At Serious Eats we like our football just like everyone else. But we can't help it. We do add our own competitive wrinkle, namely—you guessed it—food. We'll let the players settle football bragging rights on the field. But we can judge which city reigns supreme when it comes to serious vittles. So without further ado, here's the NFL playoffs, Serious Eats style.
Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints
Yes, the Cardinals win the pizza battle—no contest, really. Phoenix has Pizzeria Bianco, New Orleans has...well, no pizza worth speaking of. But football fans cannot live by pizza alone, and in every other food category New Orleans stomps Arizona. Long live muffalettas, po'boys, barbecued shrimp, roast oysters, gumbo, etouffe—ahh, I could go on forever. New Orleans is moving on.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts
On the face of it this is a toss-up, food-wise. Baltimore has steamed crabs, pit beef, chef Cindy Wolf, good corned beef at Attmann's, and some fine breakfast spots. Indianapolis might have better corned beef, good cafeterias, solid barbecue, and fried chicken. I think the Ravens are the winners here by a heritage pig's nose.
Dallas Cowboys vs. Minnesota Vikings
I must admit I am not all that objective when it comes to this particular contest: I hate the Cowboys. But I am going to try to be objective here and make the contest all about the food. Dallas (and its sister city Fort Worth) has fine barbecue, Tex-Mex worth a detour, a thriving chef and restaurant scene with talented folks like Dean Fearing and Sharon Hage, excellent burgers, chicken-fried steak, and fine soul food. Minneapolis, its sister city St. Paul, and the rest of Minnesota have excellent breakfast places like Al's, exemplary sticky buns, good Juicy Lucys, a decent new American restaurant culture, reasonably good pizza at Punch, fried walleye and pike, and lots of good pie. But in the end the Vikings are done in by lutefisk and hot dish. As much as it kills me, the Cowboys win rather handily.
New York Jets and San Diego Chargers
New York has, well, just about everything you could ask for in a food city: pastrami, pizza, bakeries, not to mention a chef and restaurant culture that keeps getting better. The Chargers have fish tacos, Mexican food, Hodad's for burgers, and—well, actually, that's it. The Jets may have a rookie quarterback, but Mark Sanchez just has too many food weapons in his arsenal or at his disposal. The Jets simply turn the Chargers into table scraps when it comes to food.