Stadium Series: Chicago's Wrigley Field
For the next 10 weeks, Eye on Baseball and Choice Hotels will be taking you around the major leagues, picking out the hits and highlights of some of the game's top stadiums. What to eat, what to drink and what to see both inside and outside the park will all be covered as part of the series. There's a lot to cover and uncover, so visit the comments section to let us know what we missed.
AT&T Park has been widely known as one of the most beautiful ballparks in baseball since becoming the home of the San Francisco Giants in 2000. It has housed the three-time NL champions and two-time World Series champions in addition to seeing Barry Bonds break the all-time career home run record.
It sits on Willie Mays Plaza and overlooks McCovey Cove. And there's so much more ...
Eats outside the park
Just a two-minute walk from the stadium, Amici's East Coast Pizzeria offers a great selection and can be bought by the slice. Grab one quickly as you walk to the park if in a hurry.
If speed and/or pizza aren't desired, there are plenty of other options, too. Momo's is across the street from the park and offers up anything from turkey pot pie to burgers to pasta to ahi tuna tartar.
Paragon is just a block away and offers up pot roast, pork chops and a good BBQ selection -- especially on "BBQ Wednesdays."
How about great bar food (wings, pizza, sandwiches, burgers) right across the street? Check out Pete's Tavern.
Drinks outside the park
The Public House is a must. It's an excellent sports bar with 24 beers on tap -- advertising that 80 percent of which are local brews. The bar is actually connected to AT&T Park and boasts on its website that it contains a "secret" entrance into the stadium. There's plenty of good sports bar type fare, too, for those seeking a bite and a drink.
Want an old-school, local dive? Check out Red's Java House on the water. They even have meal combos like "hamburger or hot dog and a beer, $9.25."
What to see outside the park
It's San Francisco and it's on the Bay. Walk around and take it all in. There are plenty of gorgeous views over the Bay, especially of the Bay Bridge. There's a sidewalk behind the right-field wall that is right up against McCovey Cove.
The stadium also has five statues around the perimeter. The most fun one has to be a seal in Seals Plaza -- a nod to the San Francisco Seals, the minor-league team that was San Francisco's professional baseball squad before the Giants moved over from New York. The other four statues are of legendary Giants players Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and, of course, Willie Mays.
Food inside the park
The selection here is top notch and one of the best ballparks in baseball in this category. You can find traditional ballpark food all over, sure, but there's so much more. Crab salads and sandwiches can be found at Crazy Crab'z in center field. How about gruyere grilled cheese? The Farmer's Market Cart has you covered. There's also Chinese (Edsel Ford Fong's), Italian (Guiseppe Bazurro), sushi, Mexican, cheesesteaks and Stormin' Norman's fried bread, among so many other options.
Perhaps the best option? Grab a Cha-Cha Bowl from Orlando's (as in Cepeda) Caribbean BBQ, containing rice, beans and chicken with pineapple-zucchini salsa.
What to see inside the park
There's really not a bad view from inside the park, so it's worth a stroll around the entire stadium, time permitting. Definitely make a point to go to right field and stand atop the wall, where you can look onto the field ...
... or in the opposite direction -- out into McCovey Cove.
Throughout the stadium, one will find baseball-related quotes on the wall in different parts of the ballpark, such as, "baseball is the only thing besides the paper clip that hasn't changed," by Bill Veeck.
There are also, of course, the gigantic baseball glove and Coke bottle in left-center field. If you're taking kids with you, definitely get out there because the Coke bottle actually contains several playground slides inside it as part of the "Coca-Cola Fan Lot."
Next week: St. Louis' Busch Stadium