Taking a Bite of the New Stadium

Our charge at The Bootleg is to provide ALL the inside information in Stanford sports, exploring every intriguing nook and cranny we can. Focal of course is the opening Saturday of the new Stanford Stadium, with its glorious sight lines and welcome creature comforts. But you may not yet appreciate how vastly improved the concessions will be, in both breadth and quality, until you take this tour.

With mere days left until the much-anticipated first game at the new Stanford Stadium, The Bootleg is preparing Cardinalmaniacs™ for a completely new gameday experience by bringing you a preview of the radically upgraded concessions, including our review of the new feature items we recently sampled.  The ample offerings are varied and appetizing, so pace yourselves as you stroll along the spacious, open-air, main concourse.  You'll certainly have a leisurely time doing so, as the closed circuit flat panel televisions at all concession stands, multiple speakers along the top of the lower level sections, and unbelievable sight lines from the concourse ensure that you will not miss the action on the field.

The main attraction concession stands are around the 50-yard lines, and quick service options are available at the corners of the shady side (northwest and southwest).  Families seated in the Family Plan sections will also have convenient access to the north end zone stands specializing in meal deals.  To help map out your concession-sampling strategy, refer to the graphic and our detailed descriptions below:


 

BETWEEN THE 45-YARD LINES ON BOTH THE SUNNY AND SHADY SIDES
(Section 113 and 134)

A. The Dog House

This concession stand will feature returning items such as the Cardinal Dog ($3), Polish Dog ($4) and Big Dog ($4).  Though the name connotes otherwise, The Dog House will not be selling the signature Farm Dog, which can be bought instead at the Stadium Grille, two stands away.  Other regular items like peanuts ($4), nachos ($4), sodas ($3/$4) and frozen lemonade ($4) will also be available here.

B. Sidelines

If you're looking for something better than a regular hot dog, go to this neighboring stand, Sidelines, which will feature premium sausages from Saag's (price not disclosed).  We sampled five different types, but only two are slated to be every-game offerings.  The other specialty sausages will be featured on a rotating basis on different weeks, depending on demand or gameday "themes."

The sausages were sampled without buns, so we cannot comment on how they will actually be sold.  But, they were all certainly very tasty, not overly greasy and had a good bite to them (firm, not squishy).  These are the five flavors, the first two being the staples at all home games:

  1. Habañero Pepper Jack Cheese Sausage – My personal favorite as a "pepperhead."  It has great flavor, the cheese is subtle, and there is just enough spice and heat to keep you awake through your meal (and the game).  The kick is at the finish, and be warned that the burn does build with each bite.  If you usually go for mild on a mild-medium-spicy range, you may want to stay away.
    (see top-right in photo)
     
  2. Turkey Italian Sausage – This is basically a meatball, but in the form of a sausage.  It is quite salty, but with a good hint of pepper.
    (see top-left in photo)
     
  3. Chicken Parmesan – While I like this one as a mildly flavored alternative, it certainly will not work for those craving a bolder "pork sausage" taste.  Everything about the chicken sausage is subtle, and I personally like that it is not salty at all.
    (see bottom-right in photo)
     
  4. Bavarian Bratwurst – This one is just ok.  Compared to the flavors of the others, it does not really stand out.
    (see bottom-left in photo)
     
  5. Chicken Mango Habañero – I love mangoes and thought this would be right down my alley, but I really didn't get any hint of mango in this.  I definitely expected more flavor.  The sample was also uneven in that the first bite was not spicy at all, but the second bite was all habañero, all burn.  Unlike the Habañero Pepper Jack Cheese Sausage, this sausage's spice overpowers its flavor.
    (see bottom-middle in photo)

C. Stadium Grille

The premier item on this menu board will definitely be The Farm Dog ($4).  Provided by San Jose's Bassian Farms, this proprietary, 100%-organic, all-beef hot dog is thick and very juicy – definitely not your average dinky hot dog.  It is served on a whole wheat bun, which, surprisingly, does not have the expected overly grainy taste to it.  The hot dog and bun pair very well with each other, and I would definitely buy this over any regular hot dog – especially with the same price point of $4.00.  Dare we assume that this is actually a "healthier" alternative for us?  Bonus!

