The latest update for this article is written by Lindsay Podolak.
There is so much more to football than just watching the game. Don’t believe us? Just ask Joe Cahn, the Official Commissioner of Tailgating. Cahn travels the country throwing and attending pre-game parties that celebrate not only the team, but the fans. A click around Cahn’s site will show proof that tailgating at MetLife is something special. From the food to the fans, there are parties so cool during football season that some show up just for the tailgate.
Yup, some fans never even enter the stadium —because back in the parking lot, you can snack on gourmet food, sip signature cocktails and watch every angle of the game on flat-screen TVs while still embracing the energy and thrill of being at the game.
What started as an out-of-the-trunk burger and dog party is now an all-day affair of food, drinks, entertainment and, if you’re lucky, private bathrooms! Some fans have taken their tailgating so seriously, they’ve built businesses around it.
Dan Marney — a Giants season ticket holder — started Gametime Catering as a way for team-loving fans to get together and party. Over the years, his open tailgate grew so big that he became the go-to for private events. Now, Dan and his crew mostly do private tailgates for football games and concerts at MetLife.
Since the stadium prohibits guest from charging fees in the parking lots, entry to most tailgates are by a “suggested donation” made before game time. Usually an e-ticket or confirmation is involved so you can get into the party easily.
If you’re at a Jets or Giants game, a walk around the stadium will reveal countless banquet-style celebrations with more food on offer than Sunday at Nonna’s house. Here are a few of our favorites.
Top Shelf Tailgate
Location: Lot E-24 – right in the same lot where Uber drops you off and where the train stops.
Details: The Port Monmouth-based party company comes fully ready to go, boasting two trailers equipped with sofas, restrooms, TVs and sexy servers in football jerseys. Top Shelf is so popular it gets booked out before the season even starts. (Business bigwigs like to rent the entire party so they can entertain clients and friends at the game.) Individual passes for tailgates are available via their website and each pass allows guests access to everything they offer. So, you could find yourself in a makeshift football lounge watching a pig roast before kickoff.
Standout dish: You won’t starve here. They’ve got it all – from pulled pork, whole roasted pigs, chicken, kielbasa with kraut, sliders, double burgers and more. But the standout served here is the filet mignon cheesesteak.
Why I like it: Gamers can take advantage of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox setups that Top Shelf has at their party.
More info: Topshelftailgate.com
Location: Lot L-21 – back curb by the race track.
Details: Gametime is a private tailgating situation, so you’ll need to coordinate and book with them in advance. They will cater for as small as 10 people and as many as 500. They supply tent covered areas, satellite TVs, chairs, games, heaters (when needed), servers and even bring along private restrooms. This could be the best bachelor party ever.
Standout dish: All the regular ‘cue food like burgers, ribs and dogs. They also offer some fun party food like Mexican lasagna and fried ravioli. But their signature dish is the candy kielbasa – a caramelized version of the sausage you won’t be able to resist. Gametime is BYOB so be sure to ask for a cooler and ice set-up.
Why I like it: No detail is too extravagant! Gametime’s past bashes count pig roasts, ice sculptures and more as features.
More info: Gametimecatering.com
Big Blue BBQ
Location: This is a Giants tailgate party, so you’ll find them at Big Blue’s home games. Their massive trailer – fully equipped with a giant 70-inch flat screen TV – is at Parking lot J, section 19. Trust us, you can’t miss them.
Details: John Vingara, Joe Irovando and Greg Scharfstein have been growing this party for more than 10 years now, mostly through word of mouth and, more recently, social media. You can find around 200 people hanging out at their trailer enjoying the live DJ, heated tents, a private bathroom and that giant satellite TV. Log onto their website and select which Giants game you want to attend. Suggested donation is $40 via PayPal – a great deal for a full menu of football food made to order.
Standout dish: Get on their mailing list for a weekly menu but if the apple soaked flank steak is on offer, fill up your plate.
Why I like it: The party starts at 9:00 am for a 1:00 pm game so you will definitely get your money’s worth on this day of food, drink and FUN!
More info: Bigbluebbq.com
NYG Scarf Soldiers
Location: Lot L-6
Details: You can chase this ambulance all the way to the stadium! That’s right, the NYG Scarf Soldiers party out of the G-FAMBULANCE, a repurposed ambulance decked out in blue.
Standout Dish: Menus change weekly, so your best bet is to check the group’s Facebook page. When the Giants played the Saints on September 30, the Scarf Soldiers served up a N’awlins-themed spread…think jambalaya, red beans and rice, po’boys, hush puppies and cajun fries. Beer, soda and water are also included.
Why I like it: Use PayPal in advance and get a $5 discount on your suggested donation of $40 for all the food, booze and Giants fandemonium you can handle. Also, everyone who prepays gets entered into a raffle to win a ticket to a future tailgate.
More info: facebook.com/Scarfsoldiers
Location: Green Lot E-15. On the side shared by Yellow Lot D.
Details: The best bet here is to get a TGJ Season Tailgate Pass. For $270 you get a pass to all eight Jets game tailgate parties.
Standout Dish: We would never say no to the Funky GodFather Burger: a Pat LaFrieda chuck/brisket/short rib blend with grilled fennel, balsamic mayo and Sottocenere Italian black truffle cheese. What’s cool here is that you can upgrade your experience to include a keg, your own private tent, an oyster bar, server service and more. Why do you need a server? To skip the lines, natch. Yes, at Joe’s parties, so many people show up that the hot sausage line could run longer than the bathroom line at halftime.
Why I like it: It’s free to stop by and just hang out. So, it’s a thrifty option aside from the other all-you-can-eat-and-drink affairs.
More info: TailgateJoe.com
- Hero (Top) Feature Image: Big Blue BBQ / Facebook
- Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
- Chris Bickham / Flickr
- Top Shelf Tailgate / Facebook
- Gametime Catering / Instagram
- Big Blue BBQ / Facebook
- NYG Scarf Soldiers / Facebook
- Tailgate Joe / Facebook