In honor of college football's 150th anniversary, we scoured college towns to find out which restaurants, dive bars and hole-in-the-wall food joints serve up the greatest grub. Read on to find out the top 10 drool-worthy spots in college football.
10. Waffle House
All locations, everywhere
You can’t visit a college town in the south without stopping at the local Waffle House—because it’s always open, because you’re craving hash browns, because you’re in need of some top-notch people-watching, whatever. There’s no better late-night or early-morning food, and your wallet will thank you.
A classic Jewish deli less than a mile-and-a-half from Harvard’s campus. You can’t go wrong ordering homemade bagels and lox, warm matzah ball soup or a hand-sliced pastrami sandwich on rye with a sour pickle. Save room for a house-made milkshake, too. Get a quick bite or stay for a while, but make sure to check this place out next on your next visit.
8. Mother Bear's
Mother Bear’s looks a lot like the staple pizza joint in every other college town across the Midwest—but its pizza is better. The restaurant offers thin crust and deep dish, but go with the pan pizza, which is perfectly crispy, doughy and cheesy all at once.
At first you think you’re lost. Is this white shack with a smoke stains on the cinderblock the right place? Yes. This Northport, Ala., institution is a family-owned, family-run, no frills, must-eat-when-you’re-in-town-to-see-the-Tide kind of place. Everything here is smoked with hickory wood, because it’s tradition, and because it makes the ribs super flavorful.
6. Dixie Chicken
College Station, Texas
The walls of the Dixie Chicken are covered in photos and Texas memorabilia (and wildlife), and it’s hands-down the best place to get a sense for College Station. Revel in the fried food, drink a Shiner Bock and definitely get the Tijuana fries.
5. Simply Pressed
South Bend, Ind.
College football fans can appreciate healthy food, too, right? Opt for an acai bowl and a Keto coffee for your pregame meal at this modern juice shop on Cleveland Road, about five minutes north of campus. Need something more substantial? Grab a freshly packed mason jar salad and a pressed juice—The Sunshine and The Sweet Green are personal favorites—to bring to a tailgate. Don’t trust our recommendation? Notre Dame athletes load up on these smoothies before big games. And despite owners Rachel and Ryan Blake’s allegiances to Ohio State, they proudly serve fans from every school.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Zingerman’s is legendary institution. This deli among delis, located in the Kerrytown District of Ann Arbor near campus, consistently ranks among the best sandwich joints in the world. Going here is a must during any trip to Ann Arbor and an essential part of the Michigan student experience. Get a Rueben or mac ‘n cheese or a brownie or all of the above. And then order another round to go.
3. Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry
Spotted cow and fried cheese curds are the perfect predecessor to the burgers at Dotty’s, which are phenomenal. (Unlike Booches, there are fries, and they’re great.) Still, the most memorable moments might be the beer and appetizer, considering New Glarus’s brews aren’t available outside state lines, and it’s also unadvisable to consume curds in states non-adjacent to Wisconsin.
2. Veracruz All Natural
Those who know say Veracruz makes the best tacos in town. And those who know are correct. Sisters Reyna and Maritza Vazquez grew up helping their mother and grandmother cook in Veracuz, Mexico, and they’ve thankfully brought their culinary skills to Austin, where they use fresh and organic ingredients to make delicious food. Order the migas or tacos al pastor, plus an aguas frescas…and maybe a smoothie and chips and guac, too.
If you’d like a game of pool to go along with your burger, you can get one here—but really, Booches delectable beef patties need very little in the way of adornment. They’re a size I’ve never seen elsewhere, halfway between a slider and a full-sized burger, perfectly tender and crispy at the edges. Cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickle, onion—those are the only choices you need to make. Booches doesn’t even serve fries, because it doesn’t need to; just order a third burger, and you’ll be satisfied.