Editor's Choice: The Best Grill for Tailgate Season

Only the best will do for Southern tailgaters.

Sid Evans
Tailgate Grill
Courtesy of Ashley Christensen

There is something about grilling in a parking lot with a few thousand of your closest friends that just makes food taste better. I’m talking about tailgating, of course, that Saturday fall ritual (because all the best games are on Saturdays) some football fans consider an art form. At many schools the cooking can be as competitive as the game—and that’s why you need an advantage. You need the right grill.

Many options are out there, but nothing does the job like the Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Charcoal Grill. This baby is made for tailgating. It’s a bit heavy at 33 pounds, but it’s also small and sturdy, so it travels well. And it may be pricier than a standard hibachi (about $117 on Amazon), but it won’t fall apart on you after a few uses. Like all Lodge products, this little grill is built to last for years, and it cooks with remarkably even heat, much like one of the company’s cast-iron skillets.

James Beard Award-winning chefs like Ashley Christensen (Raleigh, NC) and John Currence (Oxford, MS) rave about them. “I adore it,” Ashley told me recently. “It stays really hot, so it’s great for searing, and you can cook most things in half the time. It’s just amazing.” She likes to do kebabs, steaks, chicken, and vegetables, adding a few chunks of hardwood to the coals for extra flavor. And John, who’s been tailgating at Ole Miss games at the Grove for 25 years, uses them for sliders and wings (which he recommends cooking in the oven beforehand). The only drawback, he says, is that you can’t use it to cook for a very big crowd.

If nothing else, it’s good-looking. And as they say at Ole Miss, you may lose the game, but (with a great grill) you’ll never lose the party.

BUY IT: $117, amazon.com