Photos by Caitlin Abrams
We came. We saw. We ate ourselves into hand- and feet-swelling sodium comas. And when our hands shrunk back down to manageable sizes, we used them to tell you what's what with the 2017 crop of new Target Field eats/drinks.
This year's media feasting-frenzy saw a much smaller amount of new foods debuting. Maybe that's a good sign, that as a ballpark they are hitting their stride and figuring out what the fans want to eat most, without feeling the need to trot out every bacon-laden slice of cheesecake. I'm happy that last year's Red Cow burgers and slices of Lucé are still up in the crow's nest, and that this round of newbies tends to bring a bit more of a healthy, if not international, flair to the stands. At least this year we won't have to deal with all the Pokemon Go-sters buggin' our lines for beers.
Hrbek's - Double Threat Bloody Mary
SM: Thumbs hesitant. I'm always a little dumbfounded by the massive "garnish" situation. And I still feel that if I'm going to put a burger in my face, it will not be a side-burger by nature. That being said, I do really like the bloody mix in these, and if it were an all olive/pickle/sausage skewer I might even order one!
DW: Thumbs up. I'm pretty psyched about this one as it finally attempts to add something substantive to the annual Hrbekian excess parade. I mean, sure, the relatively generic, skewered slider is still there to underscore that the person who ordered this drink is doing so at least partially for the sake of conspicuous gluttony, but on the other skewer rests a glorious trifecta of the best sausage in town, Kramarczuk's.
Price: $23, Section 114
Hot Indian Foods - Chicken Tikka Salad
SM: Thumbs up. Probably my favorite new dish is really just another iteration of their already zippy and flavorful chicken tikka. Yes, shred a bunch of paneer cheese on there and yes, amp that crunch with fried chickpeas. I would eat this all day.
DW: Thumbs up. Hot Indian's chicken tikka is basically the opposite of green eggs and ham for me...I will gladly eat it in a boat, I will gladly eat it on a moat. So, yeah, in salad, on a skewer, in an Indurrito; just get that chicken tikka in my belly.
Price: $12.50, Section 120
Summit Beer Cheese Pretzels
SM: Thumbs up. I'm rather hoping those icky pretzel balls from last year have been replaced by this. That's a solid ballpark nacho-esque cheese sauce with hit of local beer. I do want more salt on the pretz itself, but I'm not mad at it.
DW: Thumbs sideways. The Summit beer cheese was rad. The pretzel was pretty ho-hum.
Available in the Metropolitan Club
4 Bells - Shrimp Boil
SM: Thumbs up. I love a good low-country boil, and this has all the whiffs of Old Bay and good times. 4 Bells is taking their turn from sister Butcher & The Boar, and I think this is a fun option. Ladies might have feelings about getting messy with peel-n-eat shrimp or getting corn cob corn stuck in their teeth, but they aren't MY ladies.
DW: Thumbs sideways... Not because this wasn't great tasting (mmmm, Old Bay) but just because the only things I want to have to de-shell at a baseball game are peanuts.
Price: $14.50, Section 114
Kramarczuk's - The Kurd-Marczuk
SM: Thumbs meh. I'm most worried about this one in real-time ball park execution. If those curds are not hot, it could be a gloppy mess. I'm all for this bizarro, beertastic poutine of great Kramarczuk sausage, curds, cheese, and gravy . . . if it's done right.
DW: Thumbs up. We have now combined two of my greatest loves, Kramarczuk's and cheese curds, with one of my greatest likes, gravy, into a sodium bomb that is the perfect excuse to order another beer.
Price: $9.50 / $20, Section 101
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The Herbivorous Butcher - Vegan Sriracha Brat and Vegan Italian Sausage
SM: Thumbs not me. This isn't made for me—I am meat girl. BUT, if I was sitting with my pal who is vegan and she wanted to throw it home, I would tell her to get it with the onions and peppers, mix in a little ketchup/mustard for moisture, and eat it without the bun.
DW: Thumbs not me. I'm with Steph here. But I will say that, having never actually tried Herbivorous Butcher until today, I was pleasantly surprised with these. And, hey, Sriracha.
Price: $12.50, Section 129
Murray's - Smoked Beef Sandwich
SM: Thumbs up. Nice and classic, what to get when you don't want to be disappointed by an overdone burger. I'm hoping to carry in some horsey-mayo in my purse and jam one of those chips under the bun and just have just a lovely bite.
DW: Thumbs up. While I can't imagine myself coming away from Murray's with anything other than their epic, buttery steak sandwich, I can imagine myself getting this one for my kids and then gladly eating half of it when they lose interest.
Price: $14.50, Section 116
Andrew Zimmern's Canteen - Sloppy Ko
SM: Thumbs up. Love the Korean BBQ flavor on this and the bun is gorgeous and soft. I'd probably ditch the egg, it doesn't add much for me, but the flavor of the beef and slight kim chi bite stands on its own.
DW: Thumbs up. Primarily because of the egg that Steph would so callously cast aside.
Price: $14.50, Section 120
Andrew Zimmern's Canteen - Skewer Flatbreads (Chicken, Pork or Beef)
SM: Thumbs up. So, these are not skewers, but skewer-cooked meat that has been put into a lavash wrap. I'm fine with that. In fact, the Mediterranean chicken version was in my top draw, with a richly saucy tomato cucumber yogurt dressing. And I very much prefer that bread over bland tortillas ... but the skewer thing is confusing, and also flatbread makes me think pizza, so let's call them killah wraps.
DW: Thumbs up. Served on skewers or not, all three of these were great.
Price: $14.50, Section 114
Andrew Zimmern's Canteen - Frozen White Chocolate Mousse
SM: Thumbs up. I don't know if I would admit to liking white chocolate normally, but this wasn't too sweet, and it had a nice texture with the lady fingers on the bottom.
DW: Thumbs up. For all the reasons Steph listed but also because those seemingly innocuous chocolate dots on top are actually some sort of teeny-tiny malted milk ball.
Price: $7.50, Section 120
The Cookie Cart - Assorted Cookies
SM: Thumbs up. Peanut butter oatmeal cookie FTW.
DW: Thumbs up. I think my play is going to be to pick up a pair of snickerdoodles, and then make my way over to the Izzy's Ice Cream cart and have them plop a scoop of peppermint bon-bon in between them.
Available on weekends only. Price: $8 for six cookies, Section 101
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Barrio - Adobo Chicken Tacos / Burritos
SM: Thumbs up. I liked the overall flavor, and the chicken was grilled to good, but I'm a little worried about those pickled beets and white jeans. I guess you have to lean over and throw it home fast. Best guac, tho. And yes, more burritos.
DW: Thumbs up. Barrio makes some of the best tacos in town, even if they are sinister enough to have added an ingredient that will surely ruin my Twins home jersey at some point this season. And hey, since I love Barrio tacos, these burritos are basically just like shoving seven of them together.
Price: $9 tacos/$11 burritos, Sections 105 and 305
Roots for the Home Team - Ode to MN and All Nations Salads
SM: Thumbs up! I love these salads. Not just because kids are the ones planning them, growing them, making them, and selling them, but because they are damn refreshing! And yes, you can have salad and beer.
DW: Thumbs sideways. Not because these salads aren't good, good for you, and for a good cause; but just because I can't imagine eating a salad at such a gleaming bastion of unhealthy eating as a ballpark. (Ed. Note: That's because you're a nihilist.)
Available on weekends only. Price varies, Gate 34
Izzy's Ice Cream
SM: Thumbs duh. Yes.
DW: Thumbs up. Hat tip to my comments above about power hacking a pair of Cookie Cart snickerdoodles into an Izzy's ice cream sammie.
Price: $7, Section 114
That's what we saw folks! Good luck with your 2017 ballpark eating season, and Let's Go Twins!!