Stadium Food Power Rankings: Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
Today on The Daily Meal
This week marks the final week in the NFL regular season, and our coverage spans three final matchups: the Philadelphia Eagles' Lincoln Financial Field versus the New York Giants' MetLife Stadium, the Oakland Raiders' O.co Coliseum versus the San Diego Chargers' Qualcomm Stadium, and the matchup featured here, the Washington Redskins' FedEx Field versus the Dallas Cowboys' Cowboys Stadium. (The teams are vying for the NFC East title.) With our record at nine wins and four losses, we are anxious to see how we’re looking as we head into the playoffs, and creep ever-closer to the Super Bowl finale in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
FedEx Field has now been home to the Washington Redskins, NFL team of the nation’s capital, for fifteen years. The team had previously played at RFK Stadium for over two decades. A new and improved DC stadium was first envisioned in 1987, though the project was moved to Landover, MD, in 1994, due to environmental and other issues within the District of Columbia. The new facility, where the first game was played in 1997, was originally named Jack Kent Cooke Stadium; in 1999, Dan Snyder bought the Redskins and sold naming rights Federal Express. It was originally the largest stadium in the NFL, seating over 91,000 fans, but seating reductions in 2010 and 2011 (for standing end zone/ “party zone” space, among other things), reduced the capacity to 79,000. My own allegiance aside — I'm a third-generation DCer, and my brother's godfather, Anthony Casolero, is the team physician — the Redskins' fan base is probably one of the most loyal win-or-lose bands of followers in NFL history — and this season there looks like there might actually be some hope for Washington. So I’m going to throw a personal “Hail” for my home team, and move on to the stadium food.
Famous Dave's Ribs at FedEx Field. Photo courtesy of Centerplate.
Local Skins fans favorites include The Ultimate Steak and Cake, a juicy sirloin-meets-Maryland crab cake, served on a pretzel roll with melted cheese, a tower of onion rings, and garlic fries; cheesesteaks on authentic Amoroso rolls with fried onions and your choice of cheese, as well as the grilled chicken sandwich from The Greene Turtle, a Maryland staple since 1976; and Boardwalk fries, a DC area staple since 1980, coming in one-pound servings of hot crisps fired with Old Bay and malt vinegar (essential Maryland and DC flavors). Other favorites include a selection of items from favorite, Phillip’s Seafood, including the Maryland crab cake sandwich with cocktail and tartar sauce on a potato roll; fried butterflied shrimp; the Crab Pretzel, which includes a blend of crab claw meat, cream cheese, hot sauce, and Phillips Seafood seasoning, with a mixture of cheddar and Monterey jack cheese all on top of a soft pretzel (described as “an authentic taste of Maryland”); and the seafood sampler, with Phillip’s famous Maryland crab cake, crab pretzel, and butterflied shrimp. Items from Ben’s Chili Bowl also grace the favorites list (a DC favorite started on U Street, and a stop of President Obama’s): Ben’s Half Smoke All-the-Way — a Bill Crosby favorite with a half smoked topped with Ben’s chili, shredded cheddar, diced onions, and yellow mustard; Ben’s Hot Dog All-the-Way, topped also with Ben’s Chili, shredded cheddar cheese, diced onions, and yellow mustard; and Ben’s Chili con Carne, made fromf Ben’s secret recipe.
Ben's Half Smoke at FedEx FIeld. Photo courtesy of Centerplate.
Other popular stadium staples include Polski Polish sausage, a Polish Government-certified (according to the 1964 set standards) kielbasa, hand-crafted from an old Krolik family recipe and handed down through generations; Kayem franks, from a 99-year old company and premier manufacturer of some of the leading brands of meats; Papa John’s pizza and breadsticks served with garlic parmesan butter; Gordon Biersch garlic fries, coated with garlic and parsley; Johnny Rockets milkshakes in vanilla or chocolate and famous burgers, coming with buttered, toasted potato buns, fresh lettuce, tomato, onions, cheddar cheese, and Johnny Rockets secret sauce; and Famous Dave’s BBQ's slow-cooked ribs smothered in Famous Dave’s award-winning barbecue sauce, along with french fries covered with Famous Dave’s chili and then coated with shredded cheddar. Hooters, which has an entire restaurant at the stadium, complete with full menu and Hooters girls, serves a gourmet chicken wing dinner with 20 wings and a bottle of Korbel champagne; half-pound bags of peel and eat shrimp; onion rings with Hooters Kickin’ Dippin’ sauce; garden salads; and shrimp po' boy sandwiches, including Cajun-seasoned shrimp, lettuce, tomato, and rémoulade sauce on a French baguette.
FedEx Field's Rocket Single. Photo courtesy of Centerplate.
