1. Laying down a strong foundation for a day of drinking and jeering is vital, but first you should decide how ambitious you want to be. The most hassle-free solution? Legendary Eagles chef de tailgate (yes, that’s a real thing) Cav’s Catering to cater your gig. He runs buffet-style parties of his own over in the Jetro lot (see #4 below) so it’s simple for him to give your group a private set-up on site.
If, however, you’re willing to do a little work, pit mistress Erin O’Shea, over at Percy Street Barbecue, has a well priced, mix-and-match, large-group take-out menu that’s both delicious and easy. Order up five or 10 pounds of pulled pork or brisket, a few whole birds, and half or full trays (half trays feed about 10 to 12 people) of Percy’s crowd-pleasing sides like mac-and-cheese, slaw and beans. They’ll pack it all up in nice containers, and toss in pickles, sauce and eight-packs of rolls, if you want. Considering adding on a pecan pies? Stop thinking and just do it.
Prefer to run the grill? Go semi-homemade with grill packs from Wursthaus Schmitz in the Reading Terminal Market. You’ll get a variety of homemade, ready-to-cook sausages, a bunch of their sides (kraut, potato salad), mustards and rolls. It’s around $60 if you need to feed five to eight people or around $115 to feed up to 15 pals. (They’ve also got a Haus Pack, where the meat is cooked and which includes a ton of all-prepped-up sausage, charcuterie and side platter options.) Bonus: Pick-up the grill or haus packs at Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street and you can toss a few growlers on to your order.
2. Speaking of brews: Leave the Coors and the PBR for frat boys, hipsters drinking ironically and tailgating extremists who’ll be passed out by kickoff. If you want to aim higher, you might as well start with the Foobooz Beeramid of Excellence. The top 25 Beeramid beers aren’t just delicious craft brews, but have the added benefit of being delicious craft brews from PHILLY, which is just good hometown juju. In any case, whether you commit to drinking local or not, you might consider saving yourself the trip on game day and have Hawthorne’s deliver 6-packs, 12-packs and big bottles to your door the day of or night before. (If you take out, they offer a 30 percent to-go discount on bottles and cans.)
3. Bring hand sanitizer. Lots of hand sanitizer. Also, extra tissues.
4. Find your happy place. If you’ve tailgated even once, you know that this means getting there early (particularly if you want a spot at the Linc or Wells Fargo): Plan on lining up at 7 a.m. to get in by 8 for a 1 p.m game. (Generally, parking opens up 5 hours before a game.) A few #protips from experienced TG’ers:
5. Sure, now it’s all about sunshine and crisp fall air, but come December? Three words: wearable sleeping bags.
6. The best way to keep yourself entertained during a tailgate? Games. Lots of games. And not just any will do. Example: You need cornhole, of course, but real Eagles fans play Eagles cornhole, and so must you. If Ladder Ball is more your bag — Praise the tailgating gods for its portability! — go for this set, which is super durable and lightweight. Also high on the portability list is Washer Toss, a game that gets more and more challenging with every beer. But for those who just want to keep it simple — and, dare we say, old school — channel your inner kindergartener and bust out Velcro ball and catch. Seriously, it never gets old.
7. When you’re not playing cornhole, you can indulge in that other classic tailgating pastime: Sitting on your ass. REI’s Matt Wright says that the brand’s Hang Time camping chair is one of the best models for tailgating, thanks to its supportive back, shoulder strap, easy foldable base. “It’s really durable, really comfortable and – most importantly – has an insulated beverage holder.”
8. Pimp your site. If you’re really in it to win it, check this out: The 2,600-watt portable Powersmart generator is both powerful and quiet (and just $1300), while the Coolest cooler, features a built-in blender, waterproof speaker, cutting board,USB charger and bottle opener. And of course, nothing says “serious grilling” like the Big Green Egg.
9. Actually, scratch that DIY crap. Just go for the Phan Cave, a comes-to-you tailgate setup complete with private turf, bathrooms, games, a Kegerator and more.
10. Maybe pack a couple of Sip-N-Glo’s Hangover Helper juices in that cooler. Come kickoff, you’ll thank yourself.
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