From Texas to North Carolina, Kentucky to Florida, Southerners take their football seriously – and Memphians are no exception! But before we enter the stadium to cheer on our team, we celebrate a time-honored tradition that’s been elevated to an art form. Tailgating is the perfect way to gather with friends and family (and occasionally, with foes) to eat, drink, and talk a little trash about the other team. Whether you’re setting your spread on Tiger Lane or heading for stadiums further afield, you won’t want to miss out on sharing a few local favorites with your tailgating crew. We’ve rounded up a few Memphis must-haves to make your next tailgate something extra special.
If you have most of your spread already covered, use these links to jump to local recommendations to round out your menu, plus serving suggestions and tips for ordering in advance to feed a crowd!
- Local Beer
- Memphis BBQ
- Finger Food Favorites
- Sweet Tailgate Treats
- Brunch Picks for Early Games
- Local Spirits + Cocktail Recipes
Memphis Tailgating Must-Haves: Local Beer, BBQ & More
When it comes to craft brews, we are spoiled for choice in Memphis. Luckily, your favorites are available in kegs, cases, or growlers — pick the right size for your game day crowd.
Wiseacre Brewing Company has such a great selection, it may be hard to choose. Owner Kellan Bartosch is here to help: “If ancient Greece had tailgating, Tiny Bomb Pilsner would’ve been designed on Mt. Olympus. It’s 4.5% and light-bodied (tiny), which is great for extended pre-gaming, but it also has a ton of flavor (bomb) so it can stand up to grilled meats, spicy dips, or whatever your crazy uncle shows up with.” Or try the Ananda IPA for plenty of citrus hop notes while still finishing crisply to keep your palate ready for more.
Check out Hampline Brewing Company’s Beers on Tap to see what’s currently available, and place your order for kegs and cases a week in advance. You may also call ahead a week or two to find out what’s brewing, and get a recommendation for the perfect tailgating party. For a keg from Ghost River Brewing Company, order online at least a week in advance. Ghost River offers five tailgate-worthy brews year-round, but be sure to see what seasonal and limited release beers are available – their fall-inspired beers are ideal for a football game.
If your football crew wants a malty, roasty amber ale, pick up Memphis Made Brewing Company’s Fireside, or The Junt for cream ale fans. Order online for cans of Crosstown Brewing Company’s refreshing lagers, ales, and stouts – they’ve even got a new line of hard seltzers.
Grind City Brewing Company recently released its line of honey seltzers — perfect for those warm Saturday games before the weather changes. And University of Memphis fans will love Grind City’s Tiger Tail, the official craft beer of the Memphis Tigers. High Cotton Brewing Company and Meddlesome Brewing Company round out the options in Memphis, and both offer excellent craft beers for pre-game enjoyment.
Cases and six-packs of most local beers can be found in grocery and liquor stores all across Memphis.
SB TIP: It takes about 10-12 minutes to chill your beers in a cooler with ice. Add water, and you can get your beverages cold in four to six minutes.
Barbecue is high on any list of tailgating must-haves, and there is no shortage of this mouth-watering staple in Memphis. The Bar-B-Q Shop offers several easy ways to get the right amount of succulent pulled pork, beef, ribs, and brisket to suit your needs, plus plenty of tasty sides. Hog Wild BBQ will work with you to create the perfect tailgating meal – and who needs stadium nachos when you can treat your guests to Hog Wild’s famously fresh and delicious barbecue nachos? Corky’s offers a range of yummy and versatile Party Paks, available for pick-up and delivery through online ordering, and Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous is a MUST for charbroiled ribs. You’ll also find great pre-order options at Central BBQ, Germantown Commissary, Interstate Barbeque, and Leonard’s Pit Barbeque.
SB TIPS: When planning your menu, keep in mind that one serving of barbecue is one-fourth to one half-pound of pulled pork or beef, depending on how many sides you plan to serve. And don’t forget to ask for extra sauce!
