Quantcast
Photo by Michael Anthony

After an epic, 7-0 run through the American League, the Houston Astros are ready to take on the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. The Astros are heavy favorites, but fans know that the team's previous encounters with NL East teams didn't go so well for the good guys.

Still, with probable AL Cy Young winner Justin Verlander ready to go in Game 1 and baseball's best bullpen, fans have reason to believe they’ll be root, root, rooting for the home team all the way through a downtown parade.

With that in mind, we've rounded up a number of Houston-area bars and restaurants offering game day specials that are good for pre-game, during the game, post-game, and even the day after. Put on that Peña or Altuve jersey and cheer the team to another championship.

Photo by Michael Anthony

Fans in Astros gear get 20 percent off at Roots.

7 Pie
The newly opened pizza chain will sell diners a 12-inch pepperoni pizza for $5 after every Astros win (limit one per customer). Those looking to feed a crowd can get a $77 tailgate pack that includes four pepperoni pizzas, 16 jumbo chicken wings, 12 chicken tenders, a family-size order of fries, and a half-gallon of freshly brewed iced tea.

Acme Oyster House
The Montrose location of this Louisiana favorite will feature $15 buckets of beer (six bottles or cans) during Astros playoff games. Customers can also take advantage of happy hour (2-6 pm Monday-Friday), which includes $1 raw Gulf Coast oysters, $1 off drafts, $2 off glasses of wine, and $3 off frozens.

Angel Share
The downtown bar opens at noon on game days. Located five blocks from the stadium, it will feature $5 drafts as well as half-off wine and half-off draft and frozen cocktails.

Axelrad
The Midtown patio bar is serving its Astros-themed YorBomb — a blue and orange frozen drink that's half mango daiquiri and half Blue Hawaiian. It's $7 for 9-ounces or $12 for 16-ounces.

Be More Pacific
This lively Filipino spot in the Heights will take 10-percent off the bills of patrons who both wear Astros gear and sit at the bar. In addition, they’ll offer $3 drafts and $1 off Filipino beers.

Bosscat Kitchen & Libations
The whiskey-fueled restaurant and bar will sell $5 cans of Crawford Bock and $12 glasses of its Clutch City Cooler rum punch. Food specials include a brisket-topped hot dog, nachos with bourbon-teriyaki sauce, and a smash burger.

Bovine & Barley
The downtown sports bar will offer $4s select beers, $5 bar bites, and take 10-percent off the tabs of people wearing Astros gear.

Brasserie du Parc
Located near Discovery Green, the French restaurant has a number of game day specials. That starts with a bar bites menu offering dishes such as $2 raw or baked oysters, $12 fish and chips, $10 fried shrimp, and an 8-ounce wagyu burger with fries for $10. Drink specials include $5 select beers, $7 glasses of house red or white wine, and $9 select cocktails.

The Burger Joint
All three locations of the popular burger restaurant will provide dine-in customers with free milkshakes every time an Astros player hits a home run.

Caracol
Hugo Ortega's Galleria-area seafood restaurant will give patrons in Astros gear a free happy hour margarita with the purchase of an entree.

Candente
The Montrose Tex-Mex restaurant will offer happy hour pricing during World Series games. That means $6 house margaritas, palomas, well drinks, sangria, and wines by-the-glass.

Craft Pita
Buy two get one free dip at this Briargrove restaurant. Choices include hummus, spicy hummus, labneh, and babaganoush.

Ducky McShweeney’s Irish Pub
The Galleria-area bar and restaurant will offer specials that include a bucket of beer and cheese pizza for $25 as well as Astros-themed frozen cocktails.

Eight Row Flint
Agricole Hospitality’s casual bar will feature $5 game day nachos and hot dogs. Pair it with the Astros Thriller, a bucket of Karbach Crawford Bach and shots.

El Big Bad
Head to this margarita bar near Market Square for a Gameday Dog: a smoked sausage link topped with chopped fries, caramelized onions, and burger sauce ($4.50). As the restaurant advises, diners may want a fork.

