It’s weird to think that next year when we do this, it will be the “Guide to Amazon Prime Field” or “Guide to Pagliacci Grounds” or something. Weird. I feel like I will always call it Safeco, but then again not that long ago I was convinced I’d always call it Qwest Field. Anyway, on to the guide! This year’s steals a lot out of last year’s, which you should also consult because I gave the staff like a week to work on that one whereas this one was a little more rushed thanks to the accelerated schedule/actual home opener. Regardless, whether you’re a regular 300-level dweller or an out-of-towner making your first trek to the Safe, here are our best tips for making the most out of your day.
NB: Because we are not fancy enough to get invited to the media preview, we are going off spec/Instagram photos/other, legitimate outlets’ reportage of the current food options. We are very sorry if we have incorrect information, and will try to keep up on updating this. I am forever scarred by spending a paragraphs’ worth of space last year singing the praises of the Dirty Tots, only to find they had disappeared (but seemingly good news on that front—read on!). To the guide!
Getting tickets (where to sit, where to buy):
My favorite relatively cheap tickets are anywhere in the 300-level down the right field line. This provides you with the opportunity to look over the left field bleachers and gaze at the picturesque view of the Seattle skyline. - Luke
Just going to chime in and second Luke’s assessment. The 300-level first base line tickets are the ideal place if you’re bringing non-baseball fan visitors (note: you should always bring Seattle visitors to Safeco) because it offers one of the best views of the city, particularly during night games at sunset. It’s also the best spot during weekday night games if you like being a recluse while distantly surrounded by the humanity of a few thousand other people.- Isabelle
Gametime was my savior last year; I was able to go to two dozen games and the most expensive ticket I paid for through them was around $35. Their customer service is top notch, and you can almost always get a ticket for around $10-$15, if not cheaper. I often didn’t even go to my assigned seat, instead wandering and sticking around the Pen and Edgar’s. - Connor [Note from Kate: even if you are wary about the secondary market, I have never had a problem with Gametime despite using them often, which is more than I can say for Vivid Seats, which compounded selling fraudulent tickets with a refusal to help us get real ones. Boo, Vivid Seats, hooray Gametime.]
*Puts in monocle, picks up cane* I am not a FAT CAT but whenever I can swing it, Terrace Club tickets are the life. For games that are important to me from an experiential standpoint--Opening Day, number retirements, anything I go to with my parents--getting to spend time in the relative quiet of the 200-level is something that eases my anxiety and claustrophobia enough that I’m willing to make financial sacrifices to be there. Also, since my dad is medically fragile, the bathrooms/seating areas/less crowded nature of the Terrace Club is something that makes the difference between a stressful time at the park and an enjoyable one (also was a lifesaver when I brought my very pregnant friend with me one night). There are other perks to Club Lyf, as well--some food items you can’t find elsewhere (Custom mac and cheese!). It’s too expensive to do all the time, but for certain occasions/situations, it’s well worth whatever the premium is. I trawl Gametime for cheap Terrace Club seats during the week, too. - Kate
If you are interested in sitting in the Maple Grove for a Paxton start, the section tends to change based on availability but is always in the left field bleachers somewhere; check @BigMapleGrove on Twitter a few days before to find out where the section will be located that day. Eh cards are included, but bringing maple bars will make you very popular. -Kate
Getting there (public transport and parking):
It’s so easy to get to the stadium via public transport that it’s becoming increasingly hard to justify driving. From the Ballard/Greenwood/Shoreline areas, the 5 turns into the 21, and stops practically next to the stadium. From the rest of the North end, as well as much of the South end, the light rail will get you there in half the amount of time of any bus (and this year, your Mariners ticket gets you on to the train for free)!
