LOS ANGELES — Opening Day arrives shortly, so besides craving real baseball action that actually counts, one’s thoughts may wander to how the stadium experience might differ compared to last year. To that end, Los Angeles Dodgers officials hosted reporters at Dodger Stadium Tuesday to unveil samples of their new food offerings for 2018 and to show some of their promotional items for the coming season.
Executive Chef Ryan Evans remains in charge for the Dodgers and Levy Restaurants having taken over the position last March. At that time Evans proclaimed that his goal is for “Dodger Stadium to have the best stadium food in the country” and this year he reiterated that that remains the goal for his team and their driving force.
Evans later took it a step farther and stated that he wanted to “compete with [local eateries]. We want people to come here and be like, ‘Man, this is the best meal I’ve had all week.’ “
- Pretzel Chicken Croissant, chicken, sun-dried tomato, herb aioli, Swiss cheese, leaf lettuce, pretzel croissant David Young
- Carne Asada Torta - carne, refried beans, jalapenos, cilantro, crema, pickled onions David Young
- Cheet-O-Lote - roasted sweet corn rubbed wtih chipotle lime mayo, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, cotija cheese, tajin seasoning David Young
- Orange chicken bowl. (Note, final formulation is undecided, may or may not come with broccoli.) David Young
- Veggie Burger - Portobello mushroom, piqio pepper aioli, smoked gouda, arugula, brioche bun David Young
- King’s Hawaiian Lobster Roll - New England style lobster mix, King’s Hawaiian roll, served with kettle chips David Young
- Chicken N’ Waffle Sammy - Belgian waffle, spicy chicken, candied bacon, maple syrup, powdered sugar David Young
- Spicy Chick Sandwich - Chicken, buffalo sauce, jalapeno slaw, umami aioli, pickles, Texas toast David Young
- Churro Cake - Churro cake, horchata ice cream, Abuelita’s Caramel, Abuelita’s shavings David Young
- High Protein - Inka Blend Quinoa Zucchini, house-made pesto, corn, green onion, chickpeas, toasted pine nuts, lemon zest David Young
Next month Major League Baseball is having a Food Fest event in New York where each team is featuring one ballpark food item. The Dodgers chose to serve the Cheet-O-Lote corn dish pictured above.
When asked how they came to that decision, Evans replied, “it was really difficult because when you think of Dodger Stadium, you think of a Dodger Dog. It’s not that we’re trying to change that, we just want people to know there are other flavors in LA that we’re doing here in Dodger Stadium that’s really cool. The elote we thought would be a good representation of LA and LA culture and what we’re doing here at Dodger Stadium. There’s so much more to what we do here that we want to showcase.”
The “LA-raised” chef emphasized that the Dodgers and Levy are committed to making their food selections accessible throughout the Stadium, stating “we’re trying to make everything available to everybody.”
One such location will be a new “LA On Deck Circle” stand that will feature temporary specials as well as the tortas being introduced this year, the new item that Evans stated he was proudest of.
Evans also mentioned the possibility of guest chefs from local restaurants serving dishes at the Stadium. He clarified further in a later tweet:
Just a FYI we are in the early process of inviting @howlinrays to be a Guest Chef/ restaurant at Dodgers stadium this year once we have more information we will let everyone know stay tuned #promoteLA #repourcity #CityofLA— Ryan Evans (@LADExecChef) March 20, 2018
Yeah, yeah, but how did it taste?
Ten food items were made available for tasting and your intrepid reporter sampled nine of them, only missing out on the lobster roll that seemed to vanish as soon as it appeared from the kitchen. (For the full descriptions of each item, please the see the captions with the photos in the gallery above.)
Frankly, I found the Cheet-O-Lote, a special item introduced last year, disappointing. The preparation of the corn was good, but the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos just didn’t grab me as the main accompaniment.
The Carne Asada Torta may have been highlight. The carne was tasty and served on a fluffy telera roll. They also plan to offer Chicken Tortas and Nopales (cactus) Tortas.
At the Base Bowls stand, they plan to replace Kalua Pork bowls with Orange Chicken, but I found the orange chicken overly coated and not as flavorful as it should be.
The Pretzel Chicken Croissant was also a winner. The pretzel croissant was flavorful with a pleasing chewiness to the texture making it a good accompaniment to the roasted chicken within.
Another special item from 2017 that is now a regular menu listing is the “Chicken N’ Waffle Sammy”, still tasty, still messy, still a winner.
The “Spicy Chick Sandwich” is the right idea that falls a bit short in the execution of a key item, the buffalo sauce, which was lacking in flavor and interest.
Two vegetarian selections were introduced, the “High Protein”, which was essentially a quinoa salad and a “Veggie Burger” where a Portobello mushroom replaces the meat patty. I’m not highly qualified to judge these, but I did find the veggie burger tasty and I did finish the quinoa.
The one new dessert is a “Churro Cake”. I enjoyed the mixture of flavors, although I found the “cake” a little difficult to cut within the helmet.
While not every new dish was a success in my opinion, there’s certainly plenty of interesting things to try on the menu at Dodger Stadium.