On the Road Eats: Game Day Across the Country
Take your game-day fare to the next level at these FN-approved bars and restaurants that guarantee tasty touchdowns.
Score hearty fare to pair with your football at these FN-approved hot spots that specialize in game-day-worthy grub. From classic bar burgers to regionally inspired wings, we've got all the best bites for the biggest game of the year.
Culhane's Irish Pub — Atlantic Beach, Fla.
This real-deal Irish pub is run by four Irish sisters who are eager to serve up their favorite family recipes, like Guinness beef stew and corned beef and cabbage. Dishing out "comfort food with attitude," they take classic bar foods and treat them with an Irish twist. On Triple D, Guy Fieri tried the Guinness stew that's made with a special house seasoning blend, plenty of hearty vegetables and tender Guinness-marinated steak. The velvety texture and deep roasted flavor makes the stew a satisfying "full-belly dish" that will last you all throughout the big game. On the burger side, order the 3-ounce lamb sliders, griddled in butter and smeared with homemade curry aioli. Guy called the juicy sliders "hands-down perfect" and claimed he could eat 100 of them, so be sure to pace yourself or you'll be in the midst of a slider-induced food coma by the end of the first quarter.
Claddagh Pub — Baltimore
Head out across Baltimore's Inner Harbor and dock at this watering hole that combines true Irish spirit with Chesapeake regional specialties. Bobby Flay visited the pub on FoodNation and found all of the locals there, including the mayor, who recommended the showstopping rack of lamb. A New Zealand lamb rack is marinated in Quebec seasoning before it hits the grill, and a richly flavored veal demi-glace is poured over top. Served with mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables, the dish is a prime example of the "upscale Irish cuisine" served at Claddagh, but they've got bar classics covered too. The menu highlights the region's seafood with a hot Maryland crab dip, a seafood club sandwich and steamed jumbo shrimp so your game day fare can include all of Baltimore's best.
Super Wings NY — Brooklyn
For a taste of the Caribbean in the heart of Crown Heights, order up this joint's trini-tamarind chicken wings, which have earned the prestigious title of "best wings in Brooklyn." Located in one of the largest Caribbean communities in the area, these specialty wings deliver authentic island spice with a 24-hour marinade full of fresh herbs and super-hot Scotch bonnet peppers. Bobby was so impressed with the exotic flavors that he challenged the owner to a hot wing Throwdown and learned how to make the trini-tamarind sauce that includes a special Caribbean herb, chadon beni (similar to cilantro), habanero pepper and tart tamarind. One secret he couldn't uncover is the formula for the house Lava Sauce, a creamy, spicy dip that accompanies every wing on the menu. Sauce secrets aside, Bobby praised the award-winning wings, saying that you can "taste the flavor right down to the bone." With a hefty dose of heat and a hint of fruitiness, these wings are just right for easing into the big game.
Anchor Bar — Buffalo
Known as the "birthplace of the Buffalo wing" since 1964, this upstate New York institution was the setting for a hot wing Throwdown between Bobby and "the wing king," Drew Cerza. A hometown hero, Drew founded the National Chicken Wing Festival and is seriously passionate about his wings, which are fried naked without a dredge and tossed in a bourbon-brown sugar barbecue sauce that's spiked with ancho chiles and honey for spicy sweetness. Served with traditional sides of blue cheese dressing and celery sticks, Drew's juicy jumbo wings proved that Buffalo still knows best when it comes to its namesake dish. Anchor Bar offers its famous specialty in mild, medium, hot and "suicidal" heat levels, and the restaurant ships frozen wings all over the country, making your game day setup even easier.
DMK Burger Bar — Chicago
Just a few blocks from Wrigley Field you'll find this mecca of beef that's cranking out gourmet burgers and homemade sides by the dozens. A former fine-dining chef dreams up strange yet sensational combinations, like the bison burger with blueberry barbecue sauce that delivers what Guy called "monster flavor." Paired with fresh goat cheese and pickled onions, the finished burger has just the right amount of "crustification" and crunch from the griddle. Beyond beef, the bar also carries veggie, turkey and fish options, like the tender salmon burger that's topped with Asian coleslaw and a Thai red curry sauce. Back those burgers up with rustic hand-cut fries sauced with truffle cream or spicy lemon aioli, and check out a wide selection of house-made sodas and shakes.
