Someone always shows up to a well-organized tailgate bearing the most meager of contributions: a clammy package of Oscar Mayer franks for the grill or a bag of half-crushed potato chips. Don’t be that person. Skip the last-minute trip to the supermarket and opt for fresh meat and half-smokes from local butchers.
Here are a few of our favorite sources:
Run by two D.C. bartenders, 13th Street Meats ’ freshly ground half-smokes and spicy Italian and lemon-basil chicken sausages have become staples at popular bars, including Boundary Stone and Breadsoda. The sausages are available at the DC Brau brewery on the first Saturday of the month and at various festivals and farmers markets. Follow @13thStMeats on Twitter for updates.
While Nathan Anda prepares to open the brick-and-mortar version of his popular Red Apron Butchery in Merrifield this fall, his house-made sausages, hot dogs, beef and pork are being sold at local farmers markets, including the ones on Vermont Avenue NW near the White House on Thursday and at Dupont Circle on Sunday. You also can find Anda’s creations at Planet Wine in Del Ray. For details, visit www.redapronbutchery.com.
Society Fair , Cathal Armstrong’s Alexandria market and butcher shop, has you covered from whole chickens and everyday cuts of beef and pork to more exotic fare, including antelope, boar and head cheese. 277 S. Washington St., Alexandria. 703-683-3247. www.societyfair.net.
Long a fixture at farmers markets, Jamie Stachowski’s sausages are now available for pickup at his Georgetown store, Stachowski Market and Deli . 1425 28th St. NW. 202-506-3125. www.stachowskibrand.com.
The family-owned delicatessen and butcher shop Wagshals is one of the area’s premier destinations for gourmet meat and fresh seafood. You also can find such specialty items as imported hams and wild game. 4845 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 202-363-5698. www.wagshals.com.
A 30-pack of mass-produced domestic lager will never go out of style at large tailgates. But your friends will be happier to host if you show up with a couple of growlers, which hold 64 ounces of freshly tapped beer from a local brewery. Most breweries charge between $10 and $15 to fill the glass jugs.
The newest brewery in the Washington area, 3 Stars Brewing Company , opened its doors in August. Visit on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. to fill up and sample three beers, including a refreshing Belgian saison. 6400 Chillum Pl. NW. 202-670-0333. www.3stars brewing.com.
The year-old Brookland brewery Chocolate City Beer specializes in English-style ales and shows its D.C. pride with the new Little Chair IPA. It’s open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays. 2801 Eighth St. NE. 202-351-6197. www.chocolatecitybeer.com.
The largest of the Washington-area breweries, DC Brau offers as many as eight kinds of beer during its growler hours, from about noon to 4 p.m. every Saturday, as well as six-packs of its three flagship beers. Don’t miss the DC Brau merchandise, which includes T-shirts in Redskins colors. 3178-B Bladensburg Rd. NE. 202-621-8890. www.dcbrau.com.
A Hyattsville staple since 2002, Franklin’s Restaurant and Brewery keeps 10 beers on tap, from pale ale to double IPA. The brewpub is open daily for growler fills and sits just seven miles from FedEx Field. 5123 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville. 301-927-2740. www.franklinsbrewery.com.
Port City Brewing Co. ’s bar and tasting room in Alexandria is open Wednesday through Sunday for growler fills and, if you’re supplying a group, keg sales. 3950 Wheeler Ave., Alexandria. 703-797-2739. www.portcitybrewing.com.
Forget horseshoes and flip cup. Corn hole, also known as bean bag toss, is the quintessential parking-lot pastime. Anyone can buy a generic set of boards and bags at Target or Modell’s, but you can show your true colors with a custom-made set from Davis Family Creations in Chesapeake Beach, Md.
“We’ve put out over 500 sets in the last two years, and I think I’ve had four or five sets that were the same,” says Brenda Davis, who runs the woodworking company with her husband, George. “That’s the point of having them be custom made.”
The Davises help customers pick colors, stripe patterns, logos or the number of a favorite player — they made a burgundy-and-gold set with the number 21 to honor Sean Taylor, the late Redskins safety — and then paint the sets by hand. They’re not all sports-themed either. “Right now, I’m working on a Grateful Dead set,” Davis says, “and I’ve got one here with hibiscus flowers on it.”
