AT&T Park: Baseball Gameday Guide
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A talented team isn't the only reason AT&T routinely sells out. The stadium itself is a star—a sterling nod to the classic brick ballparks of olde that sits right on the bay. When the Giants moved from windblown Candlestick in 2000, many wondered if it was much of an upgrade, since the new park was on a neglected stretch of waterfront a mile from downtown. But build it and they will come, baby! Upscale condos started rising nearby, the commercial heart of the city marched south and AT&T made its South Beach 'hood the place to eat, drink and be merry.
As true as that is—and it's especially true of food-, drink- and merriment-focused San Francisco—baseball is still the main reason generations of Giants fans flock to the ballpark. And it doesn't hurt that they get to watch a fun-loving team with three recent world-championship rings.
Make a day of it by arriving an hour or two early (or even earlier if you want to take in some sights) for a meal or drink at one of the many restaurants or taverns that surround the ballpark. Here are our picks of where to pitch your tent before the game starts.
WHERE TO GET A BEER
Pete's Tavern | Just across the street from the stadium, Pete's lets you "warm up" with a cold one in a Mason jar right up till the anthem. You can watch the pregame show on any of 12 TVs while swigging one of the 12 draft beers, including Guinness and seven West Coast brews. There's bar food, too.
WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
MoMo's | All the tables—especially outdoors, where you look right at the ballpark, across King Street—are claimed long before the first pitch. But that's "mo" problem because the bar and patio are standing room only, with fans squeezed together closer than a manager jawing with an ump. Come here to party with pals over pregame bottles of wine and wood-oven pizzas.
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
21st Amendment | This microbrewery/cafe/bar in the trendy South Park micro-neighborhood, three blocks from AT&T, is named for the constitutional amendment that ended Prohibition. It will prohibitively end your pregame hunger and thirst. Open from 11 a.m. to midnight on game days, 21st Amendment has beer-focused comfort food (try the beer-braised ribs and beeramisu for dessert!) that is creative and affordable (entrees from $12) as well as craft beers to die for (a fave is the Brew Free! Or Die IPA, made in-house).
WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Public House | This eating/drinking establishment is one of two that are part of the stadium yet accessible to non-ticket-holders, along with Mexican restaurant Mijita next door. Both feature menus by chef Traci des Jardins, but at PH it's more about drinkin' beer and rockin' the house before games. Radio and TV pregame shows are broadcast from the outdoor tables.
WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Delancey Street | Two blocks from the ballpark on the waterfront, this spacious, white-tablecloth restaurant turns a triple play with its satisfying pregame breakfast (omelets with home fries and toast, $6-$7), lunch (sandwiches with fries or salad, $6-$7) and dinner (most meat, fish and pasta entrees, $10-$12). Plus there's a side of selflessness: all profits serve the ex-cons, recovering addicts and formerly homeless who learn job skills as restaurant staff.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK INEXPENSIVELY WITH A VIEW
Java House | Both Java Houses—one by the stadium and the other one three blocks away—have outdoor tables right on the bay. These shacks offer the most basic food, beer and prices. At Red's Java House near Pier 30, a burger on sourdough and a beer is $9.25. At the Java House by AT&T, the hot-dog-and-beer special is $8. No wine-and-cheese crowd here!
HOW TO CATCH A SPLASH HIT
City Kayak | The splash hit is a homer that lands in McCovey Cove behind right field, unique among MLB stadiums. During every game, kayakers and fans in other watercraft jockey for position to fish one out of the salt water. Your best bet is to come during batting practice. For $49 (3 hours), rent a kayak from City Kayak at nearby Pier 40. You'll probably be seen by friends at home watching the telecast, even if you don't snag a ball. But bring a radio: you can't see the field from out there.
CAN YOU TAILGATE AT AT&T PARK?
Yes. Tailgating behind your vehicle is allowed in parking lots A and D and in the bus lot, but most of the action is across from Pier 48 in the Oversize Lot. Expect a family-friendly scene, with dads grilling burgers and kids playing catch.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is extremely popular among locals and tourists alike for its gourmet local restaurants and artisan food vendors. It's about a mile walk along the waterfront from the ballpark. Union Square is also walking distance from the stadium; it's a great route through safe neighborhoods with lots to see.
INSIDE AT&T PARK
Bay views and a winning team are reason enough to take in a game at AT&T Park, so the wealth of quality food options here feels like an added bonus. You absolutely must try AT&T's signature food item: Gilroy Garlic Fries. It's worth the wait in the inevitable long line, even if it also means no kissing for days. Gilroy (near San Jose) is nicknamed the "Garlic Capital of the World," and you (and your honey) won't soon forget the garlicky flavor. Find stands behind sections 103, 106, 118, 130, 311, 323 and 331.
WHERE TO SIT
Buy box seats to zero in on pitcher-batter duels, View Level seats to watch the whole field (see "Superfan Tip") or bleacher seats to yell with the loudest fans (and maybe catch a home-run ball). There are no seats in the stadium with an obstructed view.
AT&T Park Seating Chart
California Cookout | You know the food's fresh at AT&T's go-to BBQ spot (behind sections 103 and 314)—they cook it right in front of you (behind glass) after you order. The half-pound kielbasa ($8.75) is smothered in sauerkraut, peppers and onions, but you can also choose its Midwestern sister, the juicy Johnsonville Sheboygan brat ($8.25), or an ahi tuna sandwich ($12.25).
