10 Best Tailgate Grills of 2016 (and 2017)- Most Under $400


Two sports that America claims their favorite? Tailgating and… football. What looks like forest fires marking the parking lots outside of stadiums in the fall is actually the smoke coming from grills and a smell keen to a 4 star eat-in.

But a growing number of people are taking the notion that football isn’t the only sport you’re allowed to tailgate to or a parking lot being the only place of confinement when partaking in this pastime.

These selections were weaned down from a long list of portable grills judged by their mobility, performance, and quality.

Featured in many portable models are trailer hitches, snap down lids, and fold up stands. Many who arrive at this article probably don’t consider a tailgater as their primary grill, so price is going to be a major factor.

Most of what’s found on this list is $500 or less with some grills no more than $100. The cook is going to be limited by a $30 grill like the Smokey Joe to just simple, small fare such as hot dogs and burgers, but a full-sized, excellent kamado-style cooker like the Broil King Keg is great on your deck or on the road.

1) Weber 10020 Smokey Joe Portable Charcoal Grill (and 40020)


smokey joe weber grill

Even struggling, starved artists and the college enrolled should brush off the temptation of those charcoal grills at $9.99 in grocery store displays and stretch the budget just enough for a Smokey Joe instead.

A good few of those low bargain junkers are nothing more than a grate paired with a large pan: no vents, no lid, and can only be counted on for burning your hamburgers. While the Weber Kettle- one of history’s greatest inventions– is nothing less than the plus-sized version of a Smokey Joe.

Never duplicated, but imitated often, the heat and air control of Weber Kettles is excellent because of precise, tight construction. Additionally, the enameled, high quality coating will ensure decades this grill is preserved.

The two models of Smokey Joe Weber offers are the Gold and Silver. The “Tuck and Carry Lid Holder” is a Gold model feature, convenient because it allows the lid to be snapped shut for easy, quick mobility.

In both the Silver and Gold options is a coated steel (14.5 inch diameter) rod grate that can squeeze in about 7 hamburgers. They only weigh 9.5 pounds. And, contrary to their names, they’re both black.  Click here to buy at Amazon.com.

There’s also the larger model (usually can be found around $60): the Jumbo Joe.

Read our full review on the Weber Smokey Joe here.

2) Weber 121020 and 1141001 Go-Anywhere Grills

weber 121020 go-anywhere grill

Yes, the familiarity is haunting. This grill is another in Weber’s class of charcoals that try to be knocked off by other manufacturers. They fail to get a few things right: an enamel coating that’s durable, and a tight construction.

Rectangular or round, you’ll be sitting well with a Weber grill. Their owners have a high craze for them.

You can upgrade it a few spots for a grill that’s extremely nice. Buy either their gas or charcoal model, and then mod it up: take out the steel factory (porcelain coated) plate replaced with a flavorizer stainless steel plate (less likely to rust out), have the steel plated factory grill grate replaced with a (Craycort) grill grate made of cast iron, and not to forget an added lid thermometer.

➡ The gas version can be bought at Amazon.

Also available is the LP gas grill.

Weber Smokey Joe vs Go-Anywhere

The Smokey Joe has less grilling space while the Go-Anywhere is more expensive. That’s obvious. The separation is more with a Smokey Joe, so it works closer to traditional style Webers. They really shine when modded as a mini Weber Smokey Mountain.

Why go with a Go-Anywhere?  A Smokey Joe is a bit less compact compared to the Go-Anywhere when you can fold up the legs for transport and packing it would be easier because of the rectangular dimensions. So, it’s good for portability, but the coals sit real close to the cooking grate. This is good for thin steaks, hamburgers, and hot dogs, but cooking thick pieces is difficult. Indirect cooking will be compromised, limited to one item cooked at a time. I believe the coals in a Smokey Joe are distanced farther, so setting up a safety zone is less of a requirement (doing so in a small grill is hard).

3) Son of Hibachi Grill

The design cleverly takes hinges to join two of hibachi’s smaller grills. Before they’re folded together, fill charcoal on each side, then take flammable material of any kind underneath into the pull-out tray and ignite. It takes the flame under 10 minutes for the coals to get red hot from the point it circulates the folded grills.son of hibachi grill

Hibachis do really well for hot and fast cooking, especially foods that are thin where a lid isn’t needed for roasting, steaks, burgers, veggies, and sausages.

After grilling, both sides are again folded together for the grease to burn off, clean whatever’s in the ash try, and take the flame retardant Son of Hibachi tote bag to zip it back into.


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