Pittsburgh vs. Arizona Super Bowl Food-Off

Super Bowl week is here and ES is confused. With no cheeseheads, cheesesteak-heads, or scrappy underdogs to root for, and no Patriots to root against, we just don’t know what to do. This year’s game is between Pittsburgh, which we think has something to do with steel but we’re not quite sure what; and Arizona, which we can always find on a map given two guesses but don’t know much else about.

There’s nothing worse than showing up at a Super Bowl party and not knowing which team to root for, but how to decide? Between making dips, buying beer, and ordering pizza, there’s just no time to research the merits and demerits of the individual teams.

So we’re choosing who to root for the only way we know how — based on which team has the best food. Will it be Pittsburgh with its all-American blue collar traditions? Or Arizona, with it’s sun-baked spicy flair? (The Cardinals are based in Phoenix, but since they claim the whole state, we’re gonna go ahead and give it to them, since we suspect they might need a boost anyway). Without further ado, the Pittsburgh vs. Arizona Super Bowl Food-Off: 



First Quarter: Best Sandwich



 OK, we lied. Turns out we do know at least one thing about Pittsburgh. Namely, Steeltown is home to Primanti Brothers, one of the most outrageously amazing sandwich shops in the country. We can’t think of a more appropriate way to enjoy the big game than with a Primanti Bros. pastrami sandwich, piled high with perfectly spiced meat, coleslaw and french fries. Yes, fries inside the sandwich, not on top of or beside. The only problem is trying to stay awake for the second half. (Photo: The Halberg)

Uh-oh, Pittsburgh. We did some research and it turns out America had outrageous sandwiches before the Italians got here – and we mean waaaaaaay before. If you ever find yourself around Mesa, Arizona, you’ll want to stop by Arizona Native Frybread and pick up a traditional Navajo Sandwich — golden frybread filled with grilled lamb meat and topped with lettuce, red onions, tomatoes and fire roasted green chilis. Now that’s a sandwich. (Photo: chowdownphoenix via Serious Eats)

Point: Arizona. Can’t hate on Primanti Bros, but that frybread is just too damn enticing.
Second Quarter: Best Pizza



 We try not to eat pizza outside NYC, but we’d make an exception if we drove by Vincent’s Pizza Park, because that crust looks so crispy, the cheese so golden brown, and, um..for g-d’s sake there’s an entire pig on that pie! Might have to start carrying around a pic of this beauty so that every time we go into a pizzeria and see a pepperoni pie with five or six measly ‘ronis on it we can show them this craziness, where the pepperonis actually have to be placed sideways to make room for all of them. Bravo, Pittsburgh. Youse sure know how to eat some meat. (Photo: hanzabean)

 We gotta say we’re a little surprised by how many people out there on the Internets claim the very best slice in America is served up at a pizzeria in Phoenix. Specifically, they’re talking about Pizzeria Bianco. The thin-but-not-flimsy crust does look impressive (seriously, look) and the toppings are nothing if not ballsy. For example, the “Rosa” you’re looking at is topped with onions, parmagiana reggiano, rosemary and Arizona pistachios. Yes, that’s pistachios as in pistachio nuts. On a pizza. We’re intrigued. (Photo: roboppy)

Point: Pittsburgh. Arizona gets an A for effort, but this is the Super Bowl, not the Oscars, so pepperoni trumps pistachio.
Third Quarter: Best Hot Dog



 Good gravy! If we had to paint a picture of what the Super Bowl means to America, it would probably look very much like this photo. The bacon and cheddar dog is one of just many heart-stopping options offered at Pitt favorite D’s SixPax & Dog’s, but in our humble opinion, it’s the most perfect. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated. Take meat. Cover with bacon. Douse in cheese. Pray for forgiveness. (Photo: Mr. Velocipede)

The legendary Sonoran Hot Dog may have originated in neighboring Mexico but it was made famous by the Hispanic-heavy neighborhoods of southside Tucson, Arizona. A bacon-wrapped hot dog is placed on an oversized bun and topped with pinto beans, tomatoes, onion, mustard, mayo, crema, relish, jalapenos…well, you get the point – basically whatever the hell else they have on hand. (Photo: Mr. Frosted)
Point: Pittsburgh. For pure all-American outlandishness, we’ve gotta give it to Pitt.
Fourth Quarter: Best Beer



