Opening Day is tomorrow(!), so besides real baseball action, you know you want to know about the new stadium food options available to you. Los Angeles Dodgers officials met with a bevy of bloggers at Dodger Stadium Friday of last week to unveil samples of new food offerings and we sacrificed our taste buds in order to supply you with the maximum amount of information. (They also showed some of their promotional items for the coming season and discussed other changes being made to the stadium experience.)
The Dodgers and Levy Restaurants introduced their new Executive Chef Ryan Evans who takes over for Chef Jason Tingley. Evans boldly proclaimed that his goal is for "Dodger Stadium to have the best stadium food in the country." When asked if he realized how big a challenge this was considering just California alone, he acknowledged the standard being set at places like San Diego's Petco Park and noted that he was part of the team that designed the culinary concepts for Levi Stadium in San Francisco, which exposed him to the food at the baseball stadium there.
The "LA raised" Evans - he received a Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts degree in Pasadena - noted that Dodger Stadium, where he worked last year under Tingley, did present unique challenges partly due to its age, but said that he felt "up to the challenge". If his enthusiasm at the podium is any indication, he is.
One of Evan's additions is a "BaseBowls" stand, which debuted already at the World Baseball Classic in March on the Field level, third-base side. The Tuna Poke Bowl (Ahi tuna, rice, edamame, cucumber, carrots, wakame, sesame seeds and ponzu sauce) was available for sampling and I would love to have reviewed them for you but every time I tried to obtain one, there were none to be had. I can say that nearly every Dodger staffer in attendance that was actually eating was chowing down on one of these. Other bowls on the menu are Vietnamese Rice Noodle, Kalua Pork and Teriyaki Chicken.
Also new for 2017 is "Lots of Tots", a tater tots stand. Loaded Tots tossed in fresh garlic, oil, Parmesan cheese and parsley had the expected texture for tots, enough garlic to flavor without overwhelming with heavy aroma and noticeable tang from the cheese. Chili Cheese Tots feature a "house made chili and cheese sauce", which Evans termed "unique to this stand" and not the chili used elsewhere in the stadium. The stand will also serve "golden-fried" Chicken Bites tossed in sauce or "naked". Two locations: Field and Loge levels on the first-base side.
King's Hawaiian Grill takes over the space in the left field plaza that previously housed the Think Blue BBQ, which will be moving to a location on the first-base side of Reserve level. The Big Island Lava Wings use King's Big Island Lava Sauce to produce a tasty wing that has a bit of kick to offset the sweet edge, but without the lingering hotness that overuse can produce. They are also expecting to offer Pulled Pork Sliders on their signature Hawaiian sweet rolls, Smoked Pork Nachos and a Hawaiian BBQ version of the Dodger Dog that adds pulled pork and pineapple BBQ sauce to the wiener all within a King's hot dog bun.
Evans asked the audience what's been missing from Dodger Stadium, then enthusiastically answered his own question with "dessert!” Accordingly, he is introducing "Trolley Dodger Treats" a dessert stand located on the first-base side of Field Level. The menu sounds County Fair influenced, with Funnel Cake, Churros, Deep-fried Oreos and Deep-fried Twinkies all featured. This author forced himself to sample the funnel cake twice and found it to be a quality rendition - not greasy or drowned in powdered sugar as some can be - that Evans promised would be always made to order.
The chef also said the churros would be fresh as well. They are offered as "Glazed" - drizzled with chocolate, topped with blue and white sprinkles - and as a "Doubleheader" that is topped with blue ice cream.
However, the most intriguing dessert offering may be the Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee Floats.
Joining the venerable Dodger Dog will be a Dodger Burger. This Evans creation starts with a 1/3 pound Angus beef patty then adds caramelized onions, beer-batter fried jalapeños and a Dodger Dog (!) within the buns, all accented with Budweiser BBQ sauce. This burger did have a nice blend of flavors to tease the palate and the jalapeños made for a nice kicker. These will be available at a Bud and Burgers stand on the third-base side of Field level.
The aforementioned Think Blue BBQ will offer the pulled pork Dodger Dog at every game, while the Shock Top Bratwurst (pork brat infused with Shock Top beer, topped with caramelized onions and brown mustard and served on a warm bun) moves from there to become an item at all Extreme Loaded stands instead.
It's a good thing Dodger Stadium has a lot of stairs to climb, because I'm going to need them in 2017.
Some people wonder what happens to excess food at a place like Dodger Stadium. To help answer this question I am including this statement, excerpted from the Levy literature provided to us: "Levy Restaurants has teamed up with The Midnight Mission.... Levy donates food to the Mission after every stadium event in an effort to support the Mission with their commitment to the community."