Gav Martell: He’s in the Kitchen


Taking In A Baseball Game? Here's Where You Should Eat!

A look at some of the best places for Canadians to eat "just outside" some of America's ballparks

Long before the Blue Jays ever played their first snowy game in April 1973, Canadians have been dipping south of the border for baseball road trips. While the game has always been cradled as America's past-time, the tradition of travelling from city to city to take in a game at multiple stadiums has practically become a Canadian rite of passage. Whether it's due to the warmer destinations, the prettier ballparks, or the sheer multitude of American ballparks within striking distance of the Canadian border, countless Canadians hop in their cars every summer to tour America's baseball stadiums.

Many Major League Baseball parks nicely line up into logical ballpark routes from Canada. For example: Seattle, Minnesota, Milwaukee, and Chicago are all within striking distance of Western Canada, while nearly a dozen are within close proximity to the Eastern half of the countrysee: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.

For those heading out on baseball's holy pilgrimage, there is plenty that has been written on the topic. Books, such as The Ultimate Baseball Road-Trip: A Fan's Guide to Major League Stadiums, go into great detail about the wonderful ballparks, amenities, and delicious foods available while taking in a road game; however, for foodies it's as important to know where you have to eat nearby the stadium to make the most out of your journey. As countless television shows keep telling us, "You just gotta eat here!" 

Here's a guide to some of the tastier places to eat "Just Outta the Park":


City: Detroit, MI

MLB Team: Tigers

Ballpark: Comerica Park

Ballpark Features: A gorgeous take on a classic stadium in the heart of downtown. The NFL Lion's Ford Field is just next door, soon to be joined by a new NHL stadium for the Red Wings just down the street. Be on the lookout for the massive tiger statues all around the stadium. They're hard to miss!

Where to eat nearby: Hockeytown Cafe, 2301 Woodward Avenue.
This multi-storied sports restaurant and bar is a Detroit sporting fan's home away from home. Packed with memorabilia, it's just across the street from the ballpark's main entrance and parking lot. It's the place to party with local fans before or after any Detroit home game. The great bar food and thirst-quenching beer is an added bonus.

You gotta try: Their pizza. Don't tell the folks down the road in Chicago, but Hockeytown has some of the most delicious pizza found in the Great Lakes region. With tantalizing toppings galore, it's a pizza-pie dream.

City: Cleveland, OH

MLB Team: Indians

Ballpark: Progressive Field

Ballpark Features: Cleveland's last ballpark, Municipal Stadium, was dubbed "The Mistake by the Lake," due to its massive size and terrible design. They definitely got it right this time, though. Cleveland's gorgeous Progressive Field has erased any mistakes of the past. 

Where to eat nearby: Noodle Cat, 234 Euclid Ave. 
Noodle Cat is a foodie's paradise. A Japanese-American restaurant that is all about whatever Chef Jonathan Sawyer dreams up for diners to slurp. The place has a great vibe, and dishes will not break the bank. You can't go wrong with any of the delicious noodle soups. The noodles are all made locally and recipes focus on seasonal and local themes. Soups come in half or full size. The half size is more than enough food for one person and allows room for the tasty appetizers. Some delicious steamed buns to choose from, including the Lake Erie walleye!

You gotta try: The Tsukemono Pickle Sampler. A pickled platter of whatever vegetables (or fruit) are currently in season. Everything is pickled in house and beautifully presented in an array of bright colours and palate pleasing flavours. You'll never look at a jar of dill pickles the same again. 

City: Cincinnati, OH

MLB Team: Reds

Ballpark: Great American Ball Park

Ballpark Features: Nestled on the bank of the Ohio River, the stadium is named after the insurance company that sponsors it, but it really is a wonderful take on the great American ballpark. They got everything right in Cincinnati, with perfect sight lines, retro baseball stadium touches in all the right places, and a riverboat built into the outfield terrace.

Where to eat nearby: Tom and Chee, 1 Levee Way.
Tucked in the middle of this Newport, KY entertainment complex with a view of the stadium across the river, Tom and Chee has perfected comfort food via their homage to grilled cheese and soup. Diners can dig into elaborate takes on the classics. From the massive grilled mac and cheese sandwich to their creamy tomato-basil soup. Tom and Chee is comfort food at its finest. 

