Hot Dogs Here! Lobster-Watercress Salads!

No, for the simple reason that Levy Restaurants doesn't run these concession stands. So I headed back the next day for a Heat game and a taste of what the commoners can bite on.

The lower classes are more likely to munch a mojo-grilled chicken sandwich ($5.25) than a citrus-marinated chicken breast with mango-papaya chutney and yellow and red peppers (another Chivas Regal Club specialty). Still, claim some Heat fans in Zagat-speak, the food is "not bad," "healthier," and "pretty good," even if it is "pricy" and "exactly the same" as it was at the Miami Arena. Others, like brother-and-sister fans Tania and Robert Marrero, say the concessions are better at the new arena than at the old. And Y-100's Jade Alexander, who was doing stand-up outside the game, told me that the soft pretzels "were the best I ever had. They're actually soft."

Frankly I was miffed by the AAA's 777 jumbo hot dog ($4.75), not very impressive whatever scale you use. The Pizzarena Sicilian-style slice ($4.00) was lukewarm and lame, with flabby cheese and next to no sauce. More original and interesting, People's Bar-B-Que had a good setup going, offering beef, chicken, or pork sandwiches ($5.25); unfortunately the pork was dry, and the restaurant ran out of sandwiches well before halftime.

Jeremy Eaton

On the plus side of things, the Caliente Cab Mexpress makes horribly gloppy-looking nachos grande ($5.75) with premelted cheese and ladles full of shredded chicken or beef, but the chips are homemade. If you can shut your eyes to the Alpolike consistency of the poultry, then you've got a decent snack here.

Even the beer was a bit of a bummer. Domestic brews like Bud and Bud Lite ($5 for 21 ounces) just didn't cut it for a lot of the fans, who instead waited in line at the full bars. At least they offer frozen strawberry daiquiris and wine by the glass ($4.75), poured from an actual bottle with a cork in it. So we might as well face it. Top-shelf alcohol is the closest most of us will come to the Star Boxes and the subsequent star treatment. Unless, that is, we choose to take advantage of the $35 valet parking -- yet another oh-so-affordable luxury courtesy of AmericanAirlines Arena.

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