Dodger Stadium: Baseball Gameday Guide
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When Dodger Stadium opened in 1962, Los Angelenos fell in love with this streamlined jewel of a ballpark. And who can blame them? High above downtown L.A., tucked into the rolling hills of Chavez Ravine, it's the antithesis of dense, urban-situated stadiums like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field. Dodger Stadium inhabits its own little world, where instead of a skyscraper backdrop you gaze past the field's brilliant green grass at palms, chaparral-covered hills, and in the smoggy distance, the hulking San Gabriel Mountains.
Given the stadium's somewhat isolated locale, it lacks a concentrated, ballpark-adjacent district for pre- and post-game festivities. Instead, you'll find Dodger nuts gearing up for games at select spots in nearby neighborhoods like Echo Park and Chinatown. Whether you join them or head straight for the ballpark, get an early start, as traffic in the area can be as sticky as pine tar.
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WHAT TO DO BEFORE A DODGERS GAME
At stadium-area restaurants and watering holes, fans begin showing up en masse about 90 minutes before first pitch (in L.A., everyone's always running late). Beat the crowds by picking a spot and arriving two hours before game time. From dive bars to sandwich spots, here are our picks for places to get your pregame on.
WHERE TO GET A BEER
Mohawk Bend | In a converted 1913 vaudeville theater, this sleek gastropub (think shiny red leather banquettes and flashy, open-kitchen chefs) is ground zero for Echo Park hipsters. But on game day, craft beer–loving Dodger fans commandeer the place, ordering frosty pints from the 72 selections on tap; try local Golden Road Brewing's pale ale, or go dark with a Stone Brewing Co. Smoked Porter (most pints cost $6.75). Soak up the suds with a juicy Mohawk Burger ($14), loaded with bacon and roasted peppers.
WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
Philippe The Original | An L.A. landmark on the fringes of Chinatown, Philippe's is the Dodgers' unofficial pregame headquarters. Philippe Mathieu invented the French dip sandwich in 1918, and on game day fans pile into this sawdust-on-the-floor joint for his au jus–soaked creation. Order a traditional beef sandwich ($7), or a turkey ($7) or lamb dip ($8.75), and slather it with the house mustard—a hot depth charge of eye-bulging intensity. The counter-service lines can be insanely long, but this is a Dodger tradition not to be missed.
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
Spring Street Smokehouse | The sweet aroma of hickory-smoked pork wafts from this cozy barbecue joint on the Chinatown/Olvera Street border. Sink your teeth into tender ribs, sip a draft beer ($2 off by showing your game ticket) and gripe about Dodgers' manager Don Mattingly. Best menu item: the succulent, super-smoky brisket burnt ends ($18).
WHERE TO GET ROWDY
The Shortstop | On Sunset Boulevard, this charcoal-gray brick bunker is the bar of choice for Dodger barbarians. Once an LAPD cop watering hole, nowadays the darkened dive caters to pregame crazies with cheap beer, strong cocktails and photos of Dodger legends lining the walls. Need a snack? Inside the bar, a local Mexican gent hawks his wife's tasty, homemade tamales for around $3 each.
WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Traxx Restaurant | A masterwork of Spanish Mission/Streamline Moderne architecture, historic Union Station houses upscale Traxx. Sit inside to soak up the old train station vibe, or if the weather's warm ask for a table on the leafy courtyard patio. New American mains, such as gorgonzola-crusted tenderloin, run $17-$27. After dinner, leave your wheels in the station parking lot and hop the Stadium Express bus to the ballpark.
WHERE TO EAT FILIPINO FUSION BARBECUE
The Park's Finest | Near the stadium in historic Filipinotown, this family-run eatery lives up to its name by serving some unique L.A. barbecue. Forget standard-issue Southern-style ribs. Here you'll feast on the likes of smoked coconut beef and spiced pulled pork, served in generous portions for $15. There's also a cheaper small bites menu and a half-dozen draught beers.
CAN YOU TAILGATE AT DODGER STADIUM?
Absolutely not. Don't even think about cracking a beer and playing catch in the parking lot. Stadium security, or worse, the LAPD, will pounce in a flash.
- Mexicali Taco & Co.
