There are easy ways to win over Baltimore baseball fans who like to eat and drink. And the Orioles, together with Levy Restaurants, which manages concessions at Camden Yards, seem to want to play ball.

Perhaps this is their way of wiping the slate clean at the start of a new season. After last year’s dismal showing in the food department and an unspectacular playoff run, the team has a new majority owner. National Bohemian is back, and Coca-Cola products are taking over the formerly Pepsi-loyal stadium. And the Yard has several new vendors, including beloved local eateries.

So let’s forget about those dreadful nachos and long lines at the concession stands. Let’s put the soggy chicken boxes behind us. Let’s get drunk on hope and $15.49 Bohs. And let’s eat.

New for this year, Hampden’s The Local Fry now operates two stands at Oriole Park, including one on the ground floor. Though I already had chicken fries in hand, owner Kevin Irish, manning the kitchen on opening day, talked me into trying the dish that helped launch his business: the taco fries ($16), inspired by the chip shops of his native Ireland.

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Taco fries from The Local Fry are a new option at Camden Yards. (Christina Tkacik / The Baltimore Banner)

The combination of spicy beef and tangy garlic sauce on golden fries was absolutely, almost confusingly delicious. I only meant to try a few bites because I was going to be eating my way through the ballpark and really needed to pace myself. But I ended up practically finishing the thing.

My next stop was Omaha Steaks, which is managed by Brick & Whistle Food Co. (aka the food and beverage arm of the Orioles). I ordered a rotisserie chicken platter ($22.50), which came with an order of macaroni and cheese. The bird was moist but greasy, reminding me that you can get an entire rotisserie chicken at Costco for $5. The coleslaw was a sleeper hit: freshly made and not dripping in mayo. The mac and cheese was strangely milky and seemed to have syrup on top. I don’t love it, I thought to myself as the table next to me loudly traded conspiracy theories about the Key Bridge collapse and the last election.

“What is a steak burger?” I wondered when I saw it listed among the new offerings at Camden Yards. It turns out it’s just a regular burger that costs $19.99. Though it was a bit dry, it wasn’t the worst burger of my life, with sautéed onions, pickles and some variation on Big Mac-inspired sauce. But it left me craving a better version.

The steak burger from Omaha Steaks at Camden Yards might leave you craving a better burger. (Christina Tkacik / The Baltimore Banner)
“The OG spicy fried chicken sando” from Fuku is one of the new options at Camden Yards. (Christina Tkacik / The Baltimore Banner)

By the time I stumbled across Fuku, a newcomer to the ballpark that originated in New York City, I was officially feeling gross. I scooped up a foil-wrapped sandwich — the $16.99 “OG spicy fried chicken sando” — and stuffed it in my pocket. The stall also sells brownies and blondies from Magnolia Bakery. Magnolia, I know from “Sex and the City” reruns, is also based in New York. As an adoptive Baltimorean, I found this all slightly condescending, as though I’m supposed to be impressed just because it’s from New York. And yet I bought one of the blondies ($5.99). It was stale and boring.

High-top tables were in short supply. Before I found a place to park, I saw Fuzzies Burgers. “The Fuzzy burger better be good,” I heard someone say as they eyed the long line.

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Staring at the menu made me curious about the Hot Fuzz, which comes with bacon and pimento cheese, but I went instead with the Fuzzy, which is described as its “signature” double smashburger with American cheese. (My beige flag is that I am a sucker for anything that has “signature” or “famous” in the title.) While waiting for my order, I watched the cooks smush balls of meat and onions onto the griddle. Someone shouted out orders as rock music blared. I bathed in the steam rising from patties as they sizzled.

"The Fuzzy" from Fuzzies burgers, a new stand at Camden Yards. (Christina Tkacik / The Baltimore Banner)

Still unable to locate a free table, I found a concrete ledge to lean on before diving in. The Fuzzy burger is good. Juicy where my last burger was dry, with crispy edges that keep it interesting and melted cheese that brings all the elements together. (Sometimes American cheese really is the best cheese). If you’re going to pay $20 for a burger, you might as well get this one.

I reached into my pocket and remembered I still had an entire chicken sandwich in there. I unwrapped it from its foil pouch and bit in. It’s spicy, with an Asian-inspired sauce that reminded me of a salad from Trader Joe’s. Wow, no, it’s really spicy. But the heat didn’t distract me from the fact that it basically tasted like a sandwich you’d have on an airplane. After a couple of bites, I dropped it and returned to my Fuzzy.

Fans of chicken sandwiches may hold out hope, though. Ekiben, the popular fusion spot whose Neighborhood Bird I can safely say is infinitely better than Fuku’s sando, is hosting several pop-ups at Camden Yards’ rotating Camden Commons, which highlights local restaurants. Astute foodies will note that The Local Fry and Fuzzies also tested the waters with a pop-up before establishing a more permanent presence at the ballpark.

Deddle’s Mini Donuts has a new stand at Camden Yards. (Christina Tkacik / The Baltimore Banner)

Feeling Thanksgiving levels of full and running out of iPhone charge, I was ready to go but couldn’t leave without stopping at the new Deddle’s Mini Donuts stand. Besides, everyone knows you have two separate stomachs — one for the main course and one for dessert — so even if you’ve already had the equivalent of three burgers and an entire chicken, you still have room for something sweet.

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I got a $9.99 order of churro-flavored mini donuts and waited while a little machine squirted out circles of dough to be deep fried. There was something old-timey and nostalgic about the process, like waiting for funnel cake at a county fair. What perfect food for a baseball game.

When my order was ready, I lifted a donut to my nose with a fork. It was warm and crispy, with a crunchy fried exterior coated in cinnamon sugar. It reminded me of everything good in the world. Against my better judgment, I finished the whole thing.

Christina Tkacik is the food reporter for The Baltimore Banner.

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