May 18, 2024


Free For All Food

Your Best NFL Game Food, Private, Safe And Delivered

The Super Bowl is less than a month away, and a good reminder that we should not be hosting group parties or gatherings in a pandemic, period. Record COVID-19 infection rates and deaths following Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s “celebrations” are a stark reminder that we should keep our festivities small and safe. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still at least have a fun and enjoyable Super Bowl within our household bubbles, snacking on the same kind for goodies we would enjoy if it were safe to go out and celebrate or host a big viewing bash. With far fewer guests, you might even want to splurge on yourselves.

Certain foods are synonymous with the single most watched annual television event in America, but this year the connections are even more meaningful, because the four best teams in the race to the Big Game all come from hometowns with superlative Super Bowl snacks and party-worthy food that you can easily have delivered – anywhere in the country.

A quick note on mail order food. A handful of prominent eateries do their own packing and shipping, and I recommend ordering direct whenever possible because it is usually cheaper. But by far the biggest retailer of items from top name restaurants is website, which offers very convenient and comprehensive one stop shopping. I’ve used them quite a bit and love the concept, but it’s expensive, especially items that include “free” shipping. For example, they sell two of the stunningly good muffuletta sandwiches from Central Grocery in New Orleans – admittedly one of the best sandwiches on earth – for $109 with shipping included. But in New Orleans the same two sandwiches cost less than thirty bucks. Secondly, I’ve experienced rare delivery problems over the years, and while this is certainly not common, it’s been enough to raise my eyebrows, including an order I placed well in advance for pre-Christmas delivery last month but didn’t arrive as promised, and no one notified me until it was too late – and then they were largely unapologetic. So, while using the service is often unavoidable for foodies, for time sensitive events like the Super Bowl, I’d add a margin of error when ordering.    

Even though some of the teams will be gone after this weekend, their hometown food will still be delicious for all fans. We’ll start with the Big Four:

Kansas City: At 14-2 the Chiefs have the first-round bye and the best record in football and just happen to be the defending Super Bowl Champions, so it comes as little surprise that Las Vegas sports books and oddsmakers have made them the favorite to win it all. Of all the great barbecue destinations in the country, Kansas City (MO) is also a favorite, as it combines the very best of the other major regional styles, Memphis, Carolina and Texas, under one roof – and throws in its signature addition to the barbecue pantheon, Burnt Ends. There are scores of fantastic barbecue joints in the area, but the one I especially love, and the one often rated the best BBQ joint in the country by critics, is Joe’s Kansas City BBQ. By the way, I am a restaurant critic and bestselling food author who has been writing about BBQ for 20-plus years and was certified as a judge by the Kansas City BBQ Society, which oversees all national competitions. I know what I am talking about when I say you can’t do better than Joe’s – especially among places that ship. Highlights include stunningly perfect racks of ribs, burnt ends and the famous signature Z-Man sandwich.

Buffalo: Tied for the league’s second best record at 13-3, the Bills have been the dominant offense in the entire NFL over the closing quarter of the season and have momentum (and a lot of homefield advantage) on their side, looking better with each game. But when it comes to Super Bowl food favorites no one in America is close – the game’s signature snack is the Buffalo chicken wing, and more of the 30 billion consumed annually in the U.S. go down on Super Bowl Sunday than at any other time. Very few foods have as clear as invention story as the Buffalo wing, born in 1964 at Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar in Buffalo, which has achieved global fame for its creations and ships a LOT of wings. You can order your choice (mild, medium, hotter, suicide or BBQ) in quantities starting at 50 for $1.70-$2 a wing including FedEx shipping.

However, many Buffalo natives think the city’s best wings come from Duff’s Famous Wings, which started serving them in 1969. I went to Buffalo and did a same day tasting and agree, Duff’s is number one. They are shipped through Goldbelly, and are a bit pricier, from $2.20-$3 a wing with shipping (for 50). Other Buffalo natives – and Bills’ star quarterback Josh Allen – sing the praises of Bar Bill Tavern, which I have also visited and is excellent. Goldbelly has their wings too, from $2-3.30 a pop (with shipping).