BEST LOCAL VENDOR
Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. | Whether a classic hot cocoa ($6) warms your belly during a chilly night game or a hot fudge sundae ($10.50) cools you down during a sunny day game, Ghirardelli routinely "saves" games for chocoholics. It was founded in the city in 1852, and available today on all three stadium levels.
Great House of Brews | At this counter behind section 113, about 30 different bottled beers, including local crafts, sell for $9 to $10.25 each—the most variety anywhere in the ballpark, at a good price.
WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Giuseppe Bazurro | At this Club Level Italian spot, you can dine guilt-free with a Caesar or Greek salad ($9)—ask for either as a wrap if you prefer—or a grilled eggplant or portobello mushroom sandwich ($8.75).
BEST STADIUM BAR
Cable Car Bar | The Irish coffee famously debuted on our shores at the Buena Vista Cafe, just up the waterfront from the ballpark, and they're served here along with handmade margaritas and other cocktail classics. Located behind sections 114, 144 and 319, these aren't sit-down bars, but you came to watch the game from your seat, right?
OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
Besides bronze statues of Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal around the stadium, read about past Giants stars and teams on the Wall of Fame (48 Giants honored) on the outer stadium wall and on the hundreds of plaques embedded in concrete on both sides of McCovey Cove.
AT&T Park Tours
GIANTS GAMES ON A BUDGET
Baseball games aren't cheap, but there are deals if you know where to look. Check out these options to save a few bucks on game day.
WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
Hidive | The water's so close you could dive in from this loud, funky dive bar, which combines a fine view of the Bay Bridge with comfy beer prices: $4.50 for bottles of domestic, $6 for a choice of 15 bottled or tap craft beers. The stadium is less than a mile's walk along the bay.
BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND AT&T PARK
Popcorn is sold throughout the ballpark, and the largest-sized bag ($7) will keep you busy munching inning after inning.
BEST CHEAP GIANTS TICKETS
Admission is free to the PortWalk Viewing Area behind right field. You can see the scoreboard and the entire field, and you're an arm's length from the chain-link fence that separates you from the warning track. You do have to stand, and during popular games a three-inning limit may be enforced.
AT&T PARK WITH KIDS
Kids have plenty of options in and around AT&T park, from batting practice to autographs to small-size Giants swag.
WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
Barry Bonds Junior Giants Field | Kids can bring their bats and balls to play at this small field just across McCovey Cove from the big boys' ballpark. Older kids can even crush "splash hits," just like Barry once did, so bring old balls. There's also a toddler-age playground on the opposite side of the stadium.
BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
Doggie Diner | This San Francisco fast-food institution sells hot dogs, of course ($5.25), but also peanuts ($5) and Cracker Jacks ($4.50), just like the song. Ten locations stadium-wide.
WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
Sundays are when players sign for kids above the bullpen at sections 104/105 and 126/127 after batting practice—but get there right after the gates open to score an autograph ticket from an usher. On all other days, kids can still try for a sig at those sections (no autograph ticket required) until batting practice ends.
NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
Behind the left-field bleachers, the Guzzler and Twist-Off tube slides twirl down inside a giant Coke bottle. At a mini-field next door, tykes under 3 feet tall can bat a Wiffle Ball off a tee and run the bases. It's all free.
WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR KIDS
Go upstairs in the Giants Dugout Team Shop to behold an entire floor stocked with Giants stuff for toddlers to teens. You'll yearn for adorable T-shirts for your tee-baller (some on sale for less than $10), Lou Seal dolls and mini-bats and balls.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A GIANTS GAME
Most fans head home after night games, except for night owls, who hit the area's restaurants and bars. But after day games, nearby eating and drinking spots stay lively for hours, especially following a win.
WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Alchemist Bar & Lounge | Craft cocktails are king here, but besides concocting evil drinks like the Smoking with the Devil (mezcal, port, agave, lime, egg white, hellfire tincture), your alchemist/bartender can pour a mere beer so you can toast another win—or wallow in a loss. Open nightly till 1:30 a.m. (closed Sundays).
WHERE TO GET A POSTGAME MEAL
Polo Grounds | This joint a half-block from the stadium takes orders for food-and-drink specials (like $1 tacos and $2 Tecates on Tuesdays) and food items like the Tim Lincecum–inspired "Freak" Dog (a hot dog buried in jalapeno mac-n-cheese, $9.50) nightly until 11 p.m. The Polo Grounds was a Manhattan stadium where the Giants played from 1883 to 1957 before moving west; photos of it adorn the walls.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
With San Francisco's cultural, culinary and outdoors offerings making it a favorite of world travelers, there are limitless options after day games. After weeknight games, you can party at ballpark-area bars or head to late-night clubs in the SOMA, Mission, North Beach or Marina districts.
Bob Cooper is a lifelong resident of Northern California, a Giants fan since Willie Mays was hitting "bye-bye babies" and a published writer (specializing in active sports and travel) for nearly that long. In 2013 he kayaked to the exact spot where a rare "splash hit" homer landed in McCovey Cove—five minutes too late.