Ahhhh yes, the smell and feel of fall. You know it right? The smell of grills rolling, sleeves and jeans coming out of the closet, face painting in your favorite teams color...

You read that right. Fall is for FOOTBALL! West Texas A&M and Texas Tech are getting set to go to battle, and you need to be doing the same with your tailgate setup.

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Tailgating has become more and more popular as the years have gone on, and now it's more than just some friends hanging out drinking beers before the game in the parking lot.

It's a competition, a battle amongst rabid fans who turn a 3+ hour game into an all day event. Elaborate setups, people charging admission even to attend certain tailgates. It's all about presentation...and offerings. Anyone can throw hot dogs on a grill and have em ready to go in minutes, but that's not the answer. Here's how you win the tailgate at Happy State Bank Stadium or Jones AT&T Stadium.

We start with what I like to call the "pregame to tailgate".

Jordan Thompson
Jordan Thompson


A true Texas classic. I would know, I had never heard of them prior to moving to the state 7 years ago. Remember, tailgating doesn't start at 10am. You need to get out there early, get that prominent spot. Chances are, you left so early you didn't get a chance to eat breakfast. Once you get there, start pulling out the breakfast taco offerings. If you really wanna make it Texas style, add some brisket to that taco. That's a strong start to your tailgate, and a great way to make a few new friends.

Bowl of warm queso (cheese dip) with a plate of tortilla chips


Now that breakfast has been consumed, you need to start thinking ahead. It's imperative you have some snacky types of food on the table at all times. Sure, you can cheat it and just drop some bags of chips out there for people to munch on, but that's rookie style tailgating. Take a little time to whip up some killer queso and put a big ol' bowl of it on the table. Make sure it's got some added flair to it, but not too much that it takes away from what it is. Fill up a couple bowls with some freshly made tortilla chips and watch people dip to their hearts desire.

Now you've reached the all important part of the tailgate...the main dish. You'll want to allow yourself 2 hours prior to kickoff for this to be consumed, because remember you still have cleanup before entering the stadium. Let's take a look at some main dish options that are straight Texan.



Ok, so this seems like a bit of a copout right? Well, that depends on what kind of burgers you toss on that grill. If you buy the big bag of frozen patties, you shouldn't be out there tailgating. Just buy something inside the stadium, it'll taste better. I'm talking your special recipe, handmade, fresh ground beef quarter pound patties you rolled up and smashed yourself. You want to pack these burgers with flavor, inside and out. Me? I go to my specialty bacon cheeseburgers. Freshly cooked bacon, chopped up into smaller pieces. Roll that bacon up into the ground beef, add some freshly grated cheddar cheese and throw that in with the bacon and beef. Don't buy that pre-shredded stuff, it doesn't melt well. You want it DRIPPING with cheese.

Gourmet chili beans with extra lean beef
raul taborda


Here's one I like to break out when the temperatures start to fall as we get later into the season. Nothing warms the belly and soul better than a good bowl of Texas chili. Depending on the time of kickoff, this is something you could do at home and just kick the crock pot on out at the game when it's time to warm it up, or if you've got a later kickoff, knock it out fresh right there and impress everyone. Again, you want this to be fresh made, fresh ingredients. Add a fair amount of kick, but not so much it's burning everyone's tongue off.

Beef Fajitas with colorful bell peppers in cast iron pan


Don't feel like dragging out a grill with ya? Fajitas are a great way to go. A Texas staple, and something you need just a griddle to cook. Bring out some pre-cut fresh chicken and steak slices to throw on there. Add a pinch of seasoning, throw some peppers, onions and whatever else you can think of on there with the meat and you've got yourself a quick and easy crowd favorite that doesn't require as much work.

A Cooked Brisket - Michael Rivera
A Cooked Brisket - Michael Rivera


So you say you've got a night game huh? Well now it's time to get super fancy. Load up the smoker and roll it out to the parking lot. Get there nice and early so you can get yourself going on this one. Nothing will scream tailgate winner like a fat smoked brisket. You want to make sure you don't rush it, because people are going to be expecting a killer meal if you show up with the smoker. As you fill the parking lot with that unmistakable wood smell, people will abandon their own tailgate in anticipation of what you're about to break out. Now, serve the friends and family you came with...then charge everyone else a little something as their mouths will be watering at your ultimate tailgate party.

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