Gorging at Petco Park: Part 1

The Padres were kind enough to invite us to try out some of the delicious new and existing foods at media night, and on a “Petco Park Food Crawl” Monday and Wednesday, respectively. I ate too much at both events.

Petco Park Field

Media Night

The highlight of media night was taking batting practice on the field. The team’s plan is to make me feel inferior as I watched hits with what felt like “solid contact” land just in shallow outfield. We also got a chance to check out some upcoming giveaways and took a class photo. Rick and Geoff had a catch in the outfield.

Petco Park Foodstuffs

The Padres added quite a few new and revamped restaurants and beers to their already impressive offerings. Vice President of Concessions & Retail, Scott Marshall, led us on a tour around the ballpark to check them out. As we chatted he emphasized a couple key points that stuck with me.

The first was creativity. A lot of the changes Scott and his team made were things you didn’t know you want until someone offers them to you. When I heard the team was adding a market, I envisioned a place with basic pre-packaged salads, as well as maybe some sandwiches and bottled juices. Instead, the team brought in a collection of fresh fruits, a variety of unique salads that cater to those with dietary restrictions (or people who know what quinoa is), a gee dee gigantic orange juicer (it’s delish) and other cool stuff about as far from ballpark food as you can imagine. We were also told of plans to juice limes for margaritas.

The second point, and it ties into the first, is that they want to use the space they have at the ballpark better. A lot of locations around the ballpark weren’t being used well and needed re-thinking. The best example for me is the roof of the Western Metal building. When Petco opened the building was heralded as San Diego’s version of the rooftop bleachers at Wrigley. Only problem was, people actually use the rooftop bleachers at Wrigley. I think I’ve been up there once when Petco first opened, then after that could never tell if the area was closed for private parties or what the deal was. It needed some re-thinking.

rimels rooftop grill petco park740

Rimel’s Rooftop Grill was the team’s answer. We tried the fish tacos, which were especially good with the mystery green sauce they provided. They also have other food, an assortment of craft beer, and a rail upon which fans can place said food and beer to watch the game. It’s officially a “public-private” space, which means a security guard is stationed next to a blue divider to keep the areas separate as God intended. I hope they include a sign indicating which is which, as I  get confused about what areas are off limits, and often greeted with stern warnings like I’m expected to  magically know which areas are which.

The other good news is the team hopes to keep the area open late after the game. You see people visiting Petco who hang out in the seating bowl long after the end of the 9th, trying to soak up as much of the experience as they can. This way, instead of kicking people out for them to spend money elsewhere in the Gaslamp, guests can stay at the ballpark on the rooftop deck and enjoy the great views of the field and downtown. We’re told the Padres are hoping to keep the area open until 2am, but it sounds like that’s still a work in progress.

The team is also re-working other areas. The Draft from Ballast Point is now on the first floor of what used to be Hodad’s (which is still on the upper flooer), and includes a new standing area across the catwalk with a view of part of the ballpark. Rather than eating and watching the game inside the building, fans will be encouraged to head outside and enjoy the view of part of the field. Nobody was using that area while we were there, so they may need to find a way to encourage people to do so. I think they’ll need to add some monitors as the view of the field is obstructed.

Beer and circuses

The price of premium beer, which we usually buy at the carts behind homeplate, has gone up from $10.75 to $11.50. Mission Brewery has been added as a vendor this year, and upon investigation I learned their Shipwrecked DIPA joins Sculpin as a “super premium” draft which means you only get 20oz. Upon even further inspection I’ve learned Shipwrecked tastes delicious at the ballpark. My usual gameplan is drinking the best beer possible that comes in the 24oz size, which was Tower 10 IPA by Karl Strauss last year.

petco park beer prices

I usually stick to the 240z premium carts, but if you’re baller status they have quite the selection of bottles at the craft beers of San Diego (kiosk?) a bit up the first base line. Craft beer is available at tons of locations around the park these days. This if the life.

Quickies

The Ryan Bros Coffee is a nice option too, which they offer spiked with whiskey or in Speedway Stout beer form. They gave a small free sample of Mexican Coffee on opening day, it’s feels like drinking sugary, coffee syrup. Which means it’s awesome. I learned later that they don’t actually expect you to drink 16 ounces of coffee syrup (food challenge?!) but they mix the full sizes with milk.

Lucha Libre Taco Shop has a place at the park as well. One of the walls is pink! They apparently also found, rewired, and fixed some old TVs to show Mexican wrestling, and we’re told they have a lot of freedom to do their own thing at their space. That Queso Taco with avocado and “special sauce” created a fiesta in my mouth that won’t stop until 6 in the monang. I went to high school (St. Augustine) with the owner of Lucha Libre, Diego, who’s a great guy and I need to take better advantage of my relationship with him.

Not sure about the pricing on this stuff. In fact I’m not sure about pricing on most of the new food items.

There’s so much newness at Petco this year that however many words I’ve written so far aren’t even enough. Padres Jagoff has a great food report (strangely lacking in MS Paint dongs), and Rick’s thoughts will be coming at you shortly. Thanks to the Ghost of RAK for photos of media night.

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You might have noticed this post is written by someone named Chris. That’s not anyone new, just me, Mel. Except not Mel, because Chris is my real name and it got weird explaining that. So I’m Chris now. Sorry if there’s any confusion. You can follow me at my new handle on Twitter.

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