Believe it or not but the opener for Minnesota Gophers football is less than two weeks away at Huntington Bank Stadium. Good things are expected from this year’s Gopher team, so the people behind the scenes at Huntington Bank Stadium are expecting a full house for most games this season. That many people mean hungry people. The U invited media back to the Bank for the first time in three seasons to try some of the new food that will be available at Gopher Football games this fall. As always when there are so many new things there are some huge hits, and a few misses. Overall the quality of the food and the additional of the new vendors and stands is going to be a hit though. Below I’ll give you the rundown on what has changed from existing stands, who are the newcomers to the Bank, and give my personal reviews of some of the foods you can try beginning September 1st.
There are a few familiar vendors that have either added new products, or have moved locations since last season. Here is a run down of some of those.
Curds & Cakes
The local cheese curd vendor in Huntington Bank Stadium has been a hit on the Plaza for the last few seasons. That will not change in 2022 but they are adding a second stand behind the Student Section in the concourse behind Section 123. On the Plaza they will be selling their regular and jalapeno huge cheese curds and hand breaded corn dogs, and in the Section 123 stand they will add chicken fingers and fries and other assorted snacks like candy. Their 123 stand also gets to sell beer this season!
Cheese Curd Grade: Taste 9 out of 10, Portability 8.5 out of 10. You really can’t mess with near perfection. Mostly easily portable without worrying about spilling.
Another staple on the Plaza returning is Parlour selling their addictive Parlour Burger made famous at their restaurant locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Trust me...it’s amazing if you haven’t had it.
Burger Grade: Taste 9.5 out of 10, Portability 7 out of 10. It’s just a fantastic burger. But you need to watch how you eat it or you may end up with a stream of delicious burger juice down the front of your shirt.
The Panini Shop by Be Graceful
The Panini Shop has been a fixture in many Gopher athletic venues over the past few seasons. This year their stand will be near Section 133 in Huntington Bank Stadium and will be serving both a Impossible Sloppy Joe and a Graceful Gluten Free Grain Bowl.
The Impossible Sloppy Joe features ground Impossible meat in your typical sloppy Joe sauce. If you like that sort of thing, its probably for you. For me I thought the texture was a bit off, and the flavor wasn’t quite what I would have wanted.
The Grain bowl comes in a resealable plastic container and features quinoa, cabbage, other fresh vegetables, diced beets, dried cherries and a balsamic vinaigrette. It was delicious. It’s not the easiest thing to eat at a packed football game, but if you need either a gluten free or vegetarian option, I would fully recommend this.
Sloppy Joe Grade: Taste 3.5 out of 10, Portability 6.5 out of 10. The taste was not what i liked, but others may disagree. High potential for spillage down your front if you aren;t careful too.
Grain Bowl Grade: Taste 8.5 out of 10, Portability 6.5 out of 10. Flavor was great, the dried cherries and roasted beets just popped with intense sweetness. The ability to shut the package is a plus, but still trying to not spill while eating this may be tough.
The Lotus has been a mainstay in Gopher sports venues for several seasons and this year at Huntington Bank Stadium they are adding a bowl of Beef Pho and an order of their Lotus Wings. The Pho will be a hit once it gets cold. Nicely spiced broth like a traditional pho, thinly sliced beef, rice noodles, bean sprouts, a little thai basil and the ability to add Siracha and Hoisin from included packets. Comes with both chopsticks and a large traditional soup spoon. It’s quite good. Maybe not East Street quality but almost there. The wings were a big hit. Of course keeping up the same level of quality in a huge stadium is always the concern but they were insanely crispy with a batter that shattered when you took a bit and a light sweet and sour glaze that worked perfectly. If they can be of the same quality in the stadium, this could be a hit.
Pho Grade: Taste 8 out of 10, Portability 4 out of 10. The flavor was fantastic, but trying not to spill either on yourself or others in a crowded concourse or seats while eating it will be a task.
Wings Grade: Taste 8.5 out of 10, Portability 7 out of 10. Flavor was really good, just have those questions about mass production quality. The wings themselves are easily portable, just grab a bunch of napkins and don’t chuck the boned as others.
Brat Dogs made their debut on the Plaza last season, and this year they will have a stand in Section 206 as well. They had their trio of brats dipped in a corndog batter and fried—original, pepper jack and cheddar. They also had Bratchos which are crispy tater tots with diced chunks of their original smoked brat, nacho cheese and a dollop of sour cream.
The Brat Dogs are great—huge portions, great flavor. The Bratchos were pretty good as well. The tater tots were perfectly crispy and the accompaniments were good too. Just felt like it needed a little something more, a nice pico or maybe even a giardiniera.
Brat Dog Grade: Taste 8.5 out of 10, Portability 9 out of 10. Flavor is great and its a sausage on a stick...hard to screw that up.
Bratchos Grade: Taste 6.5 out of 10, Portability 6.5 out of 10. Flavor was good, but with a few added condiments could be even better. Easy to eat, but risk of spillage is also there.
Added Gopher Hospitality Options:
The previous items were at outside partner stands. The next items are located at Gopher Hospitality branded stands.
Located in Sections 109 and 140 Relish added two new dogs to their previous menu of other hot dogs with an added twist. New this season are the Ranch Dog and the Elote Dog. The Ranch Dog has bacon, cheddar and ranch on top of a hot dog, while the elote dog features a elote corn mix of corn off the cob, cheese, crema and a lime wedge on top of a hot dog.
No reviews on these as I did not partake, but I'm sure they are good. Looks messy though.