Several sizes are available, though the most common is the 2-by-3-foot “Tailgater,” whose two angled boards line up and lock together, making for easy transport to the stadium. Sets start at $285, which includes the custom paint job. For an extra fee, the Davises will put LED lights around each hole, making it easier to play at night. Most custom sets are complete seven to 10 days after being ordered. They can be shipped to the Washington area for about $30, or customers can pick them up at the workshop.
8306 F St., Chesapeake Beach, Md. 443-964-4182. www.davisfamilycreations.com.
An authentic Washington Redskins jersey with Griffin III on the back is pretty sweet, but do you really want to be one of 15,000 people in the stadium wearing the same thing? Stand out from the crowd with an unofficial and frequently humorous burgundy-and-gold T-shirt available online.
The guys behind the Mothering Hut T-shirt shop (www.motheringhut.com) also ran the inscrutable Wizards blog Wizznutzz, which explains why most of their beautifully designed shirts have a basketball theme. But there are some Redskins winners in there as well. Who wouldn’t want to wear a “Raljon Football” tee, or tell the world you’ve been “Orakpwned”? For a true throwback, proclaim your love for the Hogs: “Russ & Joe & Jeff & Mark & George.”
The most honest Redskins merchandise out there? A burgundy T-shirt with “Cautiously optimistic” in gold letters. Score that, or a “Chief Zee is my homeboy” shirt, courtesy of local sports blog Homer McFanboy (www.homermcfanboy.com).
Son of Washington (www.sonofwashington.com) captures popular Internet memes — “HTTR,” for the popular Twitter shorthand for “Hail to the Redskins” — and RGIII-related shirts, including the “FranchIIIse.”
The Mr. Irrelevant blog’s store (www.misterirrelevant.com) features some fun choices, including the attractive and perennially popular “Offseason Champs,” but also some dated duds: Would “Fire Vinny” even appeal to the ironically retro fan?
Getting to FedEx Field requires its own set of Xs and Os. If you don’t have a parking permit, do you shell out upwards of $40 to park on a distant patch of grass or asphalt, or do you schlep your tailgating gear to the far eastern reaches of the Blue Line before walking almost a mile to the stadium along Garrett A. Morgan Boulevard?
Instead, hop on a chartered bus with round-trip service to and from FedEx Field. You’ll arrive at the stadium with plenty of time to tailgate, and when the game ends, someone else will navigate the swirling mess of traffic. Here are some options:
Ballpark Bus: Buses depart from Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm in Ashburn 3 1 / 2 hours before kickoff and leave from FedEx Field 20 minutes after the final whistle. A round-trip ticket costs $29. Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm, 42920 Broadlands Blvd., Ashburn. www.ballparkbus.com.
Boomerang Party Bus: This Metro-accessible round-trip bus service departs from the Front Page bar in Dupont Circle and arrives at FedEx Field two hours before kickoff. The bus leaves the stadium an hour after the final whistle. A round-trip ticket costs $28. Front Page, 1333 New Hampshire Ave. NW. 202-557-9896. www.zerve.com/Boomerang/Redskins.
Crystal City Sports Pub: Get in some tailgating time before arriving at the stadium with a pre-departure food and drink buffet that’s included in your $50 round-trip ticket. Buses leave at 11 a.m. for 1 p.m. games, noon for 4 p.m. games and 4 p.m. for night games. Crystal City Sports Pub, 529 S. 23rd St., Arlington. 703-521-8215. www.crystal citysportspub.net.
Mister Days: Buses leave from this Clarendon mainstay two hours before kickoff. Reservations usually aren’t required. A round-trip ticket costs $35. Mister Days, 3100 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington. 703-527-1600. www.misterdays.com.
South Riding Inn: A round-trip ride to the game and, hey, how about a little brunch thrown in for good measure? The South Riding Inn’s Brunch & Bus Ride has it all for $50. South Riding Inn, 43090 Peacock Market Plaza, South Riding. 703-327-8055. www.southridinginn.com.