Spring is here, and for Red Sox Nation, this means one thing: Baseball season is about to begin. This year marks Fenway Park's 100th anniversary, and the ballpark is preparing for big crowds and special celebrations. Many Boston hounds are baseball fans, and find themselves in the park at least once during the season; and for visitors, a Red Sox game is often the pinnacle of a New England weekend. But what are the best things to eat in or near Fenway Park?
A recent Chowhound thread about lobster rolls and chowder near Fenway has morphed into a broader discussion—almost a "how-to" guide for Red Sox Nation hounds. Most of the tips relate to food outside of the park (it's worth noting that you can bring food into Fenway, but not drinks). All of the places mentioned here are within walking distance, and all are likely to be crowded on any game day.
Best Place for a Pregame Drink: Bleacher Bar on Lansdowne Street offers tasty pastrami sandwiches, fried pickles, and a good selection of local brews. It's located right next to the park (in an old batting cage) so you can watch batting practice as you enjoy your beer. The Lower Depths is another good option: 16 rotating drafts, an extensive bottled beer menu, and $1 Fenway franks. For early risers, Eastern Standard offers breakfast seven days a week, and alcohol is served beginning at 10 a.m.
Best Hot Dog: Some hounds think Fenway franks are fantastic, while others think they should be avoided at all costs—the only thing everyone agrees on is that they're traditional. There are plenty of places to try them, both inside and outside the park. For a different hot dog experience, it's worth checking out Speed Dog, which beginning in mid-April will be setting up near Fenway Park every Friday. Speed's serves grilled marinated hot dogs with a variety of toppings, and a single dog might be a meal all by itself.
Best Italian Sausage: Many stands sell Italian sausages with sautéed onions and peppers, but hounds say that the Sausage Connection is the best. If you're at the corner of Brookline Street, the Sausage Connection is the second cart from the corner going down Lansdowne. Look for the yellow and red sign, and don't confuse it with similarly named carts like "Sausage Guy" or "Sausage King." If you like spicy, be sure to ask for the hot sauce, which is kept separately from the rest of the condiments.
Best Seafood: For a pregame seafood feast, there's no better option than Island Creek Oyster Bar, a new hound favorite. Make reservations well in advance if you plan to eat here before a game—it's probably the best bet in the neighborhood for a lobster roll. Jasper White's Summer Shack gets mixed reviews, but many hounds think it's fine if you stick to the basics: Oysters from the raw bar, clam chowder, fried clams, and pan-roasted lobster are all good bets. Inside the park, you can buy Legal Sea Foods' clam chowder, a good choice for a cold day.
Best Taqueria: La Verdad and El Pelón are both close to Fenway Park, and each has its advantages. La Verdad serves hearty tortas, lightly battered fish tacos, and margaritas. El Pelón doesn't serve alcohol, but hounds recommend the "El Guapo" burrito, named for former Red Sox pitcher Rich Garcés—it contains grilled steak, Jack cheese, fire-roasted salsa, and fried plantains.
Best Peanuts: You can buy them shell-on inside the park (many people enjoy the experience of catching peanuts that are thrown to them across entire sections of bleachers), but hounds think the best peanuts are just outside, near Gate D. Available in salted and unsalted (but get the salted!).
Special thanks to the hounds who provided great tips: barleywino, Bellachefa, Berheenia, C. Hamster, ChinaCat, Fly, grant.cook, hotoynoodle, Jenny Ondioline, JimGrinsfelder, justbeingpolite, ladym16, LeoLioness, Matt H, mkfisher, opinionatedchef, Peldog, and viperlush.
Of course, this guide doesn't cover everything, so be sure to check out the full thread for more ideas.
Bleacher Bar [Fenway]
82A Lansdowne Street, Boston
The Lower Depths [Kenmore Square]
476 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
Eastern Standard [Kenmore Square]
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
Boston Speed Dog [Fenway]
Hemenway Street at Forsyth Street, Boston (Friday only)
Sausage Connection [Fenway]
Lansdowne Street at Brookline Street, Boston (during home games only)
Island Creek Oyster Bar [Kenmore Square]
500 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston
Jasper White's Summer Shack [Back Bay]
50 Dalton Street, Boston
La Verdad Taqueria [Fenway]
1 Lansdowne Street, Boston
El Pelón Taqueria [Fenway]
92 Peterborough Street, Boston