Iron City Brewing company has been drowning Pittsburgh’s sorrows for going on 150 years now, and the Steelers probably wouldn’t have won half as many games if their fans didn’t have this solid stand-by to get them through all those snowy seasons. (It’s also safe to say this brew probably played a hand in the invention of the three culinary delicacies presented above). (Photo: Iron City)

Daaaaaamn, ‘zona! Is there anything you people won’t put hot chilis in? It doesn’t get much more macho than drinking a beer laced with hot serrano chili peppers. Arizona gave the world just that with Chili Beer, a Cave Creek, Arizona original (now produced in Mexico). (Photo: srboisvert)

Point: Arizona. Hot, cold, and drunk, all in one bottle. What more could a fan want? Tie game!

Look’s like we’re headed to overtime, and it’s up to you, readers. Who cooked it better? Pittsburgh or Arizona? Vote below, and don’t forget to do the thing where you tell me how dumb I am and that everything I said is completely wrong.

[Poll id=”31″]

Previously on ES: 

March Madness: America’s Top 10 Drunk College Foods

America’s Real Best Ballpark Food

The Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented

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  • salt and pepper January 27, 2009  

    Arizona got my vote and it was the first quarter sandwich that tipped the scales in their favor…that looks too darn tasty.

  • TVFF January 27, 2009  

    I went to Rutgers for grad school and therefore became a big fan of fries on a sandwich (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_Trucks), so I had to go with Primanti Bros. and the ‘Burgh.

  • gansie January 27, 2009  

    i voted for pitt for two reasons
    1) the cardinals fucking suck and do not deserve to be in the super bowl (says disgruntled eagles fan)
    2) tomlin is HOTT

  • Britannia January 27, 2009  

    It pained me to vote for Pittsburgh but that pizza pie, and anyone who puts fries on a sandwich is my new best friend. I do have to give it to Arizona though with that chili beer. Anyone know where to get some?

  • joe s January 27, 2009  

    Have to agree with your tie score. But isn’t Rolling Rock beer, from Latrobe Pa. and much more popular than Iron City, considered a Pitt brew. If so, that would give the food-off to Pitt.

  • Jerry Sizzler January 27, 2009  

    I got Pittsburgh winning this battle. Here’s my quarter by quarter take (football terms included).

    1st: Offsetting penalties. The Primanti, in my experience, is a way overrated sandwich. All my Pittsburgh friends talked it up, and maybe the hype was too much to live up to, but it was a woeful amount of meat slathered in cole slaw and potatoes. The Kordell Stewart of sandwiches. On the other hand, the Arizona fare…the only thing keeping that from being a gyro is chilis instead of tzatziki. And Arizona is as in touch with Native Americans as they are with MLK Day. Personal foul. 0-0

    2nd: Pittsburgh busts it open. Where their pizza goes simple and big like their ‘D’, Arizona goes all flea flicker and overwrought finesse. This is the Super Bowl, not a Wolfgang Puck garden luncheon for frick’s sake! Arizona’s pizza is Brian Bosworth and Pitt’s pizza just went Bo Jackson on it’s ass. 7-0 Pitt.

    3rd: The teams trade touchdowns. Either of those dogs would fit right in at a tailgate party, and you’d probably draw in some new fans, too. 14-7 Pitt.

    4th: Steelers tack on a field goal at the end. The Iron City, while truly one of the worst beers around, goes perfect with any of the foods Pittsburgh has to offer. But after eating chili upon chili, the first thing I want to do is put the fire out, not drink a bottle of more fire. 17-7 Pittsburgh.

    Pittsburgh gets it done on straightforward smashmouth style while Arizona’s fusion of styles and places (Kurt Warner and Edgerrin James, anyone?) ends up not keeping pace.

  • gansie January 27, 2009  

    cue stereotypical gansie comment:
    can we not equate the ability to drink chilies with machismo

  • Bunny got Blog January 27, 2009  

    Great ideas I have to say but so much ! Wow
    great recipes for the big game.

  • -dan January 28, 2009  

    t – u – c – s – o – n

  • BS January 28, 2009  

    my bad – noted…

  • Jim Haug January 28, 2009  

    Anyone who’s been through pittsburgh (and I lived there 10 years) knows the best pizza is at Mineo’s in Squirrel Hill, and the best dogs are either the Original Hot Dog Shop in Oakland or Wiener World downtown

  • Scott January 28, 2009  

    Hasn’t anyone heard of the dog that Randy Johnson and Alice Cooper have at their restaurant in Phoenix? It’s a 22 inch hot dog called “The Big Unit”, naturally.

