Review: Tailgate Picnic (S. Hadley, MA)

Posted: May 5, 2013 in Destinations, Food, Food Review, General Musings, Photos

Today we had an opportunity to go for an early afternoon ride with Angela. We knew we wanted a nice leisurely ride for some lunch, and the choice was simple… Tailgate Picnic in South Hadley, MA. Tailgate was recommended by one of my wife’s co-workers as one of the best sandwiches in the area… and when accolades like that are thrown around, I want to judge for myself.

We rolled into South Hadley and found Tailgate Picnic tucked into The Village Commons shopping plaza. As you walked in Tailgate Picnic, it was to overwhelmed by the country decor. After all, Tailgate Picnic is a store as well as a deli. Chalkboard menus lined the wall above the deli counter listing all the sandwiches and ingredients. Although it took a few moments to sift through the options, we stepped up to the counter and placed the order. We would be having an Italian, a Rare Roast Beef, and a Lumberjack.  When the sandwiches were ready, we brought our tray outside and enjoyed a fine meal in the sun.

The Tray of Sandwich Goodness

The Italian

Much like nachos at a bar and brisket at a BBQ joint, I judge grinder shops by their italian grinders, so ordering this one was a no brainer. Of the three subs we ordered, this was by far the tastiest. Taking a bite out of it, you can taste each of the individual meats, the provolone cheese, you get the crunch of the pickles and vegetables, as well as the herbs in the oil dressing. Combine all the flavor and textures with a bread that was extremely fresh and soft and you it makes for one awesome sandwich. This one is on my short list of best italian grinders in Massachusetts (along with Richard’s Super Deluxe Cold Cut and Angelina’s Original).

The Italian

The Rare Roast Beef

Melisa wanted to order this one, and I am very happy she did. It seems to be the norm around here to list rare roast beef Sandwiches on the menu. I wouldn’t call it a staple of every shop, but it’s common enough.  And these sub shops taunt it as rare, but the roast beef is never rare. And aren’t we surprised when it is! This sandwich, as seen in the photo, had a beautifully pink roast beef, it was served with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a cheese spread. Although the flavor profile for this grinder is fairly simple, the execution was excellent. The roast beef was extremely tender, and you were able to bite through the sandwich without pulling half the meet out of the bread with each bite. We were both pleasantly surprised.

The Rare Roast Beef

The Lumberjack

On the menu, this grinder makes a lot of promises. Spicy tenders, cheddar cheese, bacon, tomato and cucumber, and honey mustard, all served on a French roll. Based on the description, this sub should stand out, especially if one has a love for buffalo chicken like I do. Unfortunately, this did not deliver on its many promises. The chicken was tender, the sauce had a nice flavor to it, but I think the downfall of the sub was the drizzle of honey mustard. It added a sweetness to the grinder that was overwhelming. Perhaps if there was more heat to the chicken, the balance of sweet and spice would have worked. Further, I expected the cucumber to add a nice “fresh” feel to the taste and a crunch to the bite – and perhaps if the cucumber was sliced and not chunked it would have done just that with the crunch of the cucumber juxtaposing the tender chicken and the soft roll.


The short and skinny from the tall and fat… Tailgate Picnic afforded us the opportunity to get out on a beautiful Sunday for a great ride and an even better lunch. I love when recommendations from others pan out as awesome places to eat. Tailgate Picnic will be visited by us again.With many awesome sounding grinders on the menu, it will be nearly impossible to chow through them all knowing that every time I make the trek to South Hadley, I won’t be able to pass up the italian grinder.


Address: 7 College St. South Hadley, MA

Phone: 413-532-7597


Ride hard, ride safe, and enjoy every mile.

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