Football Fare: A sporty mix of beer, bangers, and brunch 

Are you ready for some football?

wings at Kickin' Chicken

wings at Kickin' Chicken

Saturday marks the beginning of September and the first sign of sweet fall. That means one thing to football fans: tailgating. This weekend ESPN will be dominated by the sport, with college football all day Saturday and the last of the preseason NFL games taking place Sunday. To sustain the marathon, you better load up on dips, chips, wings, and other football fare. Seeing as it's Labor Day weekend, we should probably take the labor out of everything, right? So why don't you head to one of these sports bars to find tailgate-inspired food fit for a weekend of football kickoffs.

Mac's Place is not kidding around, hence the 9 a.m. opening for the Notre Dame game Saturday morning. Roll out of bed and come early to get the Irish Breakfast and Brunch, a hearty combination of eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, and "bangers," a.k.a Irish sausages. If you're coming by later in the day, go for the Irish nachos ($7.50). This heavy-hitting dish consists of homemade "floppy" potato chips, ranch dressing, bacon, jalapeños, tomatoes, and a generous portion of melted cheese, add chicken or ground beef for that extra protein. What makes this place really stand out is that their kitchen is open until 1 a.m., so you can do some quality carb-loading all night long.

King Street Grille is a go-to for sports fans. With 32 large screen TVs mounted in the two-story dining hall, you can keep your eye on more than one game at a time. King Street's appetizer lineup starts with a salute to the traditional Southern favorite, pimento cheese. The Dixie delicacy gets even better once freshly battered and fried up into pimento cheese balls ($7.99). What's a Southern dish without some ranch dressing? Not Southern. This dish is served with a spicy version on the side.

While it's known to be a haunt of the late night fratstar, O'Malley's is also a prime sports watching arena. The place has TVs galore, with 26 big screens and a small screen in each booth. As for the grub, this is the place to get your traditional, grease-laden delights. O'Mall's fries classic mozzarella sticks ($6.99), jalapeño poppers ($7.99), and chicken Fingers to order. They also serve up a blooming Vidalia onion ($7.99). If you're looking for something a little more substantial or even sporting a little green, try the buffalo chicken sandwich. Skip the fries and get the zucchini chips.

OK, so you're hands are greasy, you've used a thousand napkins, it's time for utensils. Head over to Charleston Beer Works for a Pigskin Brunch Menu available two days in a row. That's right you can get your fill on both Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. If you're recovering from the night before, try the Hair of the Dog ($10). This combo speaks for itself: Tallboy of PBR or High Life, a shot of Fireball, and a basket of bacon and fries. Curtail some of the calorie binging with the addition of a fresh fruit cup, your bros won't judge you.

Fries, football, and Fridays, are three F words that just go together, and this Friday The Brick is combining them with their Taco Wing special. This dish deep fries eight smoky marinated jumbo chicken wings until crisp, and then tosses them in a homemade spicy hot taco sauce. They're served with homemade tortilla chips, pico de gallo, and a Southwest ranch dressing ($9). Looking for something lighter? How about the deep-fried battered bacon, drizzled with powdered sugar and syrup ($5). This is the breakfast your cardiologist fears and is served all day.

Kickin' Chicken, a mecca of fried fowl, is also a football fan hotspot. Servers will be decked out in their favorite team's jersey and dishing out fried chicken in a variety of forms. Here's what you should try: the buffalo chicken dip ($7.49). Grilled chicken is tossed in their signature buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing and mixed in with melted cheeses and a side of tortilla chips. Now for what you really came for, Kickin' Chicken slathers jumbo wings in your choice of 21 flavors like sesame ginger, hot honey garlic, and the pterodactyl (a mix of their teriyaki and barbecue). And of course, they have three levels of buffalo heat. To try a selection, get the wings sampler, a basket with 25 wings and your choice of up to five sauces, ($18.99). Oh yeah, you'll feel that tomorrow.

And if pizza is what you're craving to go with the game, Mellow Mushroom Avondale has a host of NFL gameday specials, including 50-cent wings and $5 small, one-topping pizzas. But what you should order is their Thai Dye Pizza, which is an amazingly tasty combination of curried chicken, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, onions, fresh basil, cucumbers, and Thai chili sauce. It'll have you sucking down a $10 bucket of beer in no time.

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