School has started, there’s a chill in the air, and we’ve said sayonara to summer. For many, autumn means one thing: football. A major part of going to the game, whether you’re a die-hard fan or not, is the food (and the beer, because, well, beer). Most stadiums offer the classics (nachos, fries, burgers), in varying forms of success (hey, plastic-y cheese nachos are still nachos!), but some stadiums really stand out when it comes to concessions. Recently, many stadiums have been raising their culinary game, trying to grab fans with some truly outlandish items: We’re talking 7-pound burgers and burritos fit to feed 10 people.
In our search for the most iconic football stadium foods, we didn’t want to find just the craziest snacks hitting NFL concession stands. We wanted to identify those eats that give a nod to the fans as well as the culture of the cities in which the stadium resides.
In our research, we found that football fans really like their hot chicken and waffles (nearly every stadium had some sort of iteration). We also found that most stadiums are catching on to the growing trend of showcasing the local culinary scene.
Just like food, football can bring people together. Some of the 15 foods on this list are straightforward classics, and some are dreamt up by culinary concession wizards. But all are worthy of sharing a bite while watching America’s game.
Chef, restaurateur, and Cleveland native Michael Symon opened an outpost of his famous B Spot Burgers in FirstEnergy Stadium, and their Red Zone bratwurst is the ultimate Browns football food: a beer brat topped with caraway Cleveland kraut, spicy mustard, and Ohio’s famous Tony Packo’s pickles.
NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, has a capacity of nearly 72,000, and they’re all going to be lined up for the Battle Red taco trio. This new menu addition is made of chicken tenders crusted with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, topped with mango pico de gallo and Sriracha mayo and wrapped in flour tortillas. That’s a lot of Cheetos-orange fingertips.
Ben’s Chili Bowl is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and the D.C. icon remains a much-loved local staple at FedEx Field. Loyal fans can indulge in Ben’s homemade chili not only while cheering on the Washington football team, but during baseball season as well, over at Nationals Stadium.
If there were such a thing as a Wisconsin sandwich, this might be it. A bratwurst nestled in a pretzel bun, topped with melty cheese curds and a generous squirt of beer mustard. After one of these, Packers fans will have plenty of fuel to make it through a chilly game at Lambeau Field.
Ravens fans are proud of their Baltimore heritage, and what could be more Maryland than crab dip and Old Bay seasoning? These tacos begin with purple corn tortillas and are loaded with Old Bay pulled chicken, Maryland crab dip, and cheddar jack cheese.
Chicago Bears fans can get their potato and beer cheese fix in a delicious yet gut-busting way: French fries are first topped with seasoned popcorn chicken, hot sauce, and beer cheese. Next comes crumbled blue cheese, celery-carrot slaw, and a drizzle of ranch. We’re going to need a few more napkins here.
Franco Harris is a Pittsburgh Steelers legend and four-time Super Bowl champion most famous for hauling in the “Immaculate Reception.” During a 1972 playoff game between the Steelers and the Oakland Raiders, Harris grabbed a deflected pass to score a touchdown and won the game. Though they didn’t win the Super Bowl that year, the play marked the end of years of struggle for the Steelers, who went on to win four Super Bowl titles by 1980. Harris recently opened a new pizzeria in Heinz Field, and Steelers fans can sample this pie made with artisan dough, San Marzano tomato sauce, Parma pepperoni, and whole-milk mozzarella.
Top chef David Chang partnered with stadium concession provider Aramark to bring fried chicken deliciousness to the home of the current Super Bowl champions. Philadelphia Eagles fans can devour this sandwich made with habanero-brined chicken thighs and pickles and served on a Martin’s buttered potato roll (a Pennsylvania icon in its own right).
Seafood is practically synonymous with Seattle, so what better to order at a Seahawks game than fish and chips? Ivar's has been in business since 1938, when Ivar Haglund started selling red chowder and fish and chips at his aquarium on Pier 54 in downtown Seattle. This local icon became part of Seahawks culture when it opened in CenturyLink Field in 2004.
Kansas City Chiefs fans can stay warm during freezing games with this chicken sandwich. It’s made with hand-breaded chicken tenders, jalapeños and pepper jack cheese, and slathered with mayo made from the Carolina Reaper pepper (the world’s hottest pepper, according to the Guinness Book of World Records). Also called “The Diablo,” this sandwich was first offered during the playoffs last year, and was so popular with Chiefs fans that it’s on the lineup permanently this season. Don’t forget a beer (or four).
Hot Chicken is a Nashville specialty, and now Tennessee Titans fans can enjoy it in a sweet new way. Making its debut this season at Nissan Stadium, the Nashville Hot Chicken Waffle is made with the city’s namesake spicy fried chicken, as well as coleslaw and pickles, nestled between two fluffy waffles.
New Orleans Saints fans have a feast at their fingertips, with seafood nachos, catfish, and barbecue mac and cheese all on offer. But if you want to try something truly iconic while at the stadium, order a shrimp po’boy, and don’t forget the hot sauce.
When in the Midwest, you gotta eat tater tots. The version offered at Bengals games are taken up a notch, topped with teriyaki-marinated skirt steak, Sriracha barbecue sauce, and Asian-inspired slaw.
NFL stadiums have been raising their culinary game, and San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium is a perfect example. When catching a 49ers game, check out The Organic Coup, the first USDA-certified organic fast food restaurant in America. Their signature sandwich is made with air-chilled chicken that’s been soaked in buttermilk and cooked in coconut oil, and the whole thing is topped with spicy veggie slaw and served with one of their addictive signature sauces (all organic, of course). Not able to make it to the stadium? Here are the best game day snacks to make if you’re watching at home.
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