Feges BBQ
The Spring Branch location has a number of specials, including $12 smoked meatballs, 10 wings for $15, 1-pound of rib tips for $10, $10 chopped brisket or pulled pork sandwiches, $10 half hog platter, and $8 Frito pie. Pair it with $3 select beers, and half-off select wines by-the-glass, and discounts on frozen margaritas.

GJ Tavern
Those looking to celebrate after an Astros home win can head to this downtown restaurant for happy hour pricing from 9 pm until close. And yes, it will stay open late for the games.

Heights & Co.
Enjoy $5 drafts and $10 burgers while watching the game on a 20-foot projector screen at this Heights patio bar.

Henderson Heights
Get $2 corn dogs during Astros games at this Washington Avenue spot that has 22 TVs. Diners will also find rotating drinks specials.

J-Bar-M Barbecue
The EaDo barbecue joint is offering eight smoked wings with a Lone Star beer for $15. Watch the game on one of the restaurant’s 13 TVs.

Kenny & Ziggy's
Get $5 hot dogs and $4 draft beers at the restaurant's Spritzer Bar. Those who are going to the games can pick up a bag lunch with a 6-ounce sandwich, bag of chips, mini black and white cookie, and bottle of water for $17.95.

Kin Dee
Customers who watch the game at the restaurant's bar will get $3 Thai beers during Astros games.

KP’s Kitchen
The Memorial-area favorite is offering 20-percent off its family pack to-go meals when customers say the word Astros when order. Choices include chicken tenders, baby back ribs, and burgers.

La Calle Tacos & Tortas

The Mexico City-inspired taqueria will host a special watch party for Game 4 of the World Series at their Midtown location (401 Gray Street). Prior to watching the game on a 6x8-foot screen, the restaurant will host a taco eating contest at 5:30 pm.

Lyric Market
Downtown's newest food hall is offering all-day happy hour pricing during World Series game days, which includes $5 drafts, $6 house wines, and $8 cocktails from the venue's Rhapsody Bar. In addition, those who spend $35 or more at the food hall can park in its adjacent garage for free on game days.

Monkey’s Tail
Get $12 Tecate Lite buckets at this bar in Lindale Park. In addition, sample a frozen Orange for $6 during happy hour.

New York Deli and New York Eatery
Both locations of this Jewish deli and restaurant will serve half-off hot dogs throughout the series. The restaurants' companion bagel shop will sell orange and blue Astros bagels.

Pitch 25
Located near the stadium, the soccer-themed bar is a good place to watch the games. Look for drinks specials such as the Space City margarita and the Orbit, an orange piña colada.

Ribeye & Rye
Get a free shot or mocktail every time the Astros score.

Riel
The Montrose restaurant will honor Lance McCullers, Jr. with its $7 LMJ shandy. In addition, look for special ballpark-themed bites (hot dogs, etc.) during happy hour (Monday-Friday, 5-6:30 pm).

Roots
Customers wearing Astros gear will get 20-percent off their food and drinks at this EaDo wine bar and restaurant.

Second Draught
The craft beer bar in The Ion will take $2 off a different "beer of the day" for each World Series game. Watch the game on the bar's TVs.

State Fare
All three locations of the comfort food restaurant will offer happy hour pricing during World Series games. Those watching at home may order a party box loaded with enough Frito pie, pickle dip, and guacamole to feed four to six people ($45).

Sticky’s Chicken
The Sawyer Yards favorite will celebrate every Astros win by giving customers two free wings over rice.

Stomping Grounds
Garden Oaks residents can gather on the green space of this development for World Series watch parties. The development's restaurants — Cherry Block Smokehouse, Rooster & Rice, Fat Cat Creamery, and Little Dreamer Coffee — will be offering different food and drink specials each night.

Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen
Both locations of the popular Mexican restaurant will offer Astroritas and beef and chicken fajitas nachos for $9 during the games.

