Sports

How to Plan the Perfect Panthers Tailgate

Make the most of football season in Charlotte with a picture-perfect tailgate. Although fans may not be able to attend Panthers games in person due to COVID-19, there are still a variety of ways to support our favorite NFL team.

Photography by 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

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 four to 24 people, are available for delivery via DoorDash or restaurant pickup. If wings are a must, choose from the crispy or smoked variety. Don’t forget to grab dessert, too, like pecan cobbler or banana pudding. Fun fact: The restaurant caters a number of Panthers events, so you could be chowing down on the same menu that your favorite players enjoy!

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 its 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. Smaller parties can choose the eight- or 12-piece options.

Benny Pennello's

For the hungry crowd, Benny Pennello’s in NoDa is the right pick. The slices are nothing short of massive. Even linebacker-like appetites are no match.

Sabor Latin Street Grill

The popular restaurant, with locations everywhere from NoDa to Indian Trail, dishes up authentic Latin American street food. You’ll find catering packages that work for parties of any size. The family meal box is another ultra-affordable way to feed a group. For $30, you’ll get enough tortillas, proteins, rice, beans and dips for between four and six people. Order in-person and save $5 on Sundays.

The Batchmaker

If you’re looking for homemade treats to satisfy a bunch of football-loving sweet teeth, The Batchmaker (Cristina Rojas) has you covered. Rojas whips up decadent treats, like caramel apple cake, S’mores cheesecake, plus more. Pick up your treat at the West Charlotte location or pay a small fee for local delivery.

Rhino Market

For a casual and quick option, grab one of Rhino Market’s sandwiches, which are equal parts tasty and convenient for feeding a group. Order a sandwich platter for just about $6 per person, with choices like roast beef, turkey, ham or chicken salad. Don’t forget to snag potato salad and slaw, too.

Price's Chicken Coop

It’s hard to go wrong with fried chicken from one of the most famous Charlotte institutions: Price’s Chicken Coop. This Southern staple has been open since 1962, and not much has changed – the eatery is cash-only, so prepare accordingly. Feed four people with a whole chicken, plus sides like hushpuppies and slaw, and finish it all off with sweet tea.

Salud Beer Shop - Photography by Cody Hughes

The Drinks

To keep your crew 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 Elite Beet and Lavenderade, plus popular seasonal picks like Sweet Potato Pie and Merry Cranberry. It’s available by the bottle or in growlers for easy transportation. Fun fact: On Sundays, fill-ups are only $10. For a boozy twist, try Elation, a line of hard kombucha. They’re six percent ABV and are gluten-free.

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.

Charlotte is home to a plethora of fantastic breweries, many of which offer kegs or growlers. Grab a keg of All The Best Names Were Taken IPA at Blue Blaze Brewing. For those with dietary concerns, a growler of Armored Cow’s Not Your Momma’s Kitchen gluten-free blonde ale will do the trick. Lost Worlds Brewing, one of the newest additions to Charlotte’s booming beer scene, offers to-go options so you can enjoy the game from home. They’ve got three canned beers (with their Oktoberfest coming soon) or you can choose a 32-ounce crowler filled with your favorite beer. Kegs are available upon request.

Cheers to good beer and a Panthers win!

#CharlottesGotALot

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 feminine, vintage-inspired game day merch that’s equal parts cute and comfy.

Glory Days Apparel

Glory Days Apparel has hot-off-the-presses Panthers-themed tanks and tees that are so soft you’ll want to wear them regardless of whether the Panthers are taking the field that day.

704 Shop

704 Shop lets you #KeepPounding while repping your favorite area code at the same time, featuring apparel for men and women.

Paper Skyscraper

When it comes to finishing touches for game day, Paper Skyscraper in Dilworth has you covered. From Charlotte-themed koozies and socks to handy accessories for barbequing, they’ve got unexpected yet useful items to complete your tailgate festivities. Pick up a Panthers-themed face mask so you can stay safe and show your fandom at the same time.

Ole Mason Jar

If you’re looking to glam up your game day look, Ole Mason Jar in South End has you covered. You can custom order a suit jacket with a punchy, Panthers-themed lining. It’s an unexpected and sleek way to showcase your team spirit.

Graham Street Pub & Patio - Photography by Kate Magee

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. Normally, a membership gets you VIP tailgate space and priority access to tickets and fan experiences. Unfortunately, this year, that fan experience looks different than ever before. However, Roaring Riot is still offering the VIP treatment, even as you enjoy the football festivities at home. They recently unveiled their Homegatin’ boxes, which come with themed dish and cocktail recipes straight from some of Charlotte’s top chefs and mixologists. You’ll also get exclusive Panthers gear tailored to that week’s game.