If grilling is an essential part of your tailgate traditions, Humphrey’s is the way to go for a lineup of best-quality grill fare. They offer a selection of prime cuts of beef, freshly ground beef for burger fans, and seafood. You can pick up pre-made sides and desserts in-store, too — they’re located right next door to their sister restaurant, the famed Folk’s Folly steakhouse.
Finger Food Favorites
Arbo’s Cheese Dip has taken Memphis by storm. The creamy-with-a-kick flavor works in diverse ways for tailgating, says owner Andrew Arbogast. Chips and cheese dip are of course a stadium standby, but Arbo’s levels-up your veggie tray and adds interest to your hamburger. Andrew also recommends adding it to a big pan of mac-and-cheese along with mozzarella to turn an old standby into something really special.
Pimento cheese is so versatile, and Tom’s Tiny Kitchen has the flavors you need to make your tailgate pop. Small sandwiches are a great addition to your tailgate spread, along with creative trays of fresh vegetables and crackers. For quick and easy pimento cheese biscuits that would be right at home in the Grove, heat up take-and-bake buttermilk biscuits from Muddy’s Bake Shop, fill with their pimento cheese, and top with a dollop of Dodson’s Farm pepper jelly.
SB TIP: The Cooper-Young Farmer’s Market is open year-round, so you can pick up local offerings, along with fresh, seasonal produce for serving!
Sweet Tailgate Treats
Muddy’s Bake Shop owner Kat Gordon offers a couple of recommendations for your pre-game spread. Easy to serve and eat, mini-cupcakes are available in a “party mix” of popular flavors, so you’re sure to have something for everyone. “And is there anything more old school than banana pudding?” asks Kat. “We make our own vanilla bean wafers from scratch, and the pudding is light and creamy, topped with homemade whipped cream. It comes ready to serve in a large container.” All Muddy’s items are available for walk-in orders, but you risk your favorite goodies running out. To reserve them for the weekend, order online a few days ahead of time, or call to place an order up to a few weeks in advance.
Frost Bake Shop offers a delicious selection of cupcakes, mini-cupcakes, and cookies. For beautifully decorated (and delectable) sugar cookies with a fun football theme, try The Whimsy Cookie Company. Sweet Lala’s Bakery offers delightfully customized cookies, delish cookies by the dozen, cupcake packs, and more.
Brunch Picks for Early Games
If you are planning a tailgate event for an early-in-the-day kickoff, you can’t do better than biscuit sandwiches. Backlot Sandwich Shop has a tempting array of hearty handhelds that will see you through the festivities. You can currently order from the menu while owner and chef Derk Meitzler works on a catering menu; be sure to place your orders 36 hours in advance.
Bryant’s is a favorite local hangout for delicious breakfasts, but did you know they cater? Order a customized pan of fresh, fluffy biscuits with your choice of fillings – there’s no limit to the combination or number of biscuits. Or go all-out on their self-serve Breakfast Bar, which includes scrambled eggs, meats, grits, biscuits, and gravy — all packed in aluminum pans for easy set-up.
Pair your brunch offerings with a Bloody Mary made with Old Dominick Memphis Vodka and Sauced in the South mix. Wiseacre’s Gotta Get Up to Get Down Coffee Milk Stout is also a great option for early kick-off brunch tailgates.
Local Spirits + Cocktail Recipes
University of Memphis Tiger fans are in for another treat: Old Dominick Distillery released a limited-edition bourbon to honor the home team just in time for football season. “Going into our third year as an official partner of the Memphis Tigers, we knew we wanted to do something special. We bottled two batches of our Huling Station Straight Bourbon Whiskey especially for this occasion and dressed up the labels to match the Tigers’ iconic uniforms,” says Alex Castle, Master Distiller and Senior Vice President of Old Dominick Distillery.
To up your cocktail game, try B.R. Distilling Company’s Blue Note Bourbon. From a new riff on a classic Manhattan to a refreshing Blue Note Breeze, Memphis’ own Blue Note Bourbon takes tailgating seriously. Do you prefer a rye-based libation? Riverset Rye pairs perfectly with fall-inspired flavors.
We know we’ve barely scratched the surface of all the great Memphis tailgating must-haves, but this list should get you started! Happy tailgating!
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