Highland Tavern — Denver
Located in an old brewery, this Denver dive bar keeps the suds flowing while turning out upscale bar food with high-end ingredients. Guy stopped by to tackle the homemade Tavern Tater Tots, which he called "the Everest of bar foods," seasoned with cayenne and tamari, then fried into golden-brown globes. After a round of the redefined tots, Guy took on the pork rinds that are made in-house from raw pig skin. Once dehydrated, the rinds hit the fryer and explode into crispy puffs, which are tossed in chili-lime salt. Guy thought the pork rinds were so righteous, with their crispy yet light texture, that "they should be prescribed by a doctor." For the final touchdown in the feast, order the Bombshell Brisket Sandwich featuring house-brined pastrami with jus, melted Swiss, slaw and a fried egg on toasted rye bread — Guy deemed it worthy of being his next tattoo inspiration.
Grover's Bar & Grill — East Amherst, NY
This 19th century hunting lodge was voted "best burgers" three years in a row, and they're serving up beef every which way, including in a bowl. Guy said the famous cheeseburger soup tasted like "no-kidding liquid cheeseburger," and he couldn't get enough spoonfuls of the cheesy broth that's full of browned beef, lettuce and tomato. The best-selling Bruiser Burger is a whopping 12-ounce "manhole cover on a bun," topped with sauteed onions and crumbly Roquefort cheese. Griddled on a flat top to create a crunchy crust, it's just one of a dozen burgers being cranked out at Grover's. You should probably bring a backup appetite to conquer the lineup of "pterodactyl-size wings," as well, which Guy called "super crunchalistic" comfort food.
The Rivershack Tavern — Jefferson, La.
The local delights served at this 100-year-old landmark tavern turn typical game-day fare on its head. Start with the meaty turtle soup special that features Louisiana snapping turtle simmered for hours with tomatoes and a full bottle of sherry. After turtle time, order the rabbit special that Guy tried on Triple D; it's paired with "dynamite" green onion and Creole mustard spaetzle dumplings. The rabbit is braised in bacon fat until the meat falls off the bone, and it is smothered in rich white wine gravy. In other words, the inventive menu reaches far beyond the average bar food with New Orleans specialties like alligator sausage and buffalo oysters that are guaranteed to give your game-time grub some Cajun flair.
Blue Palms Brewhouse — Los Angeles
If you like your game with a side of spice, hit up this L.A. eatery for the Liars Fuego Steak Melt that was featured on Crave as the "ultimate spicy sandwich." It's stacked high with prime rib, a medley of serrano, jalapeno and brined Hungarian peppers, and chipotle aioli between jalapeno cheddar bread for a "creeping heat" that intensifies as you eat. The bar also offers a build-your-own-burger option, but with the famous truffle burger on the menu, you won't bother to design your own. Served on a white truffle-glazed bun, this decadent burger is cooked in duck fat and slathered with blue cheese, brined peppers and aioli. Or if you prefer the classics, stick with the endless options of wings and rings, nachos and Buffalo dip, and pair them with one of the rotating craft beers on tap.
Good Dog Bar & Restaurant — Philadelphia
This Center City bar has been around since Prohibition, and while the setting boasts 100 years of history, the menu is anything but old fashioned. Stocked with upscale comfort food (and plenty of dog photos), this eatery serves inspired combinations like duck confit pie and truffle cheese steak empanadas. Guy sampled both on Triple D and loved the "prime-time" richness of the duck confit with supporting flavors from shiitake mushrooms, peas and thyme in a Chinese five-spice sauce. A twist on Philly's signature dish, the "world-class empanadas" are filled with thinly sliced rib eye that's seasoned with truffle oil and served with a thick bourbon porter sauce. Guy compared the dish to eating an "elegant cheese steak," and you'll want to do just that while you're here watching the big game.
