Here's the thing about eating at football games. Just when you think you have had everything your stadium has to offer, you find out...
... actually, you know what? You're just going to skip this intro and go right to your favorite team's pick right away anyway -- it doesn't really matter how I set this sucker up.
In light of that (and because you guys aren't going to be reading this) I want to get the following off my chest: Hot dogs are sandwiches, Eli Manning is an elite quarterback, and I, for one, think overtime should be settled with a sudden-death thumb war between each team's sweatiest player.
Now, if you are still here for some reason, go find your team.
Take on This 4-Pound Taco
Arizona Cardinals (University of Phoenix Stadium)
Pizza box nachos
You have to respect an item like pizza box nachos for being exactly what it claims to be -- nothing more, nothing less. It's an unpretentious, slightly less-than-genuine Southwest staple (guac, jalapeños, cheese, etc.) in a classic package that occasionally surprises you by how good it can be. Kind of like the Arizona Cardinals themselves, actually.
But they might tear up your insides. Kind of like the Arizona Cardinals themselves, actually.
Atlanta Falcons (Mercedes-Benz Stadium)
Anything from the "Fan First" menu
The dirty birds have flown the coop from the Georgia Dome, into swanky new digs named after a swanky car brand. But despite all this apparent pomp, the Falcons have actually decided to cut their fans some slack by introducing a ridiculously cheap (well, by stadium standards) "Fan First Menu" featuring $3 pizza slices, $5 burgers, and $2 hot dogs. They might have choked in the Big Game, but at least they're letting their fans drown their sorrows with $5 draft beers, right?
Baltimore Ravens (M&T Bank Stadium)
Chicken tender basket
Chicken tenders don't need to pumped up or decked out. In their unadulterated form, they are perfect. They are to football food as Omar Little is to a critically acclaimed HBO drama. And the pigskin chefs at M&T nail the misleadingly simple dish with their chicken tender baskets, or CTBs as they are known around the stadium. Charm City is not fancy, and neither is its greatest football snack. It almost makes you forget Ray Lewis probably helped kill a guy. Almost.
Buffalo Bills (New Era Field)
Various items from Tim Hortons
So, this is certainly not the flashiest option on this list. But hey -- the last time the Bills were flashy, they lost four straight Lombardis, right? The Canadian chain known for its coffee and donuts is a worthy option for the apocalyptical cold weather common of Northern New York, and a sensible choice for the wallet, too. This all sounds extremely Buffalo-esque. With the Bills being Canada's default bastard NFL son, it only make sense they make their presence known with their second-greatest export (No. 1 being Leslie Nielsen, obviously).
Also, from what these viral videos have shown me, their fans could do with a little sobering up before kickoff.
Carolina Panthers (Bank of America Stadium)
Barbecue pulled pork nachos
As nachos have somehow displaced hot dogs as football's premier food option (wieners are baseball's turf, anyway), it only makes sense that Carolina would stack its world-famous pulled pork atop a plate of nachos and hope for the best. Luckily, it makes total sense. Delicious, savory, shirt-staining sense. Yes, every plate of nachos is certainly destined to end up on your shirt. It's Cam Newton's Law of Gravity.
Chicago Bears (Soldier Field)
Chicago -- home of fans who are stereotyped as drowning in encased meats among casual bouts of heart failure -- deserves a concession worthy of Mike Ditka's calorie-heavy dinner plans. The aptly named Midway Monster fits the bill... and oozes all over said bill with quintessential Midwest meat grease.
Corned beef. Hot dog. Onions. Bacon. This is a big ol' sloppy mess atop a fresh baguette bun, and pretty much emblematic of why the entire city is out of shape. Still doesn't explain why Jay Cutler was so unhappy though. I'm still worried about that guy.
Cincinnati Bengals (Paul Brown Stadium)
Gold Star Chili cheese dog
Cincinnati-style chili (which is really more like a watered-down, nebulous, inexplicably delicious form of actual chili) is as ingrained in Bengals culture as losing football games. Which is to say, they are very accustomed to it.
