Waffle tacos, coney potatoes, Wahlburgers, craft beer for Lions fans at Ford Field
Lions reporter Justin Rogers and restaurant critic Melody Baetens tasted Ford Field's new food items for the 2019 season and share their thoughts. Justin Rogers, The Detroit News
Detroit — The new munchies and drink offerings at Ford Field this year aim to please the average football fan who wants quality stadium food done well, says executive chef Tim Hendren.
Celebrating his second season at Ford Field, Hendren said one of the focuses this year with the eats and drinks was serving locally sourced food.
Both the meat for the build-your-own burger concept in the Bud Light Party Zone and the tender and smoky beef jerky in the Crown Royal Corner Bar come from Ferndale butcher Farm Field Table.
"Great group of guys, we love working with them, they have an awesome vibe, so we brought them to the stadium," Hendren said at a media preview Friday. He said the burger concept this year can be ordered as a simple cheeseburger, or much more.
"If you want to go crazy, you'll get a double patty, you can top it with fried onions, caramelized onions, avocado, bacon, pickled jalapeños and sauteed mushrooms."
Game days will spotlight rare and interesting craft beer throughout the season. For each game Ford Field will offer a hard-to-find product. Founders barrel-aged Mas Agave is featured Thursday’s preseason game against the New England Patriots.
The limited-edition beer offerings, found near Section 125, only get better as we swing into fall with Griffin Claw Imperial Pumpkin on Oct. 27 and Founders CBS. The Dec. 29 game versus Green Bay brings out Brouwerij Verhaeghe Duchesse Chocolate Cherry.
Other booze options are $5 cans of easy-drinking beer like Bud Light ($3 during power hour), plus two new cocktails. A rum punch cocktail with fresh ingredients and a "leaping lion" electric blue drink.
Among food highlights of the new offerings are the duo waffle tacos. The delicate Mexican fusion dish is a thin, kind of sweet waffle stuffed with peppered bacon, maple aioli and julienned tomatoes and jalapeños. A second taco has breaded Nashville hot chicken with pickle relish, peppers and hot honey sauce.
Honcho, an Asian-Mex fusion concept with a restaurant in Clarkston, can be found in Section 133 this season with tacos, nachos and burritos each with choice of Korean pulled pork, chicken tinga or “taco night” ground beef.
Like with many sports stadiums, chicken is a big deal. This year it's done as smoked wings, on french fries with bacon, honey and jalapeno relish and as chicken tenders, which have been given a home style treatment. They're still crispy strips served with fries, but this year the three sauces — creamy ranch, barbecue sauce and honey mustard — are made from scratch in house.
Section 119 is home to a build-your-own potato cart. Choose from a Russet or sweet baked potato or classic mashed potatoes, then tell them you want them loaded traditionally, Detroit style (coney sauce, onion, mustard and cheese) or barbecue chicken style (see, more chicken).
Gone this year is Mercury Burger Bar, which is replaced by one of Wahlburgers, both in the club levels. The other Wahlburger replaces a Slows Bar BQ counter. The Corktown restaurant still has a presence in the stadium but it's been scaled back this year.
Aside from the power hour (Ford Field's version of happy hour), the prices for each of these items run as low as $8.50 for the jerky up to $14 for the nachos or smoked wings. Most dishes run somewhere in between.