The Rockies are heading back to town, which means Coors Field is stocking up. In ascending order, here are the five most popular food items at the Denver ballpark (not including beer):
5. Peanuts 4. Nachos Supreme 3. Foot Long Brat 2. Super Dog 1. Rockie Dog
The Rockie Dog is so popular that 200,000 were sold last season, according to Bobbie Mcdonald of Aramark, which handles concessions at Coors Field. But that's just the start of the eating options at the ballpark, which cover all the bases.
During Coors Field's fifteen years, there have been plenty of culinary hits - and a few misses. "The sushi," admits Carl Mittleman, who was an intern when the ballpark first opened in 1995 and is now the regional vice president of Aramark, which handles the concessions. The raw fish experiment was outta there within two years - but at least it went over better in Denver than it did in Pittsburgh, says Mittleman, as he tours me around the culinary options at Coors Field.
Aramark studies the fans closely, and changes out options frequently. Tamales didn't work at the ballpark, either, but the burritos at the Blake Street Burrito stands have been big hits, with people willing to wait in lines to customize their orders, and the gourmet nachos are popular too, according to Mittleman. So is Roundin' 3rd, where fans can get fresh meatball subs as well as big slices of customized pies, rather than the personal-sized pizzas already boxed and ready to go at the Fan Zone stops.
Coors was also the first ballpark in the National Leagues to offer gluten-free fare, introduced during the All-Star break in 2009; at the stand back behind third base, you can get not only a burger or chicken breast on gluten-free bread, but gluten-free beer. And the gluten-free brownies get raves.
Coors Field has also brought in some popular local names, including the Spicy Pickle, which offers many of its signature sandwiches near home plate, and Famous Dave's, which has a location in the outfield where you can get three pieces of chocolate-covered bacon for $2, as well as great barbecue.
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But the real home run has always been the Rockie Dog, a footlong Hebrew National hot dog covered with grilled peppers, sauerkraut and onions that was originally sold as the jumbo dog, but later branded as a Rockies special. With its status as a fan favorite in mind, this year Coors Field introduced three Xtreme Dogs spots, each serving up six different signature combos, including the Rockies Bacon Blue Dog, with blue cheese crumbles, chopped bacon, chopped red onion and blue cheese dressing; and the Denver Dog, with shredded cheddar, green chili sauce and fresh jalapeno.
Between second and first is another innovation: Fair Territory, where the fare is all fried Twinkies, fresh funnel cakes and hand-dipped corn dogs. After that, you might need a stop at Infield Greens, the salad bar that's now in its second year at Coors Field. Or maybe just a seat up in the Mountain Ranch Club, which has been renovated to open the area to the elements - but still features seat-side service.
But the biggest news this year is the Number 17 Burger Shack, where you can get "the best burger in baseball," Mittleman promises. It's the $7 Helton burger, a big patty grilled on a special, one-inch thick grill, served on a local bun (a challah/brioche mix), with a special sauce that definitely has onions and pickles, but whose other ingredients remain top secret. You can only get your burger one way - Todd Helton's way. But who's going to argue with him?