Sports

How to Plan the Perfect Panthers Tailgate

Make the most of football season in Charlotte with a picture-perfect tailgate. Here are some of the most important aspects of the party to cover to ensure every tailgate is a touchdown.

Tailgaters load up their plates outside Bank of America Stadium - photo by Eric Gaddy.

For Carolina Panthers fans, the arrival of fall doesn’t just mean a break in the humidity, the return of seasonal beers and the chance to bundle up in cozy flannels again; it also means it’s time again to spend your weekends cheering on your favorite football team. While the plays and the final score are everything, planning the perfect tailgate to enjoy it all is essential.

The Food

Fuel up for hours of intense cheering with the perfect game day spread. No matter what your ideal menu looks like, you’ve got plenty of options that will leave any fan ready to #keeppounding.

Midwood Smokehouse

Midwood Smokehouse makes it ultra-convenient to pick up your tailgate sustenance. Their party packs, which feature two meats and two sides and feed anywhere from 4 to 24 people, are available for delivery via DoorDash or via restaurant pickup. If wings are a must, choose from the crispy or smoked variety. Fun fact: the restaurant caters a number of Panthers events, so you could be chowing down on the same menu that Cam, Luke, Christian, and the guys are enjoying.

Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits

Bojangles is a Southern classic for any tailgate. In 1977 the first Bojangles' restaurant opened in Charlotte and has been serving up it's seasoned chicken and mouthwatering biscuits ever since. The 20-piece jumbo tailgate option feeds your pack of hungry fans easily and features chicken, biscuits, sweet tea, and sides.

Benny Pennello's

When you need to feed a crowd and pizza’s what you’re after, Benny Pennello’s in NoDa is the right pick. The slices are nothing short of massive. Even linebacker-like appetites are no match.

Paco's Tacos & Tequila

If you want to go a little unconventional with your cuisine choice, let Paco’s Tacos & Tequila in South Park handle the menu. Their catering options can feed up to 12 people with tasty choices like fajitas, enchiladas, or build-your-own tacos.

Suarez Bakery

For a sweet ending to any tailgate meal, grab some Panthers-themed treats. Suarez Bakery in the Park Road Shopping Center serves up their adorable Panther Paw sugar cookies. For home games, Amelie’s French Bakery crafts dainty Panthers-themed French macarons.

Graham St. Pub & Patio

Letting someone else handle the party is another entirely reasonable option. Graham St. Pub & Patio is the perfect pre-game gathering spot. It’s about as close to Bank of America Stadium as you can get, with a rooftop that gives you a perfect view of the city. On game days, you’ll find a DJ spinning and a special menu, including a variety of drink specials.

A feast full of pork is fitting since you’ll be watching the pigskin get tossed around for four quarters - photo by Eric Gaddy.

The Drinks

To keep a crowd hydrated, make it a point to have plenty of drink options, both boozy and not, ready to go.

Kombucha

Looking for a refreshing non-alcoholic option? Try Lenny Boy Brewing Co.'s kombucha, a fermented beverage packed with probiotics that comes in tasty flavors like ginger and lavenderade. It’s available by the bottle or in growlers for easy transportation. Fun fact: on Sundays, fill-ups are only $10.

Craft Beer

When you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path picks, stop at Salud Beer Shop in NoDa. They’ve got your hard-to-find favorites, sure to impress even the pickiest tailgaters. When you’re the one tasked with bringing beer to the party, Park Road staple Brawley’s Beverage will help you show up with something to please every beer snob in the group. They’ve got a huge selection and can point novices in the right direction.

The Gear

If wearing an oversized jersey emblazoned with your favorite player’s number on it isn’t really your thing, no problem. There are plenty of ways to show your team spirit, all while supporting local businesses.

Girl Tribe

Girl Tribe just released a line of gameday merch that’s equal parts feminine and Panthers proud. Glory Days Apparel has hot-off-the-presses Panthers-themed tees that are so soft you’ll want to wear them regardless of whether your team is taking the field that day. 704 Shop lets you #KeepPounding while repping your favorite area code at the same time.

Beads, Inc.

At Beads, Inc., you can get to work creating your own Panthers-themed necklace during one of their Make and Wear workshops. If you’d prefer to leave the jewelry crafting to the pros, you can also browse their pre-made pieces. Before you head into the stadium, be sure to grab a Policy handbag. The stylish purses are clear to keep in compliance with Bank of America Stadium rules but still chic, making it easy to get to your seat quickly, without sacrificing fashion.

Paper Skyscraper

When it comes to finishing touches for gameday, Paper Skyscraper in Dilworth has you covered. From socks with your favorite players’ faces on them to a recipe book dedicated solely to the art of day drinking, if you’re looking for a quirky accompaniment to a tailgate party, chances are they have it.

What better way to burn off some calories than throwing the football around - photo by Eric Gaddy.

The Setup

Tailgating with friends and family makes the leadup to kickoff even more enjoyable, but the logistics of executing the perfect party can be draining. If you want a turnkey way to prepare, here are a few companies to get familiar with during football season.

J. Leigh Events

J. Leigh Events puts together customized tailgate party boxes featuring all of the essentials you’ll need for your soiree, like plates, cups, napkins, and decorations.

The Tailgate Group

When you want to enjoy the full tailgate experience without the hassle of actually bringing it to life on your own, The Tailgate Group is your new best friend. They offer a number of packages, from basic tent setup to a full-on luxury experience, complete with a trailer outfitted with its own restroom and upper deck.

Party Reflections

Regardless of how large or small your tailgate party is, Party Reflections has you covered. Literally. They’ve got plenty of tent options, and expertly handle setup and takedown.

Charlotte Party Rentals

Charlotte Party Rentals offers tents, tables, and chairs for your next tailgate, plus they have games like giant Jenga and cornhole to keep everyone entertained in between plays.

Displaying your team spirit is an equally important part of a successful tailgate - photo by Eric Gaddy.

The Game

To join other Panthers die-hards, you’ll want to become a part of the Roaring Riot, the team’s largest community of fans around the world. Membership costs $25 and includes a t-shirt, discounts at restaurants and bars, a dedicated tailgate space, priority access to tickets and fan experiences, and other perks.

No ticket to the game and no tailgate to attend? No problem. Check out these stadium-neighboring Queen City spots perfect for cheering, dabbing and toasting.