Located behind Section 143 Uffda takes fun food with a Minnesota flair and brings them to life. Their new item this year? A boat of Swedish Meatball Sliders with Lingonberry Sauce. To me this was one of the sneaky winners of the day. The meatball was huge—think tennis ball sized in a nice bun, great flavor with a dab of gravy and then the sweet and tart lingonberry sauce. Ikea food court food this is not. And the portions...I had one and was happy but it appears you get three in an order. This should be a popular thing to share with a friend or family member.
Slider Grade: Taste 9 out of 10, Portability 8.5 out of 10. The food was great. Flavor was good, texture was good, maybe a slight imbalance in meat to bun ratio on the meat side. The trio of sliders comes in a box with a lid—key for getting it back to your seat in one piece, but beware the dripping of that bright red sauce.
Scoop’d has a ton of ice cream treats for you in Section 117 and this year they add the Desert Pretzel. If you like sweet and carbs, you are in luck, Just don’t eat one of these in a boring second half or you might miss the end of the game after it puts you to sleep.
Desert Pretzel Review: Taste 6 out of 10, Portability 8.5 out of 10. Sweet and bready. If you love that combo, then this grade is probably too low. It’s easy to carry around—just watch out for cereal pieces dropping off.
Cheese & Thank You
Located in Section 109 Cheese & Thank You this year offers a Buffalo Mac and Cheese. Pasta in a creamy mac sauce with shredded buffalo chicken and ranch on top. It was good. Not earthshattering, but not terrible.
Buffalo Mac Grade: Flavor 6.5 out of 10, Portability 6.5 out of 10. If you lime these flavors you will probably like this. Just watch while you wander the concourse with it so it doesn’t end up on you or someone else.
Sizzle—Featuring Hormel Products
The stand behind Section 135 returns with a trio of new items including Row The Boat of Bacon, a Hawaiian SPAM Burger, and a Short Rib Grilled Cheese.
The Row The Boat of Bacon is exactly what it sounds. It’s a boat of Hormel bacon candied with some brown sugar and a slight spice blend. Four strips to an order and it’s great. Crispy, flavorful, slightly sticky. It’s a winner.
The Hawaiian SPAM Burger is more of a question mark. The hamburger patty is nice, as is the Hawaiian Bun, but the teriyaki spam and pineapple rung along with cheese on the burger...you either like it or not.
The grilled cheese looked great, but that never came out for the tasting...so shrug.
Bacon Review: Taste 10 out of 10. Portability 9.5 out of 10. It’s bacon. It’s in a boat for easy transport. They cooked it right. Other than that you can’t really screw up bacon.
Burger Review: Taste 5.5 out of 10. Portability 7 out of 10. The burger was good...the extra stuff on it, meh. Just buy a Parlour Burger.
Brand New to Me and You:
The Gophers have three brand new food vendors in Huntington Bank Stadium this fall. But while they may be new to the Bank, two are very familiar to local fast food eaters or anyone who has attended a professional sporting event in the Twin Cities recently.
Yes that’s right, the chicken giant is coming to Huntington Bank Stadium and will have a stand behind Section 123. They will serve both their original Chicken and Spicy Chicken Sandwiches.
Chicken Sandwich Grade: taste 9 out of 10, Portability 10 out of 10. You may dislike them due to your politics, but they make a damn good sandwich. In the foil packet its very easy to cart around and not spill. I mean it’s pretty perfect stadium food which is why you see them all over the country in stadiums.
Original Hockey Mom Brownies
With a new stand behind section 110 the Original Hockey Mom Brownies have come to the U after several years at the Xcel Energy Center and then at US bank Stadium after that. They sell gooey brownies in several different flavors with or without an added scoop of ice cream, and you can get the brownie cold or warmed up. Flavors may rotate but all are great.
Brownie Review: Taste 9 out of 10, Portability 9 out of 10. The flavors are great. The original chocolate is perfectly fudgy, the s’mores has great graham and marshmallow flavor on the brownie and the mint is a perfect pairing with the chocolate. Will be harder to carry around with ice cream but by themselves an easy treat.
Stadium Sweet Treats
A new vendor on the Plaza just inside of Gate E will be Stadium Sweet Treats selling ice cream sundaes. The one they showcased was a donut sundae featuring mini donuts covered in ice cream, chocolate sauce, sweet cereal and whipped cream. I did not try it but it looked like a sugar bomb of epic proportions.
What about us Rich People??
Also available to sample were some food items only available in the Premium Suites or in Club Cambria. In the Suites there were a Green Chili Chicken Enchilada (7 out of 10), A Minnesota Wedge Salad (Not tasted), Golden Dusted Churros (4 out of 10), Jumbo Italian Grinder Sandwich (NT), and a Beef Tenderloin Platter (7 out of 10)
In Club Cambria there were Bub’s Aussie Pies with flavors ranging from Classic Sausage, Breakfast Pie Sloppy Joe and Chicken Wild Rice (8 out of 10)
To Wash it all down??
Of course Huntington Bank Stadium will have plenty of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage options this fall as well. But it appears there will be a few changes. Returning are several of the beers from past years, but missing from the display of all the beverages available in the stadium were any Grain Belt Products. That may case some consternation for a few fans as they look for a beer on opening night. New to the Bank appears to be Castle Danger Cream Ale along with some different non-beer alcoholic options.
A full map of the location of all the concession stands at Huntington Bank Stadium is below. Hope to see you all enjoying your food and drink in less than two weeks!!