There’s much more to eat at a Dolphins game than hot dogs and nachos. You may be surprised at the gastronomic delights at Hard Rock Stadium.
MIAMI, FL — Unlike the good old days when the most exotic food you could scrounge up at a football game might have been nachos, Miami Dolphins fans will soon be dining on house-rolled sushi, stuffed pancakes and fancy doughnuts like the “Abuelita” filled with creamy rice pudding. And those are just a few of the gastronomic delights that await football fans at Hard Rock Stadium when the 2018 season gets underway this September.
“One of the things we try to do here at the stadium is create a great food and beverage experience for fans,” explained Dolphins President and CEO Tom Garfinkel. “We try to look at everything as an end-to-end experience.”
That includes 70 percent more bathrooms for female fans and 30 percent more bathrooms for male fans in addition to the emphasis on highbrow cuisine.
“Our local partners are one of the main highlights of our hospitality area,” observed Dayanny De la Cruz, the head chef at Hard Rock Stadium. “We have some new chefs coming into the building to help us with some of the premium areas. More than anything, we’re becoming a food destination as we have so many great partners in here right now.”
Those partners include local favorites like Shula Burger (Sections 114, 142, 222, 250, 345), Cafe Versailles (Sections 120, 242 and 347), Sushi Maki (Section 244), Bru’s Room (Sections 102, 214, 242, 304) and other well-known names like Fuku Chicken (Sections 116, 319), Grown (Sections 148, 242), Jackson Soul Food (Sections 134, 329), Los Ranchos (Sections 106, 350), Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt (Sections 139, 350), O-B House (Section 148), Shorty’s BBQ (Sections 104, 132, 219, 247, 313), Sloppy Joe’s (section number unavailable), &pizza (Sections 142 and 345). New this year is Miami area favorite MoJo Donuts (Section 217).
De la Cruz, who works for Centerplate, which oversees all of the food served at Hard Rock Stadium, said that even less adventurous fans can find classics like chicken tenders and hot dogs.
The most popular food item last season at Hard Rock Stadium was the Shula Burger, according to Christopher Perrino, the director of culinary operations with Shula’s Restaurants named for legendary Dolphins Coach Don Shula, who started the chain.
It doesn’t hurt that Shula’s has its own replica of the Lombardi Trophy to go with its mouthwatering burgers and crispy onion rings served at Hard Rock.
“We are coach. We’re part of his team,” said Perrino, who noted that the chain probably has served upwards of 100,000 burgers at the stadium. “Our expectation is to be undefeated.”
Perrino told Patch that the Shula family is still very much involved with the restaurant chain. “Our burgers are the number one selling thing in the entire stadium,” he explained. “We’re going to try to create the best burger that we can. We don’t take any shortcuts. We have a proprietary blend that we use that creates the most intense kokumi that you can imagine … It’s the sixth taste.”
Rodney Eli, who owns the O-B House restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, sells his signature oven-baked buttermilk pancakes and oven-baked bacon at the stadium.
“We baked in Belgian white chocolate and real raspberries,” he told Patch. “We use real organic buttermilk to make our buttermilk pancakes and we’ve topped it off with local creamery butter and real Vermont syrup.”
The Grown restaurant of South Miami is the creation of former Miami Heat star Ray Allen and wife Shannon Allen. It offers 100 percent USDA-certified organic fast food at the stadium.
“We sell salmon burgers, chicken tenders. We sell salads, sandwiches and wraps here,” Chef Jamarr Massey told Patch. He noted that the restaurant uses fresh salmon to make the burgers it sells at Hard Rock. “We also sell fresh juices and smoothies here.”
Willie Munoz is one of the owners of MoJo Donuts, which is making its debut at the stadium this season.
“We have over 200 different flavors,” said Munoz. “We usually have at the store 40 to 50 flavors on display at any given day. At the stadium, we’re going to reduce that probably to 15 or 20 flavors — the most popular ones of course.”
Munoz said that MoJo will be offering its popular “Deco Delight” which boasts banana puree on the inside topped with blueberries and strawberries. It will also offer the “Key Lime Pie” and “Slutty Brownie.”
The upscale bakery is testing a new doughnut for Dolphins fans.
“We’re testing it and it might be ready for Game 1,” Monoz confided, declining to dish on the ingredients.
Steve Hosang, whose family owns Sushi Maki, said that the restaurant is celebrating its fourth season at Hard Rock Stadium.
“Football fans love sushi,” Hosang declared. “You come to a football game. What do you have? Hamburgers, hot dogs and stuff. They’re looking for something more healthy.”
Sushi Maki rolls its own sushi inside the stadium. “It’s fresh. It’s vibrant and it’s ready to eat,” Hosang explained.
In addition to managing the other vendors, Centerplate also features its own offerings around the stadium:
- The Miami Slice at Flat Pie Pizza locations – Cuban roasted pork, mozzarella, swiss cheese, pickles and a homemade Cuban drizzle. Sections 107, 122, 150, 205, 250, 308, 327, 336 & 355.
- Everglades BBQ Empanada at Edgewater Grille locations – House-smoked pulled pork, cheddar cheese, Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce, wrapped up in empanada dough and cooked to a perfect golden brown. Sections 122, 150, 214, 242, 319 & 347.
- Pimento Patty Melt at the Melt Shop – One-third pound Burger topped with sautéed red onion, smothered in melted cheddar and pimento cheese and sandwiched between two pieces of crisped toast. Section 230.
- 305 Cuban at the 305 Grille – Roast pork, Swiss cheese, ham, pickles, seasoned yellow rice inside a light egg dough, fried to golden perfection and accompanied by a sweet mustard dipping sauce. Sections 130, 317, 332.
- Half-pound Premium Angus Burger at the Edgewater Grille – 8 ounces Premium Burger topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and our homemade A1A Sauce. Sections 122, 150, 214, 242, 319 & 347.
- Guacamole Cart – fresh, made-to-order guacamole with all the fixings. Fun and interactive, with tasty toppings to choose from, including fresh cilantro, fire-roasted corn, diced jalapeños, chopped red onions, tomatoes. Served with green plantain tostadas and homemade tortilla chips, and option for Jumbo Lump Crab or all-natural crispy bacon.
Photo gallery by Paul Scicchitano
Shula’s Restaurants, whose concepts include Shula Burger, Shula’s Steak House, Shula’s 347 Grill, Shula’s 2 Steaks & Sports, and Shula’s Bar & Grill, is named for Hall of Fame Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula.
For information about Shula Burger, visit www.shulaburger.com.
Carrie LaNoce: 954-393-1935, firstname.lastname@example.org