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Target Field foods 2018: The new Twins ballpark fare, ranked

The new cheese brat from Kramarczuk's is a HOME RUN. All photos by Lucy Hawthorne.

The new cheese brat from Kramarczuk's is a HOME RUN. All photos by Lucy Hawthorne. Lucy Hawthorne

Two surefire signs of spring: Baseball’s back, and the forecast says we’re getting up to eight inches of snow this week.

But hey, you have your Twins tickets -- time to bundle up, brave the elements, and suffer through a “good” time at the ballpark. At least there’s new stuff to eat? An entire roster full of it, in fact: Not only are Hot Indian Foods and Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen debuting additional eats, but you have a whole new restaurant in Bat & Barrel. And yes, of course: There’s a ridiculous bloody Mary for 2018.

What’s a hit? Who whiffed? We scarfed down and rated the rookies with the help of our patented Strikeout!, Walk!, Home Run! System.

HOME RUN!

Kramarczuk's cheese brat
Conceptually, this one’s a Sano-sized dinger: Take a brat from Kramarczuk’s, the Minneapolis tubular meat institution, and inject that baby with perfectly melty cheese. The casing snaps, the cheddar oozes, and the smoky brat crumbles as the ingredients cascade into a greasy waterfall of everything good and holy in the world. The squishy white bun hasn’t been revolutionized since the days of Dome Dogs (bring back Dome Dogs!), but it holds the heart-stopping, dopamine-triggering delight together. Sections 101, 112, and 312, Delta SKY360 Club; $9

Holy Land wraps and pita chips

You know what you’re getting with Holy Land, and what you’re getting is good. The premier local Mediterranean/Middle Eastern deli now offers a choice between gyro and chicken shawarma wraps at the ballpark, each encased in a super soft pita that’s not just satisfied with holding all that tender, well-seasoned meat together—it’s plenty tasty in its own right. Top it off with a side of pita chips and hummus and you’ve got the makings of a new baseball snack tradition. Section 107; chips/hummus $8.50, wraps $11.50

Baja Haus poke, barramundi, and ceviche

We’ll go to bat for the fish-forward fare at Wayzata’s Baja Haus. A buttery soft, melt-in-your-mouth tuna poke glides down your gullet like it’s sliding into home, and while a pan-seared barramundi swimming in a sea of citrus butter and guajillo sauce doesn’t get quite the kick we wanted from those peppers, it’s a decadent dish (one that’s almost too good for ballpark fare). If anything, skip the ceviche, a refreshing but just-okay smattering of shrimp and assorted other seafood you’ll find far better takes on outside the walls of Target Field. Bat & Barrel; barramundi $32, poke $19, ceviche $14

Murray’s beef tenderloin

Last year, the beloved beef peddlers earned the dreaded strikeout tag on the demerits the Smoked Beef Sandwich. Meet your comeback player of the year. This season, Murray’s serves up a juicy, flavor-packed winner with its beef tenderloin. Richly accented with blue cheese and bacon, the steakhouse-quality medallion just melts in your mouth. The beautifully presented small plate might seem out of place amid mustard stains and peanut shells, but it’s available inside Bat & Barrel, the spiffy, enormously windowed gastropub that replaced the Metropolitan Club. All ticketholders are welcome -- a refreshingly egalitarian move. Bat & Barrel; $59 (editor's note: prices were not made immediately available -- YIKES!)

Tattersall’s Ballpark Bootlegger

As cocktails go, it’s simple stuff: Tattersall vodka, lime crema, mint, and a little bit of lemon juice. It’s also a perfect seventh-inning sipper -- sweet, tangy, and cool, ready to balance out whatever fried meat bomb you wolfed down in the bottom of the third and help you chill out when you need to peel those sweaty thighs off your seat on a sunny summer day. (Assuming we ever see a sunny summer day, that is.) This is the closer you want rounding out a beer-drenched afternoon. Bat & Barrel; $10-$13

WALK!

Impossible Burger

The much-hyped Impossible Burger is a textural marvel. Billed as the most cow-like to date, the vegan cheeseburger is a convincing product of chef-y innovation: The crispy exterior gives way to a granular core, and by gum, it might just fool a carnivore. Problem is, you won’t trick ’em into thinking it tastes great. The thin, semi-dry patty wouldn’t feel out of place baking beneath heat lamps in a school cafeteria. Still, for a bloodless lunch at the ballpark, you could do much worse. Bat & Barrel; $16