The Grille will also have the following items available: The Big Dog ($4), Hamburger ($4), Cheeseburger ($4), Chicken Sandwich ($4), and Garlic Fries ($4).


 

BETWEEN THE 30- AND 15-YARD LINES, SHADY SIDE
(Section 115)

The Café

As the name suggests, this concession stand is a spin-off of The Café at the Arrillaga Alumni Center.  This stand is slated to offer healthy dining options, such as vegetarian pizzas, turkey sandwiches, salads and even sushi.
 

NORTHEAST CORNER, SUNNY SIDE
(Section 128)

Pizzaz!

The "Little Italy" of Stanford Stadium, Pizzaz! will feature pizza and pasta dishes.  We only sampled one pasta dish, the Cheese and Spinach Cannelloni, provided by Palo Alto's Caffe Riace.  Pasta tubes filled with ricotta cheese and spinach are topped with a creamy tomato sauce and more cheese.  The dish tastes very much like a vegetarian lasagna, but the spinach is baked in very well that you don't get the strong spinach taste or the stringy texture.  Were it not for the green color of spinach, you could fool kids and non-veggie-lovers into consuming a required daily serving of vegetables at a football game!  Keep in mind though, that this is one of the concession items that you will have to eat with a fork.


 

NORTH END ZONE
(Section 125)

A. Family Meal Deal

The "deal" is a $20 meal that includes two Big Dogs, two Cardinal Dogs, a large tub of popcorn, two medium sodas and two kid's-size sodas.

B. KidZone

The Cardinal Kid's Meal priced at $4 includes a Cardinal Dog, a bag of chips, a kid's-size soda and a prize.
 

SOUTH END ZONE
(Section 102)

Farmhouse

Dubbed a specialty food court, the Farmhouse will feature BBQ and seafood items (e.g., fish and chips), and particularly, concessions provided by Compadres.  Of the Compadres' menu items, we sampled the following:

  1. Chicken Fajita Bowl ($8) – This consists of a thin layer of white rice and a major heaping of pinto beans, sprinkled with grilled chicken and salsa fresca – a fresh smattering of tomatoes and red onions.  The chicken has an excellent grilled flavor; the tomatoes are very crisp and juicy.  The only issue is the disproportionate amount of beans in the bowl – I would have preferred a more equivalent serving of rice and beans – otherwise, this is a very refreshing alternative to regular "stadium food."  Again, you would have to eat this with a fork.


     
  2. Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich ($7) – Served with pickles and red onion on a spongy bun, the tender pork has a slightly sweet and tangy taste, and it is torn to perfect bite-size strips so you don't end up pulling a whole chunk of meat out with one bite.


     

Other listed items from Compadres include a two-taco tray ($6), chicken chingalinga with guacamole ($6) and macho nachos ($6; with spiced ground beef, $8).

* Section 104 in the South End Zone will also feature The Dog House.
 

CORNERS, SHADY SIDE
30-YARD LINES OF THE UPPER LEVEL, SUNNY SIDE

(Sections 108 and 118; Upper Sections 232 and 235)

Stanford Stadium Express

Designed to provide quick service, these stands will only have the six most popular menu items available – hotdogs, nachos, peanuts, and beverages.

********

Remember that the reviews are my personal opinions based on my taste buds and biases.  So, while I definitely favor the Habañero Pepper Jack Cheese Sausage, all the other Saag's sausages have good qualities and any of them could be the taste you're looking for.  Our goal is simply to give you a preview of what's available, as many of these will be new concession offerings.  Number two on my list of favorites is The Farm Dog (a must-try), followed by the Chicken Fajita Bowl.

While the selection may seem hotdog-heavy, which is understandable for a football stadium, the introduction of more premium sausages and the all-beef organic Farm Dog presents enticing alternatives.  Moreover, vegetarians can now feast on cannelloni instead of just chowing down on popcorn to stave off hunger.  Families won't have to break the bank with the affordable meal deals.  Overall, there will be a good selection and, more importantly, a better environment for purchasing concessions (think AT&T Park's Club Level).  Thus, allow your stomachs to digest our roadmap and have a delectably great time at the new Stanford Stadium.


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