The NFL season kicks off Thursday night and college football started last week. You know what that means — it’s time to eat and drink! Some people have fantasy drafts. I have a fantasy food lineup. Whether you are watching at home, a friend’s living room or tailgating before games at Hard Rock Stadium, here’s a quick Pick 6 of my favorite takeout foods that go with football.
LaSpada’s Original Hoagies, multiple locations: There are many places to get good sandwiches in South Florida, but there is something about the meaty, manly subs at LaSpada’s that matches perfectly with football. Perhaps it is the way the counter workers throw and catch cold cuts across the store while they assemble subs (touchdown!), or perhaps it is because these hefty wedges are the ultimate in simple and satisfying, utensil-free eating. LaSpada’s offers 4-, 5- and 6-foot subs (or party platters), and the Davie and Pembroke Pines locations open earlier than the usual 11 a.m. on Sundays when the Dolphins have home games. Other locations include Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. LaSpadasHoagies.com
Publix fried chicken, multiple locations:It’s 10 minutes until kickoff, you haven’t planned a thing, and you’re headed to a house packed with hungry friends. The easiest play? Duck into a Publix and make off with a couple of boxes of the supermarket’s addictive fried chicken. Throw in a few sides and a 12-pack of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Ale and pretty soon you’ll be known as the GOAT (greatest of all time). Publix.com
The Fresh Market chicken wings, multiple locations:Chicken wings and football are one of those classic, all-time combos (like Laurel & Hardy, Lewis & Martin and biscuits and gravy). South Florida has no shortage of decent wing joints, but the plump and juicy wings available at the Fresh Market in a variety of flavors rarely disappoint. The supermarket sells wings for $9.99 a pound or offers party platters of 50 for $49.99. Wing options include Buffalo, teriyaki, honey barbecue, spicy Korean, garlic Parmesan or natural. TheFreshMarket.com
Pizza with the works from a nonchain pizzeria: You know all those ads from big chains touting specials during games? Forget them. Pamper yourself. Spend a little more. Dial your favorite local pizzeria — the one that uses good cheese, kneads fresh dough and ladles on sauce with love — and order a few pies. Make sure you get one plain and one garbage pie with everything: pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, mushrooms. But if you bring a pizza desecrated with pineapple to my house, you will never be invited again. My pick: Conca D’Oro, 370 E. Dania Beach Blvd., Dania Beach, 954-920-3388, ConcaDoroItalianRestaurant.com
Ribs, pulled pork and brisket from a good barbecue joint: Some days, just as with some football games, you have to get down and dirty in the trenches. You might end up with stains on your jersey and globs of red goo caked on your hands and face. These are the perils of barbecue. But some days, you just need to gnaw on ribs and devour pulled pork and brisket. Sides such as mac ’n’ cheese, baked beans and collard greens might be involved, too. It is a shame that Tom Jenkins, a Fort Lauderdale perennial, is closed on football Sundays (“gone to church,” the sign on the door says). But there are plenty of worthy alternatives. Smoke BBQ and Mission BBQ, to name two. Smoke BBQ, 3351 NE 32nd St., Fort Lauderdale, 954-530-5334 EatBBQNow.com; Mission BBQ, 2411 S. University Drive, Davie, 954-766-4304, and 4412 Weston Road, Davie, 954-488-2543, Mission-BBQ.com
Bagels with smoked salmon and spreads from a place that bakes in-house: Back in my sportswriting days, the Philadelphia Eagles would set up an elaborate pregame press box spread of bagels, cream cheese and lox. Philly and not New York? Go figure. For 1 p.m. Sunday kickoffs, this Brooklyn boy sometimes still likes to get his traditional bagel brunch on. Particularly if he feels the local fish (Dolphins) are about to get smoked and shmeared. If you don’t have a decent local bagel shop near you, there’s always the Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co. My pick: Sage Bagel and Deli, 800 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Hallandale Beach, 954-456-7499, SageBagelAndDeli.com