The Best Food at Seattle’s Safeco Field

It's come a long way since peanuts and cracker jacks - the home of the Mariners hits a grand slam with its varied ballpark fare

Credit: Flickr / wintrhawk

When it comes to ballpark fare, Safeco Field hits a home run with its lip-smacking signature creations

Heading south of the border to catch a Seattle Mariners baseball game? Be sure to go on an empty stomach.

From chef-inspired bites to locally sourced ingredients, the menu at Safeco Field serves up restaurant-quality items in a ballpark setting. Sure, the stadium’s standby garlic fries – you can smell them from most anywhere in the park – are still on hand, but why not step it up with an oyster sandwich, pork nachos or beef tongue (yes, beef tongue!) taco?

Here are the most popular picks to nosh on – pre-game, during the 7th-inning stretch, or in between at-bats.

Credit: Geoff Smith

Grass-fed Beef Cheeseburger

Washington state grass-fed beef meets Tillamook Cheese (from Oregon) in this mouth-watering number, with skin-on fries on the side. In keeping with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Never Ever program, the beef has not been injected with antibiotics or steroids.

“That’s been a huge message from us for the last three seasons,” says executive chef David Dekker at Centerplate, the Seattle Mariners’ hospitality partner. “It’s permeated the stadium now so every burger that I sell is all grass-fed and it’s all local Washington beef.”

Price and place: *$6.50 at Big League Burger; see map.

*All prices in U.S. dollars.

Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Seattle Dog

A staple of the city, this twist on the humble hot dog comes laden with cream cheese (yup, that’s not mayonnaise in the photo). At Safeco Field, expect a zigzag of creamy goodness atop an all-beef frank nestled in grilled onions and peppers – a surprisingly pleasant contrast of textures.

As chef Dekker puts it: “I thought it was the strangest thing I’d ever heard of when I came here, but after eating one, I loved it. It’s a great way to eat a hot dog.”

Price and place: $6.50 at Hit It Here Cafe.

Credit: Geoff Smith

Parisian Crepes

Don’t miss the two sweet and four savoury crepes created in collaboration with local Seattle chef and restaurateur Ethan Stowell. Sliced strawberries or bananas (shown) on a Nutella chocolate base is your ticket to an extra-innings sugar buzz. But not before you try the vegetarian variety with arugula, spinach, mushrooms, peppers and onions. Or the smoked turkey, black forest ham and roast beef versions, packed with locally sourced deli meats and a blend of mozzarella and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese of Seattle.

Can’t decide? Have one for dinner and another for dessert.

Price and place: $7 (sweet), $9 (savoury) at La Crêperie in The ’Pen.

Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Pork Carnitas Nachos

Not your typical concession-style nachos (with that ubiquitous gooey orange sauce), this dish from Edgar’s Cantina is loaded with melted Mexican-style mozzarella cheese, pork, fire-roasted salsa and sour cream.

For full-on fiesta flair, pair it with one of four cantina signature cocktails made with Zac – an artisanal mescal imported by Edgar Martinez himself. The .312 tipple is a nod to the Mariners baseball star’s lifetime batting average.

Opened for the 2013 season, Edgar’s Cantina is the only 21-and-over area at Safeco Field. Named after Martinez, the festive open-air restaurant and lounge off left field replaces the Flying Turtle Cantina. From here, catch the action below – or cast your eyes on the new huge (did we say huge?) HD screen above the centrefield bleachers. At 56.7-feet tall and 201.5-feet wide (imagine 2,182 42-inch flat-screen TVs), it’s the largest in Major League Baseball and the fifth largest in the sports world.

Price and place: $9.75 at Edgar’s Cantina and Cantina Nachos.

Credit: Dan Toulgoet

New Haven-style Pizza

Sporting a thin crust and baked in a gas-fired oven, the wide-wedge pepperoni pizza slices are a full meal deal starting at $5.50 a piece. No need to say “cheese please” with these heavy-hitting silces.

Bite into them (and many of the other eats mentioned in this article) at The ’Pen, a social hub next to the Mariners’ bullpen in centrefield complete with concession stands, a fire pit and cocktail lounge.