That being said, if you must drive, there are plenty of places to sneakily park for free. Most of the paid parking in Pioneer Square is only paid until 6 PM -- get there right before 6, and you can park all night for free. Even if you get there earlier for a happy hour or something, you’ll only have to pay for an hour or two’s worth of parking at most. There are also several blocks of free parking all along 3rd Avenue South, just south of the stadium. It usually fills up about 30-60 minutes before game time, but it’s a great spot to park if you’re going to hit up Henry’s or another bar in the area. - Zach
I only have one thing to offer: it’s not the cheapest, but if you’re coming from the Eastside, it really might be worth it to park in the Safeco Garage. $20 for most games, and if you’re getting on I-90, the garage has a dedicated lane on the street when you exit so there’s no waiting and that lane goes directly to 90 East. If you’re like me and go to games infrequently, it can be worth the price. - Tim
If you find yourself in a spot where you have to drive, south of the stadium will always have more selection than north. There’s an alley by the Starbucks corporate office that has free parking (I think it’s technically called Utah Ave), and a stretch along the train tracks; the later you arrive, the further down you’ll have to park. But really, taking the bus or the light rail is the best way to go. I usually take the C Line out of West Seattle and either walk through Pioneer Square or pick up the light rail that’s right at the Seneca Street stop. After the game, there are almost always pedicabs that can pedal you to wherever you’ve parked or your bus stop of choice for a reasonable fee. -Kate
Before the game:
On busy game nights, the establishments around Pioneer Square fill up quickly, and noisily. You’re best off eating and drinking away from the stadium and then parachuting into the ‘Pen for happy hour. But if you have people in town and you want to show them Seattle, or it’s a Tuesday night game against a sub-.500 team, there are plenty of intriguing places to stop off. I like Merchant’s Cafe for a taste of Seattle history, or the divey Central Saloon for a real taste of Seattle history. There’s also a mysterious speakeasy-type place on First Ave near the toy shop that I wandered into quite by accident and loved, but haven’t found open again, nor can I remember the name. [Update, it’s called The Sovereign, see Isabelle’s section for more.] -Kate
If you’re looking for a good clean sandwich, Delicatus on 1st and Yesler is solid and speedy. You can grab drinks there or matriculate down the road to The Central Saloon as previously endorsed, or Altstadt - the Bavarian delighthouse with large German beers that have rendered a few LL staffers more emotional than expected in the midst of a high-profile series. Sluggers is cheap and narrow, but with the crush that often accompanies the nearest sports bars, sticking Deutsche is the way to go. -John
Food and drink:
Step one is to download the Ballpark App. If you scroll down under “Gameday Guide,” you’ll find “Beer Finder,” the magical listing of where every beer is located in the ballpark, including where the cheap beer is. If you’re just picking a stand to hit up, everything at Good Hops (136, 319, and 330) is usually pretty good. Also on the Ballpark App is the listing of the “Deal of the Day,” the discount food item offered--if you’re bringing a family, it’s worth checking out to make sure the deal isn’t $1 Red Ropes or something, get you that $4 pizza slice.
KLAXON NOISE Dirty tots are back!!! My single favorite food item in the park, these little nuggets of joy are covered with Beecher’s cheddar, chunks of bacon, garlic and banana peppers. They are enough food to share and yet won’t break your wallet. Get a side of ranch for dipping. Find them at Dynamite Chicken in the Pen, where all the good food is.
CHEAP (and good!) BEER: If you are being forced to hang out with your friend Taylor’s friends who suck and don’t even like baseball and you need a beer but are broke, you have options. $5 will get you a can of Busch Light or Miller High Life, and $6 will get you a can of Georgetown Bodizafa or Elysian Superfuzz. There’s one $5 and one $6 dollar option at each of these locations: sections: 105, 111, 136, 221, 243, 319, 328, 330, and the Hit it Here Cafe. Also watch out for the cart that sometimes shows up for packed games on the landing of the HIH on the north side, which also has discount beers; it’s cash-only but generally the lines are shorter.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you are FANCY-FANCY with your beer there’s a cask station set up on the main concourse right behind home plate next to the area where they do the silent auction type-things. The beers change often and are always local and delicious. -Kate
I’m excited to try Jack’s BBQ brisket sandwich and whatever else they offer up. I’ve eaten the famous BBQ in Austin and Memphis, and Jack’s offers a very solid approximation of Texas style brisket, ribs, and sausage. Definitely the best BBQ I’ve had in Seattle by a lot (but most BBQ is weak as hell here). I’m skeptical that it will be as good at the ballpark as it is at their Georgetown restaurant, but I know it will be better than just about any cooked meat product that Safeco Field has to offer. Pair a brisket sandwich with a hum bao from Din Tai Fung and you’ve got yourself a delicious food coma by the third inning. Sign me up. -Eric