Tobiuo Sushi & Bar
Customers wearing Astros gear get half-off yakitori skewers and $2 glasses of hot sake (wagyu excluded).

Treebeards
The Bunker Hill location will reduce the price of a Crawford Bock by $1 for each Astros win. They start at $4.

Underground Hall
The downtown food hall is serving $4 Crawford Bocks all day on game day.

The Upside Pub
Newly opened in Garden Oaks, this casual bar will feature $12 pitchers and free shots of beer for every home run. Food specials include a bacon-wrapped hot dog that’s topped with queso.

Urbe
In honor of the Astros, Hugo Ortega's street food restaurant in Uptown Park will sell blue and orange conchas. Quantities are limited, so ordering ahead is encouraged.

Voodoo Doughnut
All three locations will offer an Astros-themed sprinkle cake for just 25-cents on game days.

Wild Oats
The Texas-inspired restaurant at the Houston Farmers Market will serve $3 Lone Stars during World Series games.

William Price Distilling
During any playoff game, get $5 beer, $5 house shot, and $9 frozen cocktails at this distillery in Garden Oaks-Oak Forest.

Winfield's Chocolate Bar
Upper Kirby's new chocolate shop will give away one scoop of ice cream or one chocolate-covered Oreo per customer after every Astros win.

Xochi
Located next to Discovery Green, Hugo Ortega’s Oaxacan restaurant offers a $22 Tlayuda de Res (a large, thin Oaxacan tortilla topped with black beans, housemade quesillo, grilled skirt steak, chichilo mole and fresh greens) and choice of draft beer for $22 plus tax and gratuity.

Photo by Becca Wright

All the grand-slam restaurant and bar specials every Houston Astros fan should catch for this year's playoff run

root, root, root

The Houston Astros are back in the playoffs where they belong. With the American League’s best record, fans have reason to believe they’ll be root, root, rooting for the home team all the way through the World Series.

And why not? After a dramatic, walk-off, three-run home homer by Yordan Alvarez devastated the Seattle Mariners in a nail-biting, 8-7 Game 1 win on Tuesday, October 11, Houstonians everywhere are ready to pack local bars, and restaurants to cheer the 'Stros on through the championship series.

With that ind mind, we've rounded a number of Houston-area bars and restaurants offering game day specials that are good for pre-game, during the game, post-game, and even the day after. Put on that Bregman or Alvarez jersey and root the team to another championship.

7 Pie
The newly opened pizza chain will sell diners a 12-inch pepperoni pizza for $7 after every Astros win.

Acme Oyster House
The Montrose location of this Louisiana favorite will feature $15 buckets of beer (six bottles or cans) during Astros playoff games. Customers can also take advantage of happy hour (2-6 pm Monday-Friday), which includes $1 raw Gulf Coast oysters, $1 off drafts, $2 off glasses of wine, and $3 off frozens.

Angel Share
The downtown bar opens at noon on game days. Located five blocks from the stadium, it will feature $5 drafts as well as half-off wine and half-off draft and frozen cocktails.

Be More Pacific
This lively Filipino spot in the Heights will take 10-percent off the bills of patrons who both wear Astros gear and sit at the bar. In addition, they’ll offer $3 drafts and $1 off Filipino beers.

Bovine & Barley
The downtown sports bar will offer $4s select beers, $5 bar bites, and take 10-percent off the tabs of people wearing Astros gear.

Brasserie du Parc
Located near Discovery Green, the French restaurant has a number of game day specials. That starts with a bar bites menu offering dishes such as $2 raw or baked oysters, $12 fish and chips, $10 fried shrimp, and an 8-ounce wagyu burger with fries for $10. Drink specials include $5 select beers, $7 glasses of house red or white wine, and $9 select cocktails.

The Burger Joint
All three locations of the popular burger restaurant will provide dine-in customers with free milkshakes every time an Astros player hits a home run.

Craft Pita
Buy two get one free dip at this Briargrove restaurant. Choices include hummus, spicy hummus, labneh, and babaganoush.