Occupying what was once a dark, chain-link-fence-enclosed space, the bright, airy ’Pen opened in 2011 after renovations and has been packing in fans ever since. With its close-up view of the field and easy access to bevies, ’burgs and the like, it’s no surprise that some guests ditch their seats and park it here instead.

Price and place: $5.50 at Apizza in The ’Pen; $6.75 at other concession stands (cheese and pepperoni).

Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Oyster Po’ Boy

While the little ones munch on pizza, sink your teeth into this sandwich packed with locally sourced, juicy fried oysters on a bed of butter lettuce and sliced tomato.

Then round up the crew and, staying on the main concourse, head to the Children’s Playfield. This zone features a playground, wishing well, and the Moose Den, where team mascot Mariner Moose periodically pops in during home games for photo ops.

And don’t worry about anyone getting soaked in the Seattle rain. With its retractable roof ready to roll, the 47,116-seat stadium is designed for a dry day at the ballpark.

Price and place: $9 at Hamburg + Frites in The ’Pen.

Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Vegan Fare

Expanded for the 2013 season, Safeco Field’s vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free offerings now include a vegan chili cheese dog and vegan Asian-style steamed buns – choose from the black vinegar-glazed portobello and gochujang (fermented red pepper paste)-glazed eggplant.

Belly full, take a spin through the nearby Mariners Hall of Fame, honouring players, staff and others who’ve contributed to the team over the years – from first inductee Alvin Davis (a.k.a. Mr. Mariner) to late sportscaster Dave Niehaus.

Price and place: $6.50 (chili dog) at the Field Roast cart near Section 130 and Rolling Roof stands around the park; $6.50/three buns at BaoChoi near Section 130.

Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Street Tacos

New for 2013, these Northwest Mex tacos at Safeco Field include carne asada (grass-fed beef), pork carnitas, chicken and lengua (grass-fed beef tongue) – all topped with cotija (a hard, crumbly Mexican cheese from cow’s milk), onions and cilantro.

The meat is locally sourced, including the beef tongue, a mild mouthful that chef David Dekker calls a “super seller.” Give it a try, then go home with some unique bragging rights.

Another Ethan Stowell collaboration, the tacos can be found at Edgar’s Tacos (across from Edgar’s Home Run Porch, a casual lounge) and Edgar’s Cantina.

Asked what’s on the table for next year, Dekker says: “We have ideas, concepts, but we haven’t thrown them down on the grill yet. There are always changes because we have to keep it fresh, otherwise we’re the same as any other ballpark. I truly believe that’s what keeps us at the forefront of stadium food, the fact that we’re bold enough to try and change up every year, regardless of how successful it is.”

Price and place: $9/plate of three at Edgar’s Tacos and Edgar’s Cantina.

Credit: Dan Toulgoet

Beer Is Near

One never goes thirsty at Safeco Field, where more than 50 varieties of beer are available on tap or in bottles. Perhaps not unusual for a state that boasts more than 150 breweries, it’s enough to make an out-of-towner feel like a kid in a candy store.

Sure, there are the usual ballpark suspects such as Miller Light and Coors Light, but craft beers from small Pacific Northwest producers such as Elysian Brewing and Skagit River Brewery are the popular pours around here.

In the wine department, Safeco Field carries predominantly Northwest and California varieties. Introduced this season, two Fetzer Vineyards blends – Crimson (shown) and Quartz – come in a single-serve stem glass made of recyclable plastic.

Speaking of recycling, Safeco Field’s rate is now a remarkable 86 per cent (compared to 12 per cent in 2006). In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a garbage can anywhere in the stadium, which is instead peppered with green and blue composting bins that will take pretty much everything on your table.

Price and place: $5 16-oz. Happy Hour in The ’Pen till one hour before first pitch; $6 14-oz. domestic ($7.75, microbrew); $9 20-oz. domestic ($9.75, microbrew); $8.25-$12/ glass of wine at restaurants, wine bars/stands and premium seating.

A number of Seattle hotels are within walking distance or a short ride away from Safeco Field. Try the classic Sorrento Hotel in the city’s First Hill neighbourhood, about a 10-minute drive from the stadium.

Sheila Hansen is an editor, writer and blogger at Canada Wide Media. Follow her on Twitter at @SentPackin