I worked the 2019 US Open at the Arthur Ashe Stadium as a brand ambassador for Chase with Two Dot Productions. I was manning the booths and interacting with customers to promote positive brand awareness. To incentivize timeliness, being on time was rewarded with a $20 meal card for each shift. Free is the ultimate frugal!! With 17 accessible meal options and 14 days on the schedule, I embarked on a quest to find the best meal the complex has to offer.
And the winners are…….
All Around Favorite: Korilla. (I plan on visiting their store in Manhattan!)
Runner Up: Poke-Yahty
Best on a Budget: Prime Burger
Best Salad: Poke-Yahty
Best Sandwich: ‘Wichcraft
Best bang for your buck: Korilla
The ones to skip….
- Curry Express
- Neapolitan Express
- Fish Shack
- Field Trip
- Butterfly Tacos
Day One: Butterfly Tacos
I’m drawn to “tacos” like a moth to a flame. My three short rib tacos were quickly dished out, and I knew by the looks of the overly sauced chunks of meat and floppy tortillas that it wouldn’t be my finest taco experience. The tacos were having a bit of an identity crisis…. Were they BBQ or Mexican? the sauce was sweet and slightly smoky, which didn’t quite go with the Mexican flavors of the cilantro, onion, and tortilla. The beef was too fatty, the tortilla was rubbery, and I didn’t even have the option of hot sauce. Regardless, I scarfed them down to put my growling stomach at ease.
At least I have set the bar of my culinary tour through Arthur Ashe Stadium low…. It can only go up!
Day Two: Pokey-Yachty
It was kids day, and lines for the burger and sandwich options were outrageously long. Kids must not like raw fish, so I was able to walk right up to the register at Pokey Yachty to order my spicy tuna bowl on a salad. Was it spicy? Not even a little. Was it edible? It sure was! There was an absurd amount of sauce (that they wouldn’t let me order on the side) that created the optical illusion that some of the cucumber was finely diced tuna. The few chunks of tuna I dug out of the sauce was quite tasty, the cucumber added a nice crunch, and they surprisingly weren’t stingy on the avocado. It got the job done in feeding me, but I would have never paid $17 of my own money on it.
Spicy Tuna bowl on salad.
Day Three: Curry Kitchen
Fan week was over, and the US Open was officially in full swing, meaning there were thousands of tourists blundering around with confused expressions and a drink in hand. I was forced to go to the shortest line for my dinner break and ended up with a Tandoori Chicken platter and naan from Curry Kitchen. I squeezed on a bench next to a Spanish woman, who, to my dismay, wanted to strike up conversation about how she had “healthy” food at the stadium last week. Little did she know I had a shift involving 7 hours of talking with guests, and I wanted to spend every single one of my 30 minutes off ignoring everyone. I gave some nice, short responses and she finally got the point.
The two pieces of chicken were shockingly tender and juicy. The “vegetable” portion was green slime that I’m assuming was spinach with a couple chickpeas slopped next to a descent portion of rice and my naan was nothing more than piece of pita bread. “Indian” isn’t really the right word to describe the meal, rather, I’d call it a chicken and rice bowl with some bread on the side. I liked it! Unlike most stadium food, it wasn’t fried or slathered in sauce and grease, and I didn’t feel weighed down afterwards.
I returned to the charge and watch station ready to take on the technologically inept hoards once more.
Day Four: Field Trip
After a New York bagel breakfast sandwich for brunch, something lighter for dinner was in order. I bolted from my charge and watch station a few seconds before 5:10pm when I spotted a group of foreigners approaching, and made my way over the Field Trip, a salad and wrap stall that oddly enough has a full sized restaurant a few blocks away from my apartment. I ordered some sort of salad and added salmon on top for $19. If it was my own money, I would have been appalled. They quickly handed me a bowl of lettuce with a couple cucumbers, two pieces of baby corn, a chick pea, some broccoli, and a descent portion of salmon. I was taken aback by how good the salmon was. Fish is often butchered in descent restaurants, so kudos to a sports arena venue for serving good fish.
My body was happy to get some nutritious fuel to power me until 9:00pm as I took on a new post involving snapping photos with replicas of the US Open trophies, repeatedly saying “don’t touch the trophies!!!!!!!”
Day 5: Prime Burger
It was cold, rainy, and I was just berated by a Ukranian woman who told me I “ruined the entire game because my phone died and I couldn’t take pictures!!! A complete disaster!!!!!!!” Prime Burger was the path of least resistance between me and food, so I got a classic burger for $12. It was warm, juicy, and everything I wanted in that moment. On the grand scheme of burgers, it is average with a boring, barely toasted bun filled with the basic slice of tomato and piece of lettuce, but sometimes you just want a simple, reliable burger.
Prime burger is solid relatively cheap option in the Food Village. Besides, aren’t you suppose to have hamburgers and hot dogs at sporting events anyways?
Day 6: Creperie
It was a beautiful evening and the grounds were packed with ravenous tennis enthusiasts trying to refuel after a day in the sun. I wasted 4 precious minutes of my break venturing into the food village before turning right around to the Creperie. Within 5 minutes I had a chicken, mushroom, and cheese crepe. The white shredded chicken meat was tender and paired nicely with the ample amount of mushroom. A gooey gruyere cheese tied it all together inside a perfectly thin, clingy, doughy crepe. It certainly would not have been worth $16 outside the stadium gates, but I went back to work without feeling weighed down and was quite content with my dinner.