Ducky McShweeney’s Irish Pub
The Galleria-area bar and restaurant will offer specials that include a bucket of beer and cheese pizza for $25 as well as Astros-themed frozen cocktails.

Eight Row Flint
Agricole Hospitality’s casual bar will feature $5 game day nachos and hot dogs. Pair it with the Astros Thriller, a bucket of Karbach Crawford Bach and shots.

El Big Bad
Head to this margarita bar near Market Square for a Gameday Dog: a smoked sausage link topped with chopped fries, caramelized onions, and burger sauce ($4.50). As the restaurant advises, diners may want a fork.

Feges BBQ
The Spring Branch location has a number of specials, including $12 smoked meatballs, 10 wings for $15, 1-pound of rib tips for $10, $10 chopped brisket or pulled pork sandwiches, $10 half hog platter, and $8 Frito pie. Pair it with $3 select beers, and half-off select wines by-the-glass, and discounts on frozen margaritas.

Henderson Heights
Get $2 corn dogs during Astros games at this Washington Avenue spot that has 22 TVs. Diners will also find rotating drinks specials.

J-Bar-M Barbecue
The EaDo barbecue joint is offering eight smoked wings with a Lone Star beer for $15. Watch the game on one of the restaurant’s 13 TVs.

KP’s Kitchen
The Memorial-area favorite is offering 20-percent off its family pack to-go meals when customers say the word Astros when order. Choices include chicken tenders, baby back ribs, and burgers.

Monkey’s Tail
Get $12 Tecate Lite buckets at this bar in Lindale Park. In addition, sample a frozen Orange for $6 during happy hour.

Pitch 25
Located near the stadium, the soccer-themed bar will open at noon for Astros day game. Look for drinks specials such as the Space City margarita and the Orbit, an orange piña colada.

Ribeye & Rye
Get a free shot or mocktail every time the Astros score.

Riel
The Montrose restaurant will honor Lance McCullers, Jr. with its $7 LMJ shandy. In addition, look for special ballpark-themed bites (hot dogs, etc.) during happy hour (Monday-Friday, 5-6:30 pm).

Sticky’s Chicken
The Sawyer Yards favorite will celebrate every Astros win by giving customers two free wings over rice.

Tikila’s
The Heights-area patio bar will open at 2 pm on Thursday for the Astros game. Specials include half-off whiskey and $7 beer and shot specials. On Saturday and Sunday, fans wearing Astros gear will get 10-percent off their tabs. Best of all, every home run means free Jell-O shots.

Tobiuo Sushi & Bar
Customers wearing Astros gear get half-off yakitori skewers and $2 glasses of hot sake (wagyu excluded).

Underground Hall
The downtown food hall is serving $4 Crawford Bocks all day on game day.

The Upside Pub
Newly opened in Garden Oaks, this casual bar will feature $12 pitchers and free shots of beer for every home run. Food specials include a bacon-wrapped hot dog that’s topped with queso.

William Price Distilling
During any playoff game, get $5 beer, $5 house shot, and $9 frozen cocktails at this distillery in Garden Oaks-Oak Forest.

Xochi
Located next to Discovery Green, Hugo Ortega’s Oaxacan restaurant offers a $22 Tlayuda de Res (a large, thin Oaxacan tortilla topped with black beans, housemade quesillo, grilled skirt steak, chichilo mole and fresh greens) and choice of draft beer for $22 plus tax & gratuity.

50 Cent/Twitter

Houston Astros and rap star 50 Cent play ball with spirited new liquor partnership at Minute Maid Park

in da park

Rap star 50 Cent continues to make a splash in his adopted hometown of Houston. The hip-hop legend (née, Curtis Jackson) has partnered with the Houston Astros to bring his Sire Spirits brand to Minute Maid Park.

