Our favorite things: Dynamo Craig Waibel defends his Empire

Our favorite things: Dynamo Craig Waibel defends his Empire

Houston Dynamo defender Craig Waibel has quite the following. His fan club, Waibel's Warriors, liken their hero to a soccer-ball-wielding Chuck Norris.

But the four-time MLS Cup champion isn't as intimidating as he sounds. Known for his involvement working on behalf of child cancer patients, last year Waibel shaved fans' heads before a game—and convinced them to pay him for the privilege—for a "Bald is Beautiful" fundraiser benefiting cancer research.

He moonlights as assistant coach of the women's soccer team at Rice University, where his wife also works. They had their first baby, a daughter named Jocelyn, on New Year's Eve.

We asked Waibel to tell us about one of his favorite things about Houston. Here is his response.


Four years ago when my feet finally touched the Texas soil and my fingers inked a deal on a patio home near Rice Village, I was determined to make this city home sweet home.

I immediately fell in love with the area inside the loop due to the bevy of eateries and arts that this wonderful area provides. There was one place in particular, though, that jumped out and grabbed the attention of my Pacific Northwest upbringing because of its somewhat grungy appearance. On the outside it didn't look like much, but the comfortable atmosphere and appeal on the inside of Empire Cafe was perfect.

Before the remodel, I used to sit right next to the weathered and squeaky hinged back door, and under the oversized burlesque painting of an elegant yet not too appealing woman. The door is no longer there, but I still sit back in that corner enjoying every single bite of what in my opinion is culinary decadence … Chicken Roulade.

Everyone has their "go-to" meal that they crave, and this one is mine. The only reason I don't get discouraged when I finish my entree is the promise of a slice of French chocolate cake.

Here is a little tip from a regular: Go on Monday nights, and the cake is half price! Combine a slice of any one of their cakes with a cup of their "non-corporate" coffee, and your sweet tooth will thank you every time.

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Craig Waibel, left, with a fan Courtesy of Houston Dynamo
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Empire Cafe first grabbed Waibel's attention because its "somewhat grungy" exterior reminded him of the Pacific Northwest. Inside, he liked the comfortable atmosphere. Photo by Chris Conyers