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Good Eats at the Ballpark

The summer is now in full swing, school is over, and if you haven’t yet made that trek to Dunn Tire Park, now is as good a time as any.

Part of the fun of attending a Buffalo Bisons game is enjoying the food. There are so many choices available to please everyone’s palate, and each season the Bisons review the menu at the ballpark and add something new to keep hungry and thirsty patrons satisfied.

To begin with, no good lineup of ballpark food in Buffalo would be complete without the big three, and at Dunn Tire Park, they have ’em all: chicken wings, roast beef on weck and fried bologna and onions served on an egg roll.

“The fried bologna has always been our top seller in terms of specialty sandwiches,” said Bisons General Manager Mike Buczkowski, when we sat down earlier this week to talk about food.

Buczkowski said that concessions are an integral part of the ballpark experience. “It’s an ‘A’ priority for us, in terms of food quality, food presentation and food value, which goes hand in hand with our entertainment for the day. It has been something we have always paid extra attention to since this ballpark opened.”

The Bisons rely on customer feedback and sales stats to determine what works best. “We do extensive surveying, including to our season ticket holders, and we take that into account in making our plans during the offseason,” said Buczkowski.

Fans coming to the ballpark will enjoy the new BW’s Barbecue, which opened in the club level but was relocated to behind section 117 in time for this homestand. The new “Dugout Delights” nearby offers desserts such as cookies and cakes.

Buffalo is not the only city to hold bragging rights for its tasty and diverse ballpark menu. At Rochester’s Frontier Field, the Red Wings offer an amazing array of ballpark fare. There are Rochester’s famous white hots and Red Osier’s roast beef sandwiches. At the Black Angus Grill you’ll find rib-eye and Philly cheesesteak along with a delicious Buffalo wing chickensteak. Another stand offers the fried flowering onion, along with French fries served with a variety of toppings.

In Syracuse, you’ve got to try the pulled pork sandwich with a side of salt potatoes.

Norfolk’s Harbor Park definitely wins the award for the packaged heart attack: the fried Twinkie. Basically take a Twinkie, dip it in batter, deep fry it on a stick, sprinkle with powdered sugar and you’re good to go.

Right down the road from Norfolk is the Diamond in Richmond, and the right field restaurant offers mouth-watering St. Louis ribs.

Head to Durham Bulls Athletic Park and ask for advice on what to try, and just about everyone will steer you to the stand behind home plate, where you’ll find their signature flying burrito. This hearty stuffed tortilla comes filled in a variety of ways, including surf and turf—add cilantro, poblano pepper, jasmine rice and chipotle butter.

Out west, Louisville Slugger Field seems to grill Italian sausages with peppers and onions just about everywhere, and the smell wafts throughout the concourse. But head out to left center field and enjoy the barbecued pork chop sandwich. Add a baked potato and corn on the cob to make the meal complete.

At beautiful Victory Field in Indianapolis, the Corona Light Cantina offers delicious cheesy quesadillas as well as their famous burrito bowl. Wash it all down, of course, with a cold Corona and a twist of lime.

Toledo went from worst to first when they departed the decrepit Ned Skeldon Stadium a few years back and moved to Fifth Third Field downtown. There they call the chicken tenders “fowl balls,” and at Gilhooley’s Grille, located on both the main and club levels, the rib-eye steak sandwiches are to die for.

Speaking of Rochester, they’ve got a cool hot-dog-eating promotion going this summer called “Eat for the Cycle.” They are offering four jumbo hot dogs during their various homestands. Try them all, get a ticket punched each time and get a free t-shirt heralding your accomplishment. The offerings are “Ay Chihuahua,” topped with lettuce, onions, taco beef, tomatoes, nacho cheese and jalapenos; “Tony Soprano,” covered with pizza sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni; “French Poodle,” topped with fresh cut French fries and coleslaw; and “Bar-B-Dog,” topped with pulled pork, nacho cheese and onions.

Do the Bisons pay attention to what their peer ballparks are doing? “All the time,” Buczkowski replied. “What we also look at when we go is what are they naming the stands, are they themed areas, are there tables and chairs, how is the signage directing people to the food.”

Offering a sneak peek into the future, Buczkowski revealed an idea culled from the Rich’s AA team in Wichita. “The call it the Big Kahuna. It’s a burger prepared fresh before your eyes in this supersized George Foreman grill. They put the balled patty into the machine, and in less than a minute the burger is ready. All the condiments and cheeses are right there. So we asked them to send us a couple machines and hopefully soon we will be adding a gourmet burger stand.”