Appetizers

Street tacos and spiked milkshakes make Raley Field debut

Get taste of Raley Field's new menu

Raley Field, home of the Sacramento River Cats, introduces a new menu for 2017 season.
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Raley Field, home of the Sacramento River Cats, introduces a new menu for 2017 season.

Ready for a bourbon milkshake to go with those garlic fries?

Mexican street tacos, Irish nachos and alcohol-spiked “adult dessert beverages” will soon join longtime ballpark favorites on the Raley Field menu.

“We decided to up our game,” said Sacramento River Cats president Jeff Savage during a preview Thursday. “Hot dogs and popcorn are always going to be around, but we added new flavors and options to each (food) spot.”

Opening their 18th season in West Sacramento, the River Cats debut their new concessions menu on opening night, Thursday, April 6. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. against the Tacoma Raniers.

In a major off-season change-up, Raley Field thoroughly revamped its food line-up and presentation. When they walk into the minor league stadium, fans will immediately notice seven new “storefronts” lining the main concourse with such names as Cadillac Diner and the Golden Spike. It’s the first significant overhaul of Raley Field’s food stands since the ballpark opened in May 2000.

Ovations, the stadium’s long-time food service provider, has been replaced by River City Concessions, a new in-house food and beverage service.

“We had a great experience with Ovations, but we saw an opportunity to expand control of our business a little bit and do things differently,” said Erin O’Donnell, the River Cats’ director of marketing.

The River Cats worked with RS3/Ryan Sanders Sports Services, founded by pitcher Nolan Ryan, to develop its new concession concept, she said. Culinary veteran Tim Benham will supervise the storefronts as well as catering for the stadium’s private suites, Legacy Club and special events.

“It’s like opening seven new restaurants plus three big catering companies all at once,” Benham said.

Mexican food including barbacoa, carnitas and pollo asado tacos will be offered at Oso’s Cantina, a name inspired by California’s bear flag, Savage said of the cantina, which came about after “an overwhelming number” of surveyed fans requested Mexican food. “I have a feeling this is going to be our No. 1 storefront.”

Gourmet burgers featuring Harris Ranch beef will be served at The Golden Spike and Bridges Grill. Hot Corner, Grand Salami and High Heat are some of the baseball-themed sub sandwiches offered at the Raley’s storefront, sponsored by the stadium’s namesake supermarket chain. The Coop and Kennel Pub starts with chicken fingers and more hotdogs plus traditional fish and chips and non-traditional Irish nachos, made with house-made kettle potato chips, smokehouse chili and cheese sauce.

“We make everything we can in house, from the smoked meats to the chips and sauces,” Benham said.

Inspired by the 1989 movie “Pink Cadillac” (which was partly filmed in Sacramento), the Cadillac Diner will serve hot dog salutes to movie stars such as the “Clint Eastwood Red-hot and Blue Dog,” drizzled with Buffalo-style hot sauce and blue cheese crumbles.

Besides traditional ice cream treats for all ages, the Sweet Spot will specialize in spiked shakes and frozen desserts for grown-ups.

“We’ve had a lot of fun testing the Maker’s Mark bourbon milkshake,” Benham said. “It’s almost ready for opening night.”

Debbie Arrington: 916-321-1075, @debarrington

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