Have you ever tried to plan your game day food by NFL city? The play-offs are fast approaching, which means most people will have their eye on the big game. But, if you’re like me, your team will only be hosting the game, not playing in it. So, I celebrate them in earlier rounds. I try to be fair in my game day food, even when I have a preferred team. I’ll use one signature dish from each team’s city (or state, or region if that’s what they represent). I do this all of January every year, yet I never remember my research. It was high time to make a comprehensive list, and I had to share it. There are lists like this out there, I know, but I don’t want to buy specific ice creams or make cabbage rolls, so here we are.
The great thing about having a list like this is you can use it all year. Some teams see the play-offs all the time; others are Cleveland, where the best game of the season is game 1. (Sorry Cleveland! At least you have basketball.) Why not enjoy a little city-specific game day food all year long? It doesn’t have to be a big party; in fact some of these would be better for just a few friends. When it comes to game day food, it can be really fun to color coordinate things like cupcakes or punch, but it’s also fun to get cultured. I tried to find three ideas for each team, using main or side dishes where possible. Some were easy – think Philadelphia or New York. Some were ridiculously difficult – I’m looking at you, Jacksonville. If you know of better ideas, feel free to let me know!
List of NFL Game Day Food
The Cardinals play in Glendale, but since they claim the whole state I didn’t feel obligated to stick to the area. You might think of Mexican when you think of the Southwest, but there’s also a heavy Native American influence to give you more of a variety of dishes.
Atlanta is a great food city. I would legitimately drive there right now just for dinner if my child enjoyed the car. You can likely find any kind of food you want there, but when it comes to it’s signature dishes, think Southern.
I feel like it would be cheating if I wrote three different types of crabs, but friends, they have at least that many signature crab dishes. I listed Lake Trout here, although there seems to be an argument as to what that actually is. Have fun with that if you just can’t stand crab!
Pit Beef Sandwiches
When you think Buffalo, I’m sure you think buffalo wings, and that is a good option. But it’s not the only option! There were actually quite a few dishes the city claimed to be good at, although they didn’t all seem like game day food.
Beef on Weck
Charcoal Broiled Hot Dogs
The Panthers are supposed to encompass both Carolinas. I was tempted to only do North Carolina since I lived there for five years, but I decided to be nice. When I say barbecue, you should be aware, there are very distinct types from each state. Choose wisely!
Shrimp & Grits
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches
Did I even need to bother with Chicago? I’m not sure that I did. It has so many signature dishes, you might as well make anything you can think of and just call it “Chicago-style.”
Deep Dish Pizza
Chicago Style Dogs
I was recently in Cincinnati and determined to stop by one of their chili places, but I didn’t make it. Their chili fascinates me though – they put it on spaghetti! Who thinks of this stuff?
Montgomery Inn-Style Barbecue
I thought I was going to have a hard time with Cleveland, but they surprised me. They have several dishes that not only make sense as a game day food, but they’re also pretty easy to make, even for a group.
Ah, Texas. So much food, so little time. Luckily there are two Texas teams to fit it all in. I tried to split them appropriately, but they both have that Tex Mex style to them and love meat. Perfect for games, right?
I love Denver’s restaurant scene, but they have a lot of influences from all over the place, so it was hard to narrow it down. If you’re on the east coast, you’ll probably prefer a Denver sandwich over the omelette, but west coasters might enjoy them for an early morning game.
I always thought a Coney Dog was a Coney Island thing, but either I’m wrong or confused about the history. Apparently they’re Detroit’s signature dish. I’m kind of vague about apples, I know, but it gives you a chance to be creative.
Square Deep Dish
Green Bay Packers
The team’s fans are called Cheeseheads, and if I wasn’t sharing this list, it would be all cheese. Since I am, I did my best to find some other dishes. Wisconsin sounds like a good place for game day food!
Houston’s food is all over the place due to it’s history of immigrants from everywhere. There’s a big Cajun influence along with their Tex Mex, and of course regular ole’ Texas chili.
Chili (no beans)
Every source I looked at claimed Indianapolis loves breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, so I would have to say this one is actually definitive. Of course, if pork isn’t for you, there are other options.
Corn on the Cobb or Sweet Corn
Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches
Sugar Cream Pies
Oh Jacksonville. You all claimed you have no specific dish, and after a morning of searching, I believe you. In fact, I picked shrimp for you because you had a lot of vague “seafood” comments. But your baseball team is the Jumbo Shrimp, so the crustacean must be cooked somewhere, right?
