Baseball loyalties run deep in this town, and even if you’re not a particularly big sports fan, you may have been raised in a Yankees home. Some follow the sport and others follow the tradition, and even the haters can’t deny that the Yankees have that in spades. Still can’t get on board? Well, then there’s Derek Jeter, a Yankee for life, an athlete so talented and a guy so affable even Red Sox fans have a hard time hating him. And if you’re still grumbling, well you can just focus on the food.
The opening of the brand-new Yankee Stadium in 2009 saw many big improvements, my personal favorite being the ability to wait in line for your hot dog with a view of the field so incredible you actually wish the servers would go slower.
You’ve got your Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, Premio sweet and hot Italian sausages, and Johnny Rockets if your hankering for a burger. But when in Rome, I say go for what’s local and get brisket or frickles (fried pickles) from Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, or stop at Lobel’s for a high quality hand-carved steak sandwich. It is our coliseum, after all.
But we’re also talking about the Bronx Bombers here, and Yankees traditions are rooted in the story of New York City itself. That’s why I suggest going beyond the stadium for a little culinary exploration in the Boogie Down Bronx. It’s no longer burning, but it’s still got a long road to go before gentrification and luxury condos take over, leaving lots of little gems to discover.
The Feeding Tree
I mean, seriously, you’ve got to love any place called The Feeding Tree (892 Gerard Avenue at 161st Street)! Leave a little early and have dinner beforehand, just around the corner at this West Indian gem. Nothing says real and authentic like “cowfoo,” which is on the menu, but if that doesn’t entice you, stick with the jerk shrimp and chicken, which will both light up your palate.
Sam’s Soul Food
Anthony Bourdain, a die-hard Yanks fan, loves Sam’s Soul Food (596 Grand Concourse between 150th and 151st Streets) and featured it in No Reservations‘ Outer Boroughs episode, so you know it’s good. Sam infuses the food with flavors from his native Ghana.
Xochimilco Family Restaurant
A little further from Yankee Stadium is Xochiimilco (653 Melrose Avenue). As the name suggests, it is a family affair where the cooking is authentic, home-cooked food with a friendly, sit-and-stay-a-while atmosphere.
If you don’t have tickets but still want to watch the game:
Bronx Ale House
The very best place to watch the Bombers is the Bronx Ale House (216 West 238th St.). There are plenty of TVs and chef Eric Hubbard is constantly adding surprising specials to his already superb menu. Things are going so well at the Ale House that they’ll soon be expanding to the space next door.
El Nuevo Caridad
And over the bridge in Washington Heights is El Nuevo Caridad (4073 Broadway between 171st St & 172nd Streets), a Dominican restaurant and shrine to the Yankees. Last summer, Alex Rodriguez visited his ancestral hilltop and had lunch here. I was out walking Rocco and people were close to losing their minds with happiness. The TVs are always tuned to the YES network and the rice and beans are always cooking.
Finally, Good. Food. Stories. readers, I offer you this neighborhood secret. After games, Yankees like Robinson Cano are frequently spotted having fun after home games at Mamajuana on Dyckman Street.