  • gansie January 28, 2009  

    didn’t anthony bourdain feature that in no reservations?

  • Harris Reynolds January 28, 2009  

    Sweet post. Arizona’s Food edges out Pittsburgh for me… I hope the Cards can pull it out in the BIG game too!

  • Steel6pack January 28, 2009  

    Rolling Rock is no longer from Pittsburgh/Latrobe, they were bought and closed the brewery. Rolling Rock is beer-non-grata in Pittsburgh and all has virtually disappeared from all taps, neon signs, dart boards etc in the greater Pittsburgh area (as Pittsburghers are a little sensitive to businesses that move out of the area). Iron City all the way! Also, Pierogies and Kielbasa (perhaps w/ a little Heinz ketchup or mustard) are musts for any Steelers game..

  • Mike January 29, 2009  

    Rolling Rock sucks. It’s made in Jersey now. I haven’t had one since the plant was sold. Iron City is bad but it’s ingrained in our culture as much as the Steelers. I drink it every gameday!

  • NASTY January 29, 2009  

    Dude, seriously… have you ever TASTED that chili beer? That stuff was poured straight from the anus of the devil.

  • the real potato January 29, 2009  

    Go Steelers! But guys… it’s ‘yinz,’ not ‘youse.’ ‘Youse’ is Philly. Pittsburgh does not appreciate being confused with Philly.

  • Jdogg January 29, 2009  

    You’re telling me that the native americans ate lamb sandwiches topped with tomato lettuce and red onions? Bullshit. Sandwich should have gone to the burgh…. I can’t even begin to tell you how many restaurants try and emulate the Primanti Brother’s sandwiches… But there can be only one!

  • Miles January 29, 2009  

    Cave Creek Chili Beer is a great way to find yourself drunk. It goes like this: (HOT Arizona day) 1) Mmmm, delicious cold beer! I’ll Have a swig of that! 2) Ahhhh! Cold and tasty! 3) WTF?!?! Why is my mouth on fire??? 4) Put something COLD in there! 5) Go to step 2. Repeat until drunk (20 minutes or so).


  • salt and pepper January 30, 2009  

    I think Zona is getting rooked in this poll…nevertheless, love the comparison and gave this poll an OM NOM Nomination.

  • 8rustystaples January 30, 2009  

    Sorry, Arizona, but beans do NOT belong on a hot dog. That killed your 3rd quarter.
    And at the risk of beating a dead horse, as great as that pizza may taste, when it comes to football, keeping it simple is key…pepperoni trumps pistachios every time.
    Okay, the brewery is in Pottsville, not Pittsburgh, but Yuengling is a fine beer, WAY better than Iron City. And I’ve had the Chili Beer. It’s not a bad brew, but it’s more of a novelty than anything else.
    Pittsburgh wins.

  • BuzzCzar January 30, 2009  

    A gimmick pizza, a gimmick hot dog, and a gimmick beer equates to a gimmick team. P’burgh in a walk.

    “Here we go Steelers, here we go”.

  • christopher January 30, 2009  

    Delicious. I’m so tired of NYC pizza references, holler at Pittsburgh and Arizona. ..Of course, America would rather see and eat Philly in the super bowl, but, you know, that’s moot.

  • Yo-Dawg January 30, 2009  

    I’ve eaten at several of the above mentioned diggs. Just so happens that I grew up in CA, lived all over the world, and the only place I pine for, often enough to mention, is Primanti Brothers! Once a year or so something reminds me of Pitt and proceed to I walk around my house looking for food that will fulfill the craving for this incredible sandwich. Of course I never find anything, and you can’t create this yourself, so my vote will have to go to Steelers! Since it’s been 12 years since I’ve had this sandwich and I am craving one now maybe I should go visit… Clean the house Dan Big Mama is coming to visit!

  • Anna Kuttner January 31, 2009  

    Were we voting on actual quality or dying young?

  • Bolsa de Trabajo February 1, 2009  

    I vote for the Sonoran Hot Dog, go cardinals hehe.

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  • Dan April 5, 2010  

    Personally, I prefer Coney Island hot dogs, Detroit style. They’re the best!

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