Marlins Park Scores Big With Unusual, Gourmet Twists on Ballpark Cuisine

It never occurs to me, as I observe the softly plumped bodies of bleary-eyed journalists milling about at the beginning of a morning "foodie tour" of Marlins Park, that upon seeing a giant tray of lobster rolls, this pack would be able to charge en masse with the speed of Emilio Bonifacio legging out a triple. My surprise at their instinctive athleticism quickly morphs into contempt when I realize there's no lobster left for me to taste — but the rest of the reveals during our traipse through the ballpark's concessions would prove almost entirely positive.

If you've seen the $684-million ballpark on television or been fortunate enough to nab opening-week tickets, you know that, despite the aptly maligned home-run sculpture in left field, the stadium is gorgeous. Fresh digs aside, the Marlins' new concession company clearly knows the truth: The best way to a fan's heart is through his stomach.

"This is the newest and the greatest," boasts Jim Abbey, the regional executive chef for Levy Restaurants, which operates the Marlins Park concessions. "There is nothing out there that compares to this. Nothing."

Don Camaron's fresh oysters at the park's Taste of Miami area.
Lee Klein
Don Camaron's fresh oysters at the park's Taste of Miami area.

Location Info

Map

Marlins Park

1380 NW 6th St.
Miami, FL 33125

Category: Retail

Region: Little Havana

Details

Marlins Park

305-676-7378
marlins.com

Hot dog $6
Double cheeseburger $9.50
Shrimp burger $13
Domestic beer $8
Ice-cream sandwich $5

He should know, because Levy also serves the food and drink at the homes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Chicago White Sox and Cubs, along with lots of other sports arenas.

It would take more than words to lighten my duffle bag of skepticism left over from the awful food at Sun Life Stadium, the Fish's former home. But as Abbey reels off product sources — flank steak from Harris Ranch, "French cage free-range" chicken from Ashley Farms, seafoods from the Keys and Florida coast, and fruits and vegetables from Teena's Pride, Tom Vick Farms, J&C Tropicals, and Paradise Farms — my doubts begin to wane. Abbey adds that everything will be cooked fresh to order, which sounds challenging in light of the sheer number of customers queuing up between innings.

Timothy Hmay, Marlins Park executive chef, concedes that what they're attempting has never been done before. "These aren't concessions stands; they're minirestaurants," he says. "Every single one of our 45 concession stands has a restaurant kitchen in back of them. So everything is prepared fresh. The fryers, the stoves, the flat-top grills are state-of-the-art — any restaurant in the Miami area would love to have just one of these [kitchens]."

Rather than leave prepared food baking under a heat lamp, the eateries in Marlins Park will essentially cook to order. "A burger, when it comes into the concession stands, it's freshly grilled and put into the bun for the customer," Hmay says.

He's referring to a potato bun, made by the local Sedano's bakery. The burger is culled from brisket, short rib, and chuck, which are never frozen or sullied by hormones and antibiotics. "[It's] what you'd find in a premium steak house," Abbey claims. The burger comes with American cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, "vine ripe tomato," and a thick pickle slice. The price: $8.50 for a single cheeseburger, $9.50 for a double. It is a delicious hamburger, and pricey too — but I would rather pay $8.50 for a great cheeseburger than a dollar or so less for the crappy one served at Sun Life. In fact, I rate this burger a home run.

Here's what I thought of some of the other items (each rated by baseball hit), with this caveat: The food that the media sampled was cooked, perhaps in leisurely fashion, in quantities to serve about 50 people. According to estimates, when Marlins Park is filled with fans, there will be 12,000 to 15,000 hot dogs sold every night — never mind the other food, the 25,000 servings of soft drinks and water, and a similar amount of beer. In other words, our chow was probably fussed over more than yours will be.

• Helmet ballpark nachos at the general concessions: The tortilla chips are laden with homemade chipotle cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, jalapeños, shredded cheddar, and scallions. It's a tasty rendition, and you get to keep the Marlins souvenir helmet. Price: $15. Rating: Triple.

• Steak and wedge at Metro Grill: Seared beef tenderloin sandwich topped with applewood bacon, lettuce, tomato, blue cheese, steak sauce, and spicy fried onions. The steak is substantial and juicy; the roll is buttered and toasted — that's a double, but the crisp onions and bacon stretch this one into a triple.

• Shrimp burger at Burger 305: Made from two types of gulf shrimp, chopped and seasoned with fresh herbs, served with key lime aioli on telera, or torta, bread — which seems too large for the slender shrimp patty. It's $13. Rating: Double.

• Pizza at Sir Pizza: Tastes like ballpark pizza — thin, pale, soft crust with generic pizza-chain flavor. "This is a bigger pie than you usually see in a ballpark — eight inches as opposed to six inches," Claude Delorme, the park's executive vice president of operations and events, says in an attempt to explain the hefty price: $10 for cheese, $11 with pepperoni. Rating: Strikeout.

• Lime 'n' lobster roll at Metro Grill: Large, fresh chunks of Maine lobster tossed with lime juice and scallions and plunked onto a split toasted bun. No, I did not get to taste it, but I got a close look at a sample set out for the photographers and listened to all the other writers marvel at how delicious it was as they munched away with their chipmunk cheeks stuffed with crustacean and bread. Price: $17. Rating: By all accounts, a home run.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
1 comments
mr. k
mr. k

The food sounds like a huge upgrade but agreed the beer menu is feeble at best. Miami is not a great craft beer town like Portland or Philly with many great local and regional breweries, but why not have at least one high-quality option like Dogfish Head or Bell's available? I wouldn;t be interested in any of the current offerings listed, and I LOVE beer!

 
Loading...