A long time ago in a far away site I would give random power rankings depending on the opponent Texas A&M played in a given week. As the Grove is hailed as a Mecca for Tailgating I figured this week I would bring back Power Rankings and give my top tailgate foods. As a disclaimer, I’m sure there will be some disagreements had over what qualifies as a tailgate food or doesn’t qualify, so this list comes from my own personal preference on things I’ve had at tailgates. Not only do I think you will likely have different opinions, I encourage you to share them. Also, beer is a drink so it is not on the list.
9. Anything Catered
Look - I totally understand if you don’t have the time to prepare food at your own tailgate. It sucks and just because I have this last doesn’t mean I am judging you for getting your tailgate catered. HOWEVER, I do think that having your tailgate catered does take away from the experience a little bit so I’m basically disqualifying catered tailgates by placing them at the bottom of the list.
I’ve been to a handful of tailgates in my life and never once have I been thrilled to see a charcuterie spread at one. Every time I see one it feels out of place AND YET, it still seems to be a common occurrence. There is a time and place for charcuterie and it is not the tailgate.
7. Deli Sandwiches
Very important distinction here with the “deli” aspect. Deli sandwiches always end with soggy bread at tailgates. Very much a not good tailgate tailgate food.
I am a fan of wings and I think they go fantastically with football but I think they are much more of a watching tv at home food than a tailgate food. I don’t want to have to use a wet wipe at a tailgate and while I appreciate the effort that goes into cooking them, it also takes a hell of a lot of effort to eat them.
Chili is a fantastic tailgate food in that it is easier to make in bulk to feed a crowd and there isn’t anything much better for a cold weather tailgate. However, I think chili on it’s own is a little drab and I’ve had some very bad batches at tailgates in the past. Well-executed it probably moves up the list a bit.
4. Hot Dogs
The hot dog is a perfect tailgate classic for someone who doesn’t want to put too much thought into the spread. Throw it on a bun with whatever toppings you want and it’s an ideal tailgate sandwich. It’s not flashy enough to get higher up on the list but it’s a solid option that you really can’t mess up.
Everything that I said about hot dogs applies to burgers but the burgers have a bit higher of a ceiling in my opinion. Also - both of these options can be improved by putting chili on top of them.
I’ve had some bad barbecue at tailgates but I’ve also had some pretty decent stuff at tailgates and it is pretty much the easiest way to get a lot of protein into you pre-game and pre-alcohol. Pulled pork and burger buns are generally undefeated unless you are just a really bad cook.
I know you are looking at this list crazy right now but let me just say that I am basing this off my personal experience and the fact that every tailgate jambalaya I’ve had has been prepared by someone that knew what they were doing. It’s another one like chili where you get a big enough pot and know your ratios and you can feed a whole heck of a lot of folks. Plus, I think it’s more of a complete meal on it’s own than chili is.