The partnership will feature two of Sire Spirits brands, Branson Cognac and Le Chemin du Roi Champagne, in a variety of ways. They include:

  • Branson Cognac is now the “Official Cognac of the Houston Astros.”
  • Le Chemin du Roi is now the “Official Premium Champagne of the Houston Astros.”
  • In 2023, the bar on Minute Maid Park’s club level will be the “Sire Spirits Bar.”

“The Astros are proud to partner with Curtis and his team to offer Sire Spirits to our fans visiting Minute Maid Park,” Astros vice president Jeff Stewart said in a statement. “Both organizations share a common goal of giving back to our community, so teaming up with Curtis’ spirit company and charity to invest in the City of Houston just made sense. We are excited for this partnership, and I look forward to visiting the rebranded Club Level Bar next season.”

Additionally, baseball fans will find cocktails made with Sire Spirits throughout the park. The brand will also have a suite at the stadium that will be available for either 50 Cent’s personal use, for special promotions with fans, or for activities associated with his charity, The G-Unity Foundation.

Beyond better booze at Minute Maid, the partnership also includes a relationship between the G-Unit Foundation and the Astros Foundation. They include forming a program to teach teenagers leadership skills and foster character development. Plans also include a golf tournament, a wine dinner at Potente, Astros owner Jim Crane’s luxurious Italian restaurant, and making G-Unit the beneficiary of two of the 50/50 charity raffles held during Astros games.

“I am especially proud and excited about our first Major League Baseball deal with the Astros,” 50 Cent added. “We share the same philosophy of conscious capitalism. I look forward to providing the opportunity for at-risk teens to experience the excitement of attending a baseball game in a luxury suite setting at Minute Maid Park.”

Known simply as "50" or "Fiddy," the an award-winning musician, author, and entrepreneur, has been very active around the Bayou City. Since moving here last year, he’s been one of the top bidders at the RodeoHouston wine auction and established spirits deals with all three of Houston’s major franchises.

Even more importantly, he donated $600,000 to foster entrepreneurship at three Houston high schools. The G-Unity Business Lab encourages students to engage in MBA-level lessons that represent the full lifecycle of a product or concept, from idea creation, to market branding, to even running a company.

Photo by Daniel Ortiz

José Altuve, Lance McCullers, Jr., and Kyle Tucker team up for grand-slam charity event at Tootsies

a grand-slam event

As Houston Astros fans are aware, José Altuve was just nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award, Major League Baseball’s most prestigious individual honor. Lance McCullers Jr. has made his wildly anticipated return to the mound. And Kyle Tucker, one of MLB’s quietest superstars, just keeps hitting home runs.

Obviously, then, the star trio would be forgiven for going nowhere but home and Minute Maid Park, given their intense focus. But the good-hearted Astros recently spent a day off hosting fans for the fourth-annual Team Up event, which showcases each of their charities at haute hot spot, Tootsies.

An A-list crowd packed tootsies for the VIP event. Noted names included Astros owner Jim Crane and his wife Whitney; Astros superstar slugger Alex Bregman and his entrepreneur wife Reagan (who are new parents); Astros power hitter Yordan Alvarez and his wife Monica; Astros pitcher Jose Urquidy and wife Estefania; player wives such as Nina Altuve and Kara McCullers; Astros staffers such as marketing guru Anita Seghal and Astros Foundation head Paula Harris; and a host of social stars.

Fans angled to get a glimpse of the Astros World Series championship trophy and the players themselves, who happily and patiently mingled with fans, posed for pics, and even said hello to others via FaceTime requests.

Ace Astros reporter Julia Morales and always energetic auctioneer Johnny Holloway served as emcees and urged the crowd to donate to the trio’s charities: The Sunshine Kids Foundation, which Altuve actively supports; the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for stray animals; and the Kyle Tucker Foundation, a cause near to Tucker’s heart that raises funds for families in hospice care.

Sought-after auction items included a lunch at Turner’s donated by Ben Berg Hospitality with Kara and Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Altuve and Kyle Tucker; one-of-a-kind art by Skel showcasing Astros players; a chance to throw the first pitch at a game plus playoff tickets to all home games — including the World Series, and more.