Hot Indian Foods tofu vindaloo

The curry-spiced ’fu in Hot Indian Foods’ new vindaloo is pretty zippy, and it’s served on a bed of satisfyingly sticky garlic coconut rice that isn’t half bad. The slaw it’s topped with, though, falls firmly into the “eh” category. If you’re vegan (and if you don’t go in for the beefy Impossible Burg), this might be worth ordering -- the rest of us can do better just about anywhere else on the HI menu. Section 120; $11

Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen rice bowl

Look, you’re just probably not going to be craving a Mediterranean rice bowl at the ballpark, so the dish really has to sell itself. And sure, all the ingredients are in place—flavorful grilled chicken or braised beef, a tangy yogurt sauce, roasted eggplant, jasmine rice, and fried chickpeas that snap with a satisfying crunch. Still, all those goodies somehow add up to less than the sum of their parts. Not bad, but doesn’t your adventurous palate deserve a greater reward? Section 114; $14.50

Ike’s tavern burger

Heading out to the ballpark and passing up a hot dog or a brat for their summery archrival, the hamburger, almost seems more unconventional, daring, even sacrilegious than eating hummus or a fancy tuna plate. But if you’re the kind of incorrigible rule-breaker who insists on burgering your way through nine innings, this slightly too well-done but otherwise acceptable exercise in beefy competence will more than suffice. Bat & Barrel; $14

Surly’s Kut Down IPA

Homegrown hurler Glen Perkins hung up his pitcher’s mitt in January, but the fan-favorite Twins closer is just entering the craft beer game. After slight tweaks to Perkins’ homebrew IPA recipe, Surly and Perk arrived at Kut Down IPA, a highly drinkable, citrus-y addition to the Minneapolis beermaker’s hoppy lineup. At 6.7 ABV, Kut Down packs plenty of punch, not unlike the fastball that helped its creator rack up 120 career saves. The brew’s name was inspired by the Johnny Cash song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” which Perkins used as his badass walkout music. The “k” is for kleverness, you see, as that letter denotes strikeouts in the game of American baseball. Gate 34 and Portable 125; $11.50

Purple Rain salad

You say you want a salad, but you can’t seem to make up your mind? The Purple Rain, with blueberries unexpectedly sweet-tarting up a cabbage-dominated mix of fresh garden veggies, has enough going on to cause neither sorrow nor pain to even the most chronically health-avoidant vitaminphobe. And what’s that unexpectedly pleasant aftertaste of good intentions? All the ingredients are grown in town thanks to Roots for the Home Team, which brings together local organizations that instruct city youth in urban gardening. (They're also serving up a pretty tasty chicken and veggie soup at the stadium this year.) Gate 34; prices vary 

STRIKEOUT!

Red Rabbit’s chicken parmesan

Summertime at the ballpark: What better time to shovel steaming-hot chicken parmesan into your face as you bake under the sun? That’d be a ridiculous formula even with solid chicken parm, which Red Rabbit absolutely fails to deliver. Instead, we’ve got a salt-drenched, leather-dense puck of chicken slathered in red sauce that feels dumped from a Chef Boyardee can. We dig Red Rabbit, the newish North Loop sister restaurant of the Red Cow empire, but avoid this dish like a 95-mph fastball to the gut. Bat & Barrel; $21

Crave’s cheeseburger sliders

Remember those Lunchables mini cheeseburger kits? We'd take one of those over Crave’s comically lazy attempt at cheeseburger sliders. Just look at it! Bat & Barrel; $10

Red Rabbit's Tennessee hot chicken

Dry, uncomfortably meaty slabs of chicken encased in a dry, crispy coating that’s flavored with dry, one-dimensionally spicy seasoning—and if that’s all too moist for you still, don’t worry, because it’s served on Texas toast for that last extra bit of dryness. And that’s how it tasted on a snowy April day! This’ll be an attack of cottonmouth just waiting to happen come August. The best thing to happen to beer vendors since alcoholism. Bat & Barrel; $13

Bloody Mary with breakfast garnish

Might as well rebrand this monstrosity the “Kirby Fuck-It.” Each year, another totally juiced bloody makes the Target Field concessions menu, each more ’roided up than the last. We’ve gotta skewer this one—a Sunday-only “specialty” with your standard sticks full of cheese cubes and peppers and olives and a trio of Kramarczuk sausages and a slider and an egg, ham, and cheese breakfast sandwich on an English muffin. (It weighs, like, five pounds!) It would be fine if the accompanying sandwiches were any good. They aren’t. And where a truly spicy, truly good bloody might redeem subpar sammies, ours fell somewhere between blah and bland. The Twins are branding this a skip-breakfast sort of drink; we say you’re better off pregaming with a McGriddle. Location/price unavailable 

Click here to see a slideshow of new Target Field eats; all photos by Lucy Hawthorne