And though all of Bengals fans' highs (division championships! Andy Dalton!) eventually come crashing down (immediate playoff losses! So many immediate playoff losses!), they always know the chili dogs spring eternal at Paul Brown, even if optimism does not.
Cleveland Browns (FirstEnergy Stadium)
So this kimchi dog is pretty much the most un-Cleveland thing since Cleveland actually won something ('sup LeBron?) -- but that's exactly the point. The chili aioli-graced, caramelized onion-stacked wiener brings class to the mistake-on-the-lake, and is the brainchild of native son, chef Rocco Whalen.
You might get some funny looks from the wing-guzzling Dawg Pound, but never be ashamed to eat something this good at a place that hasn't seen a win in literal years. (Good luck, Baker!)
Dallas Cowboys (AT&T Stadium)
The house that Jerry built spared no expenses, including a "Yes, everything is bigger here" bounty of available food options (hey, someone had to compensate for the lack of playoff success). Rising to the top -- all the way to the retractable roof -- is the Texas torta, a leviathan of a Mexican sandwich, with carnitas, barbacoa, and chicken (why choose only one?!), along with deep-fried jalapeños wrapped in bacon.
It's so big, when Tony Romo tried to eat one he broke his collarbone. And so delicious, he also broke his clavicle. He didn't choke though. Oh wait, yes he did.
Denver Broncos (Broncos Stadium at Mile High)
Mark Schlereth's Stinkin' Good Green Chile fries
You may recognize Mark Schlereth as a two-time Super Bowl-winning O-linesman, or that dude on ESPN with the super-rectangular head, or as the moderately involved spokesperson/owner of a line of green chili.
They put Mark's self-proclaimed Stinkin' Good chile on fries at Mile High -- and truth be told, they are stinkin' good. With the bankrupt Sports Authority's naming rights for the Broncos' home having been removed earlier this year, it's high time that Schlereth just goes all in and buys the whole place -- even if "Schlereth Stadium" sounds like a joke about the lisping sports announcer.
Detroit Lions (Ford Field)
Let's put this as succinctly as possible: landing Slows -- Detroit's premier BBQ joint -- was the biggest win for the Lions in a long, long, long time.
Now, they only have to worry about this brisket retiring in the height of its prime so it can go on Dancing With the Stars. This can't keep happening, guys.
Green Bay Packers (Lambeau Field)
Horse Collar kielbasa
Packer purists (and most Packer fans are indeed purists) might instantly opt for the long-fabled "Pac 'n Cheese" macaroni riff -- but a Green Bay booster I am not. So, with an objective eye, it's the jug handle-shaped, 22-inch grilled kielbasa coined the Horse Collar that ends up taking the Lambeau leap into the pantheon of kick-ass concessionaires in Wisconsin, home of maybe-murderer Steven Avery, a noted Packers fan.
Houston Texans (NRG Stadium)
Brisket from Goode Co.
When you're in Houston (and J.J. Watt's not on the field) you don't watch football. You stuff your face with brisket. Goode Co. happens to have some of the best brisket in the entire country. The slow-smoked brisket plate, probably your best bet at Goode, comes with a hearty underlayer of Czech sausage that proves Houston is just as good at selecting meat combos as drafting Pro Bowlers.
Indianapolis Colts (Lucas Oil Stadium)
Pork tenderloin sandwich
Indianapolis has been blessed with otherworldly QBs for the past two decades. And the fans in the stands are blessed with a pork tenderloin so massive, two buns -- let alone one -- would not be able to handle it. Which is better? It's hard to say.
This is a sandwich very much in the vein of blue-collar Indianapolis itself, no frills, no pretensions -- just a deep-fried mass of meat with lettuce, tomato, and onion. It's definitely more appealing to look at than Andrew Luck's face. Hm. I'm not sure if that's sad or delicious.
Jacksonville Jaguars (EverBank Field)
Chicken and waffle sandwich
Sacksonville has had a lot to cheer about for the past two years. Unfortunately, Blake Bortles is still their QB. Fortunately, they have a chicken and waffle sandwich that will make you forget about that.
