The South's Top Spots for Tailgate Takeout
While tailgates don't require home cooking, you do need to know the best spots for takeout.
Diehard tailgate chefs begin preparations days in advance: procuring ingredients, finalizing guest lists, and deploying fully-loaded field kitchens for the weekend festivities. Not all of us are up to that level of commitment, but we can still eat well on game day by letting someone else do the cooking. Here are some of the most beloved spots from around the South for tailgating takeout.
Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen
University of North Carolina
1305 East Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC; sunrisebiscuits.com
Drive thru is the best option—in fact, it's the only one—at the pale blue hut with red trim on Franklin St. that houses Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen. Long before sunrise, they're mixing and rolling out dough, and though a steady stream of cars rolls through on game day, the line moves fast. There's no better way to power up for a long football day than with a big sack of flaky, buttery biscuits.
Go-to Order: Fried Pork Chop Biscuit
University of South Carolina
1311 Bluff Road
Bernie's caters to a lunchtime crowd from nearby factories and businesses, so it's usually closed on Saturdays—but not when the South Carolina Gamecocks are playing across the street at at Williams-Brice Stadium. The distinctive "broasted" chicken (quick-cooked in a pressure fryer instead of bubbling in hot oil) has been a fan favorite since 1979 thanks to its crisp jacket of light, golden brown batter and the juicy chicken inside.
Go-to Order: 3-Piece Chicken Special with crinkle-cut fries, slaw, dinner roll and iced tea
Calhoun's on the River
University of Tennessee
400 Neyland Drive
Knoxville, TN; calhouns.com
Just a mile down the Tennessee River from Neyland Stadium, Calhoun's is a favorite provisioner of the "Vol Navy"—the two hundred or more boats that moor together along the docks on football weekends. Hordes of orange- and white-clad fans arriving by ordinary ground transport pile in for smoked pork, chicken, and ribs, too.
Go-to Order: A full slab of hickory-smoked ribs
Archibald's and Dreamland Bar-B-Que
University of Alabama
Archibald's 1211 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Northport, AL; archibaldbbq.com
Dreamland Bar-B-Que 5535 15th Avenue East
Tuscaloosa, AL; dreamlandbbq.com
One can attribute the University of Alabama's recent string of championships to any number of factors—athletic talent, skilled coaching, a long and storied football tradition—but the fact that not one but two world-class rib joints are just a short drive away must surely play a role. The original Dreamland Bar-B-Que serves big racks of hickory-fired ribs in a dining room festooned with Crimson Tide memorabilia. The only problem is that every Alabama fan alive knows this, and that red-walled dining room is absolutely packed on game day.
Fortunately, just across the river in Northport, Archibald's has been turning out their own superlative slabs of crisp, smoky ribs atop slices of white bread since 1962. (That bread is essential for soaking up the spicy, orange-hued vinegar sauce.) An added bonus: even though it's on the other side of the river, Archibald's is actually the closer of the two to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Go-to Order: A full slab of ribs (Archibald's) or a full slab of ribs with a sausage link (Dreamland)
Wayside Takeout and Catering
University of Virginia
2203 Jefferson Park Avenue
Charlottesville VA; waysidechicken.com
"This Chicken Clucks for You" at Wayside Takeout, which has been boxing up crisp, juicy fried chicken for hungry UVA students for a half century. Just a few blocks south of Scott Stadium, it's the perfect pick-up for a tailgate on the grounds.
Go-to Order: 8 piece "Family Deal" with mac 'n cheese and collards
61 North Avenue
Atlanta, GA; thevarsity.com
For hungry Yellow Jackets fueling up for a big game, the Varsity is a huge draw—and I do mean huge. Occupying a full city block just across I-85 from Bobby Dodd Stadium, it has its own on-site parking garage and serves as many as 25,000 customers a day. Tech's arch-rivals, the University of Georgia Bulldogs, had been able to claim a Varsity drive-in of their own in Athens, but it closed on June 20. The original Atlanta location has been serving "glorified steaks" (burgers with mayo, lettuce, and tomato) and chili-topped dogs since 1928. In July, the Varsity announced plans for two new Georgia locations. So, raise those frosted oranges, y'all!
Go-to Order: Combo #2: a Chili Cheese Dog and a Chili Cheeseburger with onion rings. Get a Frosted Orange milkshake to go alongside