The Miami Marlins season officially opens Wednesday, April 4 and fans will finally get to experience all the hoopla over the new, $634 million ballpark. That also means checking out the new lineup - the culinary lineup.
Any stadium can serve hot dogs and hamburgers (and those will be here), but how many fans can order plantain chips with garlic sauce? Lime n’ Lobster rolls or fresh-shucked oysters?
There’s even talk of sustainability and herbs (from Paradise Farms). Team execs boast of tomatoes from Homestead, shrimp from Florida and buzzwords that foodies, if not fans, will appreciate, like cage-free chickens, Niman Ranch ground pork and Paradise Farms produce.
You’ll find more than 100 menu concession items, including corned beef sandwiches at the kosher stand. There’s a cover-all-the-bases approach, but the big power hitters represent the team’s new location in the heart of Little Havana. Taste of Miami, on the Promenade Level by third base, features items from three Miami restaurants: Papo Llega Y Pon, Don Camaron and Latin American Grill, chosen from 43 candidates. They’ll serve everything from ceviche to Cuban sandwiches.
Even transplanted fans can get a taste of home at Burger 305, which will be selling fare representing visiting teams, like bratwurst when Milwaukee’s in town or cheese steaks for the Phillies, along with patties we’re told are hormone and antibiotic-free.
All the ballpark fare can be washed down with a choice of six beers on tap at 10 stadium bars. The list expands in the Diamond and Dugout Clubs and The Clevelander (a South Beach outpost) will be bringing in craft beers (and making signature Marlins cocktails). If you don’t want to fork over a bundle to feed the fam, the Kids Shack offers a $3.75 combo (with a hot dog, soda and sliced apples).
Hate standing in line? You can use MLB’s “At Bat” app on your smartphone to order food from one of seven concessions, pay from your seat and find out when it will be ready (pickup is at an express line). Service is now free but will have a nominal fee by June, with expanded locations inside the park.
So let’s get back to the food. Here’s our game plan, a dish for each inning (not ranked by quality) to take you from the first pitch through the home stretch. (Photos by Manny Hernandez and Emily Michot.)
1st - Ceviche ($10)
The Miami Marlins are off to a fresh start, and so are we, snacking on bites of bracing tilapia, yellow corn, chopped onions and chips from Don Camaron in the Taste of Miami section. Other choices include fresh-shucked oysters, ceviche and fish sandwiches.
2nd - Helmet nachos ($15)
Kids will love the souvenir helmet, you’ll love the crunchy concoction, with lots of pico de gallo, shredded cheddar, scallions, sour cream, sliced jalapeños and chipotle cheese sauce (lighter than the usual yellow goop).
3rd - Mahi mahi tacos ($12)
We’re hooked on these grilled fish tacos, not at all greasy, with chunks of dolphin plus pickled red onions, cilantro slaw and chipotle aioli.
4th - Lobster Roll ($17)
The good news: This sandwich is a winner. Squeeze lime slices onto big chunks of succulent Maine lobster with Key lime aioli and chives, stuffed into a toasted sliced bun. The bad news: It’s sold in the Club Level. If you don’t have anyone to smuggle you a sandwich, take a break this inning or pig out the old-fashioned way, with popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jack.
5th - Cuban Sandwich ($14, with chips)
Head to the Taste of Miami section for the classic sandwich, with layers of ham, cheese, pork and pickles, from Miami Lakes’ Latin American Grill.
6th - Sir Pizza ($10 cheese, $11 pepperoni)
Time for ballpark comfort food - your own 8-inch personal pizza - but expect lines. Fans bought 1,100 pies during the Marlins exhibition game with Florida International University.
7th - Magnum Hot Dog ($12)
It’s the seventh inning, so of course you want a hot dog, but not just any dog will do. The Clevelander will be serving half-pound, foot-long, “all beef,” bacon-wrapped dogs just 12 inches from the turf. These are Chicago style with pickles, tomatoes, onions and sauerkraut.
8th - Pork Sandwich ($7)
An ‘Only in Miami’ treat. Julia Alfonso and her family have been making pork sandwiches at Papo Llega y Pon for 33 years. She’s no stranger to high demand: On Saturdays alone, she usually sells 500- 600 pounds of pork in her Allapattah “hole in the wall.” She’ll also serve chicharron (fried pork rinds) and tamales at the park.
9th - Black bean burger ($8)
Wind down with a grilled veggie burger. Marlins President David Samson (an avid distance runner) calls eating all other stadium food “an occupational hazard” but not the food at his ballpark. The veggie burger, he says is a “perfect post-run” snack. Maybe it will help you make a faster dash to your parking space (wherever it is).
Helmet nachos ($15): We’d cheer for these tasty chips, topped with pico de gallo, shredded cheddar, scallions and Levy Restaurants (the concession czar here) own chipotle cheese sauce (lighter than the usual yellow goop), served in a souvenir helmet.