Kansas City Chiefs (Arrowhead Stadium)
Chiefs' Brisket Stack
When you go to Kansas City, the best place to eat BBQ is (obviously) in the Arrowhead parking lot. If you happen to miss out on that, you can catch a Brisket Stack inside of the stadium, to quell your case of BBQ-FOMO.
It's a double-stacked sandwich with a dose of tangy BBQ sauce -- and it's pretty damn good. It's not as good as catching some home-cooked brisket by some of the Kansas City faithful outside, but you also don't run the risk of getting your ass kicked.
Los Angeles Chargers (StubHub Center)
If you haven't been following the NFL closely (or, you just prefer to pretend that the Chargers don't exist, like most people in this country), you might have missed that San Diego's football team now plays in a 30,000 seat MLS stadium in Los Angeles. The team is having some... um, trouble... attracting fans in the area.
But hey, at least the people that do show up can indulge in SoCal-centric taco chain Chronic Tacos while they watch Philip Rivers burn through his glory years.
Los Angeles Rams (The Coliseum)
Lobster nachos by Lobsterdamus
After years of toiling away in St. Louis, the Rams are finally back home in Los Angeles. And while they wait for a more permanent stadium solution, the Coliseum has ensured the new legions of Rams fans have enough trendtastic food options for every LA resident's requisite Instafeeds. Notably, the lobster nachos by Lobsterdamus stand out as a social media-ready food that's actually worth eating. And hey, if they sell enough of them, they might actually be able to pay Aaron Donald.
Miami Dolphins (Hard Rock Stadium)
Fans of the 'Fins should be thankful that Key West bar Sloppy Joe's made its way up the coast to the newly renamed Hard Rock Stadium, as its signature dish (Sloppy Joes, obviously) blows everything else out of the proverbial water.
The original Key West joint was a notorious Hemingway haunt. And these sloppy Joes are good sloppy Joes because they are honest sloppy Joes. They are the sloppy Joes that make the Earth move and make men remember what the world was like before the ravages of the war took over our plains and our mountains and our seas and turned good men into beasts.
Minnesota Vikings (US Bank Stadium)
Andrew Zimmern's Canteen Hoagies
Andrew "I wish I didn't name my show Bizarre Foods" Zimmern is one of the most famous living (sorry, Prince) Vikings fans. So naturally, he's bringing some of his culinary expertise to the Vikings spankin'-new digs with several projects. Zim's hoagie shop -- featuring Midwest staples like meatballs, sausage, and roast beef -- is smoother than a 50-yard Culpepper-Moss connection, and hits harder than a pissed-off Linval Joseph.
New England Patriots (Gillette Stadium)
If Pats fans become a little bored with continual, seemingly effortless excellence ('cept when they play the Giants, hey-oh), they can take a break from the on-field Gronking by snacking on the Lighthouse Grill's signature steak sandwich -- served atop a ciabatta roll with all the classic hamburger fixings.
It would be a little too easy to make a Deflategate joke here. So instead, I'll point out the fact that Tom Brady and his personal chef are "... very cautious about tomatoes."
New Orleans Saints (Mercedes-Benz Superdome)
Black and Gold po'boy
Always an underrated sandwich in my opinion, this Black and Gold po'boy, loaded with "home-made roast-beef debris" (the Saints' words, not mine) and Bayou fried shrimp, would make any "Aint" fan want to rip the brown bag of shame from their head and embrace their team for its taste in concessions alone.
Like Drew Brees' birthmark, the team -- and city -- just wouldn't be the same without it.
New York Jets (MetLife Stadium)
The $50 Jumbo Jet Breakfast Bagel
What Gang Green lacks in success, organizational structure, sartorial taste, and overall dignity, it compensates for with the most egregiously greasy, temptingly overstuffed breakfast sandwich on this side of Guy Fieri's personal kitchen.
It's almost enough to bring the franchise back to the days of Joe Willie and Superbowls. Till you remember this.
New York Giants (MetLife Stadium)
The Kitchen Sink
Despite having two teams with "New York" in their names, only one NFL team actually plays its home games in the Empire State, and it's all the way up in Buffalo.
