Stadium Food Power Rankings: Indianapolis Vs. Tennessee

Instead of a coin toss, we're flipping burgers. Instead of flags, we're counting health code violations. And instead of referees... well, there's us. The Daily Meal is thrilled to kick off its newest series, Stadium Food Power Rankings, a battle to find out which NFL teams have the best stadium food.

Each week will feature a marquee matchup of two NFL rivals. Prior to game day, we will carefully assess the food and beverages available at each team's stadium, measure them against a select list of criteria, and decide which franchise does a better job of keeping their fans satisfied... gastronomically speaking.

This week, our story covers Sunday's showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans. Each of these Midwestern houses of pigskin mayhem has been measured against:

  • Unique items / Variety / Presentation
  • Cleanliness / Preparation / Health Code Violations
  • Allergy-Minded Options
  • Healthy/Organic Options
  • Most Popular Items

Both teams work with Centerplate, one of the largest hospitality companies in the world, when it comes to food services at their stadiums. So to ensure the menus we reviewed were up-to-date, representative of their total offerings, and sourced accurately, we spoke with one of Centerplate's specialists. We also took to Facebook and asked fans to vote on which stadium they preferred. 

Which team prevailed?

After comparing both teams' options, consulting with fans and food experts alike, we have concluded that the variety — and quality — of options at the Indianapolis Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium ever so slightly surpass those offered by the Tennessee Titans at LP Field. Thus, if stadium food has any effect on a teams' game day performance, Colts fans have nothing to worry about this weekend! 

So what gave Lucas Oil Stadium the win?

While they ultimately came out on top in every category, the Colts had a few offerings that really shone.

Unique/Most Popular Items

For starters, the Eisenberg Black Angus hot dogs (yes, we're talking steak hot dogs), homestyle pot roast sandwiches, and chili varieties created for the Homegrown Concessions partnership with Farm Aid had mouths watering here at The Daily Meal. One editor was even seen beneath her desk, discreetly trying to book a flight to Indy for the next home game. The editor, who has requested anonymity, received a dozen error messages after typing "Pot Roast Sandwich" into the destination field on Orbitz. We immediately called a cab and had her rushed to the nearest Arby's. (Photo courtesy of Centerplate).

Another drool-inducer was the "walking taco," which, in case you aren't familiar, entails a crushed bag of Doritos with taco fixings thrown in. Feel free to pause for a moment and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. This dish was added to menus at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2011 and has been one of their most popular items since. 

For dessert, fans can enjoy some Blue Bell Ice Cream, which is pretty much like sewing your own ribbon to break through when you win the race, because if the aforementioned feast didn't convince us, this did.

Healthy/Allergy-Friendly Options

While eating a bag of the "walking taco" may feel like your heart is being sat on by a defensive tackle, you can always redeem yourself in the fourth quarter by picking up one of the stadium's veggie burgers or hot dogs. Not exactly a side salad sans dressing but, hey, it's Sunday. A gluten-free pizza from Papa John's also dances along that healthy-not-so-healthy line, but since gluten-free is suddenly the new seven-grain we're giving them a point for being allergy-friendly (and trendy). 

Environmentally conscious efforts at Lucas Oil Stadium also swung the vote — especially their promotion of water stations versus bottled water throughout the facility. From both conservation and recycling standpoints, this program was a huge deciding factor for our editors. Not only does this initiative save water, but it can save fans a few bucks. And we know we're not the only ones getting sick of ducking our heads beneath the bathroom faucets.

Already on our good side with the whole water-hugging thing, we nearly flatlined when we heard that the stadium's caterers favored locally sourced produce, poultry, beef, and pork for Homegrown Concessions' chili varieties. Just last year, in fact, the organic chili became the first ever organic entrée to be served at a Super Bowl. Making it almost as historic as the birth of the walking taco — almost. 

But what about the Titans?

All things considered, Tennessee Titans' LP Field was no easy competitor. They had their fair share of edible victories as well. Where Lucas Oil won in variety and originality, Tennessee may have edged them out had the judging been based solely on locally sourced menu items.

Unique/Most Popular Items

One of our favorites had to be local restaurateurs Benjamin and Max Goldberg, who offer up Getch'er Po'Boys and Brew Pub sandwiches. You can get the po'boys with sweet tea-brined pork, "Buffalo" turkey, or roast beef (although you probably won't make it past "sweet tea-brined..." before the overjoyed sobbing commences). The Brew Pub sandwiches use local beef and pork from Bear Creek Farms in Leiper's Fork, Tenn., cheese from Kenny's Farmhouse in Kentucky, and produce from local growers. You can bet this trio of locally sourced ingredients had us doing wheelies in our swivel chairs. 

Another major salivator is everything pertaining to the stadium's Jack Daniel's BBQ partnership. Nachos, pulled pork, and rib sandwiches give their menus a godlike quality, some might say.

For dessert, the stadium hosts treats from Christie Cookies. Another local vendor for LP Field and we're huge fans of this pairing (it's just... not Blue Bell).

Both teams, we should mention, also offer Health Snack Packs, officially preventing you from having a foolproof excuse for eating like a pig at the stadium. For adults, packs include snack rolls, cookies, popcorn, a chocolate chip Clif bar, and Hail Mary maple vanilla almonds. The kids have an Odwalla berry smoothie, Funky Monkey fruit snacks, Pop Chips, and Fig Newtons.

Tune into the game this Sunday at 1 p.m. EST, for the clash between rookie phenom Andrew Luck and powerhouse back Chris Johnson. Can the Indianapolis Colts' food win lead them to mouthwatering victory on the field? You'll need to tune in to see. And be sure to check in next week, when the Denver Broncos' Sports Authority Field at Mile High takes on the Cincinnati Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium.