I have to confess something before I go any further. I’m a vegetarian.
Yes, I know. I’m missing the best part of tailgating because that means no burgers, hot dogs, carne asada, polish sausages, or anything other meat products you can throw on a grill.
But, I know my way around cooking at a tailgate. I even made a berry cobbler once without an oven and it was bomb. But, the recipe post will be for another day.
So, what are the available options out there? What if you want options besides grilling, and how can you keep food warm once it’s cooked?
Let’s start with grill options. One of our crew brings this grill to every tailgate, and it works really well. It comes with a stand so it doesn’t take up real estate on a table, and it cooks pretty evenly. The sides allow you to put down your utensils and you also have a place to put plates and food when it’s cooked. I found it through Dick’s Sporting Goods in blue, but the link above is the cheapest option in black. It runs on small propane tanks that you can find at Dick’s and even grocery stores. You just toss the canisters when they’re empty. My buddy’s has a UCLA logo on it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere online so it may not be available anymore.
Then you have your tabletop grills. We also have this one, and you can cook a surprising amount of food on a small surface. The advantage over the Coleman grill is that the lid allows for more space when you want to close it, so you can actually put BBQ safe cookware on it and melt cheese, reheat food, brown food, etc. (this was how I did the cobbler). This one also runs on propane.
Another tabletop option is the UCLA X Grill. This one uses charcoal, and I thought charcoal grills were illegal at the Rose Bowl, but I’ve seen people using them so I guess you have to decide if you want to take your chances or not. It folds up really flat and will take up very little space in your car.
I also saw this crazy thing by Vulcan. It’s a cooler bag that can also hold a grill. Obviously if you want to chill your drinks on the way to the game, you have to have space in your car for both the grill and the bag, and the grill does not have the logo on it. But it comes with some cooking utensils and two spots to hold propane tanks, and is a great starter kit for people who haven’t tailgated much before. Just beware that if you’re paying more than the $249.95 in this link, you’re paying too much. Home Depot has it marked up a bit.
But, let’s say you don’t want to grill. It’s an early game and you’d like to put a griddle pan on a hot surface for pancakes or breakfast burrito ingredients. This classic camping stove by Coleman has served us well for years and runs off the same small propane tanks as the grills above. It has wind blockers on the sides so you can cook on a windy day and the flames won’t blow out. We’ve made chili, beans, rice, and anything else you’d cook at home on a stove.
Need some utensils? Check out these and these. The second set is pretty cool because you can actually attempt to brand your food with the UCLA logo. We have the spatula and it’s hefty and holds up well.
The last thing I thought I’d add to this post is the motorized cooler. No, it’s not a grill, but it’s pretty cool. You can pay anywhere from $600 to over $1,000, and you can sit on your drinks while they chill and ride all over the Rose Bowl visiting friends at other tailgates. They’re a real thing and I’ve seen them once or twice at games. Truly for the die hard tailgater. Check out this video from Discovery courtesy of TheCoolerMan4U:
Wild, just wild.
50 days until kick off.