“Home Is where the heart Is” – written by a Roman encyclopedist some 2000 years ago, still holds true today, or “Home away from home” – a place where you feel as comfortable and content as if you were at home.
I enjoy a nice day at the race track because I do feel like it is my home away from home. Where can you enjoy quality food offerings with some of the best thoroughbred horses in the world? Nowhere other than Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
If you haven’t been before, look at this as an introduction. If you have, then maybe you have been missing a few gastronomical opportunities.
As a foodie, I get double the excitement picking horses and dining at the track. Though picking horses is tough – so is deciding my daily fare with so many choices.
Let’s start with the basics. Sure, you can go to the concession stand and get a dog and a beer, but I recommend going to one of the many carving stations and getting one of the best sandwiches this side of the Valley. Roast beef, corned beef, turkey, and ham all sliced in front of you for under $12. You can get it your way, too. Rye bread? Sure, they have it. Pickles a must? You got it! I got mine with just mustard. Nothing beats getting a sandwich and a beer and sitting in the clubhouse with an unobstructed view of the San Gabriel Mountains… and, of course, the ponies running in front of you.
When I feel like a big shot and still want a killer view, I head over to the FrontRunner. The prices here are very reasonable for top-notch food and a wine list any sommelier would appreciate. The kitchen is in very capable hands with Executive Chef Paulo. I am a creature of habit, so once a month I head right up to the FrontRunner and order the “real deal” Maryland Crab Cakes ($29) breaded with a panko crust, and really enough crab for two to share. I have gone to a dozen or so “seafood houses” in Los Angeles and Orange County that serve crab cakes for $14, and let me give you a tip: pay more and be happy. I will start off the “Santa Anita Creamy Clam and shrimp Chowder ($10) I have had my share of “Friday” Clam chowders and this one is great on any day.
Another great starter is the Swedish dill Toast, a relatively new and welcome addition to the menu. Oh, I love to share, so consider the Fig and Cheese Pizza and a fine entrée or appetizer. For you seafood fans, I suggest the Atlantic Roasted Salmon ($27) with a side of asparagus. The price, win or lose that day, is a winner. To finish off my exotic trifecta, the Almond Coconut Orange Caje ($8).
Saving the best item for last, the view from FrontRunner is a true postcard. The bar, I am told, is the longest bar west of the Mississippi. There is a true “cool buzz” when hanging around FrontRunner. In summary, there is something for everyone to have a great day of racing and dining at the Santa Anita Race Track. I hope you enjoyed the tour.
Listen to Peter Dills’s radio show every Sunday at 5 PM on KRLA AM 870. His food blog is here.
Featured photo courtesy of Santa Anita Racetrack
Peter Dills photo courtesy of Peter