My “Local” Super Bowl Party Hosting Trick Is the Only Way Both Teams Actually Win

published Feb 5, 2024
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Hot dogs for game day, super bowl food
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When I was growing up, my family hosted legendary Super Bowl parties. I’ve never consistently rooted for a specific team, but on that Sunday every February, I take football very seriously. Whether I’m hosting friends, attending a party, or just watching with my husband at home, there’s one Super Bowl Sunday rule I still abide by: Let the participating teams dictate food, drinks, and even decor.

Everyone knows the Super Bowl food staples: communal trays of chips and dips, hot dogs with all the fixings, and an endless supply of Buffalo wings. But if you’ve been the host for a while, or you always get together with the same group, keeping everything “local” is a great way to switch things up every year. I’ll never forget when the New Orleans Saints were in the Super Bowl in 2010 (facing the Indianapolis Colts), and I made homemade jambalaya and a huge pot of gumbo served with Hurricanes and virgin daiquiris. (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to track down any photos of the event.)

A couple of years before that when the Chicago Bears went to the big game (also against the Colts!), we had another unforgettable menu: the star of the show was a hot dog bar with Windy City-approved toppings: onions, sweet relish, sliced tomatoes, pickle spears, yellow mustard, and even poppy seed-studded buns. No ketchup in sight. 

Beyond the food, we had a few secret weapons to turn our home into the ultimate game day venue. Of course, our table was adorned with football-shaped platters and napkins the color of penalty flags. We’d also strategically select disposable cups that were as close as possible to the participating teams’ colors. And unless one of our family’s beloved teams was in the game (we’ve got a mix of Patriots and Cowboys fans among us), the five of us would don referee jerseys and whistles so our guests could easily find a host in the crowd. Fun, festive, and functional.

But the real showstopper was in the living room where we showed the game: Every year, we turned our area rug into a mini football field. I wish I could find a photo of it, but it was easier to assemble than it looked — all it took was a roll of turf cut down to fit the space, plus masking tape or white paint carefully shaped into lines and numbers. (This brief TikTok captures it pretty well — it’s a great task for crafty kids.)

How to Go “Local” for This Year’s Super Bowl

This year’s matchup is between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. If you’ve never been to either city or are feeling a bit lost about how to host a party that revolves around these two, read on. I’ve got you covered!

San Francisco has a booming food scene, but it’s best known for staples like huge Mission burritos, Dungeness crab, and crusty sourdough bread — especially if it’s hollowed out into a bowl and filled with clam chowder

Although I’m not hosting this year, my friends who are hosting the party plan on serving chowder, a nacho bar with all the Mission burrito ingredients, and a Ghirardelli dessert as a nod to the famed chocolatier’s Frisco origins. To fill out the menu, you might consider adding crab dip to your chips tray and bite-sized apple fritters to the dessert station, or simply order up ice cream sandwiches from one of San Francisco’s many scoop shops. (If you’ve never tried the SF delicacy of It’s-It Ice Cream sandwiches, this is the perfect excuse!).

On the Kansas City side, there’s never been a better time to serve great barbecue. Burnt ends are a staple of KC-style barbecue, as is the sweet and sticky sauce made from a base of molasses, tomatoes, and brown sugar. If this sounds like a task too complicated for game day, or if winter barbecuing is a no-go for you, pitmasters at Kansas City’s famed Jack Stack restaurant will happily send you some. Their game day package on Goldbelly includes brisket, ribs, sides, and dessert, and it serves up to six people.

And don’t forget the drinks! These cities make it really easy — at least for those consuming alcohol. Kansas City and San Francisco have impressive brewery offerings, so an assortment of craft beer is a great ode to both. If your crowd isn’t so keen on brews, you could whip up a batch of each city’s signature cocktails: a Horsefeather or Kansas City Ice Water for the Chiefs, and a Cable Car for the 49ers. Bonus points if you find a way to turn those recipes into a fancy non-alcoholic punch for guests who don’t imbibe!

Once my siblings and I moved away from home, our iconic parties went extinct, but we all still celebrate big on Super Bowl Sunday. As someone who prefers to bring something homemade when I go to a party, I always adhere to this hack as a Super Bowl guest. Last year, I brought homemade soft pretzels (although Costco has a great version, too) as a nod to Philadelphia’s participation in the game. The Eagles didn’t win, but the pretzels did!