I was at Friday’s Phillies home opener game and while I was there, I checked out Uncle Charlie’s Steaks, the new digital Phanavision screen and other new things for the 2023 season!
The Phillies have entered the 2023 season with high hopes after an amazing 2022 World Series run last year. Fans packed the house on Friday to greet the team back home for the start of their next Championship run.
I’ll leave the sports commentary to the guys at Crossing Broad, and stick with what I know. Food and digital signs!
There are actually several new food items in the ballpark for this year and I’ll give them a rundown, but the thing that was in my radar was Uncle Charlie’s Steaks… named after beloved Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel.
I had hopes of trying others such as Federal Donuts new chicken tenders, but found myself surprisingly full after eating the cheese steak!
The Phillies play at home today through Wednesday, and then won’t be back home until April 20th. Tuesday April 11th is the season’s first Dollar Dog day! (Phillies Tickets)
Citizen Bank Park – Massive New Phanavision
Back in November I shared with readers that the Phillies were putting in a brand new Phanavision screen to replace the one that is situated in left center field. This will be the third screen for the park since it opened back in 2004. Each one gets bigger and better!
The new screen is 77% larger than the previous display, measuring 152 feet wide by 86 feet tall. EIGHT stories tall!
The massive sign clocks in at 116,000 pounds and is supported by 190 tons of steel.
The prior display filled a smaller portion of the large vertical support structure, and the right one quarter or so had a stacked array of stationery signs including Toyota and Xfinity for example. Today that entire space and even further off the edge of the structure, is filled with the digital display.
By going wide across the full structural width this gives the Phillies a lot of flexibility to dynamically utilize the screen as an entire large video display, replay and stats, or also mix in ads like they had before.
To demonstrate the size, the Phillies multimedia team actually recreated on the new larger display, the exact prior look of the prior sign with the advertisers on the right for example! You’ll have to look closely but “when you see it” you’ll better understand how much larger the new display is.
In my visit on Opening Day a key presentation format on the display was… well to highlight the current batter they would run banner advertisements along the top and bottom edge of the display, and give a large center row “movie screen aspect ratio” section to focus on the player, stats and other aspects of the game.
I was eager to see the new display, but I did not spend a lot of time focusing on it as I spent most of my time walking around the stadium checking out the restaurants, bars and more.
I even occasionally watched some of the game! Ha!
So I am looking forward to coming back soon to check out the Phillies again, put a little more time at this seeing what this do display sign is capable of.
Uncle Charlie’s Steaks – Section 109
Uncle Charlie’s Steaks and the also new 1883 Burger Co. are both located in Section 109 (first base side)
If it’s a busy crowd walking the concourse you may initially be a little confused though as to where Uncle Charlies was located, as they take one of the concourse booths which are located directly behind the stadium seating, across from 1883.
But don’t be disappointed as even in that smaller space there is a full grill there and they are cooking the steak meat right within the Uncle Charlie’s booth
I timed this right because as soon as I got to the ballpark close to game time, I went directly to the Uncle Charlie’s stand and there was no line. Later on as I crossed by again more than once, I noticed the line was MUCH longer.
They offer a Cooper Sharp American cheese sauce or a Cheese Whiz sauce. I went with cheese whiz because I wanted to confirm if it was the real Kraft brand.. and it seems it was. No detectable warehouse cheese sauce taste.
The rolls are from Liscio’s bakery in Glassboro and they are seeded.
So I mentioned they do grill the steak right there in the booth but to streamline the process both of the cheese options are melted down to a more liquid sauce which is poured onto the sandwich after being cooked on the griddle.
Not an uncommon thing. If you’ve ever been to 9th and Passyunk that’s exactly how everyone puts “Whiz” on the steaks served there.
So you will not see a stack of deli sliced cheese waiting to be layered over the top of the meat on the griddle. From what I saw, the cheese never actually makes it to the griddle portion. Again this seems perfectly fine.
They were cooking the meat in bulk quantities and then transferring it to metal steam trays. When you ordered your sandwich the meat was taken from the steam trays onto your roll, and not directly from the grill.
I’m not sure if this is a problem or not. I can’t quite figure out what I’m losing by the meat spending several minutes sitting in an aluminum foil steam tray. Just thought I’d call out the process, considering it’s a ballpark, you have to expect some level of compromises to deal with the quantity of people.
Alright to finally get to the point, people want to know how did it taste?
Let me remind you that I am not a food reviewer, and I really don’t want to be a food reviewer. I am an experience guy!
The most direct thing I can say is it was a pretty decent steak. Very good for something you get at a ballpark, but in no way am I going to say it compares to any Philly top-contenders that you would find outside the ballpark.
At $16.50 It seemed reasonably priced given where I was at, but add on a large beer.. and my bill was close to $35.
It’s a Liscio’s roll so it means a very soft almost, bread-like roll which I’m a fan of actually. I like that there is some compression in the roll when you bite into it, and it’s not like you’re eating 90% bread and 10% meat.
Similar to my general statement of “pretty darn good for a ballpark”, the portion of meat was also a fair representation.
This is not a super stacked sandwich that people will be say you must try, but again considering It’s a ballpark sandwich it will make many folks very happy.
Overall, I felt the steak was good and I ate the whole thing.
I do wonder if that time spent in the intermediary metal tin sort of changes the flavor a little bit, allowing the grease to cool down and collect on the sandwich more?
In hindsight I wish I had ordered a cheese steak from one of the other options in the ballpark, to do a sort of side by side comparison.
If I don’t do that soon, I bet one of the other news media food influencers we’ll get to it soon enough.
Citizens Bank Park New Food Items 2023
Last year I covered the opening of Manco and Mancos pizza, and that article did very well with readership and was even shared by the Pizza Shops Facebook page last year.
Despite that amazing coverage of Manco’s last year, the PR folks at the ballpark didn’t think to invite to media day to try out the new things.. so here is a quick rundown.
1883 Burger: The name goes back to the year the Phillies were founded, which matches up to a burger that is served fresh and never frozen. There are two of these locations in the ballpark, and one of them is directly across from the Uncle Charlie’s Steaks.
Federal Donuts Chicken Tenders: Crispy hand battered chicken tenders served with a signature dip. Early reviews from media and fans puts this as a top contender of one of the best new item for 2023. I will be back soon to try them.
PJ Whelihan’s Cheesesteak Egg Rolls: an order consists of two golden fried egg rolls stuffed with Philly’s best shaved steak and melted American cheese. Available in Ashburn alley.
South Philly Disco Fries: Roast pork, melted sharp provolone, broccoli rob and roasted red peppers. Also available at Pass and Stow.
Greens and Grains: a plant-based eatery serving fresh and fast options. They have several locations throughout South Jersey and we covered a location opening in Voorhees.
Mexican St. Popcorn available at the Pass and Stow bar. The popcorn is tossed in-house special seasonings and cheese. More of a snack than a meal.
Manco and Manco Pizza, fresh off the publicity of 42 freeway last year(Ha!), it has proven to be very popular in the park and they have added three more locations throughout the ballpark (plus the original Ashburn Alley location)
I also noticed an interesting self-serve canned beer stand! I didn’t a chance to try it out tho!
Links and Locations
Phillies 2023 Season
Citizens Bank Park
One Citizens Bank Way
Philadelphia, PA 19148