Lonely Planet Writer

Why spicy grasshoppers have overtaken hotdog sales at one baseball stadium

Mariners fans at Seattle’s Safeco Field can’t get enough of the stadium’s new Mexican dish – grilled grasshoppers. They’re currently serving 15,000 of the little morsels a week.

Grasshopper dish with lime on the side
Grasshoppers are on the menu in Seattle. Image by Ben VanHouten, Seattle Mariners

The demand for grasshoppers, otherwise known as chapulines, has been so high that Poquitos restaurant, the outlet selling the bug snack, ran out an hour before the game even started. “We could have sold a lot more. We brought in just over 300 orders, what we thought was enough to get us to the end of the recent ten day homestead,” said Poquitos owner Rich Fox. “In the next homestead we’re going to bring in ten times the amount we normally pack.” All Star Edgar Martinez was a former player for the Mariners, his career batting average was 312, so Poquitos will budget out that number of grasshopper orders from game to game.

A bowl of grasshoppers
These spicy grasshoppers are a surprise hit. Image by Poquitos/Rhein Haus

While there’s a great novelty value in ordering a plastic cup full of bugs, the flavour is what surprises people the most. The restaurant orders the insects directly from Oaxaca, Mexico. “They harvest them there, toast them, then add chilli, lime and salt,” said Fox. “When we get them we finish them off and boost those flavours.”

Not only do they taste good, but they have nutritional value too. “They have a really high source of protein,” said Fox. “Some people say it’s the protein of the future.” Fox is also excited to see people open to trying new things, having one off experiences, and the American and Mexican cultures coming together through food. “There’s now an acknowledgement of this part of Mexican culture. The fact that they’re being served in a baseball stadium and people are loving it and embracing it is really neat,” said Fox. “This is something you can’t find everywhere, a lot of people are willing to give it a try.”

Those reluctant to give up the traditional hotdog at the Seattle ball game will be pleased to know that Poquitos is planning a new dish – a Mexican-favoured, bacon-wrapped bratwurst, sprinkled with the popular little critters. For now, you can get a cup of approximately 25 chapulines for $4 at a Mariners game, or $3 as an appetiser at Poquitos Capitol Hill restaurant. Visit vivapoquitos for more info.