Do you know how many people watch the Superbowl every year? According to AP the highest number of viewers was 114.4 million in 2015, and in the past few years, we are still talking about an audience well north of 100 million. That is a lot of people. A lot of excited people, who certainly are going to need a bite or two to carry them through the game.

We host a Superbowl viewing party every year, and though our numbers fluctuate as well, suffice it to say the crowd is always ready to eat, and always includes a hefty handful of teenage boys.   I pick a menu that allows for the variances in appetites, the possibility for last minute add-on guests and the welcome possibility of leftovers for dinner later that week.

This year the menu features tacos. A taco bar to be specific. People can help themselves as they feel the call, customize their own tacos as they wish, and once I’ve got all of the components laid out, I just have to glance over from time to time, and see if the toppings need replenishing, or the fillings need a quick warm in the microwave.

 

How to Throw a Taco Party

Here are some guidelines for planning a taco party of your own.

1. The Shells/Wrappers

How to Warm Tortillas

Offer a combination of hard and soft shells for people to mix and match. The soft tortillas can either be corn or flour or a mix. In advance of the party you’ll want to heat the tortillas for 30 to 60 seconds on each side in a dry skillet, until browned in spots, which really brings out their flavor. Heat the hard shells in a 350° oven for about 7 minutes until they smell toasty. The tortillas and shells don’t necessarily have to be hot when you serve them, though you can heat the soft tortillas in the microwave just before serving heat the hard shells in the oven shortly before serving, and throw a clean dishtowel over each to keep them warm.

How to Throw A Super Bowl Taco Party: A great way to entertain.  People can help themselves as they feel the call, and customize their own tacos as they wish.

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2. The Fillings

Greek Fish Tacos / Photo by Mandy Maxwell / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Offering at least two fillings make a taco bar feel special. You can go for one ground meat, like beef or turkey, and then maybe a shredded meat filling, like pulled chicken or pork. I also highly recommend a pot of thick seasoned black or pinto beans, which are nice to add to a taco or spoon onto the side of the plate, and can also be the protein in a vegetarian taco. Make the fillings ahead of time and re-warm the fillings before serving. You can either serve in a warming dish, give them a periodic reheat in the microwave, or have a backup dish of each filling and replenish.

Taco Recipes:

 

3. The Toppings

This is where the fun starts. You’ll of course want the classics: salsa or pico de gallo, shredded crisp lettuce, avocado or guacamole, cilantro leaves, onions, sour cream, and cheese. You can offer more than one kind of cheese such as shredded cheddar, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or crumbed quesos.

Alaska Rockfish Tacos

And then keep going! Sliced jalapenos (fresh or pickled), sliced olives, slivered radishes, other kinds of salsas, sliced scallions, shredded kale, sautéed mushrooms, very thinly sliced cabbage, sautéed onions and peppers, fried shallots, fermented pickly things (lots of interesting choices in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, Bao makes a bunch of cool varieties).  

Chef Ariel Fox, who is Concept Executive Chef at Dos Caminos New York suggests adding some chopped cooked bacon to the guacamole for a smoky twist, and blending charred jalapeno, pureed avocado and lime juice into your sour cream for a sophisticated crema topping.

This is definitely an easy place to have fun and be creative (and enlist the kids!)

 

4. How to Set up the Taco Bar

Starting from the left, line everything up according to how people would fill their plates. Fist the plates themselves, then the shells, then the fillings, and then all of the toppings. Lastly, if you are servings any other sides, like a salad or rice, end the buffet with those dishes. It’s a smart idea to put the napkins and forks at the end for your guests to grab as they head for their seats.

 

5. Speaking of Seating

You may or may not have a television viewing situation that allows everyone to sit in an actual chair with a view of the game. Ahead of time, count up the numbers of guests, and make sure there is a seat for everyone to plant themselves. You may want to pull a card table and some folding chairs into the equation. And some soft pillows for floor seating are also fine in a pinch.

Mary Giuliani, founder and CEO of Mary Giuliani Catering and Events and co-host of Easy Entertaining on Blueprint.com, also reminds us, “Use your coffee table. I’m a big fan of covering my coffee table with ‘Snactivities’ (foods that are fun and interactive) during any time of game watching.”  Think about a graze board.

 

6. Drinks

The most commonly associated drink with the Super Bowl is, of course, beer. So if you’ve got a beer crowd, stock up, mix some new choices in with the classics, and don’t be shy about telling your guests to bring a six-pack of their favorite brew. Guiliani also suggests making some interesting beer cocktails like a Beergarita (Beer with a splash of tequila and fresh lime juice) or Beerbon (your favorite beer with a splash of your favorite bourbon).

But don’t forget to have plenty of nonalcoholic options, especially if you are sending folks home behind the wheel; you’ll want to let everyone stay hydrated and sharp. Choices like flavored seltzers, fun sodas, cold or mulled cider, hot cocoa, and of course plenty of regular old water should be available. If you have a house team you’re rooting for, feel free to make or create a pitcher mocktail and name it after the team.

Pomegranate Orange Mocktail with Mint / Carrie Crow / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Drink Recipes:

 

7. Pre-Game and Game Time Activities

Before the game starts, or midway through the game, if you have some outdoor space, provide a football and definitely urge people to get their own game on. During halftime your guests may be happy enough with a well-deserved stretch and watching Beyonce and Shakira, but Guiliani encourages us to encourage our guests to “shake it with the performers” with a halftime dance party.

And if you want to go the extra few yards (football reference!) you can find any number of simple games to offer up during commercial breaks. They can be as simple as have to raise a glass or even just stand up whenever a certain word is said, e.g. “penalty” or “halfback” (P.S. the drinks don’t have to be boozy for this), or you can print up Super Bowl trivia cards and give pop quizzes. Keep track and offer prizes to the winners.

Or have people fill out a form taking their best guess at how the game will unfold—a poll involving completion percentages for each quarterback, total passing yards, Super Bowl MVP and of course final score. And also—guessing which will be the first ad that will play once the game begins!

 

8. Pre-Thinking Clean Up

Many of us go for the paper and plastic, and this is a fair time to consider this option. But if you are going to head that route, veer away from the plastic and stick with paper (especially recycled paper products), bamboo, and other biodegradable materials.

Don’t skimp on the plate thickness though—tacos can be messy and plates can get soggy so go for a sturdy plate. Make a waste basket visible for garbage. And you can never have too many napkins.

Finally, If you have a lot of people coming, or a bunch of kids in the mix, consider rolling up those rugs. Salsa isn’t the most fun thing to scrub from a carpet.

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