

                                                    Thanks, the late night ones on Mission in the City are not good, so I was looking for an alternative.

                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                      A vendor in oakland I hit a few times was in front of the Uptown (that would be about 19th and Telegraph). I always go by the smell.

                                                2. re: chompy

                                                  I've seen bacon-dog cart sat Cal, both Memorial stadium and near Haas Pavilion after games.