I will admit up front that I was at the Charger’s game a few weeks ago because they were playing my hometown team the Detroit Lions.
The Detroit Lions, at the time, had not played a game and had the promise of a winning season in front of them.
They have since dropped to 0-2 and that promise has faded as it always does.
I’ve also become a Charger fan over the years so this game really was a win-win scenario for me.
Besides all that, I heard that the pre-game tailgating was taken very seriously and sure enough, we arrived two hours early and the parking lot was already full with pop-up tents, RVs, grills, smokers and full-on portable kitchen setups. We were lucky to find a place to park at all.
The crowd was also full of Detroit fans so that was a treat and everywhere we walked showing our Detroit colors folks were eager to invite us in to sample their food.
But it was the crew from Oceanside next to us that had one of the more impressive setups I’ve seen anywhere.
They were Pacific Islanders and turns out one of them owns a restaurant in Oceanside called Guahan Grill that features the cuisine of Guam.
I’ll be following up with them for a future Lick the Plate column for sure. They had a grill going where they were finishing baby back ribs, chicken thighs and much to my delight, big fat oysters.
I simply went over to inquire about the oysters on the grill and was welcomed like family and given a heaping plate that included all of what I just mentioned.
Everything on that plate including a big heaping scoop of macaroni salad was amazing. I must say they were all huge Charger’s fan but welcomed me anyway — even with my Detroit jersey on.
This was not your stereotypical beer and brats tailgate action happening. The variety of the food being consumed reflected the diverse ethnic melting pot that made up the crowd. In fact, I heard a lot of folks just came down for the pre-game party and did not even attend the game.
Some of those folks were so loaded at noon I’m not sure how they could make it through a full game anyway.
Finally it was time to leave the party and make our way into the stadium. This was the most uncomfortable part of the day as it was just before kickoff and thousands of folks had the same idea, with very limited entry points. The wait in the sun packed liked sardines in a line that did not move almost had me to the point of going back out to enjoy the party for a while longer. Once in, our seats were in the shade, which I was thankful for.
Our first stop for food was the traditional stadium hot dog and while it is really not fair to judge any stadium hot dog against the Tiger Stadium dog I enjoyed growing up — which was, by far, the best ever hands down — the Charger dog or whatever it was called was lukewarm and served on a dry bun. It was almost inedible but of course we ate it anyway and shortly after that of course, we noticed a whole row of food trucks and our sporting event, beer-fueled munchies kicked in again.
Ironically, I had just seen a feature in Thrillist about the “must have” food from every state. For Iowa it was the pork cutlet sandwich that sounded so delicious I wanted to hop on a plane to Iowa just to have one. Much to my delight, one of the food trucks was called the “Iowa Breaded,” which translates into pork cutlet sandwiches.
This simple breaded and fried pork cutlet on a bun with a couple of pickles and nothing else hit the spot like little else in my sporting event foodie memory. Not sure why it was there, but it was, and it was delightful. There were plenty of other food truck choices and next time the Lions are in town, I will have to check them out, that is if we still have a football team in San Diego.
David Boylan is founder of Artichoke Creative and Artichoke Apparel, an Encinitas based marketing firm and clothing line. Reach him at email@example.com or (858) 395-6905.