Day 7: Off
Day 8: Korilla
I had been eyeing the orange and black bowls for the week, but the line had always exceeded my patience and time restraints. Today, my 4:30pm dinner (lunch?) break meant my opportunity had finally come. I happily ordered a bulgogi bowl on sweet potatoes noodles, and was beyond pleased with the outcome. Glass sweet potato noodles served as a base to kale, corn, kimchi, and an amble portion of tender bulgogi all tied together with a slightly spicy, flavorful sauce. The bowl had a unique smoky sweetness that was enhanced by the corn, and shaken up by the kimchi. It is by far the most complex flavor profile dish I’ve had at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It’s going to be hard to not go back for the second and final week…. But I have a duty to find you the best food, not all heros wear capes.
Day 9: Off
Day 10: ‘Wichcraft
‘Wichcraft is a sandwich and salad “farm to table”, “let’s make something seem healthy” artisanal, organic, to-go joint with locally baked bread, antibiotic-free meat, and house made condiments. Normally, I can’t muster up the courage to take on the line, but today the rain meant only the die hard fans remained and I walked right on up. I dug pass the fancy wording and trigger adjectives, and was left with a pretty delicious turkey, bacon, and avocado sandwich on doughy brioche bread and a bit of chutney to bring it all together. There was plenty of meat, they didn’t skimp on the avocado, the bread had the right level of crisp, and I was obsessed with the chutney; I’m a sucker for a sweet component on my sandwich.
It was a great dinner, but an outrageous price ringing in at $20. If it hadn’t been for my meal card, there’s no way I would have paid that much for a turkey sandwich. With that being said, I’ll definitely check out their actual shops throughout New York!
Day 10 part two: Pat LaFrieda
Early in the day, I was walking into the bathroom near Pat LaFriedas and crossed paths with a lady who gave me a grave warning that it was very slippery inside. A couple of the workers were sitting in the hallway and witnessed the interaction that was 2 minutes too long with a chuckle. As I exited, I reported back that the bathroom was in fact not slippery at all, and gave credit to “my sweet white Nike kicks that Chase hooked us up with!”
Fast forward three hours. I was in the same hallway secretly using my phone, and someone yelled, “Hey Nike… want a sandwich?” I never turn down free food…. And 4 minutes later I was dished up a tray of tater tots and a grilled chicken and cheese sandwich. He said, “come by whenever, it’s always good to help each other out! Keep smiling.”
I shared the tater tots with my incredibly grateful coworkers and saved the sandwich for later. Of course I had to take a bite when it was fresh, and the crunchy baguette, oozing cheese, and chicken breast were a great combination. Working in events and promotions can make you lose faith in humanity as you deal with countless incompetent, greedy, and rude people. The free sandwich and nice man restored a bit of hope.
Day 11: Curry Kitchen…. Again.
My dinner break fell right after the big Serena match, and I’ve never seen such long lines. The one place without a line? Curry Kitchen. I guess if they have “express” in the advertising, they have an obligation to be fast. Either that or people don’t want food court Indian. I got the Chicken Tandoori, and was underwhelmed once again by the chicken, rice, and green slime. On the bright side, it wasn’t greasy or too heavy and I got a good macro balance of fats, protein, and carbs.
Day 12: Neopolitan Express Pizza
It was the quietest day yet, meaning I could finally try out the Neopolitan Express pizza. This brick oven pizza chain is at most street fairs in New York City, and it’s allegedly a step above your standard dollar slice. My margherita pizza was perfectly fine, with decent thin crust that was doughy and a bit crispy. The cheese and marinara were edible. Worth the money? Nope.
Day 13: Korilla…. Again.
It was freezing cold, raining, and windy and we resorted to doing push ups, squat jumps, and jazzercize to keep our body temperatures up. When my lunch hit, I headed straight to my favorite Arthur Ashe vendor to restore some happiness back to my soul: Korilla. I got the shredded chicken bowl, and it was exquisite. Gooey sushi rice was the base for kimchi, corn, and an overly generous serving of chicken topped with a spicy sauce. It was perfection, and something I would actually pay $17 for in a restaurant.
With a long day an no dinner break, I doubled down and headed over to get a chocolate banana crepe. The caramelized banana surrounded by decadent melting chocolate wrapped in a warm stretchy crepe was exactly what the doctor ordered.
I headed back to the cold, and buckled down for the 6, cold hours ahead.
Day 14: Off
Day 15: The Fish Shack
After 2 weeks, it was finally the last day. I skipped off to my lunch break and passed Korilla with hungry eyes before getting to Fish Shack. I got a poached salmon salad that featured a nice chunk of fish on top a bed of greens with cherry tomatoes, a couple stalks of asparagus, and some pumpkin seeds. Worth the $20? Absolutely not. But it was satiating, healthy option.
I had $13 left over from all my meal cards, so after I shut the magic ATM one final time, I headed over to Prime Burger to get a grilled chicken sandwich for the ride home. The generous portion of chicken was hot and juicy, and went nicely with the slightly sweet bun, tomato, and crunchy lettuce. I think $12.50 is a great value relative to the other food options, and I was happy to end my Arthur Ashe culinary journey on a high note.
There you have it! My culinary tour of Arthur Ashe!
What are your favorite Arthur Ashe eats? Comment below!!