Get a burrito or any of a number of normal food truck priced (read: $6-10) dishes that are easily full meals-worth of food from the El Camion food truck as you walk up to Safeco from the north side. Bring that food into the stadium. Eat it all quickly before the first pitch. Sink into your seat unable to move for the next six-to-eight innings. Repeat. Alternatively, if you’re coming from a bit further towards downtown (or are taking an E line bus) hop off by the King County Courthouse and pop into Manu’s Bodega for some outrageously good Cuban food, including tostones with dips that will knock your socks off. Manu Alfau (Manu himself) has previously indicated he’s an LL reader, so be sure to conduct the proper secret handshakes, et al when patronizing his establishment. - John
LL Quick Picks:
Worth the $: DIRTY TOTS, crab grilled cheese, Great State burger, Edgar’s nachos, the smaller corn dog at the Fair Food stand on the 300 level, Ballard Pizza (in the pen)
Not worth the $: the hyped-up ice cream sandwiches (very messy, and the cookies were hard), the grilled cheese sandwiches, the giant corn dog at the Fair Food stand on the 300 level, the regular pizza at the Rolling Roof concessions
Priceless: Cotton candy
Tips for those with kids or adults with poor attention spans:
I’ve heard, but have never personally tried, that the Safeco ushers are very willing to reseat families if your seats are too in-the-sun, so file that one away for mid-July. Obviously that is true (if it is) only of the less attended games. The Ushers are generally wonderful with kids and will hand out baseball cards for them. The centerfield play area is frankly pretty uncrowded for most games and my kids have readily disappeared into the climbing apparatus while I enjoyed the TV screens and shade. Also, if they need a little distance from crowds and noise (again, can you tell I mostly go to less-attended games?) the third level provides ample space to stretch legs and roam the concourse without really getting in anyone’s way. Get a nacho helmet so that you get nachos and they get a souvenir helmet to use in the backyard (NOT WITH REAL BASEBALLS THERE’S NO PADDING). Everyone wins! - Tim
As I mentioned above, sometimes I get a little claustrophobic or anxious in extremely crowded situations, and my favorite place to go in the stadium when I need a little decompressing space are the ramps on the east side, looking over the train tracks. They’re also shady and cool if you’re sweltering during a day game in August. Another great spot to check out is the museum of Northwest baseball history curated by David Eskenazi on the third base line of the main concourse, tucked back towards the team store. -Kate
Go to bed y’all it’s late. - John
Alternatively, follow the rest of us to Hooverville, because who doesn’t love free peanuts that you can shell with abandon onto the floors. -Isabelle
Sodo shuts down surprisingly quickly, and Hooverville is the only real option south of the stadium, which is fine, because it is awesome, but also, public transportation from there is a real crapshoot. There are options north of the stadium, but they also shut down relatively quickly after games because I guess they don’t like money? The previously-mentioned Alstadt is a good option, as are the Central, Merchant’s, or J&M. If it’s a weekend, things will stay open later; I have definitely walked all the way to the Pink Door after a particularly blissful night to indulge in a beautifully-made cocktail. -Kate
(Note: I have celiac and am mild-to-moderately impacted by cross contamination, and none of the places and/or specific food items I mention below have made me sick.)
If you talk to anyone, or generically Google, information about eating gluten free within Safeco Field you’ll be directed to The Natural. They have gluten free hot dogs and buns, a couple gluten free sandwiches, hummus and veggie plates, and a rotating assortment of “salads” (quinoa with chopped up veggies, some weird bacon and broccoli concoction, etc.). It’s safe, and Safeco gets points for making an effort, but it’s a little bit like eating airport food at a baseball game. They also have Ghostfish Brewing’s Vanishing Point Pale Ale on tap, if you inexplicably desire a gluten free beer.
That’s all you’ll get that’s “officially” gluten free, but through conversations with seemingly every concessions stand employee I’ve found a few other options:
- Grounders Garlic Fries on the 300 level (I think section 325?) - They fry their fries in a separate fryer, so you’re safe from cross contamination on that front. If you order from the little “fries only” section you can rest assured that your fries haven’t come into contact with any pesky chicken tenders. And if you’re especially sensitive to cross contamination (and they’re not particularly busy), their servers have been willing to change into new gloves if you ask nicely. Note: this is specifically for the 300 level Grounders. I was told that each of their stands within Safeco fries them in a separate fryer, but whenever I want garlic fries I simply make the trek over to the 300 level because intestinal happiness and garlicky deliciousness will earn you my undying loyalty.
