The Mets and Citi Field previewed many of the new and returning culinary offerings on Thursday, and they’re putting up a largely elite, though not flawless, lineup that has something for almost everyone.
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner
Amazingly, Citi Field is adding a third fried chicken sandwich to what was already the deepest position on their culinary field.
Jacob’s Pickles, Upper West Side hipster paradise, has staked out their new outpost in Flushing and their signature chicken on a biscuit sandwich somehow manages to be more than the sum of its parts, which include a crispy chicken breast lightly dressed with honey, a soft biscuit that isn’t nearly sturdy enough to hold the sandwich (not that you’ll care) and, of course, the pickles. Bring wet wipes.
Sweet Chick is also returning with a new buffalo twist on its classic chicken sandwich and David Chang’s Fuku will continue to bring the heat, more than ever thanks to a habanero-brined chicken breast and their spicy pickles.
A new vendor in Taste of the City, Amazin’ Chicken Co. brings some chicken tenders to the table that sadly are a soggy step down from the basic variety available around the stadium, but what they lack in crispy chicken, they make up for with a new foodform aptly named the Tater Keg, a rosin bag-sized hunk of deep fried potato filled with cheese. That’ll play.
Burgers, New and Old
A fan favorite launched last year, Pete Alonso’s Arctic Grill is serving up a new twist on the epic Polar Burger, adding a cherry pepper bacon jam and “secret sauce” but dropping the truffles, onions and gouda. The end result is a very nice smoky classic burger that’s a little tidier, both physically and flavor-wise than its predecessor.
Pig Beach BBQ is a new arrival and their “The People’s Champion” Burger is filling the sloppy mess gap left by the Polar Burger transformation, and that’s not an insult by any means. They also have a pulled-pork-topped “Bases Loaded” Fries that could feed a small family for a week.
And of course the classic Shackburger and basic Pat La Frieda ballpark offerings will be back, for the simpler tastes (and smaller budgets).
Pizza and Other Italian-Adjacent Carbohydrates
Patsy’s Pizzeria continues to fuel the classic slice fans among us, better than most ballpark pizza by a country mile, and this season also sees the return of the divisive Pizza Cupcake, a muffin-sized cross between a tiny sicilian pie and a brioche bun. Always a combo-food skeptic, I tried this mostly out of sheer curiosity, but I’m hooked. The soft crust, ungreasy cheese, and the sauce with just a hint of heat, plus it’s compact and well-suited for stadium eating.
Another unexpected gem was the Classico mozzarella sandwich from Cento Percento, a new arrival to the World’s Fare Market, with some A+ quality cheese and a nice pesto that may be my new favorite vegetarian option. They also have a meatball-in-a-cup situation that seemed promising.
Citi Field has had reliable alternatives for folks on special diets for many years now and this season is no exception.
Prime Kosher Sports is returning to provide kosher meals, including a new brisket sandwich on a pretzel bun and yet another variety of chicken tender, this one quite good with some fries that were not messing around. Overall, it should make for a lot of happy tribe members.
Vegan City is still turning out some decent entries into the animal-free stadium food sphere, but it was disappointing that they weren’t introducing any new or reimagined items. An avocado roll from Daruma is probably still the best vegan offering available.
Likewise, the Gluten Free stand is returning to World’s Fare Market with the same basic slate of offerings as last year (including Glutenberg GF beer). The turkey burger available for tasting is very good, but the non-gluten-eaters among us deserve some excitement too.
For those still mourning the loss of Catch of the Day, the new Lobster Shack will soften the blow with a classic lobster roll and some loaded chips.
Murray’s Mac & Cheese is another new addition, featuring a buffalo and blue cheese mac and cheese that was unexpectedly bland, a term I’ve never associated with buffalo sauce or blue cheese. They also offer a classic mac and will hopefully adjust their seasoning level by Opening Day.
In addition to the aforementioned Pig Beach BBQ, Whole Hog BBQ is also debuting this season. The Pork Belly Burnt Ends will definitely be a big hit, but it’s the Cubano I’ll be coming back for.
Sweets and Treats
The Mets came into the season with some good depth on the dessert side of things and while they haven’t added many new players, the existing ones are showing plenty of new skills.
Wowfulls is back with a “Sweet ‘N Salty” combo building off salted caramel cheesecake ice cream, a combination of words I never thought imaginable. They do have some competition from Sweet Chick, which has added a Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich to its menu, dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed pretzels. It’s a little lighter than the Wowfulls, but delivers on flavor big time.
Tipsy Scoop brought the boozy ice cream trend to Citi Field last year and if you were looking for a way to add prosecco and vodka to cotton candy and orange creamsicle, well, you’re in luck. You only live once, right?
Cookie Crumz is the new kid in town, bringing some classic cookie action to the Promenade Level and while I wish I could say I had room to try these, I pass along very positive reviews from two small children, who are the real cookie experts here if I’m being honest.
All in all, the Mets have a lot to be proud of on the food front going into the season and the excitement from everyone involved is palpable. Be prepared for a lot of agonizing decisions about whether to get on the food line or catch one more inning of Jacob deGrom—fingers crossed—or Max Scherzer. Best kind of problem to have!