Keep the peanuts and Cracker Jacks for yourself. I’ll take the crab dip and footlong tater tots.
Whether you’re a big-time baseball prognosticator, or a little more agnostic about the finer details of the game, there’s still something inherently fun about a gameday experience. And if you’re catching a Rays game at Tropicana Field, that fun includes some of Tampa Bay’s best food and drink. From Kahwa coffee and Coppertail beer, to Pacific Counter bowls and Crabby’s shrimp wraps, the Trop is an oasis of flavor-rich (and often calorie-dense) local eats and libations.
Naturally, there are hot dogs and nachos aplenty, along with all the usual concession stand fare. And hey, there’s nothing wrong with a cheeseburger and a Coke. But for the more adventurous eaters and drinkers, this guide will be your map to gastronomical delight.
The Must Try List
Grab a fork and a friend and dig into some of the best dishes at the ballpark. If you try nothing else, you must try these specialties.
Raymond’s Cotton Candy Milkshake – Beans and Barlour
St. Pete’s favorite spot for delectable ice cream concoctions brings its A Game to Tropicana, and the cotton candy-topped milkshake takes top prize. Make it boozy and you’ve got the most relaxing dessert in town.
Spinach and Crab Dip – Crabby’s
A staple of the Beachside Hospitality Group, this outpost of Crabby’s will make you re-think the nachos you were eyeballing elsewhere. The crazy-flavorful dip brings home the goods with a spicy kick that keeps you reaching for chip after chip.
Footlong Tater Tot – Pig + Potato
Exactly what it sounds like, and even better than you think. A full 12 inches of crispy, battered-and-fried potato is smothered in smoked bacon, aged cheddar, cheese sauce and sour cream. Add jalapenos for even more heartburn if you’re feelin’ frisky.
Southern Philly Cheesesteak – Ballpark & Rec
One of the biggest spots in the stadium, Ballpark & Rec is the first and last stop for many, a go-to for food and drinks. The Southern Philly Cheesesteak is the all-star here, a hoagie roll filled with braised short ribs, roasted bell peppers, caramelized onions and pepperjack cheese sauce.
Banh Mi Hot Dog – Pacific Counter
No offense to Nathan’s (they make a great dog!) but this dish from Pacific Counter gives the traditional hot dog a massive upgrade and a flavorful twist.
General setup; or, where to find everything
So there’s tons of food and drinks. Good, great, grand. Now how do I find it? From the nosebleeds to the basement, there are booths, stands and kitchens everywhere, but there are three main areas that have the bulk of what you’re looking for and that are always open. On slower days, many of the stalls in the less crowded areas will be closed, but you can count on these three destinations to be there for you any time.
As soon as you walk in, you’re forced to answer a very serious question: what kind of day are you trying to have? Taking a right, you’ll quickly happen upon both Ballpark & Rec, and Kahwa Coffee. Your choice here says a lot (though it’s fine to come back for something else later). Beyond those two, this level of the stadium is one of the first to close the specialty stalls, but you can always find the standard nachos, popcorn, pizza and beer (hit the TB Brew station for something local) without going too far.
1st and 3rd base concourse, main level
This is where the foodie journey really heats up. There are food halls on either side of the field, just outside the 1st and 3rd baselines. There are different vendors on both sides, and each of them has several cart vendors in the surrounding areas, including a carving station, a Budweiser booth (grilled sausage and peppers, yes please) and the Fresh Vine wine bar. These two food halls are where you will find places like Crabby’s, Bird and Batter (buffalo tenders and garlic fries), Central Burger (they have Impossible Burgers!), and Beach Drive (lobster roll, anyone?).
Budweiser Porch in the outfield
This is where healthy diets and New Year’s resolutions come to die. Some of the best food you can find is in this party-centric spot in the outfield. You can’t see the game from most areas, but there are plenty of TVs, and the food and drink options more than make up for it. There’s lots of Budweiser (duh), but cocktails, seltzers, cokes, milkshakes (hi, Beans and Barlour!) and more are all readily available. That said, the food is why you’re here. Pulled pork smothered potato swirls at Pig + Potato, short rib grilled cheese at Melted, and smoked wings or mac and cheese at Modern Bird – please, eat up. Cholesterol doesn’t count in left field.
Where to get drinks
To no one’s surprise, beer is everywhere. If you’re looking for a domestic like Budweiser or Michelob Ultra, they’re available literally everywhere. Every concession stand in the stadium has them. Boom, beer me.
If you’re looking for local craft beer, you don’t have to try too much harder. In addition to Ballpark and Rec on the bottom floor, craft beer is available at both food halls on the main level, as well as the Budweiser Porch. Offerings include beers from 3 Daughters Brewing, Big Storm, Cigar City, Coppertail and Green Bench. There is also a “TB Brews” stand on the main level, and a handful of Coppertail kiosks scattered throughout the stadium concourses.
This one is pretty easy. Hometown favorite Kahwa Coffee can be found on the ground level and on the main concourse offering the perfect pick-me-up any time of day.
Cocktails and Wine
Both are available throughout the stadium in at least minimal quantities, but not all spots are equal. For wine, hit up Fresh Vine Wine in the third base food hall on the main level. For a good cocktail, make way to Ballpark and Rec or join the party at the Budweiser Porch.