- If you’re a vampire and require your greasy starches with a little less garlic, Great State’s fries are cooked in their own fryer, too. Also their milkshakes are delicious (no, I’m somehow not yet 500 pounds).
- Rita’s Italian Ice and Frozen Custard - all okay, except the obvious flavors. Highly recommend the mango ice with a dollop of vanilla custard on top.
- Safeco Field also has an outside food policy that allows you to bring in food when you’re coming through the gates. It requires some planning ahead, and can take some fun out of the traditional ballpark experience, but has also been a godsend when it comes to being able to eat safely. I’ve brought in everything from bags of cut up veggies and a container of hummus to a whole Chipotle burrito bowl.
- The infamous grasshoppers are gluten free, but after multiple conversations with multiple employees I still have yet to get a clear consensus on whether the nachos and tacos offered at the same stand (Edgar’s/Poquitos) are safe.
- When it comes to drinks, you can get hard alcohol near The ‘Pen at the Jack Daniels stand (they have non-JD liquor, too) if you enjoy muscle tanks and losing $5 worth of vodka when said muscle tanks run into you, or at the Lookout Landing bar which is usually peaceful and seems to be where Safeco hides their best bartenders. Oh, and margaritas at Edgar’s! Otherwise there are a few generic canned ciders spread throughout the stadium, and red and white wine available as well. There’s also a wine bar on the 100 level that sells full bottles in charming plastic carafes (thank you, Brittney Bush, for this stunning revelation at LL night last season).
- *Note: there is a happy hour in the ‘Pen before every night game, but said happy hour does not include anything except beer. The Mariners/Safeco Field personnel are well aware of this shortcoming, but it persists. In partial penance, this year they’ll be hosting a special Gluten Free Night, with a full gluten free menu available prior to the start of the game.
Nearby eats and drinks:
- Manu’s Bodega, as John mentioned above, is a phenomenal, hole-in-the-wall Dominican/Caribbean restaurant with a menu that’s almost entirely gluten free. Their empanadas in particular are made of yuca root, fried in their own fryer, and are stunningly delicious. They also do a fun little happy hour with hibiscus margaritas and whatever else the cashier/bartender decides they want to make on that day.
- The Sovereign is a speakeasy/Old Havana smoking club hybrid in Pioneer Square with plenty of non-beer happy hour drink choices and a food menu with lots of gluten free options (they even offer gluten free cracker/bread substitutions without absurd additional charges!)
- Radici is a slightly more upscale spot than you’d traditionally go to before a baseball game, but they have an affordable happy hour, excellent gluten free pasta, and knowledgeable servers. When it’s sunny they also have a sweet little patio out front.
- Delicatus in Pioneer Square has an enormous list of sandwiches, all of which can be made into gluten free salads.
- Alstadt is a German beer house, which sounds like it should be impossible to eat there, but they have a surprising number of gluten free options. Of course, they don’t list those on the menu, but their waitstaff have all been remarkably patient and thorough in detailing what is and is not safe to eat.
- El Camión is a food truck you can find parked along the main stretch, across from CenturyLink Field, on your way into Safeco. If you’re highly sensitive to cross-contamination I would probably steer clear (food trucks, man), but they seem to primarily use their grill for meats and corn tortillas, and I’ve felt fine after eating their breakfast mulitas (as fine as one can feel after eating that much greasy cheese).
- Ghostfish Brewing is also a mile away, and is a completely gluten free facility, with beers and food available.
This is rather lengthy, but I hope it’s helpful. Seattle overall is pretty accessible to those who are gluten free, and Safeco Field is too, as far as professional sports stadiums go. As always, if you have any more gluten free specific questions or recs, please feel free to comment/email/tweet. -Isabelle
Got more tips? Anything we’re missing? Anything we say is a thing that actually isn’t? (if they aren’t actually there this year I WILL RUE YOU FOREVER, DIRTY TOTS) Let us know in the comments. Looking forward to seeing you all at Safeco this year!