Tailgating guide: It’s not a tailgate without killer food

By Columbus Alive
From the August 29, 2013 edition

Oh Come let’s sing Ohio’s praise

And songs to awesome tailgating raise

While our hearts rebounding thrill

Watching locally made brats sear on the grill.

From early-game bagels and donut holes

To pizzas, barbecue and dips flavored bold,

Buckeyes shouldn’t have to settle fo’

Crappy game day vittles in O-HI-O!

The Buckeye gridiron juggernaut kicks off another unbeaten season this Saturday, and you know what that means: Fans, we’ve got to tailgate like champions too. Key to success: imilar to any Urban Meyer-coached game, victorious tailgating hinges on preparation.

So whether you’re attending a serious shindig with a professional grill-tender or a more modest, chips-and-salsa-type affair, don’t lamely shuffle in with a bag of lousy wolverine-approved snacks — apply a modicum of effort, use these tips and bring something actually good to the party.

Blocks That Kick

Since noontime kickoffs — like this week’s Buffalo battle (i.e. “laugher”) — can be a bit tough, try easing into them with breakfast-y stuff from Block’s, THE Columbus bagel maker (hint: veryone loves their “everything” bagels). If you prefer a sweet torus, pick up a dozen fried pastries from aptly named Buckeye Donuts — campus classics you can conveniently snap up on your walk to the ’Shoe.

Spread Offense

Upper Arlington is in the heart of Buckeye Country, and if you wanna win over hearts at your football party, grab some all-star dips/scoop-able salads from UA’s newish Whole Foods. There’s a slew of winners there — which you must pair with (also available there) Shagbark’s killer, Ohio-made corn and tortilla chips. Stab those crispy critters into WF’s tangy yellowfin tuna salad (with a fresh crunch from diced carrot and celery), crowd-pleasing Mexican layered dip, and — I’ll call this “going for two” cob-wise — roasted corn salad (think spicy, “dry” salsa).

Run the Wheel Route or Go Deep

Adriatico’s opens at 11 a.m., is only a short jaunt from the stadium and makes some of the best pizza in the area. In fact its thick, crisp-and-chewy-crusted, zingy-sauced pies are rightfully legendary among current and former campus-dwellers (go for the hefty sausage and/or wide-sliced salami). Also legendary is Adriatico’s practically tailor-made-for-tailgating deep dish ENORMITY (it’s feeds-the-whole-“D”-line-sized) called “The Buckeye.”

Grill Positions

Carfagna’s phenomenal sausages (near-footlong delicacies often on sale for $1 apiece) are long-time local treasures. My favorite is the hot and bold “Grandpa,” but the spice-kissed and sagey “Festival,” peppery homemade brat and spicy Italian rule too. Munch ’em with Carfagna sides like gotta-have-it redskin potato salad (mustardy and celery-crunchy), thick and pickly artichoke salad and/or creamy and tangy mac-n-cheese.

Urban Barbecue

With its multiple locations and sold-by-the-pound/ready-to-go goodies, City Barbecue — which puts the “A” in chain — makes things easy. Even easier: City offers pick-your-meats-and-sides party packages ranging from $43-$150. Of course the brisket and pulled pork work, but I recommend trying the lean-yet-tender smoked turkey and pulled chicken (hint: ask for some of City’s terrific “white barbecue” sauce). And from soulful green beans to peppery and piggy greens, to brisket-laden baked beans and onion-kissed vinegary slaw, the quality of City’s sides is uniformly high.