Welcome to Oracle Park, Home of Garlic Fries and a Secret Speakeasy in the Outfield Scoreboard

The second edition of Stadium Food Tour, a new series in which I eat and drink my way through America's temples of baseball and gluttony

When I first wrote about my mental health challenges a few weeks ago I told you guys I would always be transparent about how I’m feeling. It’s important for people like me who struggle to always tell the truth when things are not going well. But it’s equally important to talk about when things are going well and to try to pinpoint why. Many of us have struggled with not only feeling isolated from friends and family during this pandemic but also feeling literally stuck in our homes. I used to get on one or two planes a week back when I worked for ESPN, and I loved it. That lifestyle was not sustainable into my 30s because I wanted to have a life at home, but there is something about exploring new terrain that lifts my soul.

I mention this because these stadium food tours have re-ignited my sense of adventure and possibility. These little culinary treasure hunts have acted like a balm to my mental and emotional wellbeing, and I plan to do as many as possible. I had an absolute ball in San Francisco. If you can get to a Giants game between now and the end of the season, make every attempt to do so. Just make sure to bring a down jacket and like, eleven blankets and you’ll be all set.

I loved going to Oracle Park because, like Petco Park in San Diego, the stadium is walkable from so many great bars and restaurants. I went during a sold out Giants/Dodgers series, so the concession lines were super long. This annoyance makes awesome outside food and drink that much more critical to a wonderful stadium experience. The Giants passed every test.

We started our adventure at 21st Amendment, a brewery and restaurant just a few blocks from the stadium.

If you’ve had a Hell or High Watermelon beer, then you’ve already experienced 21st Amendment because they brew it on-site. The highest praise I can give this beer is that I do not care for anything in the melon family and I still really enjoyed it.

I went with four friends to 21st Amendment, and we (for the most part) really enjoyed the food as well. My friend Haley always orders BBQ chicken pizza at baseball games, and this one came with a jalapeño twist:

Because everything is better fried, we also ordered the tater tots and the Monterey calamari, ostensibly fished from nearby Monterey Bay. Both dishes were excellent.

Not everything on the menu was great, however. The chicken burrito was just OK, even though it’s pretty hard to screw up a burrito. My friend Dan is a good sport who will not try anything and I could not get him to eat it. The shoestring sweet potato fries were also kind of meh. Spend those calories on the tots instead.

After beers and appetizers, I ventured to try one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite burgers from Red’s Java House. It did not disappoint.

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RJH is along the water and it’s about a 10-15 minute walk to the stadium, but that walk will make you feel a little better about digesting the food you’re going to eat once you’re in the ballpark. Honestly? If you’re going to a Giants game, you have to go here. Doctor’s orders.

After RJH, I hit up Momo’s directly across the street from the stadium. It’s a bit packed if you’re into that kind of vibe, which I am not during Covid. Still, it has a nice outdoor space, it could not be closer to the ballpark, and the King Street margarita with agave and fresh lime was quite refreshing on a sunny day.

Once inside the stadium, I was lucky enough to be invited by friends to the Gotham Club, which is a speakeasy that sits literally inside the scoreboard.

At the Gotham Club they even use baseballs for ice cubes.

Most people pre-game at the Gotham Club then go to their seats for the first pitch. I was too cold and whining like a toddler so we stayed inside and watched the game from here:

I have no idea how one becomes a member of the Gotham Club but it probably involves a lot of money and/or being related to Buster Posey. But if you ever get invited to enjoy drinks inside, you have to go. They also have another location on the club level behind home plate that has a bowling alley (???) but we were too lazy to make it over there.

As far as stadium food goes, the concession lines were so long that it was hard to get more than a couple of items. Of course, I couldn’t leave SF without enjoying some famous garlic fries.

Dan enjoyed the fries so much he threatened to permanently relocate from Singapore to San Francisco. I washed down the garlic fries with Ghiradelli hot chocolate because I'm basic and did I mention I was freezing? My other recommendation for in-stadium eating is the chicken, brown rice, and veggie Cha Cha bowl from Orlando’s in center field. It’s what I ate at every home game when I covered the Giants in the 2012 playoffs and it still holds up. (not pictured because I think my substack will break if I add any more pictures).

We wanted to try the crab sandwich in center field, the Irish coffee from Buena Vista on the second deck, and the lumpia from the Filipino food concession stand behind home plate, but all the lines were at least two innings long so we begged off.

Final verdict? San Diego’s Petco Park narrowly edged Oracle Park--but both are worlds better than Dodger Stadium. My evisceration of the food at my beloved home park will be coming soon to an in-box near you.