The Twins have worked for two years to ensure the new ballpark looks and feels like Minnesota. Target Field tastes that way, too. Here's a look at the top 10.
The Twins have worked for two years to ensure that their new ballpark looks and feels like Minnesota. Target Field tastes that way, too.
Minnesota traditions, ingredients and recipes, as well as some famous -- and probably soon-to-be-famous -- purveyors, have found a place at the ballpark. Baseball's three basic food groups -- sugar, fat and beer -- are well-represented, but there's more in the mix.
There can't be many other professional sports venues serving wild rice soup and fried walleye sandwiches. Vegetarian and vegan grazers aren't forgotten, either. Here's the best news: You can bring in some food and beverages, with restrictions.
Still, there's so much variety that even the hungriest of season ticket holders will have a difficult time eating their way across the ballpark.
Here are this critic's top 10 choices:
1: The ballpark's No. 1 food item boasts one of the state's most storied food pedigrees: Kramarczuk. The second-generation northeast Minneapolis culinary landmark is grilling three varieties ($6.50, sections 119 and 312) of its divine, made-fresh-daily pork sausages (don't miss the "Hungarian," a bratwurst laced with sweet paprika). Each blistered beauty is stuffed into a bun and buried under an avalanche of sauerkraut, grilled onions or peppers. Take one snappy bite and a plain-old hot dog will never do, ever again.
2: Warm up on a chilly day with a steaming cup of hearty wild rice soup. This Lunds- and Byerly's-made classic ($6) is brimming with nutty, chewy Minnesota-raised wild rice and bits of almonds and smoky ham. Runner up: the robust beef-black bean chili ($6, Halsey's Sausage Haus), based upon a crowd-pleasing recipe from one of the city's original sports bars, the nearby Loon Cafe.
3: Get it while it's hot: Outside the ballpark on Target Plaza, Angie and Dan Bastian pop their addictively sweet-salty Angie's Kettle Corn ($5) for Twins fans. Go ahead, try and eat just a single kernel.
4: "How would you like that? Rare? Medium rare? Well done?" It's the query du jour at the Carvery kiosk, where thick hand-cut slabs of flavorful pot roast-ey beef are dipped in savory au jus and piled high on a giant bun. This monster disguised as a roast beef sandwich ($12, main concourse near Gate 14) is big enough to feed two.
5: Next door at Asian Wok, a.k.a. the ballpark's best-smelling food vendor, the heady scents of garlic and ginger grab curious noses to a pair of surprisingly spicy -- this is Minnesota, after all -- stir-fries ($8.50, main concourse near Gate 14) made with thick wheat-flour noodles. One is a lively peanut sauce with chicken, the other is a vegetable medley tossed in a sweet-fiery honey-red chile glaze, both are delicious. Chopsticks, anyone?
6 and 7: The Summit Pale Ale flows freely inside Hrbek's -- and outside, on its open-air patio -- but here's what to eat at this great-looking bar and grill: The wonderfully sloppy pulled-pork sandwich ($11, Gate 14), a toasted and buttered brioche bun weighed down with smoky, tender pork brushed in a slow-burn barbecue sauce and topped with a crunchy jicama coleslaw. Then there's the beautiful chopped salad ($12.25), brimming with pungent blue cheese, baby tomatoes that taste like tomatoes, salty bacon, tender chicken, purple cabbage and fresh romaine.
8: In a nostalgic nod to Minnesota taste traditions, the ballpark features several different Jucy Lucy style stuffed burgers. The pick of the litter is the Vincent Burger ($12, Hennepin Grille), a two-fisted medium-rare beef patty carefully stuffed with slow-braised short ribs and smoked Gouda. It's a reasonable facsimile of the same meal-in-a-bun -- minus, unfortunately, the awesome French fries -- served by chef Vincent Francoual at his eponymous downtown Minneapolis restaurant.
9: Don't settle for a drab hoagie when there's a piping-hot Cuban sandwich ($9, sections 111 and 309), a stack of sliced ham, marinated pulled pork, Swiss cheese, pert sliced dill pickles and a swipe of tangy Dijon mustard, all pressed between toasted Cuban bread. That it's inspired by Twins legend Tony Oliva is just icing on the cake.
10: Sweets are not the ballpark's strong suit. One exception: the brightly flavored Talenti brand sorbets (get the blood orange) and luscious gelatos (don't miss the double dark chocolate), sold in double ($5.25, Gate 29 and section 302) and triple ($7.25) scoops. Even better, the stand features two of the happiest words in the English language: "Free samples."
Rick Nelson • 612-673-4757