Green Bay: The Packers also come into the post season at 13-3 and also bring a signature stadium food to the table – bratwurst. Brats are ubiquitous across Wisconsin and make a more interesting and special game day choice than the common hot dog, whether steamed in beer, grilled, pan fried, eaten solo or served on a bun. There’s a lot of things you can do with brats, but after years of writing on mail order food, the best ones I’ve found come from the KC Cattle Company. This is a Veteran-owned (former Army Ranger) and operated family ranch that employs and mentors veterans and focuses on ethically raised meat that is antibiotic and hormone-free. It’s also delicious, and they combine100% pure bloodline Wagyu cattle and heritage Berkshire pork in their “Wagyu Bacon Cheeseburger Bratwurst.” If you do prefer hot dogs, elevate your game for the big day with their “World Famous Wagyu Gourmet Hot Dogs.” These are beefier, more sausage-like – and better – than the ones you are used to. They are uncured, no nitrites added, 100% beef, and Food + Wine Magazine rated them the best hot dog in the world. While prices don’t include shipping (under $300) these are this year’s Super Bowl bargain, with four ¼-pound brats for $13.50 or eight dogs for $15.50. Heck, you can get great burgers here too!

New Orleans: Possibly the most food-obsessed U.S. city and definitely the most unique and distinctive in terms of its signature cuisines, The Big Easy has tons of local specialties, from po’ boys to jambalaya to crawfish. It also has the 12-4 NFC South champs, the Saints. Here your choices are pretty much limited to Goldbelly, but the good news is that Goldbelly has many of the best-in-class eateries in town on its slate. These include the aforementioned muffuletta from the place that literally invented it, Central Grocery. I’ve had them many times, and these travel better than almost any mail order food, since they taste even better a day or two after being made, as the signature olive relish seeps in. The sandwiches are huge, and each offers a good-sized party serving for four. While you pay a premium for shipping, the per sandwich cost goes down the more you order with five, or 20 servings, for $209.

NOLA’s other signature sandwich is the po’ boy, and many think Parkway Bakery & Tavern is the best place for them, with regulars lined up at all hours. This is where President Obama went for his, and I’ve been and it is awesome. Goldbelly has kits for both the roast beef and BBQ shrimp versions. They also sell Parkway’s chicken and sausage jambalaya, one of the best Super Bowl dishes I could imagine, in a portion that serves 12-15 a for $159 with shipping. Other top offerings on the site include several complete three course dinners of signature dishes like shrimp and grits or quail from Commander’s Palace, arguably the most famous restaurant in the city; gumbo and Turducken from Gourmet Butcher Block; and sausages, charcuterie and sandwiches from delectable gourmet meat-crafter Cochon Butcher – the place I went to for lunch straight from the airport that last time I was in the city.

Best of the Rest: Not every city with a chance to move on has a famed signature dish you can mail order, but serval do. Most notable are the Bears and Chicago deep dish pizza. This style travels better than any other kind of pizza I’ve tried, very close to eating at restaurants in the Windy City, and no eatery there is more beloved by locals for its pizza than Lou Malnati’s. They do a ton of mail order and are a great value with a 6-pack of pizzas for $116 including shipping. You can mix and match your own half dozen (cheese, sausage, pepperoni, spinach), they arrive frozen and each offers 4-6 good sized slices. Lou Malnati’s uses, which also ships the Windy City’s two biggest non-pizza specialties, Portillo’s Chicago style hot dogs and Italian Beef sandwiches.

Pittsburgh’s Primanti Brothers has made every Food Network show on crazy sandwiches, and they can be ordered through Goldbelly. So can the nation’s very best Memphis-style dry rubbed ribs, which come not from Memphis but rather Peg Leg Porker BBQ in Nashville, home of the 11-5 AFC South Champion Tennessee Titans. The Baltimore Ravens finished second to the Steelers in the AFC North, but Maryland crab cakes are second to none, and you can get drop dead delicious version from Cameron’s Seafood Market, a family-owned business that has been the largest local retailer of Maryland’s world-famous blue crabs and crab cakes since 1985. They sell over 150,000 crab cakes each year, which ship very well and cook up great at home. Over the past few years, I have gotten orders several times from Cameron’s, and their thick, rich, meat-packed crab bisque is also truly exceptional.