For many people, myself included, the experience of getting food at Oriole Park at Camden Yards has often been a negative one over the last couple of years. The news that the food vendor was changing for this season is a welcome one, and new operator Levy Restaurants can hopefully bring a better experience than what we’ve gotten in the very recent past.
Just prior to the 2023 season, the Orioles showed off a number of things that will be new for fans attending games.
A new bag policy
Until very recently, the Orioles proudly celebrated having one of the most generous policies for allowing outside bags with food and drink anywhere in pro sports. That changed in the last couple of years to more restrictive rules. The team has loosened the restrictions somewhat for 2023 while still not returning to the way things used to be.
The big difference from last year to this year is that the team will now allow fans to bring in a clear plastic bag with dimensions that don’t exceed 12” x 6” x 12”. This is in addition to previously-allowed fanny packs or clutch purses, and gallon-sized freezer bags.
A release from the team illustrates what kind of bags are allowed, and what kind of bags aren’t.
Within an approved bag, fans may bring in food and non-alcoholic beverages. Drinks must be sealed plastic bottles that are not larger than 20 ounces.
New food options
For the first time, Camden Yards is dipping its toes into what I like to call the “extreme food” category with an item they’re simply calling the Yard Dog. Available only at the rooftop bar in center field, the Yard Dog consists of three footlong hot dogs on a footlong bun, topped by crab dip and Old Bay potato sticks. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it’s a lot:
If you like hot dogs more than I do, here’s The Yard Dog will be sold on the rooftop deck this season. #Orioles pic.twitter.com/yiWWM9T9dh— Rich DubroffMLB (@RichDubroffMLB) March 29, 2023
One other large-looking item is what Levy is calling the Signature Crab Pretzel Boule. The Baltimore Banner’s food reporter, Christina Tkacik, wrote that it’s “a fancy name for a crab dip bread bowl.” This was her favorite new item, as she said she’d “be willing to bet that the new, garlicky crab dip is at minimum 10 times better” than the old kind that would be put on fries at the stadium.
Some other welcome news from this report: Boog’s BBQ returns through the vendor transition and will be back to having smokers on-site at Camden Yards. The constant smoke cloud from Eutaw Street is a fixture of earlier memories from the stadium, but that had faded in recent years. There was seldom a bad time for a Boog’s sandwich and hopefully this will get them closer to being like you remember.
Among other new options highlighted by the team is a spin on the classic Baltimore chicken box, not unlike you might be able to get at a particular chain of gas stations. The “Bmore Chicken Box” will contain three jalapeno buttermilk-breaded chicken tenders, Old Bay western fries, and hot sauce. A separate item will have a take on the classic Crab Chip.
Having a few sections of the club level blocked off to create some all-you-can-eat seating areas is not new at Oriole Park. That idea is back again this year with the name All-Inclusive Picnic Perch. Sections 282-288 make up the perch, with items such as hot dogs, soda, nachos, popcorn, and peanuts available with the cost of a game ticket. For many games, it’s $45 per person, though games in higher price tiers will also see this ticket price increase.
Other budget options: The $4.10 program
As a nod to the 410 area code that has served the Baltimore area for decades, some concession stands will have basic options like a hot dog, pretzel, popcorn, Cracker Jacks, and soda for just $4.10. Pretty good on the scale of pro sports venue pricing.
It used to be Dempsey’s
Last year, the Orioles announced a future partnership with SuperBook Sports that would see a not-technically-a-sportsbook bar and restaurant added into the stadium. With the passage of time, that future partnership is now a present partnership. The not-a-sportsbook is going in to what used to be Dempsey’s Pub. It will not take live bets but will presumably be looking to have its patrons placing bets on a company app that’s going live next month. This location is only going to be open on game days, at least initially.
If you don’t want to pay stadium prices...
You could always settle for near-the-stadium prices instead. If you’re arriving in the downtown area early enough to sit down and have a meal, I’ve never regretted stopping in at Pratt Street Ale House. When the weather is nice, which in baseball season it often is, you can sit outside and enjoy the experience.
If you don’t particularly want to eat but just want to enjoy adult beverages at less than stadium prices, Pickles Pub just across the street from the stadium is also a fine choice to do a bit of pre-gaming. I’ve always found it fun to soak in the atmosphere of people who are excited to be going to the day’s Orioles game.
Other people are partisans of Sliders, which is on the other side of the same building as Pickles. I’ve read on social media that they’re changing their name this year to Section 771. They’ve long advertised themselves as being 771 feet from home plate at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Though things are entirely cashless in the stadium these days, you might find it easier paying cash if you’re hitting one of these sports bars.
Parking in a stadium parking lot does not afford so many chances for this kind of thing unless you want to walk a long way. However, there’s usually a vendor selling plastic drink bottles out of coolers that you’ll walk past on the way in. On a hot day in particular, you won’t regret grabbing a bottle.
Just make sure you either chug it before you go through the gates or else leave it unopened until after you’ve entered, because you never know which stadium personnel will be sticklers about the “factory-sealed” rule from above. The reason I know this is from personal experience with a pitiless usher who made me drink 90% of a bottle of water or else throw it out.
Do you have any particular rituals with what food you like to eat either before, during, or even after an Orioles game? Let us know in the comments below.