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Choose your food adventure at T-Mobile Park this season

The Mariners have added a host of new food and beverage options at the park this season, and there’s something for every kind of day you want to have at T-Mobile

MLB: Houston Astros at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most special things about going to the ballpark is the diversity of experiences contained within; on any given night, T-Mobile Park is playing host to a raucous group hang, a night out with the kids, a team celebration, work events on the company dime, family reunions, first dates, last dates, and everything in between. The ballpark menu continually evolves to create offerings that suit these experiences, in a way that reflects Seattle as a whole and the people who live, work, and play in the city.

Like dinner tables, ballparks are places of communion, and the Mariners have taken laudable steps to increase the size of their table, most notably by expanding the Value Menu this year to include more options. Below you’ll find a few familiar ballpark scenarios matched with menus selected to suit the occasion/weather/participants. Whether it’s a value-centered night out with friends, trying to feed a crowd of picky eaters, or indulging with a special someone, you’ll find something for everyone within T-Mobile’s confines.

The “A” in “April” stands for “AAHHHH it’s still so cold!”

let this football stuffed with cheese and butter warm you on the cruelest days of April

Every year in our guide to T-Mobile Park we try to remind you about the importance of layering, lest you have to buy one of those expensive ballpark blankets when your teeth are chattering as the breeze blows in over the water on a brisk April night. But layering on the inside matters, too. Start with a warming cup of coffee from Caffé Vita on the first base side of the 100-level (133) and hold it in your hands in place of those handwarmers we told you to pack that you probably forgot. For the main event, head over to Holy Smoke BBQ (Sections 105 and 313) and get the “Holy Moly Baked Potato”—a fluffy, creamy baked potato roughly the size of a hiking boot, salted and buttered and loaded up with two kinds of cheese (shredded Tillamook cheddar and jalapeño cheese sauce), a fistful of pulled pork, green onions and a crema drizzle. If that doesn’t appeal, clam chowder in a bread bowl from Ivar’s (117, 335) is always a solid, tummy-warming move.

Dog Days of Summer (yes we have those, shut up):

On the opposite end of the spectrum, for hot and sunny day games where refreshment is key, keep things light with a Hawaiian ahi poke bowl from The Catch (by Just Poke) in section 132. or the new fresh fish crispy taquitos at Edgar’s (the Pen, 212). The taquitos are really excellent—spicy and crispy, packed with seasoned cod and grilled serrano peppers, served with fresh lime for squeezing. For a refreshing quaff, skip the beer and head to Tito’s in the ‘Pen, the Trident Deck, or the Box Score Bar in section 338 to get a batch cocktail made with fresh, local Scotty’s Juice—choose from a paloma made with fresh grapefruit juice and Fever Tree Grapefruit soda, spiked strawberry lemonade or, my favorite, fresh watermelon juice with Tito’s. Finish things up with a stop by Salt & Straw for a scoop of “Seattle”-inspired flavors: the majority of attention will be on the T-Mobile exclusive flavor featuring Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar with apple pie cinnamon roll pieces (if that sounds weird to you, I assure you the cheese flavor is very mild), but the vegan option, a coconut milk-based marionberry sherbet, is tartly refreshing and not too heavy, perfect for a summer day game.

Wearing your dark-wash jeans and Midnight Navy Dustin Ackley jersey:

These quesadillas are delicious but they are about as portable as a 1994 Gateway computer

The cruelest thing the Mariners ever did was take out the silver stands that lined the field on the 100 level, which were my favorite place to scarf a piece of pizza like the alleyway raccoon I am on the inside. Alas. You can still find a useful shelf to assemble your repast, however, either on the bullpen rail or if you go out to the concourse on the 100-level in center field, and that’s where I recommend you take the following food items, all extremely delicious but extremely messy:

  • Short rib sandwich (Holy Smokes BBQ): This sandwich features tender dry-smoked short ribs, smothered in house-made barbecue sauce and set off beautifully with a zesty citrus coleslaw and horseradish cream. It will also absolutely drip all over if you don’t have a steady base, so secure a flat surface (i.e., not your lap) before consuming.
  • BBQ Brisket/Shrimp Quesadilla (Edgar’s): These folded quesadillas were designed to be portable and ballpark friendly, but the abundance of ingredients makes them a little too messy to walk around with and the drip possibility is high. The shrimp quesadilla features a bonanza of charbroiled bay shrimp with a fire-roasted fajita vegetable blend and asadero cheese with chipotle crema, while the brisket version is stacked with roasted peppers and onions, grilled pineapple pico de gallo, asadero and an avocado crema: delicious but messier than a Housewives reunion special. Pull up a patch of bullpen rail and enjoy them fully (don’t forget your hand sanitizer for before and after, and grab some extra napkins).
I would literally eat as many of these as I was legally allowed to
  • Sticky smoked pork wings (Holy Smokes BBQ): My favorite new item, these slow-roasted, fall-off-the-bone tender pork wings shimmer with a glossy, tangy barbecue sauce; they’re finished with jalapeño rounds for some zip and glow with a handful of scattered pomegranate seeds. While theoretically fairly portable as you can just grasp one end and go to town, the risk factor here is high should one of those saucy, ultra-tender morsels fall off the bone, so maybe take off your brand-new home white Julio jersey before consuming.
  • Ham Swaggerty sandwich (Walk-Off Markets): Like its namesake, this seemingly regular old ham sandwich has a spicy, swaggy kick from dijonaise, wild baby arugula, and spicy giardiniera to go with the aged Havarti, caramelized onions, and honey-cured ham. It’s not as messy as the other items on this list, but like Haggerty himself, some of the ingredients can make a break for it if you’re not paying attention.