- The Park Restaurant
- Cielito Lindo (world-famous Olvera Street taquitos)
- Chinatown Los Angeles
INSIDE DODGER STADIUM
By the 1990s, L.A.'s hardball cathedral had lost a bit of its luster. In 2013 that all changed, dramatically so, when the team's new ownership group (including its frontman, Magic Johnson) launched a $150-million, multi-year stadium renovation project that so far has been a hit with fans. The 2014 phase included new stadium entry plazas and free Wi-Fi throughout. In 2015, high rollers will chill in a remodeled Dugout Club. And everyone will be treated to the new stadium security metal detector lines. Did we mention you should arrive to the park early?
WHERE TO SIT
The stadium's cantilevered construction means there are no obstructed views. However, the park's vast dimensions require you choose seats wisely. Field Level is superb, but avoid sitting far down the foul lines in Sections 44-52 (right field) or 45-53 (left field), where you'll crane your neck for 9 innings. A much better choice, the Loge Level's infield sections offer a nice bird's-eye-view. On a budget, go for Reserve Level seats behind the plate. If it's an afternoon game and full-blast sun isn't your thing, opt for Field or Loge seats on the third base/left field side in the shady, high-lettered rows.
Dodger Stadium Seating Chart
Dodger Dog | Major League Baseball's best-selling franks, the 10-inch "World Famous" Dodger Dog ($5.50) is served throughout the stadium, steamed or grilled (avoid the former), cradled in a warm, spongy bun and best topped with the basics: mustard, relish and heaps of onion. Some cry it's overrated, and you'll agree should you get a dog that's either undercooked mush or a heat lamp-shriveled travesty (sadly, not uncommon). Don't hesitate to return a sub-par specimen for replacement. Big spenders will find all-beef Super Dogs ($7), Kosher wieners ($8) and Extreme Loaded "Doyer Dogs" ($10), topped with chili, cheese and jalapenos.
BEST LOCAL VENDOR
LA Taqueria | Your basic L.A. street-style taco is a thing of simple beauty: carnitas or carne asada in a warm corn tortilla, topped with onion, cilantro and hot sauce. Though the Reserve Level's LA Taqueria stand is a stadium-only outfit with no local outlets, the often-lengthy lines attest to the fact it usually does a decent job with this barrio staple.
BEST BEER IN DODGER STADIUM
Think Blue Bars | Bud, Coors Light and Shock Top taps prevail, so serious hops hounds will need to sniff out one of the stadium's craft beer stands, located on the Field (Section 4), Loge (Sections 165 and 166) and Top Deck (Section 4) levels. Among locally brewed beers you'll find Golden Road IPA and Firestone Walker double barrel ale ($14.50 for 16 ounces).
WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Healthy Plate | Trying to lose or avoid a Tommy Lasorda–sized belly? Hit one of the Healthy Plate stands, located on the Field (Section 7), Loge (Section 102) and Reserve (Section 16) levels. Grab a Greek or Caesar chicken salad. Or go for a heartier turkey club sandwich. Bonus: The lines are often short.
WHERE TO EAT IF YOU'RE A VISITING FAN
Think Blue Bar-B-Que and Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria | These spots in the Field Level entry plazas are open to all Field, Loge, Club and Pavilion ticket holders. The barbecue stand (left field) won't be featured on "BBQ Pitmasters" anytime soon, but do try the tasty pulled pork sandwich (with two sides, $13). Hall of Fame Dodgers' manager Lasorda's eatery (right field) serves up decent slices of NY-style pizza and surprisingly good cannoli. Bonus: Occasionally, Lasorda himself mills around the stand, glad-handing and kissing babies.
BEST STADIUM BAR
Bullpen bars | Though not the ballpark's best vantage points, the bars behind the left and right field bullpens are a must for those who love heckling relief pitchers. Arrive early to nab one of the bar's first-come, first-served bullpen overlook seats (open to all Field, Loge, Club and Pavilion ticket holders), hoist a brew and give that multi–million-dollar, 4.74 ERA-closer the business. HDTVs abound, the booze flows ($11-$13 a beer; $11 per cocktail), and the boisterous baseball camaraderie can't be beat.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
Should you be lucky or rich enough to access the exclusive Dugout Club (newly renovated in 2015), inside is a Dodger mini-museum displaying impressive memorabilia. For the non-elite, the right field entry plaza has giant, five-foot replicas of Dodgers' World Series rings. Nearby, the wall of Tommy Lasorda's Trattoria is hung with historic photos of the HOF manager and pals like Frank Sinatra. You'll spot the team's 10 retired player numbers (including #42, Jackie Robinson) adorning the left field Club Level facade.