Camel Rider Sandwiches
Kansas City Chiefs
I’ll be honest with you. After researching Kansas City food, I’m pretty sure all they eat is barbecue. For breakfast, lunch, dinner, it doesn’t matter. In fact, if you are a vegetarian, you might cease to exist once you cross city limits. I added some broader Kansas/Missouri foods to round it out.
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles claims to be good at everything, so go ahead and make whatever you want. I left a ton of stuff off this list, like tacos, but other cities needed foods too, so LA has to share.
To me, Miami is all about Cuban food. They might serve something else, but I’ve never looked. I know some of these things look difficult and not like what a frenzied host might want to make, but they aren’t that bad. If you don’t have time to try them, make any Cuban dish and call it a day.
Minnesota has a ton of regional food. A lot of it comes from Nordic influences, which is perfect for the Vikings. They may be hard to accomplish. But the other parts are kind of like what you would expect at a state fair or an unhealthy potluck (think Jello salad), so you have a variety of foods to choose from.
Lefse and/or Lutefisk
Deep Fried Cheese Curds
Tater Tot Hot Dish
New England Patriots
Friends, if you don’t have a good recipe for clam chowder or know of a can worth serving to people, let your eyes skim right past that option. Pretend you saw oysters or cranberries. There’s probably many more choices as well, since the Patriots are greedy and represent a whole region.
Boston Cream Pies
New Orleans Saints
You know what’s great about New Orleans food? No other city claims it. They have a rich history of Cajun/Creole cooking that’s really distinctive, and it sure was nice not having to read about what kind of tacos they serve.
New York Giants
You may be aware that there are two New York teams. Two! And they play in New Jersey! It’s nonsense. But, I’m perfectly okay with it in this situation because New York has a ton of food they can claim as their own. Add a few more teams, I’m sure I could find a few more options.
General Tsos Chicken
New York Jets
If you’re wondering, these are listed completely at random. I don’t feel like the Jets would be more likely to eat bagels than the Giants, or that the Giants would be more likely to eat pizza than the Jets. Wouldn’t it be kind of funny if they were though?
Pastrami on Rye
Chicken & Waffles
Yes, that’s right, I gave taco truck tacos to Oakland. All the forums I read were pretty insistent about this, so it is what it is. I’m not sure precisely what kind of tacos appear in those trucks, so I guess that means you can choose whatever you want.
Taco Truck Tacos
Philly’s really adamant that they’re more than cheesesteak, so please don’t feel like that has to be your only choice. Pretzels for game day sounds amazing. By the way, Irish potatoes aren’t Irish or potatoes. I wonder what the Irish think of that.
You are reading this right. Pierogies are appearing on the list for a second time. Who knew this country had such a love of pierogies? I ate them in North Carolina once and no one else knew what they were. Primante is a restaurant, but you can find their recipes online.
San Diego Chargers
Do I remember something about San Diego moving to LA with the Rams? I might have to change this soon. Until then, enjoy some more California food with a beachy vibe.
Carne Asada Burritos
Turkey Avocado Sandwich
San Francisco 49ers
I miss San Francisco clam chowder in a bread bowl. I ate clam chowder all over Boston, but nobody served it like they do on the pier. Cioppino’s a pricier meal, but it’s actually pretty easy to cook. Just remember to clean your shellfish.
Clam Chowder with Sourdough
Seattle folks couldn’t seem to agree on anything other than salmon, so serve that however you want. They also kept mentioning coffee, but last time I checked you can’t eat that. They do say their vegan food is great, so if you are feeling like it’s time to try something animal product-less, might as well start with this.
Fish and Chips
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I bet you’re surprised to see Cuban sandwiches here instead of Miami. They actually started out there, but the more I read about Tampa, the more I realized this is where they belong. And yes, that says enchilado, not enchilada. Don’t ask me why, I didn’t create it.
Spanish Bean Soup
Here’s my current home team (although not the one I root for). With these three dishes you’ve got Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville covered. I’m not a super fan of cornbread, but it is a nice and easy addition to a game day meal.
Our nation’s capitol is known mostly for food of other country’s. Neat, huh? Everyone agrees the main signature dish is the half-smoke, although they claim locals don’t actually eat it. But then, D.C. isn’t exactly full of locals anyway.
Well, that’s it! I hope this gives you enough game day food ideas for at least a couple of years.