So, the G-Men pay aggressive homage to their real home (New Jersey) by stuffing a sub roll from Calandra's Bakery with both Thumann's hot dogs and Premio sausage, peppers, onions, and a few healthy lines of vinegar cream dressing. To top it all off, the concession workers make you hum "Born to Run" and pump your fist while you take the first bite. It's kind of annoying, actually.
Oakland Raiders (O.co Coliseum)
Look, when you go to a Raiders game you should be happy enough if you just make it out of the place alive. And if you get a hog dog with piles of mac & cheese, bacon, chili, and jalapeños along the way, consider yourself super-duper lucky.
Unlike Raiders fans, who haven't considered themselves lucky since the Reagan administration.
Philadelphia Eagles (Lincoln Financial Field)
Chipotle mac & cheese
Obviously, Philly's pick needs to be a cheesesteak, right? Well, in true Philadelphian fashion, I said f*ck what everyone else thinks and just did what I want here. This mac & cheese consists of black cherry-smoked pulled pork or maple sugar-smoked pulled chicken and is graciously topped with Cool Ranch Doritos -- or as Europeans call them, Cool American Doritos.
It is so good, even the trashiest Philly fan (who inherently would be in the running for trashiest fan in the country) wouldn't toss a handful of this delicacy at a shoddy-looking Santa Claus with a torn ACL playing for the opposing team. And yes, it's even better than milksteak.
Pittsburgh Steelers (Heinz Field)
Primanti Bros "Pittsburger"
If there's one thing Pittsburghers (aka Yinzers) love more than one of Primanti Bros.' iconic sandwiches (an assorted Italian meat loaded with fries and coleslaw), it's the Stillers themselves.
So, when you combine the two, you get a Western Pennsylvanian transcendental experience equivalent to a spirit vision of 100 Mario Lemieuxs parting a red sea of Heinz with Mr. Rogers' entire neighborhood behind them. And if you miss out at the game, just grab one dahn-tahn.
San Francisco 49ers (Levi's Stadium)
Wagyu beef hot dog with pork chicharrones
The prestigious Niners' new stadium features a hot dog with five delicious components that sync up with its five Superbowl trophies: pork chicharrones, bacon, one juicy hot dog, guac, and a big ol' pile of French fries. Yes, it's another hot dog. But really, it's a five-course meal atop one hot dog. It's more beautiful than Jimmy G's radiant smile.
If John Harbaugh knew this was on the way, maybe he wouldn't have skipped town?
Seattle Seahawks (CenturyLink Field)
Dungeness crab roll
Like its city sister Safeco Field (home of the M's!), CenturyLink has become a food oasis in the Emerald City, with a bounty of offerings almost as good as the Legion of Boom on the field. Have you ever wondered why Seahawks fans are so excitable (12th man and all that)?
The Dungeness crab roll is like the Pacific Northwest's riff on a lobster roll: citrus aioli, celery, fresh buns from Seattle stalwart Macrina Bakery. This Dungeness crab roll is beast mode -- sans Skittles. I mean, you could put Skittles on it, if you want.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Raymond James Stadium)
There are no crab legs to be found in these suckers (apologies, famous Jameis) but there's certainly a lot to like going on here in central Florida. They are pretty standard taco fare -- which is obviously a good thing: braised Cuban pork, black beans, and cilantro creme on a soft tortilla.
I was really, really hoping there would be a throwback Creamsicle sandwich. But alas, the franchise has washed this nightmare from its collective Floridian memory.
Tennessee Titans (Nissan Stadium)
All-day chili and grilled cheese
The Tennessee Titans don't normally have a lot to be excited about -- except falling one yard short of winning the MF'ing Superbowl.
But anyone with a sound mind and functioning taste buds would get excited about this grilled pimento cheese (atop Tennessee toast!) and chili combo. The best part? The chili is Johnny Cash's personal recipe. The worst part? There is no worst part. Did you even read the description?
Washington Redskins (FedEx Field)
Baltimore is famous for its crabcakes, but in NFL terms, the team with the egregiously outdated name does it better. So if you are looking for a taste of Mid-Atlantic crustacean, head to our nation's capital.
Crabcakes and football is apparently what Washington, D.C. does now. Now if only they'd change their name, fans would actually have something to root for, here.
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