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Sports fans might still be singing take me out to the ballgame, but we already have our eyes on another sport. Football season kicks off today as the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the New England Patriots with 26 teams battling it out on Sunday. If you’ve got tickets to any of these NFL games you may be wondering, what’s to eat? Stadium bites—once relegated to soggy nachos and bland brats—have come a long way. There are great eats everywhere, but here is the best NFL stadium food:


The ham ribs at Hay Merchant at NRG Park.

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Levi’s Stadium: Santa Clara, CA
Home to the San Francisco 49ers and a metro area of more than 6.5 million finicky eaters who expect their stadium food to be organic, gluten-free and locally sourced, this Bay Area sports arena does its residents proud with an outpost of Bourbon Steak and BourbonPub from Michelin-starred celebrity chef Michael Mina who does wonders with pub grub. Expect upscale meats and seafood at fine dining Bourbon Steak while its casual sibling offers Mina’s twist on traditional stadium fare like soft pretzels and nachos. Elsewhere at Levi’s, there are duck steamed buns, Indian curries and other fine eats.

NRG Stadium: Houston, TX
The sound of 71,000 fans cheering might either be because the Houston Texans just scored a touchdown or because they have just scored some seriously delicious stadium eats. Space City has been on a foodie roll lately including heaps of national acclaim for eateries like Coltivare, Oxheart and others, but some are strapping on the feedbag at NRG Stadium at joints like the Hay Merchant and Underbelly offshoots owned by James Beard award winner Chris Shepherd. At the latter they can nosh on the ballyhooed Jalapeño-cheddar dog with gochujang-braised beef and Coca-Cola-pickled onions on a baguette. Yum!

Ford Field: Detroit, MI
If you’ve ever wondered what all those long lines are outside Michigan Avenue in Motor City’s Corktown neighborhood, the answer is Slow’s BBQ (main image), a celebrated ‘cue joint famous for its slow-cooked meats, hearty sides and hefty selection of craft brews. Now fans can bring their cravings for the Yardbird, a pulled, smoked Amish chicken breast sandwich smothered in mustard sauce, with sautéed mushrooms, cheddar and applewood bacon to Ford Field where there are not one, but three take out locations. Pair it with sides of mac ‘n’ cheese and you’ve got yourself a win—even if the Lions end up losing.

Related: 7 horribly delicious, over-the-top ballpark eats.

Lincoln Financial Field: Philadelphia, PA
Ever labored under the wishful thinking that a slice at a ballpark would amount to anything more than a soggy, overpriced and undercooked piece of dough? Wishes come true at Pizzeria Vetri, a newish dining option inside Philly’s Financial Field from celebrity chef and James Beard Award winner Marc Vetri, who is dishing out a small selection of genuinely tasty wood-fired pizzas. There’s also Paesano’s from chef Peter McAndrews which serves up fancy takes on both a brisket sandwich and a chicken diavlo (think spicy chicken breast with Salami, roasted tomatoes, broccoli rabe, herb cheddar spread and sharp provolone).

Century Link Field: Seattle, WA
While the Seahawks are kicking serious butt on the field, serious eats are being cranked out in the kitchens at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field that are perfectly suited to the palates of Pacific Northwesterners including maritime bites such as crab rolls, salmon BLTs and beer-battered fish and chips plus carts pushing around veggie and gluten-free bites. We’d love to get our mouths around some of the more exotic flavors at Glow Bowl like the Phnom Penh Tempura Chicken Bowl. Did we mention the stadium serves Starbucks?

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Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is a Lead Content Specialist for Expedia Group, and manages content initiatives across numerous Expedia-owned brands. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, the Huffington Post, Chicago Magazine, Passport and many others.

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