Disclaimer: Rankings are based on schools I have covered/visited this football season.
1. Conant: Take a bow Conant, the Booster Burger earned you the regular season and MSL West titles as best concessions stand in the area. After sharing the top spot the last two weeks with Palatine, I had to give the Cougars the edge once I had another one of those meaty monstrosities.
It was cooked to perfection, the staff was upbeat and welcoming, and the service was top notch.
What separated the pizza from the burger in my expert (I'm not an expert) opinion, was the degree of difficulty.
Ordering a bunch of pizzas and keeping them hot has proven to be quite a challenge for some schools. So when the Pirates managed to achieve that feat, I was taken aback and was beyond impressed.
However, Conant didn't order a bunch of burgers from Fuddruckers and just keep them warm, they braved the elements on open grills to prepare these masterpieces. I think I'm running out of superlatives to describe how fantastic this burger is, so I'll stop right here.
Can Conant maintain the belt throughout the playoffs? Homewood-Flossmoor and Hinsdale Central get a chance to knock the Booster Burger off its pedestal.
2. Palatine: I didn't think anyone could hold a candle to the colossal burger that Conant offers at home games, but my second visit to the friendly confines of Chic Anderson Stadium convinced me to reconsider.
And the reason the Pirates have moved into a tie for the top spot in the concessions rankings in Week 7 is simple: Hot pizza.
Ah yes ,my endless quest for a piping hot piece of pizza at a high school venue ended on October 5th when I tried a slice of deep dish pizza on a rainy/miserable Friday evening in Palatine.
Actually, it wasn't even a slice at all, more like a wedge, that barely fit on a plate when being served.
Did I mention it was hot?
If that hunk of pizza I consumed squared off against the burger from Conant in a heavyweight bout, it would be Pay-Per-View worthy. Kudos to both schools!
Lastly, did I mention the pizza was hot?
The little things go a long way.
3. Barrington: The barbecue pork chop sandwich certainly gave the burger at Conant a run for the top spot, but that burger over in Hoffman Estates looks like it ate two pork chop sandwiches and then went looking for dinner.
I also grabbed a slice of pizza while at the Broncos/Vikings game this past Saturday and had mixed emotions.
For starters, the tip of the slice was cold while the remaining portion of the pizza was crisp and hot. It's almost as if the slice had been dipped in an ice bath, or, the heat lamps only covered 80 percent of the pizza and the end of it got the short end of the stick.
However, with 80 percent of the slab being, crazy as it sounds, hot, it far surpassed the quality from all the other concessions stands thus far.
And although they may not have usurped Conant for first place, first place award for best condiments/fixings station easily goes to Barrington. I definitely recommend making a pitstop at "Chuck Wagon East" or "Chuck Wagon West" at this venue.
T4. Schaumburg: One of the best things about going to this venue, aside from its beautiful new football field, is The Gold Zone. The Gold Zone offers burgers, hotdogs and brats well before kickoff, but, as far as I know, is only accessible to media, alumni and security.
When I arrived to the Gold Zone prior to the Hawks/Saxons tilt, it was almost completely out of food due to such a big turnout for the game. At first, I was bummed out. Partly because it was free (free is always good), but partly because when I covered the Palatine/Schaumburg game last year, the gentleman manning the grill cooked one mean burger.
Not only was the burger superb (I had seconds), but the guy manning the grill did it flawlessly in sweltering 88-degree weather. The sun beating down on his face as he fought through buckets of sweat, this man's demeanor was upbeat and never wavered as he doled out delightful grub throughout the evening.
However, it's almost a good thing that I missed the window on that this year as it wouldn't have been fair to rank the Gold Zone in the concessions rankings that was not privy to all.
So, at halftime, I weaved through the masses to order some food from the main concession stand and purchased a slice of sausage pizza and a hot dog.
The pizza was cold, but I'm convinced that this is a universal issue at concession stands across the nation. Most pizzas are probably ordered in bulk by the schools far in advance of kickoff and don't have a proper way to keep them warm throughout the evening. At Maine South, I think they place the pies on a cold slab like Cold Stone Creamery ice cream does. Unless you arrive to a specific school at the same time the pizzas do, odds are, 95 percent of the time, you're getting pizza popcsicles.
Fortunately, despite being cold, the pizza had excellent flavor and the sauce saved the slice.
But the hot dog was certainly the hero of the two. It was hot, juicy and the best I've had so far this year at any high school.
Condiments were the only blemish on the entire experience.
With a crowd of (I'm guessing) 3,289 (okay, exact guess) at the game, the school provided a single 64-ounce bottle of ketchup for everyone to share. I understand that most schools are on a budget. And that tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder and natural flavoring can be costly, but that's only 0.0194588 ounces per person.
Other than that minor snafu, Schaumburg has supplanted itself in third place on the list.
T4. Hoffman Estates: When I tried the "Walking Taco" at Garber Stadium last season, the only thing it made me do after consuming the hot-mess-in-a-bag, was proceed directly to the bathroom.
And so, this year, I decided to veer from that food option and played it safe by ordering a hotdog and pretzel with cheese.
The hotdog was hot and seemed to be boiled, which, was a nice touch, while the pretzel was fantastic and satisfying.
I'd have to give kudos to the school for offering crepes at the school. I mean, how many other schools can you say offer crepes at a football game? And Although I did not try them, I'll assume they are as good as the service by the volunteers inside the concessions stand — SUPERB.
5. St. Charles North: I’ll have to admit, I ordered a hotdog and cheeseburger 30 minutes prior to kickoff not due to hunger, but for the fact that it was like, 45 degrees with a whipping wind, and I used the food as makeshift hand warmers.
However, when I did decide to eat them, there were no complaints. The service was quick, and I got the correct change. Always a plus.
6. Maine South: At least the Hawks are in the playoffs……..