When Allianz Field opens on April 13, soccer fans will have much more to choose from than the standard brats and beers (although there will be plenty of those, too). Thanks to partnerships with local restaurants, the stadium cuisine will have global influences and local flavor.
“Here we are in this great city,” says Bill Van Stee, executive chef for concession operator Delaware North and a nine-year veteran of Target Field. “Let’s start right out our back door, with St. Paul names that bring pride to the city.”
“With soccer being an international sport, and the neighborhood around the stadium being a diverse neighborhood, we wanted to reach out to local restaurants,” explains Handsome Hog chef and culinary consultant (and contestant) Justin Sutherland.
The complete list of restaurant partners is being kept mostly under wraps until the big media reveal on April 10 (although Afro Deli and Brasa were mentioned). But Van Stee was able to provide some information about the food and drink set up at Allianz Field: There will be 14 permanent concession stands and 19 portable stands, with local partners playing a role in both.
Outside of the field, beginning three hours prior to each game, there'll be a lawn area with a rotating lineup of seven to ten food trucks. There’s also a brew hall with 96 taps featuring sips from Surly, Summit, Loon Juice, and Lift Bridge, plus a small food menu.
“If you’re a fan that doesn’t have a ticket for opening day—come into the brew hall!” Van Stee says. Due to a stellar view of the field and three massive garage doors that open into the stadium, “You can feel like you’re part of the match. You get that energy.”
As far as specific food items, Van Stee was close-lipped. We do know that the Carolina pulled pork sandwich from Sutherland’s Handsome Hog will be available in four of the concession stands.
“You’re gonna have a lot of choices,” Van Stee says. The “Hungry Loon” stands will offer stadium favorites like pretzels, sausages, sandwiches, and pizza. Other concession stands will feature globally-influenced fare, and there will be a dessert stand that’s a partnership with a local business.
“We wanted to make sure we have a very diverse palate of food,” says Sutherland. “Indian to Mediterranean to soul food to Somali food.”
“I’m excited to see fans connect with our local partners,” says Van Stee. “There’s a real touchpoint, with local business owners working the [concession] stands on opening day. I’m excited to see this place full!”