What’s a better summertime activity than going to a baseball game?

But while Mariners tickets are generally affordable during this “step-back” season, ballpark food is notoriously expensive. Beyond the standard hot dogs and peanuts, T-Mobile Park has added a variety of local options like Din Tai Fung, Li’l Woody’s and Paseo, but they won’t come cheap.

In the name of reporting, we sampled food around the park to find the best bang-for-your-buck food options. (Prices and menu items are subject to change.)

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Things to avoid buying at the game

Water: There are cheaper alternatives to buying a $5.50 bottle of water at the park. Outside vendors typically sell them for $1, which you can bring into the stadium as long as they’re sealed. You can also bring in one clear, factory-sealed plastic water bottle (32 ounces or less) and an empty plastic bottle, which you can refill at water fountains in the park. (Other than that, no bottles, cans or outside beverages are allowed.)

Soda: A cup of fountain soda is also at least $5. Unfortunately, you can’t bring your own soda in, even in a sealed bottle, but perhaps you could spare a few soda-less hours and save a few dollars.

Expensive beer:  Most beers around the park cost from $9 to $13, but there are  good deals to be found at specific areas of the stadium. More about that later.

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Peanuts: You can save quite a bit by bringing your own peanuts if you’re craving this classic ballpark snack — stadium peanuts cost around $6.50. You can bring your own food into the park as long as it’s wrapped, bagged or inside a container, per T-Mobile Park policies.

Mariners Deal of the Day

Before the game, make sure to check the Mariners Deal of the Day, which offers a select concession discount each day. On the day of our visit, the deal was the Junior Mariner Dog, priced at $3 instead of $6.50.

It’s a standard plain hot dog (you can add condiments near the concession stands), passable but nothing special. Our verdict? This hot dog wouldn’t be worth paying $6.50 for, but for $3, it was perfectly fine.

Busch Light and the Bale Breaker Topcutter IPA are two value beers at T-Mobile Park.  (Amy Wong / The Seattle Times)
Busch Light and the Bale Breaker Topcutter IPA are two value beers at T-Mobile Park. (Amy Wong / The Seattle Times)

Beer for $7 or less

You can find 12-ounce cans of beer for $5 or $6 at select concession stands throughout the park, but you have to know where you’re going — these stands are sneaky and look similar to other beer stands. On the lower level, look for stands behind sections 105, 111, 132, 136 and 137.

Check the Value Beer section on the T-Mobile Park website for the full list of stadium sites. Miller High Life and Busch Light are $5, and Reuben’s Brews Crikey IPA and Bale Breaker Top Cutter IPA are $6.

The ‘Pen right next to the Mariners bullpen in center field also offers a happy hour from the time gates open until an hour before the game starts, where you can find $7 draft beers from any concession stand.

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The best deal overall

The Kids Moose Meal Bucket is $8, and if you’re looking for traditional stadium food, it’s the best deal in the park.  It includes a Junior Mariner Dog (normally $6.50 on its own), a generous bucket of popcorn, a packet of applesauce and a 12-ounce soda (or milk or juice),  and could comfortably feed an adult.

The Kids Moose Meal Bucket from Rolling Roof next to the Mariners Kids Club at T-Mobile Park.  (Amy Wong / The Seattle Times)
The Kids Moose Meal Bucket from Rolling Roof next to the Mariners Kids Club at T-Mobile Park. (Amy Wong / The Seattle Times)

The best splittable items

Garlic fries: $8.50 at various sites

A T-Mobile Park classic, a generous portion of fries is easy to share between two to three people. Although the garlic flavor may be a bit strong, just a whiff of these beautifully greasy fries makes you want to eat a few.

Grilled cheese: $7 at The Big Cheese (Section 111)

The thick slabs of brioche bread made for  an underwhelming bread-to-cheese ratio, but Beecher’s cheese has the ability to save any dish, and it was filling. You can add bacon for an extra dollar, and tomato soup is another inexpensive option at $7.

Mac and cheese: $6.50 at Fat’s Chicken (The ‘Pen)

This mac and cheese was a tad dry and won’t blow you away, but if you’re looking for some filling carbs, it’s a safe bet. Creole seasoning adds flavor to the mozzarella-cheddar mixture.

Fried grasshoppers: $5 at Paseo or Edgar’s Cantina (The ‘Pen)

These won’t fill you up, but they’re easy to split if you’re looking for a unique snack. The chili-lime flavor packs a punch, and the texture is light and pleasant, if you don’t think too much about what you’re eating. And what other sports stadium offers grasshoppers as a concession item?

Soft serve: $7 at various sites

Standard soft-serve ice cream comes in chocolate, vanilla or swirl, and the cup is generous. (For $2 extra, you can get it served in a small souvenir helmet.) It melts quickly, so be prepared to eat fast.

Chocolate and vanilla swirl soft-serve ice cream at T-Mobile Park.  (Amy Wong / The Seattle Times)
Chocolate and vanilla swirl soft-serve ice cream at T-Mobile Park. (Amy Wong / The Seattle Times)

Overall take-aways

We were pleasantly surprised with the affordable options at the ballpark, although if you want a meaty main dish, your meal will quickly get expensive. (The best meaty option we tried was the hot dog, although the Junior Mariner Dog wasn’t particularly filling.) If you’re at the game with someone else and trying to eat for cheap, your best bet is to split multiple, smaller items. And if you’re shamelessly looking for the best deal, don’t be afraid to order a kids meal.

What other food deals do you recommend at T-Mobile Park? Comment below and let us know.