PETCO Park: Baseball Gameday Guide


Petco Park was built to give the Padres a home of their own (they had been sharing Qualcomm Stadium with the Chargers). The ballpark, which opened in 2004, has breathed new life into the once dilapidated East Village area of downtown San Diego. The neighborhood is now teaming with industrial lofts, bars and restaurants, making it the perfect place to hang out both pre- and post-game.

Made of stucco and sandstone with lots of exposed steel, Petco Park's modern and airy architecture sets it apart from other Major League ballparks. The tawny colored stone and blue seats are meant to evoke the sandy beaches and blue of the nearby ocean. The open-air ballpark also incorporates the 100-year-old Western Metal Supply Co. building, a brick structure that at one time was scheduled for demolition. The renovated building now contains the team store, private suites, a restaurant and rooftop seating that opened to the public for the first time in 2014.

While the Padres have not had the winning records many fans hoped for in recent years, they stay upbeat, and Petco Park and the surrounding East Village neighborhood is a great place to spend the day, win or lose.

QUICK LINKS WHAT TO DO BEFORE A PADRES GAME
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Arrive at least two hours before first pitch and, depending on when the game begins, you could do a pre-game brunch, lunch or bar crawl. You may very well want to linger after the game, too. We say make a day of it. Here are our picks for places to start your Padres game day.

WHERE TO GET A BEER
Mission Brewery | Baseball fans flood this brewery in a historic warehouse before games. Try the light Mission Blonde or go for the insanely hoppy triple IPA; in addition, they've recently added craft cocktails. It's only a 4-minute walk to the Padres stadium.

WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
The Blind Burro | This Baja-inspired eatery has a large bar and lots of high-top tables. You can order carafes of sangria, margaritas and even six packs of imports and domestics, all while snacking on shareable bites like salsa flights, and chips and guacamole. There are also specials on every Padre's home game day, like a TJ Dog and Tecate for $8.

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
Neighborhood | The name says it all. This corner restaurant with open windows and an impressive draft beer selection is worth a visit any day of the week. Beer and wine selections are scrawled on a chalkboard and, while it's close to the ballpark, it's a tad bit removed from the center of the action. Try the black-bean burger with sweet potato fries ($13.50).

WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Tivoli | This 128-year-old boarding house–turned–saloon has turned into the place to be before Padres games, thanks to game day specials like $4 drafts and $11 pitchers of Pabst. Padres fans also love the old-fashioned ambience, complete with original wood and a marble bar. Don't forget to check out the photos of one-time customer Wyatt Earp and his wife Josie, over the entrance.

WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
Bottega Americano | Just three blocks from Petco, this new Italian restaurant and marketplace features an open kitchen and different culinary bars like a pasta bar and a salumeria with Italian meats and cheeses. While you can get food to go, dining in the light and bright space is a treat. Dishes feature fresh seasonal ingredients and include salmon tartar with truffle, radicchio and preserved lemon and skirt steak with cremini mushrooms and fingerling potatoes.

WHERE TO DRINK WITH A VIEW
Level 9 | The Hotel Indigo's recently renovated rooftop bar gets lively on game days, and has fire pits, gorgeous views of Petco Park and cocktails like spicy margaritas.

CAN YOU TAILGATE AT PETCO PARK?
Limited tailgating is allowed at Petco Park, but it's regulated—kegs aren't allowed, and neither is ball throwing, so many fans prefer to hit the bars around the stadium. If you are going with an extremely large group, tailgating can be a fun option. A maximum 100 spaces can be reserved for group events.

WHAT'S NEARBY INSIDE PETCO PARK
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The ballpark underwent a huge effort this year to improve dining in the park; local food vendors and craft breweries now dominate the dining options.

WHERE TO SIT
There really is no bad seat at Petco Park; it offers some of the closest-to-the action upper decks in all of baseball. The best views of the field are in the Dugout Club, Field Box or Premier Club sections. If you want to save a few bucks and get an upper deck seat you'll be treated to sweeping views of the San Diego skyline and Balboa Park, but beware the right field sections, which get more sun.

If you want to pony up for premier seating (from $56.50), you can get access to the Omni Premier Club, a bar and restaurant on field level between home plate and third base, with a great buffet (at an additional cost). The outdoor patio seats are some of the best in the house.

Petco Park Seating

BEST FOOD
Phil's BBQ | It's hard to beat the pulled-pork sandwiches, ribs and barbeque chicken at this renowned local BBQ joint; plates are served with sides like baked beans, coleslaw and fries. The large restaurant has seating down the first-base line, and you can also take the food to go and eat at your seat.

BEST LOCAL VENDOR
Lucha Libre Taco Shop | Petco really upped the eating experience at the ballpark this year by introducing a slew of new local vendors. One of the best is Lucha Libre, a legendary Mission Hills taco shop that typically has a line out the door. Their new location on the stadium's Toyota Terrace (near section 211) serves a lot of restaurant favorites like Surfin' California burritos ($11.75) and queso tacos ($6.75).

BEST BEER ON PETCO PARK
Stone Brewing Tap Room | The famous San Diego brewery's new ballpark location is a rooftop beer garden on the Upper Deck behind Section 311. There you'll find 12 different beers on tap, including Stone IPA ($11.50), the beer that really put San Diego breweries on the map. Plus there are sweeping views of the Coronado Bridge and San Diego bay.

WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Seaside Market | The gourmet grocer has a new space in Section 107 that serves delicious, but healthy, fare like fresh fruit juices, salads and flatbread sandwiches, but if you want something a tad more indulgent they have that covered too, with a tri-tip steak sandwich with tangy BBQ sauce on a brioche bun ($9.50).

BEST STADIUM BAR
The Draft by Ballast Point | Located on the Garden level of the first base side, this bar has 20 taps of craft beer and cocktails featuring Ballast Points' full line of spirits, including some limited offerings. There's also grub from famed OB burger joint Hodad's, and outdoor seating (no field view).

OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
True fans can't resist a visit to the Tony Gwynn Statue in "The Park at the Park." The late MLB Hall of Famer is a local hero.

You may also want to check out The Beach, a sandy area behind the fence in right field, where fans can visit during batting practice and occasionally field a home run ball. But take note, once the game begins, The Beach is restricted only to bleacher ticket holders.

PETCO PARK TOURS
Ballpark tours are offered year round. When the Padres are on the road or have an off-day tours are at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tour times vary on game days.

Petco Park Tours

PADRES GAMES ON A BUDGET
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There are some cheap food and drink options around Petco Park that cost far less than a beer and a bite inside the stadium.

WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
The Field | This Irish pub a few minutes walk from Petco has an incredible happy hour where you can get domestic bottles for just $2.75 until 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND PETCO PARK
Lucky's Lunch Counter | This diner-style restaurant across the street from Petco serves all-day breakfast, and hot dogs and brats on poppy seed buns for just $4.75.

There are some cheap food and drink options around Petco Park that cost far less than a beer and a bite inside the stadium.

WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
The Field | This Irish pub a few minutes walk from Petco has an incredible happy hour where you can get domestic bottles for just $2.75 until 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, and until 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

BEST CHEAP BITES AROUND PETCO PARK
Lucky's Lunch Counter | This diner-style restaurant across the street from Petco serves all-day breakfast, and hot dogs and brats on poppy seed buns for just $4.75.

PETCO PARK WITH KIDS
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The Compadres Kids Club is free for kids 14 and younger. Sign up near section 135.

WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
The Central Library | San Diego's new state-of-the-art Central Library is just a few blocks from Petco Park, and has an open courtyard, large-scale public artworks and a kids' section with special rocking chairs and a high-tech book-drop conveyor belt. The library's baseball memorabilia collection on the 8th floor will impress fans young and old. It features 60-year-old score sheets and baseball publications like "The Sporting News" going back to 1870.

BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
The Baked Bear | Don't bring your kids by this build-your-own ice cream–sandwich shop unless you intend to stop, or you'll never here the end of it. The kiddos will go gaga for the decadent creations like cookies-and-cream ice cream smashed between two homemade chocolate-chip cookies.

WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
Hard core 'graphers get to games early and stand outside the player entrances hoping to catch arriving players. If you don't want to go to that hassle, just make sure you go to FanFest, a free event at Petco Park held in February, when players and coaches are available to sign autographs.

NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
The "Park at the Park" is a great place to visit, whether you're sitting there or not. Kids can run and play, and little sluggers can practice on a mini baseball diamond. Every Sunday is KidsFest at the Park, where "Jr. Padres" get to participate in special events like autograph signings and batting clinics.

WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR KIDS
Padres Store | If you need swag for the little ones, the Padres Store has the best selection. There you'll find hats, shirts and jerseys in sizes for fans of all ages. It's located on the first floor of the Western Metal Supply Co. building.

WHAT TO DO AFTER A PADRES GAME
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After a game many fans head for dinner and drinks nearby or join in the already lively downtown party scene. Due to Padres fans' laid-back nature, the area around the ballpark typically stays busy, win or lose.

WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Noble Experiment | Hidden in the back of Neighborhood, behind a wall of fake kegs, is a speakeasy-style bar. If you really want a classy post-game drink, make reservations here and you'll be able to watch as bartenders meticulously craft drinks like a Queen's Park Swizzle (a twist on a mojito) or a dangerously smooth old-fashioned. They're the best drinks in San Diego.

WHERE TO GET A POSTGAME MEAL
Basic Pizza |Just as the name implies, this restaurant keeps things simple and serves just thin-crust pizza (starting at $12.50) and one incredible salad with sliced pears and candied walnuts (starting at $6). You pick your sauce, white or red, and toppings that range from standard fare, like sausage, to gourmet, fresh little-neck clams.

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO NEARBY?
For more drinking and dining options, consider heading to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego's main dining and party hub. It's just five blocks from the stadium to the heart, at 5th and Market. The Headquarters, a new shopping and dining destination in the city's old Mission-style police headquarters, is about a 15- to 20-minute walk along the waterfront. Here you'll find locally owned Mexican restaurant Puesto.


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A West Coast girl through and through, Casey Chiotti was born and raised in Oregon but now calls San Diego home. Casey covers food and travel for publications such as Travel & Leisure and Sunset Magazine and during the summer months you can find her riding her vespa scooter around town and eating and drinking outdoors as much as possible at places like Petco Park and the East Village neighborhood.