Buffalo tenders from CHiKN.
Photo courtesy of CHiKN.

Can you feel that? It’s football season, baby! 

Whether you’re a die-hard fan, have some money on the line, or just hope both teams have fun, there’s one thing everyone can get behind … FOOD. 

The only thing better than the camaraderie of game day gatherings with friends and family is the delicious pre-game spread. 

Not sure what to bring? Here are some crowd-pleasing local foods and snacks to take to your tailgate festivities and parties this football season.

Salted and cinnamon sugar pretzel bites from The Pretzel Shop.
Salted and cinnamon sugar pretzel bites from The Pretzel Shop in the South Side. Photo courtesy of The Pretzel Shop.

The Pretzel Shop

The Pretzel Shop in the South Side is home to handmade, hearth-baked soft pretzels. Known for their crispy exterior and soft inside, these pretzels have been a favorite of yinzers since 1927.

Offered in a variety of flavors and sizes, you can pick what looks the tastiest to you! Honestly, that’s the hardest part. 

There are pretzels, pretzel bites, dips, sandwich rolls, pretzel sliders and mini pretzel dogs. There is even pizza — it’s like a bagel bite, but way better. 

If you want to up your game, they can even make custom pretzels in the shape of the logo of the team you’re cheering on or write special messages in pretzel. Place your order online and pick it up on East Carson Street or have it delivered. 

Be sure to plan ahead if you’re heading to a Steelers game — The Pretzel Shop is closed on Sundays.

Gluten-free and dairy-free vegan spinach and mushroom pierogies from Cop Out Pierogies in Etna
Gluten-free and vegan spinach and mushroom pierogies from Cop Out Pierogies in Etna. Photo courtesy of Cop Out Pierogies.

Cop Out Pierogies 

What’s a party without pierogies? As their slogan goes … “It’s not a party until the cops show up.” Cop Out Pierogies that is. 

Located in Etna, Cop Out offers orders of frozen pierogies to make yourself or hot and ready to serve with butter, onions and sour cream. 

With a huge selection of fillings, you’re sure to find something everyone will love. Of course, they carry the classics like potato and cheese, sauerkraut and cottage cheese but they also offer some creative options on the menu too, like pepperoni pizza, hot sausage, Reuben, and spinach and feta. They even have black and gold pierogies! 

Prices vary and orders can be placed for a half-dozen or full dozen (which includes 14 ‘rogies instead of 12) or you can get a whole roaster to feed a crowd. 

If you want to enhance your spread, snag some haluski or stuffed cabbage to go along with it. 

Roasters of chicken tenders, fries and macaroni and cheese from CHiKN.
Photo courtesy of CHiKN.


CHiKN’s fried chicken is the perfect tailgate food. Who doesn’t love tenders and nugs? Throw in some crinkle fries and it’s over. 

Pick from a selection of Nashville-style crispy sandwiches or tenders with flavors including southern, mild, medium, hot and damn hot. CHiKn’s inventive sauces and seasonings pack a punch. Damn hot is labeled as insane. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted! 

Pick up a small order or a catering order from one of their three locations in Pittsburgh before kick-off. 

A variety of different types of salsas from Ocho Salsa.
Photo courtesy of Ocho Salsa.

Ocho Salsa

Chips and salsa make a classic snack that everyone is sure to love. Pittsburgh’s “Salsa Lady” has California roots making fresh, West Coast-style salsa packed with flavor. 

Ocho Salsa carries more than 20 varieties of salsa that include the classics and some seemingly crazy flavors … but they’re all delicious! And guess what? They offer dips too – try the black bean, candied jalapeno or ranchero. 

Found in markets and shops around the ‘Burgh.

A woman spreads chocolate over popcorn on a tray at Pittsburgh Popcorn Co.
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Popcorn Co.

Pittsburgh Popcorn 

If you’re looking for something simple and affordable, grab a bag of Pittsburgh Popcorn. Popped fresh at several locations around the city, Pittsburgh Popcorn doesn’t mess around when it comes to flavor. 

There is everything from classic to trendy, plus sweet and savory options. Try the movie theater butter, tangy cheddar, buttery caramel or grab a handful of something more adventurous like ranch, sriracha or a seasonal flavor. 

Photo courtesy of Primanti Bros.

Primanti Brothers

This list would not be complete without mentioning these iconic local sandwiches. All locations offer catering with a ton of options to choose from. Snag a tray of half sandwiches or get the (much cuter) mini sandwiches. These are the perfect bite-sized bit to add to a loaded party plate. 

While we think the almost famous sandwiches are the obvious choice, you can also get wings, pizza and fresh-cut french fries.

An aerial view of a box of donuts from Oliver's Donuts in Lawrenceville.
Photo courtesy of Oliver’s Donuts.

Oliver’s Donuts 

For fans hitting the tailgate early, grab a dozen donuts from Oliver’s in the Lawrenceville Market House. These cake donuts are as fresh as can be, made from scratch and are perfectly moist and dense. 

Enjoy their eight signature flavors that are available all year round like vanilla, cinnamon sugar and the ultimate classic chocolate with sprinkles — plus some seasonal creations that rotate. We have to get our hands on the maple sea salt ASAP. 

Did we mention these are vegan and vegetarian friendly as well? Deliciousness for all!

Madison Blinn is a born and raised Yinzer always on the hunt for the latest and greatest things to do, places to eat or unique adventures to go on!