FedEx also offers specialty beverages, tailored to the season. In summer, fans can get Redskins Rita, or “Hail to the Rita,” cocktails on tap, featuring Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka and Lemonade and Jose Cuervo Margaritas; Captain’s Dark and Stormy, with Captain Morgan’s spiced black rum, ginger beer, and fresh lime juice; Parrot Bay Coconut-Mango Daiquiris; and Ciroc Coco Loco — Ciroc Coconut Vodka with pineapple juice, club soda, and fresh lime juice. In the fall and winter, fans can get seasonal craft beers; hot chocolate spiked with Bailey’s; Liquid S’mores (hot chocolate spiked with Smirnoff whipped cream vodka and a graham cracker stirrer); Skins Spiced Cider (hot apple cider spiked with Captain Morgan’s spiced rum, stirred with a cinnamon stick); the DC Snowbird, a Parrot Bay coconut rum drink, served with hot chocolate whipped cream, and toasted coconut; and The Royal Treatment, with Crown Royal Maple and hot spiced apple cider.
FedEx also pays mind to vegetarian, gluten-free, health-conscious, and kosher fans. Items include gluten-free and vegetarian Greek salad, vegetarian hummus, vegetarian grilled veggie wraps, vegetarian Greek salad wraps, chicken Caesar salad, fruit and cheese platters, fresh strawberry salad, trail mix, milk, gluten-free Redbridge beer; and Kosher Italian sausage, hot dogs, falafel, and shawarma.
The appropriately named Cowboys Stadium, home of the (ahem) Dallas Cowboys, sits in Arlington, Texas. Team owner Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene, set out to “build more than just a football stadium,” and enhanced the venue with some 14 monumental art works by both local and internationally famous artists — many of them visible to fans (though official art tours are not offered on game days). Concessions at the stadium are run by Legends Hospitality Management, a company we haven’t yet seen in our stadium food series, and we were anxious to see what treasures this Dallas team has for sale in its vendors.
The Super 16 at Cowboys Stadium. Photo courtesy of Legends.
Enticing items at the stadium include Bent Buckle Barbecue's Sterling Silver Prime Beef Brisket, generously coated with a secret spice rub and slow-smoked over Texas hickory embers for 18 hours, as well as the Bent Buckle BBQ beef sandwich, Texas nachos, truffle mac and cheese, and the "loaded baked potato." Also offered are Ultimate Nachos, with tortilla chips created especially for Cowboys Stadium, jalapeño nacho cheese, beanless chili, pico de gallo, and fresh jalapeños; Cowboys Cheesesteak, a twist on the Philadelphia classic with jalapeño jack cheese, fajita-cut onions, and seasonings for a Texas kick; the Torpedo Dog, a Nathan’s all-beef hot dog with a toasted-inside-out bun and a choice of “chef-crafted” sauces, including “The Playmaker,” with black pepper ketchup, stadium mustard, and sweet pickle relish; “The Triplet,” with jalapeño ketchup, Amarillo mustard, and roasted garlic aïoli; and “The Too Tall,” with chipotle ketchup, Amarillo mustard, and pineapple salsa; the Super 16, a three-pound burger with an American Wagyu patty, Bent Buckle BBQ brisket and BBQ sauce, shredded lettuce, sliced beefsteak tomatoes, and four slices of pepper jack cheese, all on a 8-ounce brioche bun; the Legendary Steak Sandwich, a carved-to-order steak sandwich, made with coffeeand-spice-rubbed, slow-roasted sirloin, piled high on a brioche bun with horseradish cream; the Triplet Burger, with a six-ounce beef patty, four ounces of cheese, caramelized onions, and chipotle mayo on an artisan cheese bun; the house-cured pastrami sandwich, also carved to order, with a selection of cheeses and sauerkraut; street tacos from Vaqueros Cantina, with a choice of pork carnitas, beef barbacoa, or tinga de pollo, accompanied by a fresh salad bar, with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, assorted house salsas, jalapeños, and chopped onion; and the charcuterie platter, available at select wine bars, with in-house cured meats, artisan cheeses, fresh baked breads, house-marinated olives, and chef-crafted mustards.
Cowboys Stadium's Brisket Sandwich. Photo courtesy of Legends.
Healthier foods at the stadium are presided over by Mellissa’s Whole Fruits, a California-based produce company that offers fresh fruit and vegetables in numerous forms. Three locations at the stadium offer kid-friendly and healthier items, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, kid-sized turkey sandwiches, milk, coconut juice, fruit juice, cut and whole fruit, assorted vegetables, Hail Merry nuts, and almonds. A stadium program with Paul Quinn College also produces organic herbs and veggies for Legends, as well as other Dallas restaurant locations.
The stadium also offers vegetarian versions of their nachos, with house-fried blue corn tortilla chips, all-natural jalapeno jack cheese, black beans, corn, and house salsa; and the vegetarian black bean burger.
Nachos at Cowboys Stadium. Photo courtesy of Legends.
Close call, rivals… but even without my biased opinion (my coworkers had to decide this one), the Redskins are taking the lead in this week’s match-up. Although we all expected the food of Dallas to take it home, we were surprised by the District’s slew of options and variety — not to mention the seasonal drinks and dedication to local favorites. So let’s see Washington — will you make me proud? Tune in Sunday at 8:20 p.m.
Tyler Sullivan is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on twitter @atylersullivan.
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