You gotta try: Tom and Chee offers a selection of grilled cheese donuts that are worth the visit alone. A classic glazed donut is cut in half, then grilled with ooey-gooey delicious fillings. The Bananarama grilled cheese donut is stuffed with caramelized banana, smoked Gouda cheese, and peanut butter.  Sweet. Salty. Cheesy. Warm.


City: Pittsburgh, PA

MLB Team: Pirates

Ballpark: PNC Park

Ballpark Features: Situated in Pittsburgh's North Shore neighbourhood with Heinz Field a stone's throw away, the area is all about sports, sports, and sports. A massive Honus Wagner statue just outside the park reminds you just how far back Pittsburgh's baseball history stretches. Hyatt Place Pittsburgh-North Shore is a convenient place for visitors to stay right by the ballpark.

Where to eat nearby: Primanti Bros., 46 18th Street.
While Primanti Bros. locations have popped up across Pittsburgh, including one with a limited menu in PNC Park, it's worth the trip across the river to the Strip District and the original 1933 location of this Pittsburgh institution. There are no plates at Primatni's. Sandwiches are stuffed with home cut fries and coleslaw, and casually served on wax paper. Pittsburgh's history adorns the walls, along with caricature drawings along one side of the restaurant/bar. The hefty sandwiches arrive served on thick slices of white bread with home cut fries and vinegar coleslaw stacked right inside the sandwich. There are about two dozen different sandwiches to choose from. All are variations on the staple of cheese, tomato, fries, and coleslaw. Yinzers have been coming for decades with good cause. The food is filling and delicious and the service is miraculously fast. Table turnover is fast and furious. Cash only. 

You gotta try: There's a lot to choose from, but the Almost Famous Colossal Fish Sandwich really pushes the envelope of how much you can put between two slices of bread. A head-turner as it arrives at your table stuffed with a gargantuan serving of fish, fries, coleslaw, cheese, and tomato, all teetering between two thick-sliced pieces of Italian bread.

City: Milwaukee, WI

MLB Team: Brewers

Ballpark: Miller Park

Ballpark Features: Miller Park is an incredible stadium to visit. A retractable roof that allows natural light in even when closed, great site lines, and a sausage race mid-game, plus activities galore for the kids. You can't really do better! Any Milwaukee pub or bar worth its salt has shuttle busses to and from Brewers games to ensure maximum beverage time for fans. You can even order tallboys from the shuttle bus drivers on your way to the park for a few bucks. Shuttles generally run from 90 minutes before game time until the stadium is empty.

Where to eat nearby: Milwaukee Brat House, 1013 N Old World 3rd Street.
If you're in Milwaukee, you've got to try an authentic brat. And there is no better place to try one than in this dark, cozy Milwaukee bar. Patio seating is available both in front and out back with plenty of local micro-beer available. The sausage selection includes cheddar and jalapeño sausage, Polish sausage, classic brat, and Vienna beef. Toppings include sauerkraut, onions, sauteed red peppers, spicy vegetable relish, tomato, bacon, and cheese. The menu is vast and varied with Milwaukee classics, including authentic Wisconsin cheese curds with ranch dipping sauce.  

You gotta try: A fully loaded brat served on a pretzel roll! Messy and delicious, the perfect accompaniment to a cold Milwaukee beer.

City: Toronto, ON

MLB Team: Blue Jays

Ballpark: Rogers Centre

Ballpark Features: Canada's only baseball team is housed inside this architectural wonder with a retractable roof and hotel overlooking the field. It will never be called North America's prettiest stadium, but when the sun is shining, the roof is open, and the CN Tower looms over the playing field, it's a great place to watch a game. 

Where to eat nearby: Burrito Boyz, 218 Adelaide Street West.
No, Toronto is not known for their Mexican food. No, this is not fine dining. It's a basement walk-up counter that serves burritos the size of a small child. The perfect pre-game meal that will last you through extra-innings. 

You gotta try: The halibut burrito. It doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense when you look at it on the menu. Deep fried fish-and-chips-style halibut in a burrito? It doesn't have to make sense to be incredibly delicious. Choose your custom toppings and wait as they prep it. Prepare to be blown away by a flavour-packed, messy, and massive burrito you'll be craving until the next time.

Thinking of heading down south for a game? You won't strike out when you visit Dunedin, Florida—this city is known for baseball, but it also hits a home run with fabulous food