Free Soloing/Portable treats:

On the other hand, if you’re flying solo, in on an SRO ticket, or just don’t want to haul yourself up to the cheap seat you bought on the 300 level, you’ll need a portable-friendly snack. Premiering at the park on May 22, West Seattle’s Moto Pizza will be selling foot-long pizzas in a specially-designed box inspired by a hot dog wrapper/churro sleeve, so you can walk and nibble at the same time. Other portable-friendly choices: helmet nachos from Edgar’s, the new salt-and-pepper popcorn chicken from Din Tai Fung (snag some kind of sauce to go with, if you’re daring), or an Uncrustable from the value menu—you know you want it, and “I didn’t want to make a mess” is a totally respectable reason. Just make sure all the kids in the ballpark get theirs first.

Date night:

What is more romantic than sharing a brick of pizza, Lady and the Tramp-style?

Skip the garlic fries and go for Moto Pizza, which is cut into two portions and perfect for sharing. If you want to keep it on-theme you could get the “Kissed” pizza, sausage and pepperoni “kissed” with spicy honey, but the “Mr. Pig” (Lechon-style pork belly, mango cilantro chimichurri, and garlic banana ketchup) is the top seller for a reason—just make sure to check your teeth for green flecks of chimichurri before you stare meaningfully at each other over a glass of wine at the Chateau Ste. Michelle bar (section 126).

Honey, I Fed the Kids:

One thing you don’t want to do with kids at the ballpark is wait in lines that aren’t to see the Mariner Moose, so hit up one of the Walk-Off Markets (sections 126, 141, 185, and 341) for grab-and-go convenience of both ballpark favorites and healthy options like salads and wraps. If you’re braving the ‘pen with kids, they might enjoy the novelty of ordering from the all-emoji menu at Chick Chick Boom, and the chicken sandwich is tame enough for tiny palates. Stave off the seventh inning scaries (prime meltdown territory) with snacks from the newly expanded Value Menu, now featuring more kid-friendly and healthy options like hummus and pretzels, carrots with ranch dressing, apple slices, and Uncrustables. Find Value Menu items at all Rolling Roof locations scattered throughout the park.

Baseballin’ on a budget:

Cal Zone calzone >>> “Pizza Pizza”

If you’re looking for the most bang for your food buck, the Cal Zone ($15) from Ballard Pizza Co. (the ‘Pen) provides one of, if not the, best caloric return for your dollar—what else would we expect from a Big Dumper-inspired food item? Be forewarned that this bready delight is maybe a little heavier on the bready outside than the delightful gooey innards of sausage and pepperoni, but it will fill the hungriest of bellies. (There’s also a BPC in section 241, but if you’re there, make for the customizable mac and cheese stand, the king of belly-filling-for-reasonable-cost ballpark items and sadly accessible only on the Club Level.) For drinks, consult the Mariners Beer Finder in the Ballpark app for $5 and $6 value cans as well as a list of which drinks are included—and yes, there are non-alcoholic, gluten-free, and non-beer choices. Huzzah!

Vegetarian delights:

Gone are the days vegetarians were restricted to a sad slice of plain cheese pizza at the park. Marination offers “sexy tofu” as an option with their luau lunch plate, Din Tai Fung boasts veggie bao buns, and you can get vegetarian versions of ballpark standards like an Impossible dog at The Natural, an Impossible burger at Big League Burger, or sweet potato cantina nachos at Edgar’s. If you do want pizza, there are several more-than-just-cheese options, my favorite being the Root at Moto Pizza, with Northwest-foraged mushrooms, a plethora of olives, and a balsamic reduction drizzle.

A note on gluten-free/gluten-friendly options: I asked about this at the food preview and have an e-mail in to the GM of Sodexo Live!, the Mariners’ hospitality partner, requesting a list of gluten free/friendly items at the park; I will update this story when I hear back. Here’s what I gleaned from our conversation, though: if you have an extreme form of gluten allergy or celiac disease, it’s almost impossible to guarantee 100% that items made in the ballpark will be completely gluten free, as cross-contamination is a persistent threat in the kind of limited-space, high-volume, heavily-trafficked environment of the ballpark. Anything that comes into the ballpark prepackaged and marked as “gluten free” can be eaten safely, so for example, any of the pre-assembled salad or protein plates at The Natural or The Walk-Off Markets. If you are highly intolerant of gluten and cross-contamination poses a significant threat to you, your safest route is definitely to pack your own meals and stick to just drinks at the ballpark, preferably single-serving cans (there are gluten-free beer options available, as well as seltzers). Avoid using the refillable public-facing soda fountains, or bring sanitized wipes and wipe down your cup after filling (this is probably good advice for everyone, period).

If you can eat more “gluten friendly” rather than strictly “gluten free,” you can ask about the garlic fries—some Grounder’s stands have a dedicated fryer just for fries, but ask the person on duty and if they express any hesitation, play it safe. Also at The Natural stand you can get a gluten-free hot dog on a gluten-free bun, but make sure to communicate upfront that you need the gluten-free bun, and watch to make sure there’s no cross contamination with the tongs; some workers are more trained on these procedures than others. Fun fact: the grasshoppers are also gluten-friendly!