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The hits, misses and bunts of new Safeco food menu

Din Tai Fung joins the Safeco Field lineup. (Jacob Rummel)

I can never relax at baseball games.

When I was in middle school, I attended a Rainiers game in Tacoma where I witnessed a fan get hit in the head by a foul ball and he had to leave the game in an ambulance. It really freaked me out. Now every baseball game I attend I’m constantly alert, worried I could meet the same fate.

Fortunately, I get a respite from my white-knuckled vigilance whenever I’m wandering the stadium looking for food and drinks.

It’s the spring of 2018, so a new Mariners season at Safeco means I have a new slate of culinary options when I wander. They let the media try samples of the new stuff Wednesday afternoon; these were the hits, misses, and bunts.

Safeco food menu

Let’s start with the item most likely to get a lot of attention: Din Tai Fung is joining the Safeco lineup. I have to admit, as a recent Seattle transplant, this was my first time trying their dumplings. I went into the experience kind of expecting their fare was over hyped. Here’s the thing — it was. If you’re goal is to find something besides what you expect from a baseball stadium, it’s a decent bet. Their filling and the Spicy Wonton is flavorful, but the Pork Bun is little more than a bread-wrapped meatball. It’s a bunt at best.

Check out photos of the food

Next up: the Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Dynamite Chicken. Personally, I was most excited about this new dish. I’m a fried chicken sandwich connoisseur. Unfortunately, this sandwich didn’t get me where I wanted to be. It’s good, but “spicy” feels like a bit of a misnomer, it’s pretty mellow in actuality. At $12 a pop, I think you can find better elsewhere in the stadium. It’s only a bunt, but it at least gets you on base.

The newcomer I thought really hit it out of the park: Jack’s BBQ. This was already an option if you were willing to stop in the industrial district just south of the ballpark, but now you don’t need to go out of your way. Jack’s brisket sandwich was my favorite product in the sub-$15 range. That sandwich, along with his Cheddar-Jalapeno Beef Hush Dog (only $8), did the best job of metaphorically transporting me out of the baseball stadium. Definite hits. Jack did have a miss though: the Frito Pie. I love the premise, smoked brisket over a mini bag of corn chips topped with sour cream and cream cheese, I just found the execution lacking. A swing and a miss.

My favorite item felt prohibitively expensive. Holy Smoke BBQ offers longbone beef ribs on a bed of coleslaw for $20, but it’s oh-so-good. You can go with Jack’s mild sauce and it’s decent, but the spicy option isn’t all that hot and it’s delightful. This felt like a Nelson Cruz hit. It’s looks great, but at $20, you’re hoping the whole time it turns into a home run.

I hesitate to even mention this as a miss because they’re playing with an obvious handicap, but I can’t recommend The Sultan of Sandwich’s gluten-free meatball sandwich. I’m still waiting for a gluten-free something to make me forget it’s gluten-free. This didn’t accomplish that.

Drinks

Seven Seas brought in a man dressed as a parrot to the media preview so the Seven Seas Rude Parrot IPA gets a mention. It’s fine. I’m not an IPA guy, but it got the job done. Base hit.

Din Tai Fung threw their Private Label Lager into the mix. I went in hoping this beer would work out as someone who is constantly on the lookout for a light-looking beer less hoppy than an IPA, but this lager didn’t impress. Just a bore taste-wise and Beer Advocate indicates this brew is only a 4% ABV, so if given a cheaper option, I’d go for it.

If you can find the 14 Hands sparkling Rose, definitely buy. I’m told they haven’t decided whether it’ll be on tap all over the stadium, but even if it takes a minute for you to track it down, I’d recommend it.

Desserts

On Deck Donuts is really getting you onto third base in the ninth inning with their cake-style mini donuts. Go crazy with their dipping sauces and toppings (including bacon bits) if you want, but their standard glazed is pretty great without the accoutrements.

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