It’s that time of year again—football season is back in full swing. And it’s not just the weekly game that’s back. With the return of fall football comes the return of game-day foods like wings, chili, burgers, and hot dogs. In fact, it’s practically mandatory that you enjoy these dishes as you sit in front of the flat-screen, sip a cold beer, and watch your team crush (or be crushed by) this week’s opponent.
But you don’t have to wait until Sunday (or Monday or Thursday) to enjoy these classic dishes. Restaurants throughout the county—even ones that don’t show the game—are putting them on the menu. From upscale fine-dining establishments to trendy bars to the newest craft beer joints, you’ll find game-day standards are getting a modern treatment with international flavors, highbrow ingredients, and creative pairings.
The stately Chappaqua mansion that houses Crabtree’s Kittle House doesn’t seem like a prime spot for a hot dog. Just off the main dining room, the Old World-style taproom serves sophisticated takes on bar foods like hot dogs and chili. “At Kittle House we have fine dining, but we also have a lot of locals,” says Chef Jay Lippin. “Customers want to be able to come here with their family and have a hamburger. It’s very casual, but the quality’s there.”
To create a hot-dog dish worthy of the restaurant’s upscale clientele, Chef Lippin sources local jumbo Wagyu hot dogs and tops them with fennel seed-flecked sauerkraut from Food and Ferments in Truxton, New York. A smear of the sharp, whole grain mustard made in-house with local apple cider adds a bright counterpart to the rich beef, and a tower of crispy buttermilk onion rings is an addictive alternative to fries. There’s also an upscale take on chili (which you can request on your Wagyu hot dog), made with a blend of ground Hudson Valley Angus beef and smoked barbecued brisket. The subtle barbecue flavor adds an unexpected but welcome tang to the smoky chili, which is served with white Adirondack cheddar and sour cream.
Branching Out From Buffalo
There’s no football food more revered than wings. At Village Social in Mount Kisco, Chef Mogan Anthony serves Vietnamese-style wings inspired by a recent trip to Southeast Asia. “They use fish sauce and aromatic leaves [cilantro, lemongrass, and kaffir lime] to flavor fried catfish, stir-fried beef, and local vegetables,” says Anthony. “I wanted to do my own take on wings, and we ended up with a Vietnamese style with chili lime glaze and peanuts.” The wings arrive at the table lacquered with a sweet-and-sour glaze of aromatic ginger, garlic, kaffir lime, pungent fish sauce, and Malaysian sambal chili. A crunch of chopped peanuts makes them irresistible.
Wings get the Spanish treatment in New Rochelle. At NoMa Social, the NoMa Wings are a playful riff on the restaurant’s popular patatas bravas. Plump wings boast shatteringly crisp skin dusted with a mixture of salt, chili flakes, and Spanish pimenton. Instead of ranch or blue cheese, lines of tangy black pepper and garlic aioli cut through the wings’ sweet and smoky heat.
And, apparently, New Rochelle is a haven for internationally spiced wings. At Caribbean-infused soul food restaurant Alvin and Friends, jerk chicken wings have been a longtime staple on the menu. Wings get seasoned with the restaurant’s proprietary seven-spice blend, then grilled and coated in a house-made jerk sauce, featuring allspice, cumin, and Scotch Bonnet pepper. “We make our jerk sauce so that it’s about the seasoning and not just the heat,” says owner Alvin Clayton. “We don’t want it so hot that you can’t taste the meat.”
Sweet and Savory Burgers
In the county, there’s been a flurry of newly opened craft beer restaurants serving updated and unusual takes on bar food. At Prime 16, which opened in Pelham on June 15, the pineapple-topped Maui burger is slowly becoming a popular menu pick. The grass-fed Angus beef burger is topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, grilled pineapple, and served with a chipotle mayo. The result is a tantalizing combination of sweet, salty, and spicy. “It’s a different concept,” says Chef Bryan Jamerson. “People thought the same thing about pineapple on pizza, and look how that took off.”
The owners of The Craftsman Ale House in Harrison opened “craft beer sanctuary” The Oath in Tarrytown in May. Inspired by sweet and savory burger offerings at The Craftsman, the Oath Burger is arguably one of the county’s most adventurous (and fun) incarnations. The burger starts with a juicy patty that’s a blend of chuck, short rib, and brisket. It’s topped with thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon, drizzled with maple syrup, and christened with a fried egg, the yolk kept nice and runny for a hit of pure, unctuous richness. Oh, and it’s sandwiched between two sugary, yeasted Liège waffles. “We’ve always been playing around with burgers, and we like to think outside the box,” says kitchen manager Tom Ciccarelli. “People order it because they hear about it. I’ve yet to receive any complaint.”