Dodger Stadium Tours
DODGERS GAMES ON A BUDGET
Some options for those who want to save a few bucks, or just want to reserve enough cash to blow on a pricey craft beer.
HOW TO DRINK AND EAT CHEAP AT DODGER STADIUM
BYOFD (Bring Your Own Food & Drink) | Most stadium-goers aren't aware you're permitted to bring your own grub and beverages into the park, as long as they're not packed in a giant ice chest and non-alcoholic drinks are in sealed plastic bottles. Before the game, swing by Eastside Market Italian Deli (closing time is 4 p.m.) to pick up a capicollo and cheese sub ($9), big enough to feed two.
BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND DODGER STADIUM
Guisados | The stewed-meat tacos at this Echo Park phenomenon will make you weep tears of gustatory joy. Fillings like cochinita pibil, steak picado and pork chorizo are dolloped into homemade corn tortillas and best washed down with horchata. Start with a six mini-taco sampler platter ($6.99), choose your favorite and go for a full-size taco, or three ($2.75 each). There's limited seating in the tiny dining room and outside on the patio. Note: No alcohol.
BEST CHEAP DODGERS TICKETS
The least-expensive seats are $12 and located in nosebleed city, the Top Deck. A savvy money-saving move is to buy the cheapest tickets available on either the Loge or Field level (for as little as $25-$30). Instead of sitting in your seat, make a beeline for the first-come, first-served railing bars and tables located behind all seating sections. If you're lucky, a great diamond view can be had for a fraction of the regular price.
DODGER STADIUM WITH KIDS
The Dodgers have made family-friendly amenities available inside and outside the stadium.
WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
Viva Los Dodgers | Prior to every Sunday game (typically a 1:10 p.m. start), the family-friendly Viva Los Dodgers Festival happens in the stadium parking lot. In addition to activities for kids, there's live music, food, prize giveaways and player autograph signings. Admission is free with your game ticket.
BEST DODGER STADIUM FOOD FOR KIDS
Dodger Dog stands / roving vendors | Dodger Dog stands, found throughout the stadium, offer a kid's meal that comes with a Junior Dodger Dog, applesauce and a juice box or soda for $5.25. In your seats, nothing makes a little slugger happier than cotton candy or a frozen chocolate malt from one of the roving stadium vendors.
WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
Your best bet for player autographs are the Viva Los Dodgers events that take place in the parking lot before every Sunday game. Usually, a current player or two and a Dodger old timer are on hand to sign balls and cards. At the stadium, Dodger vets occasionally sign autographs at tables located just inside the Field Level gates. Otherwise, arrive to the park early, head for Field Level Section 27 and participate in the Kid's Corral, which lets little ones step onto the warning track for an up-close look at team warm-ups. Some players are happy to make a kid's day with a signature.
NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
When the little ones get fidgety, head for the Play Zone areas on the first and third base sides of the Reserve Level. There are life-size bobbleheads and a few climbable contraptions for kids to let off steam.
WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR KIDS
All the team stores carry souvenirs and pint-sized gear for kids. For little girls, there's a Hello Kitty/Dodgers-themed stand located just outside the Left Field Pavilion.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A DODGERS GAME
WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Mohawk Bend and The Short Stop | These popular pregame watering holes stay open late and have TVs so you can catch up on the day's SportsCenter highlights. Though be aware, after dark a portion of The Shortstop bar becomes a dance club.
WHERE TO GET A POST-GAME MEAL
Tommy's Original World Famous Hamburgers | Though Tommy's has grown into a SoCal mini chain, none of the franchises can touch the original 1946 location at the corner of Beverly and Rampart boulevards, about a 10-minute drive from the stadium. Need to sink a chiliburger, chili dog or chili-cheese fries into that belly full of stadium beer? This old-school 24/7 shack is your place.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
After a night game, absolutely nothing. Following a day game, head down to nearby Chinatown or Olvera Street, where plenty of eateries and touristy shops will be pleased to relieve you of any remaining money.
Dodger fan and travel writer Eli Ellison is based in Seal Beach, California. His first visit to Dodger Stadium was in 1978. His grandmother packed sad, homemade sandwiches, and he's been bitter ever since.