Coors Field is for food­ies just as much as sports fans

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Allyson Reedy

“Go Reds!”

It took me a full 30 sec­onds to re­al­ize that the guy on my bus to Coors Field was talk­ing to me and that he was re­fer­ring to the Rockies’ op­po­nent that night.

“Oh, I don’t re­ally care ei­ther way,” I replied to the guy (who was clearly just try­ing to be an­noy­ing and elicit a re­ac­tion out of some­one). “I’m just go­ing for the food.”

These days, there’s more go­ing on at Coors Field than Char­lie Black­mon home runs. The food and drink scene around the di­a­mond is hap­pen­ing, and I wanted to check it out.

If you think about it, Coors Field was kind of Den­ver’s orig­i­nal food hall. Long be­fore the Stan­ley Mar­ket­place, pre-Avanti and nearly two decades ahead of The Source, Coors Field col­lected a re­spectable group of lo­cal food ven­dors in one struc­ture. Sure, the of­fer­ings may not have been des­ti­na­tion-wor­thy at first, but with home­grown heroes like Biker Jim’s, Oskar Blues’ CHUBurger and Rio on the Rocks mov­ing in, the eats and drinks are some­times bet­ter than the team.

Sim­i­lar to ticket op­tions, there are dif­fer­ent tiers of food and drink to be had at the sta­dium. Here are some picks, sorted out by tastes (and bud­get): The Nose­bleed Sec­tion (typ­i­cal sta­dium grub)

For some, go­ing to a base­ball game is a hot dog, some peanuts and a beer. Coors Field will not let you down, as there are 36 places to grab that $5 dog, 135 spots to pick up a $4.50 bag of peanuts, and more beer than you can re­spon­si­bly drink, even if the game goes into ex­tra in­nings.

If you want to pile on the calo­ries even more, check out Hel­ton Burger Shack (Sec­tion 153) for a clas­sic, no-frills burger ($7.50), onion rings ($5) and shake ($4.50) combo. I’d never had a milk­shake at a base­ball game, but it will now become de rigueur.

New for this sea­son is the Colorado Queso Stak (avail­able at the Rooftop Grill in Sec­tion 306; $12), a huge por­tion of waf­fle fries loaded up with green chile, car­ni­tas, jalapeños, pico de gallo, cheese and sour cream. If you can fin­ish this on your own, I salute you. (And your car­di­ol­o­gist might thank you for help­ing to send her kid to col­lege.)

An­other new item this year is the Ap­ple Pie Na­chos (avail­able in Sec­tions 130, 144, 218 and 243; $6). This sounds like yet an­other franken­food gone wrong, and, well, it kind of is. The cinnamon-and-sugar- dusted tor­tilla chips were great, but the ap­ple pie fill­ing and ched­dar cheese on top was, well, over the top. Still, they weren’t nearly as bad as they first sounded, and if you re­ally like ap­ple pie, they’re prob­a­bly worth a try. Up­per Deck (solid food from lo­cal fa­vorites)

My two fa­vorite eats came from lo­cal restau­rants with out­posts inside the sta­dium. Biker Jim’s (Sec­tions 107 and 331) never lets me down with its crazy beast sausages, caulk-gun cream cheese and cola-soaked onions. The Elk Jalapeño Ched­dar Brat ($9) is an el­e­vated take on the hum­ble hot dog and makes for per­fect ball­park food.

CHUBurger, from Oskar Blues, made my fa­vorite burger ($8) and fries ($5.50; I’m a sucker for squishy fries). Chub is up on the Rooftop, which is where all the cool bars and restau­rants (and all the cool kids) hang out. The Rooftop is kind of like the Ve­gas ho­tel of Coors Field — there are even ca­banas for rent — so it can get a lit­tle crowded with the Instagram set. Watch­ing the game is al­most an af­ter­thought.

But the food — and es­pe­cially the drinks — are good up there, and if you’re look­ing for some­thing be­yond beer, it’s worth the trek. Rio on the Rocks serves up the same pow­er­ful mar­gar­i­tas ($9) as the Rio Grande restau­rants, The Tav­ern Ball­park has a full-ser­vice bar in case you’re look­ing for some­thing a lit­tle more so­phis­ti­cated, and The In­fi­nite Mon­key The­o­rem sells cans of red, white and rosé ($8) up there, too.

Pre­mium Box Seats (the f in­est din­ing to be had inside a base­ball sta­dium)

“This is kind of the bestkept se­cret,” Brian Arp told me of the two “fancy” restau­rants inside Coors Field.

He should know. As gen­eral man­ager of Ara­mark (i.e., the com­pany that de­cides what you eat at are­nas across the coun­try) at Coors Field, the man is a walk­ing en­cy­clo­pe­dia of sta­dium food.

Both the Moun­tain Ranch Bar and Grill and the Land Cruiser Club are much qui­eter than the rest of the of­ten-chaotic sta­dium, which makes the steeper price tag worth it to those look­ing to have a more peace­ful ball­park ex­pe­ri­ence.

The full-ser­vice Moun­tain Ranch, lo­cated in the right field cor­ner of Coors Field, does two seat­ings on game days — one 90 min­utes be­fore the first pitch and the other at game time. It’s open to all tick­ethold­ers, but you should prob­a­bly call for reser­va­tions a day or two ahead to en­sure you can dine on steak and spe­cials based off of the op­pos­ing team’s home city.(For the Reds, they had Cincin­nati Chili 5 Ways and Pork Sch­nitzel).

The Land Cruiser Club, which re­quires a spe­cial game ticket, is a buf­fet (bar­be­cue beef brisket was on the line when I stopped by), so the food isn’t quite as up­scale as Moun­tain’s, but the lo­ca­tion is hard to beat. Perched just above home plate, it’s the best seat in the house. Plus, you get food. Be­cause what good are the best seats if you’re hun­gry?

Full and happy on the bus ride home, some­one men­tioned the score. Turns out, the Rockies won.

I hadn’t no­ticed. I was too busy eat­ing.

Photos by Amy Broth­ers, The Den­ver Post

CHUBurg­ers and fries from CHUBurger at Coors Field.

The tra­di­tional Rio Marg and Straw­berry Mar­garita from Rio on the Rocks.

Biker Jim’s reindeer dog with cream cheese and onions.

Amy Broth­ers, The Den­ver Post

The Colorado Queso Stak — waf­fle fries with green chile and car­ni­tas — from the Rooftop Grill.

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