Good luck sticking to your regular baseball diet — hot dogs and beer — at Minute Maid Park this season. The Houston Astros unveiled their lineup of new menu items this week, and you may want to skip lunch on game night. And maybe even breakfast the next morning. And drop by Jenny Craig for a pep talk on your way home from work.
Among the more fanciful selections for 2019: Smoked Pork Burnt End Topped Tots, Prime Rib Steak Sandwich, Lamb Gyro, and Calabrese Shrimp Sandwich. How does a dish of Kahlua Tiramisu sound for dessert? (Remember, pinkies out.)
“We try to keep our food focused on the regional tastes of Houston and finding a way to put a ballpark spin on things. We do a lot of research and consultation with our fans, and assortment of food and beverages is the thing that matters most to them,” says Mat Drain, His Exalted Highness of Habanero for Aramark, which runs the food concessions at Minute Maid Park.
Aramark held its annual press event in the ballpark’s Diamond Club. Inviting the media to sample free food, buffet-style, makes the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona look like a waltz contest. Joey Chestnut has nothing on sports writers.
A beefed-up lineup
My favorite was the Prime Rib Sandwich, which is serious business even by steakhouse standards. It’s a thick slab of trimmed prime rib, topped by caramelized onions and horseradish sauce. It’s over-the-top, amazing and not cheap. Your favorite president, Andrew Jackson, will pick up the bill.
I taste-tested the 713 Prime Burger, an 8-ounce Nolan Ryan patty — actual prime beef — with American cheese on a toasted bun. Elegant in simplicity, divine in quality, smooth as butter. I dug into a Fried Shrimp Po’boy, with real Gulf shrimp. Nice touch staying local.
I also snuck in a Ken Hoffman Dog, topped with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard. Yes, for the first time, my dog will available throughout the stadium this season, total respect.
Better food for all fans
Drain, if nothing else a man of the people, says he’s addressed a complaint heard often in years past: that all the good stuff is limited to certain stadium levels, particularly the suites and club level.
“Our biggest focus has been making sure we have variety on all levels of the ballpark. We’ve added specialty concepts that have been successful on the main concourse to the upper concourse, such as our HTX Mex portables selling tacos,” he notes.
One table at the food rollout was dedicated to an array of new salads and healthier options, available at the Marketplace on the main concourse. (I pretended that I didn’t see it.)
Executive Chef Jimmy Coatsworth explained how he prepares Smoked Smoked Pork Burnt End Topped Tots. It was like listening to Beethoven describe how he composed his Fifth Symphony. What kind of devious mind thinks up a Frito Pie Corn Dog? If only Coatsworth used his powers for good instead of evil.
Dollar Dog Nights will be held on Tuesdays this year. There are lucky 13 Tuesday night games on tap this year, start looking for loose change in the couch. Big ups for Minute Maid Park. While other stadiums sell smaller franks on their discount dog nights, the Astros offer the same size frank as other games.
Here is a complete batting order of new food items, locations, and prices coming to Minute Maid Park.
Downtown Dogs (Sections 111 and 431)
- Frito Pie Chili Dog: Nolan Ryan Hot Dog topped with Texas chili, Rico’s cheese sauce, and Fritos corn chips, $9
Bayou City Hot Dog: Nolan Ryan Hot Dog topped with smoked pork burnt ends, Rico’s cheese sauce, pickle chips, green onions, and hot BBQ sauce, $9
H-Town Dog: Nolan Ryan Hot Dog topped with BBQ chopped brisket, red onions, Rico’s cheese sauce, pickles, green onions, and hot BBQ sauce $9
- Supreme Nachos: Tostitos nachos chips topped with Texas chili, Rico’s cheese sauce, sour cream, and red salsa, $10
Texas Legends (Sections 134 and 231)
Prime Rib Steak Sandwich: Sliced Nolan Ryan Beef Prime Rib topped with caramelized onions and horseradish cream served on a split top bun, $20
713 Prime Burger: Half-pound Nolan Ryan prime beef topped with American cheese on a split top bun, $12
Bacon Bleu Prime Burger: Half-pound Nolan Ryan prime beef topped with bacon, bleu cheese dressing, and hot BBQ sauce on a split top bun, $16
- Frito Pie Corn Dog: Frito chip-battered footlong hot dog topped with queso blanco and Texas chili served on a foot long hot dog bun, $11
Street Eats (Sections 127 and 409)
Lamb Gyro: Fresh pita bread topped with lamb and beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and drizzle of tzatziki sauce, $13
Fried Shrimp Po’Boy: Split top bun loaded with crispy fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato and drizzle of remoulade sauce, $13
- Smoked Pork Burnt End Topped Tots: Crispy tater tots topped with smoked pork burnt ends, queso blanco, BBQ sauce, green onions, and pickle chips, $11
Beyond Burger (Sections 109, 126, 231 and 409)
We're told it's “the world's first plant-based burger that looks, cooks, and tastes like a fresh beef burger. It has all the juicy, meat deliciousness of a traditional burger, but comes with the upside of a plant-based meal, $12.
OSSO and Kristalla (Section 227)
Osso Good Meatball Fries: Harris Ranch beef, potato sticks, Bolognese, mozzarella, parmesan, $12
Calabrese Shrimp Sandwich: Crispy shrimp, pepperoncini, romaine, potato sticks, and Calabrian remoulade, $15
- Kahlua Tiramisu: Espresso lady finders, Callebaut cocoa dust, $6.50
Healthy Options (Centerfield Market and Section 213)
Classic Caesar Salad: Romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, Caesar dressing, $7.75
Garden Salad: Romaine lettuce, Roma tomato, cucumber, carrots, and cheddar cheese, $7.75
Mediterranean Salad: Feta cheese, pepperoncini peppers, and Greek marinated olives, $7.75
BLT Salad: Applewood smoked bacon, iceberg lettuce, cherry tomato, and cheddar cheese, $7.75
- Turkey Wrap: Herb aioli, avocado, mixed greens and oven roasted turkey, $12