Royal Tavern — Philadelphia
Food Network Magazine listed this bar's Angus burger in the top 50 best burgers around the country, and it's so beloved by the regulars that they've nicknamed it "the royal." Weighing in at 8 ounces, this big appetite-pleasing burger is topped with bacon, caramelized onions, smoked Gouda and pickled hot peppers, and it's served on a brioche bun with spicy chile mayo. Philly's famous cheese steak joints are only a few blocks away, but this burger keeps beef lovers flocking to the bar instead. Don't forget the tavern's other game-day offerings, like the duck confit potato skins with truffle butter and the fully stacked nachos — there are even vegan sloppy joes and a tempeh club sandwich for the meat-averse football fans in your group.
South Philadelphia Tap Room — Philadelphia
Guy visited this funky taproom with Marc Summers on Triple D to check out the fearless chef's signature dish that's "head and shoulders above the rest." One of the most popular items, the headcheese tacos are made from locally sourced pig's meat (including the tongue, snout and jowls), which is boiled in spiced vinegar and formed into a jelly-like terrine. Sliced thinly, the headcheese is folded into fresh corn tortillas along with queso fresco and homemade hot sauce for an original taco that Guy called a "taste adventure." If you're not quite as daring with your game-day menu, try the fried peanut butter and jelly that's crusted with frosted cornflakes, or order the ricotta apple doughnuts tossed in garam masala sugar and served with hard cider caramel sauce.
Brats Brothers — Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The German specialty goes global at this authentic sausage house where you'll find 23 different kinds of bratwurst to choose from. This viewer's choice selection was so popular with Triple D fans that they asked Guy to feature it on the show. The restaurant turns out a variety of regionally inspired sausages, like the Bavarian (beer-infused smoked pork) and the Alabama yard bird (spicy smoked chicken), alongside traditional German sides like cheesy spaetzle and sauerkraut. Or choose from the "exotic" side of the menu, which features options like the Wild West sausage (buffalo and Burgundy wine), the Swamp Thing (smoked alligator) and the Aussie (ostrich and pistachio), for a complete sausage world tour to accompany the game-day feast.
Mallie's Sports Grill & Bar — Southgate, Mich.
If you're looking to supersize your game-day grub, head to this king of burger joints, where they're turning out Guinness World Record-breaking burgers on a regular basis. Having broken the record for the biggest restaurant burger on three separate occasions, Mallie's set out to build an even bigger, beefier behemoth with Tom Pizzica's help on Outrageous Foods. It started with 270 pounds of ground beef, and the "sleeper sofa-sized" burger took 19 hours to cook and required a hydraulic lift to move it into the oven. With blankets of cheese, pounds of bacon and plenty of pickles, the completed burger weighed in at 319 pounds, easily beating the previous record. Best of all, you can order one of these monster burgers for your own big-game bash, provided you give the restaurant 72 hours' notice. None of your guests will be asking where the beef is when they line up for a slice of this Hercules-size bite.
Kitty Hoynes — Syracuse, NY
The owner of this upstate watering hole hails from Dublin, so you know he's serving up authentic Irish pub grub, as Guy discovered on Triple D. From fish and chips to shepherd's pie, this spot delivers Irish favorites with a serious spin. Take the panko-crusted Reuben fritters, which pair brined corned beef with cream cheese and sauerkraut before hitting the fryer. Once these "creamy cannonballs" are golden brown, they're plated with a potent Guinness mustard and horseradish dipping sauce. Kitty Hoynes is also home to a mean baked Irish meatloaf made with ground lamb and black pudding that's diced and fried for extra crunch. Flavored with a hint of curry and sharp Irish cheddar, the giant loaf is served with a rich cabbage cream sauce that was so good, Guy claimed he could put it over anything. This rib-sticking fare will keep you going throughout the big game, but the home-style atmosphere will have you coming back long after the last touchdown.
For more FN-approved destinations, check out Food Network On the Road.