Kansas City, MO
NFL: Kansas City Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium
Before each game, Chiefs CEO Clark Hunt strolls through the grounds visiting fans, a tradition started by his father, team founder, Lamar Hunt. Kansas City-style barbecue is a draw, but Hunt believes Arrowhead Stadium’s massive facilities are a primary reason that Chiefs tailgating is so popular. “We can park 25,000 cars and still have plenty of room for tailgating,” he says.
NFL: Chicago Bears, Soldier Field
“You don’t really have a football game without a tailgate. They go hand in hand,” says Paula Dillon, who has been tailgating with her husband, John, for 18 years. The Dillons love the camaraderie in the lot. “Everyone knows each other,” John says. Grilled Krispy Kreme donuts are an unusual specialty here. Bears fanatics also go for Chicago-style hot dogs: Vienna beef dogs topped with onion, relish, tomato, mustard, celery salt, pickles and pickled sport peppers.
NFL: Buffalo Bills, New Era Field
Buffalo is the birthplace of wings, and Bills fans eat their share, though “beef on weck” – a steak sandwich on a Kaiser roll – is also popular. For more than 20 years, super-fan “Pinto Ken” has cooked with improvised grills on and around his 1980 Pinto (he bakes pizzas in a converted file cabinet). He recently faced scrutiny from officials for serving shots of liquor to other fans via the thumbhole of a bowling ball.
San Diego, CA
NFL: San Diego Chargers, Qualcomm Stadium
Massive crowds congregate around Qualcomm Stadium, including at the team’s official Power Party. San Diego boasts spectacular Mexican food, and it turns up at Chargers tailgates. “If you walk around our parking lot, you’ll see a lot of fans grilling up carne asado or pollo asado and making tacos,” says team rep Jennifer Rojas.
NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers, Heinz Field
Some intense Pittsburgh fans operate the Mobile Tailgating Unit, a repurposed, Steelers-yellow ambulance. The big draw: an onboard restroom. Pittsburgh’s Polish influence shows in tailgate offerings of kielbasa and pierogies.
NFL: Cleveland Browns, FirstEnergy Stadium
Local microbrews, like those from the Great Lakes Brewing Co., are popular with Browns fans. When it’s time to grill, they opt for beer-can chicken.
NFL: New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium
Freezing weather doesn’t deter Patriots fans. “They are committed to the tailgate. It goes on regardless,” says Stacy James, a team official. Some fans shuck fresh oysters outside Gillette Stadium, and New England seafood shows up in clam chowder, but “what amazes me,” James says, “is to see the guys with the deep fryers” turning out crispy scallops, shrimp and clams.
East Rutherford, NJ
NFL: New York Giants and New York Jets, MetLife Stadium
Fans of both the Jets and the Giants go big at MetLife, the impressive New Meadowlands stadium which hosted Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014. On the Giants side, super-fans have been known to convert buses and RVs into tailgating machines complete with flat screen TVs, satellite dishes, gas ranges and even Giants-blue astroturf. On the menu are tailgate standards like chili, jambalaya and crab legs.
NFL: Houston Texans, NRG Stadium
Texan fans are serious about Texas-style barbecue, which means beef brisket. Local pit masters bring in elaborate mobile smokers.
NFL: Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium
As in the rest of Miami, Cuban food is popular at Dolphins tailgates. “It’s not uncommon to see people grilling churrasco-style steak,” says George Torres, a team official. Fans gather for live music at The Grand Plaza.
Green Bay, WI
NFL: Green Bay Packers, Lambeau Field
There are numerous stories of how tailgating came to be, but director of public affairs Aaron Popkey says there’s some evidence that it was invented by Packers fans in the 1920s. Today, the team’s enthusiastic tailgaters eat beer brats, a Midwestern staple of store-bought bratwurst cooked with beer and onions. “Most people prepare them at home and bring them in, but I have seen big kettles of boiling beer here,” says Popkey.
Tampa Bay, FL
NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Raymond James Stadium
The $30 admission to the official Bucs tailgate buys fans unlimited food and two drink tickets- plus the chance to get autographs and take photos with team members and coaches while a live band plays. Fresh seafood is plentiful in Tampa, in addition to standard fare like burgers and grilled steaks.
NFL: Cincinnati Bengals, Paul Brown Stadium
“I don’t know if it was invented here, but Cincinnati seems to be the cornhole capital of the world,” says team official P.J. Combs, referring to the ubiquitous beanbag-tossing tailgate game. The city’s eponymous chili, flavored with cinnamon and unsweetened chocolate, is always available- often as a “three-way,” which includes spaghetti and cheese (add onions and/or beans to make a four- or five-way).
NFL: Oakland Raiders, O.co Coliseum
Raiders fans are famous for one thing: intensity. They’ve been known to roast whole pigs outside O.co Coliseum.
NFL: Washington Redskins, FedExField
“Fans can’t wait to tailgate. They line up before we open the gates,” says Redskins SVP Tony Wyllie. Ever since a particularly effective offensive line was nicknamed “The Hogs” in the ’80s, the team’s fans have taken pride in cooking pork.
See the rest here. (2 more NFL teams and a few colleges!)