Target Field Food Preview Day is second only to Sweatily Run Around And Try All The New Foods At The State Fair Day for the shameless breed of Twin Cities food and lifestyle journalists with which we proudly affiliate. And so it was on this day when, with wide eyes, ravenous bellies, and little care for how we were perceived, Steph March and I hastily ate and drank our way through Target Field’s vast, gluttonous spreads to bring you a he said/ she said take on what’s what. Just remember that media days are special magical moments in time, and that your burger in July might not be exactly the same as the meticulous burger we sampled on this windy April afternoon.
Photos by Caitlin Abrams
AZ CANTEEN … COUNTER … SECTION 114
No longer a cart, AZ has earned a fulltime space next to Hrbek’s. New this year, but featured on the truck last summer, is the Korean fried chicken sandwich.
Steph March: Thumbs up. This is an easy pick. Might be hard to pass up that pork belly bacon sandwich from last year, but this chick has a bit of bite with kimchi, yet isn’t overwhelming.
Drew Wood: Thumbs up. The only negative about this understated flavor-packer is that to order it I will have to not order that pork belly bacon sammie and the smoked meat sammie. Truly, it’s Sophie’s Choice.
RED COW … CART … NEAR SECTION 126 (right next to the Barrio Bar)
There are three different burgers available, plus beer right at the cart.
SM: Blues Burger: Thumbs meh. Had a nice amount of blue cheese, but I don’t prefer the apricot jam (I’m all about the salty bite, keep your jam for toast).
60/40 Bacon Burger: Thumbs up. Gets its name from the 60 percent beef/40 percent bacon grind and it has cheddar cheese, Summit beer mustard and candied bacon. Surprisingly not overly bacony, a good bite.
Ultimate Red Cow Burger: Hopeful thumbs up. A classic with LTO and special sauce, a solidly tasty burger as long as the temp stays pink.
DW: Blues Burger: Thumbs sideways. For better or worse I want a blue cheese burger to punch me in the back of the throat with pungent blue and this one was just too Minnesota nice to do that.
60/40 Bacon Burger: Thumbs up. So much bacon without being about the bacon. A clean, easy-eating cheddar cheeseburger.
Ultimate Red Cow Burger: Thumbs up. Less enthusiastic about this guy than the 60/40 because it lacks bacon and cheese, but it is slathered in Red Cow’s pink mayo-based secret sauce, which is damn tasty.
HOT INDIAN FOODS … CART … SECTION 120
You can hardly miss the brightly colored stall offering chicken tikka and vegan aloo gobi both served on garlic-coconut toasted rice with crispy poppadum and Hot Indian Slaw.
SM: Vegan Aloo Gobi: Thumbs up. Vibrant spice and flavor.
Chicken Tikka: Thumbs up. The creamy tomato curry on the chicken tikka was warming enough for the blustery first half of the season, but light and fresh enough for sun drenched July games.
DW: Vegan Aloo Gobi: Thumbs up. So effervescent and hearty that I didn’t realize it was vegan until March pointed it out to me.
Chicken Tikka: Thumbs way up. All that was great about the Vegan Aloo Gobi but with curry chicken bites that had more taste per square centimeter than any other foodstuff at Target Field.
BARRIO BAR … BAR … NEAR SECTION 127, INSIDE GATE 6
The site looks exactly like the renderings we posted. It’s open, breezy (heated well), with a great view of the field.
SM: Thumbs up. This place will be PACKED. The margaritas were zippy and freshly made, with the promise that they always will be (margs from a gun are a crime against limes). The pork carnitas tacos come from a cart right at the entrance to the bar area, and they were refreshingly simple, but with tons of flavor. The guac was legit. Keep that biz up.
DW: Thumbs up. Barrio had me at traditional pork carnitas tacos, but their glorious left field perch, the $900k bar-surrounding television, and the freshly-mixed margs weren’t too shabby either.
MURRAY'S CHEESE STEAK SANDWICH … MILL CITY GRILL + FIRST/THIRD BASE LOUNGES
Chopped sirloin, aged cheddar sauce, onion, and peppers on an onion roll.
SM: Thumbs down. Uhhhhh. Well, I feel about this the same way I feel about nachos at the ballpark. Maybe because it’s the same slightly frightening cheese.
DW: Thumbs sideways. I don’t share Steph’s fear of a cheesesteak being served "wit' whiz", but why they felt the need to mess with the perfection of a regular Murray’s steak sammie is beyond me.
DARBY'S BACON TOT DISH … STATE FAIR CLASSICS COUNTER, NEAR SECTION 133
Tots with cheese sauce, crumbled bacon, jalapeños, pico de gallo, and seasoned sour cream.
SM: Thumbs waving to and fro. Well, now I feel awkward about the prior cheese sauce statement. Because if I AM going to eat nachos, they should be totchos, which these are. I’m so not mad at these the way I am at the other thing.
DW: Thumbs sideways. On the one hand this is a dish comprised of all the most generic, heart attack-inducing ingredients in a bar’s kitchen. On the other hand this is a dish comprised of all the most generic, heart attack-inducing ingredients in a bar’s kitchen.
COLLEGE DAZE BLOODY MARY … AT HRBEK'S
It’s a bloody mary, with a slice of cold pizza (among other assorted accouterments).
SM: Thumbs northwest. I just can’t pay $19 for this, but if it were $12, I’d probably get one. The Mary itself was right on tangy and kicky, the stack of snacks were fine and not that outlandish. Is a slice of pizza any worse than a mini-donut or a slider, both of which can be found perched on high-class bloodies in the metro?
DW: Thumbs up. If you’re able to look past all the food tchotchkes piled atop this behemoth, there’s actually a remarkably palatable Bloody with just the right amount of spice in there. As for the $19 price tag, call those food tchotchkes lunch and you’ve got the most economical eating/drinking combo at Target Field.
LOCAL CRAFT SPIRITS … KIOSK … SECTION 111
Drinks from local distillers, Panther and Du Nord.
SM: Thumbs up. I liked both of the drinks we tried, the Apple Fizz from Panther was delish and I have a spot in my heart (read: on my bar) for Du Nord’s Fitzgerald gin.
DW: Thumbs up. Craft spirits where formerly there were no spirits, craft or otherwise? How can this possibly be construed as a bad thing?
If you need a refresher on the new foods from 2014 (let's call it PM: pre-Molitor), it's here for you.