Citi Field is serving giant donut popcorn milkshakes

The Mets' 2023 food options are something to behold

March 23rd, 2023

NEW YORK -- You know that scene in "Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory" when the five kids first enter Wonka's candy playground? There are chocolate waterfalls, gumball beach balls and mushroom umbrellas.

That's what it might feel like walking into Citi Field in the summer of 2023.

"This year our offerings are immense," Citi Field's Senior Executive Chef Jason Eksterowicz told me. "I think the whole idea of variety is something we put at the forefront. Where literally anywhere you are in the ballpark, you can have a completely different experience -- from sightlines to food offerings to everything. I think this will be one of our more impressive seasons here."

The Mets had their What's New at Citi Field event on Thursday and, like in years past, the food options range from delightful to Instagram-busting gargantuan. Big-time celebrity chefs like Sunny Anderson and Marc Murphy were involved in designing the tasting menu, but Eksterowicz made sure to feature neighborhood delicacies from the county of Queens.

Takumi Taco, Japanese-Mexican inspired tacos that started out as a lone stand at Williamsburg's Smorgasburg back in 2012, will have a spot in the stadium. Manhattan's Empanada Mama is bringing its diverse flavors (they have an empanada with a cheeseburger filling!) to Citi's confines and, coming to the Mets' home from just a 15-minute drive away is Tang. They'll be serving up delicious Korean rice bowls all nine innings long.

Bulgogi rice bowls with a side of kimchi

"Yeah, when we talk about small businesses, like Nourish Spot and Tang and Chiddy's and Fresco's Cantina, that's the impressive part," Eksterowicz said. "Not only do we have these huge Food Network personalities, but we also have the Queens mom-and-pop restaurants that are all part of the experience here at the ballpark."

Emma's Torch, a Carroll Gardens-based eatery, is another newcomer to the concourse area. It serves up great food with an even greater mission -- empowering refugees through the art of culinary education.

Tamarind barbecue wings and black-eyed peas hummus wraps

The two most spectacular, how-do-I-even-eat-this dishes were from Jacob's Pickles and Sundae Donuts.

Pickles, which debuted last year at Citi Field, will have a new Fried Chicken Sandwich at its booth. But this isn't your run-of-the-mill fried chicken sandwich. The buns are two glazed donuts, with a hefty smattering of honey barbecue sauce.

And if that's not enough donut, try this for dessert from Sundae: A milkshake, topped with a glazed donut and sprinkles, topped again with popcorn. You can also swap out the popcorn for Oreo crumbles. Whatever floats your stomach-bursting boat. Although your boat probably wouldn't float after this.

"The whole concept of the donut on top of the milkshake, it really comes from our brand and how it fits in," a spokesperson for Sundae Donuts told me. "We're really Instagrammable, like a lifestyle brand, over-the-top everything. It really just makes a statement and kids go crazy over it."

The popcorn was made specially for Citi Field and the Oreos are a signature topping at the shop. But can you actually eat it? How does one approach eating it?

"It is a beast," Eksterowicz laughed. "It's a dessert and meal all in itself. I would approach it one bite at a time and take it slow. It's definitely an awesome, awesome dessert."

Aside from the food, Citi will have a giant video board -- the biggest in baseball -- out in center field. Maybe a target some of the more powerful Mets can take aim at. The ballpark will also have a new membership-only speakeasy club where fans can sit in big armchairs, sip on the Mets' official Híjole! tequila and take in the game from a private porch in right field.

Let's just hope they have enough energy to get up from those big, comfortable chairs to grab a donut popcorn milkshake.