Tag Archives: what to eat at a pirates game
Posted by Kurt Smith
The PNC Park food menu doesn’t quite reflect the culinary city delights like, say, Progressive Field in Cleveland does. But there’s more than ample choices to sample local food favorites at the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Below I’ve listed seven of the best PNC Park food choices, including some new menu items for 2023. This by no means covers the varied menu at this classic ballpark, but if you’re looking for some great Pittsburgh eats, this should help.
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PNC Park Food Tip #1: The Primanti Brothers Sandwich. The Primanti Bros. sandwich is as iconic Pittsburgh as it gets. At their PNC Park concession stand, you have a choice of steak, capicola or roast beef, covered with cheese and on airy Italian bread. But rather than put your French fries and cole slaw on the side, they just pile the stuff into the sandwich. Yes!
On the Primanti Bros. website, they tell the story about how this sandwich style came about, including how the eatery became popular with truckers who could eat with one hand and steer with the other.
It is indeed a unique and delicious sandwich. I do recommend sitting down at a nearby picnic table to eat one though. If you eat it at your seat you’ll be picking fry bits out of your lap, and that just isn’t baseball.
Primanti Bros. is on the main concourse, near the right field corner.
PNC Park Food Tip #2: Caliente Pizza. It’s really bold to call yourself the World’s Best Pizza, but you have to have a lot of confidence to put it in your URL. (True: it’s https://worldsbestpizza.com/) Caliente’s states on their website that their Mee-Maw pizza was named Best Pizza in America in 2019, but they don’t say by whom.
That said, I trust them. Caliente’s is popular enough in Pittsburgh to have over a half a dozen locations, including all of the sports venues in the city.
It’s a good sized slice of pizza for a ballpark, including by thickness standards. It’s got the right mix of dough, sauce, cheese and pepperoni, in other words, lots of everything.
Unfortunately, like most ballparks for some strange reason, pepperoni is your only topping option. But as MLB ballpark pizza goes, this is definitely one of the better options, especially for value.
PNC Park Food Tip #3: Smallman Street Deli Reuben Dog. Sure, PNC Park has hot dogs everywhere. But this hot dog is truly Pittsburgh in its “no rules” attitude towards sandwiches. It’s based on one of the available selections from the Smallman Street Deli in the Strip District.
This particular number is the Reuben Dog, and it features corned beef, thousand island dressing, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. I didn’t try it, but it looks amazing enough as you can see.
The Smallman Street Deli is dedicated to Jewish deli food “the way it used to be”. Their corned beef recipe is over 60 years old, so obviously they’ve hit on something. You can find this stand in the left field corner near the rotunda.
PNC Park Food Options, #4: Manny’s BBQ Platters. Longtime Bucs fans of course remember Manny Sanguillen, the star catcher of the great 1970s Pirates teams. Today Manny sits and meets with fans on occasion, like Boog in Baltimore.
Manny’s has house smoked pulled pork and chicken sandwiches and Angus burgers; they can be had on a platter with beans and slaw. Their burgers are grilled on smokers in full view behind the counter and across the aisle. Loaded burgers especially get good reviews, and the platters with beans and slaw offer decent bang for your ballpark buck.
Manny’s is located in the Riverwalk area in center field. There is a sit down area a short walk away with tables and a nice view of the Allegheny River, but it’s in the hot sun.
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PNC Park Food Tip #5: Quaker Steak Wings. Quaker Steak’s logo is similar to Quaker State Motor Oil’s, big and green with white lettering, so you can’t miss it. I’m fairly sure they don’t use motor oil for cooking wings though, or their wings might not be as popular.
Quaker Steak has regular and boneless wings in several flavors; last I checked the flavors were “Louisiana Lickers”, “Arizona Ranch”, “BBQ”, in hot or medium. You can get a large bucket to share, although at ballpark prices you may think it costs an awful lot for wings.
The bleu cheese sauces aren’t included and cost a bit extra, so if you like bleu cheese keep this in mind, because the cup of cheese is fairly small and you may need more than one.
Quaker Steak & Lube is in Smorgasburgh next door to Primanti Bros., and there’s an outdoor picnic area nearby where you can reduce the risk of wing sauce on your Pirates jersey. There’s also a stand on the upper level.
PNC Park Food Options, #6: Chickie’s and Pete’s Crab Fries. It pains me to see Philadelphia food in Pittsburgh, but they could have done worse. If you’ve been to Citizens Bank Park in Philly, you are probably familiar with Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries; they are crinkle-cut fries jiggled in an Old Bay style seasoning and served with cheese sauce (which costs extra). The cheese sauce is something of a mixture of American cheese and ranch dressing.
The crab fries are extremely popular in Philadelphia; and they’re growing in popularity in Pittsburgh too. There might be a line, but it usually moves quickly. You can get a Philly cheesesteak here also, but it’s not popular from reviews I’ve read.
You can find Chickie’s and Pete’s in the main concourse, and there’s a stand in the left field food court and on the upper deck level.
PNC Park Food Options, #7: The Market. The creatively named Market behind home plate is a grab and go type of joint, but unlike at most ballpark grab and go shops there’s some unique and hot sandwich offerings here that are made deli-style.
The Market is a good spot for healthier types. They have wraps and salads here, including a quinoa salad. The Market has the Papa Duke’s gyro that used to be at its own stand but I imagine is just as good here. Papa Duke’s is actually a place, by the way, it’s not named after Willie Stargell or anything.
That said, get your water bottles and such outside, it’s much cheaper and you can bring it in soft-sided coolers. Lots of stands set up around the ballpark on game days, including at the foot of the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
There you go, seven food choices at the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates that are (almost) uniquely downtown Pittsburgh. I know I’ve left out some good stuff, like the club level options, the Nashville hot chicken sandwich, and variations on obvious ballpark favorites. But these are among my top choices at a Pirates game.
If you’re visiting PNC Park on your next ballpark trip, or even if you’re a regular, I’ve got plenty more fan experience tips for you on my PNC Park page, including this very detailed guide for finding a great seat at your next game.
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