In all, Houstonians raised $ 370,000 for the three nonprofits under the umbrella charity Athletes and Causes Foundation, which helps star players give back to the community.

As for those players, they — especially McCullers — greeted service dogs who work with veterans. Meanwhile, Astros Shooting Stars members presented precious puppies from Harris County Animal Shelter that were available for adoption. (One adorable pup found a forever home with one of the volunteers at the event.)

“This is our home and we truly love it here,” McCullers told the crowd. “We just want you to know that this comes from the heart.”

No question there, Lance.

Seen in the crowd: Fady Armanious, Bill Baldwin, Hallie Vanderhider, Tony Buzbee, Samantha Scott, Tony Bradfield, Jennifer and Scott Allison, Monica and Joe Casiano, Cherie and John Lindley, Jenna Lindley, Shelli and Steve Lindley, Matthew Lindley, Ginger Baldwin, Raeann and Randy Bates, Natalie and Shaun Hodge, Cheryl Boblitt, Tama Lundquist, Tena Lundquist Faust, Alvin Abraham, Travis Torrence, Christian Morales, Phyllis Williams, Meg Toups, Chelsea Collmer, Laurie Sanders , Chris LaFollette, Lauren Morris, Vicki Luna, Emily Schmeltz, Michael Vanderhider, Lauren Varnado, and many more.

Shaun and Natalie Hodge.

Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Shaun and Natalie Hodge.
Photo by Daniel Ortiz

Prominent sports power couple lends a helping hand to deserving families at $525,000 HelpCureHD gala

a helping hand

While the Houston Astros are no doubt the hottest ticket in the Bayou City, but a recent soiree at Minute Maid Park proved just as scorching.

Former Houston sports power couple Allie LaForce, TNT’s popular sports reporter, and Joe Smith, former pitcher for the Astros and Minnesota Twins, were in town to host their annual HelpCureHD Gala at Union Station in Minute Maid Park.

The annual gala, only a few years old here in Houston but gaining buzz and notoriety thanks to the who’s-who of guests who attend, raised a record-breaking $525,000 was raised for the couple’s charity, the HelpCureHD Foundation. Astros owner Jim Crane and his wife Whitney, as well as players Ryan Pressly (and wife, Kat) and Kyle Tucker, and former Astros player Tony Kemp joined a lively crowd of generous sports fans.

The at times emotional evening featured tear-jerking testimonials, videos, and a raucous live auction — with Crane often refusing to be outbid. Auction items included a three-night stay in Napa at the Four Seasons and Crane’s personal seats to a game, located in the Diamond Club, plus a chance for one guest to throw the first pitch. Another package promised two tickets to every home Astros playoff game including the World Series.

Needless to say, energetic auctioneer Johnny Bravo was busy.

Presenting sponsor for the event was OOVA and Fess Parker Wines provided sips. A show-stopping moment came with a raffle for a stunning 22-carat Asscher cut tanzanite gem set in 18-karat white gold with accent diamonds and mandarin garnets, donated by Shaftel Diamonds — giving the gala some extra glow.

As CultureMap has previously reported, the HelpCureHD Foundation is one of the few national nonprofits dedicated to battle the scourge of Huntington’s Disease (HD) and helping potential parents with Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis and In Vitro Fertilization (PGD-IVF) treatments. That process helps doctors screen and bypass HD, meaning a baby born free from its clutches.

Adding to the poignancy, LaForce and Smith greeted grateful families — and toddlers — helped by the foundation.

Still lesser-known that Alzheimer’s Disease, HD is a devastating neurodegenerative condition affecting more than 30,000 Americans each year. It slowly attacks the nerve cells in the brain, causing eruptive mood swings, loss of memory, emotional outbursts, and a litany of other neurological distresses.

For LaForce and Smith, the campaign is personal. Smith’s beloved mother, Lee Smith, passed away in 2020 after a long battle with the disease. As HD is hereditary, Smith himself faces a potential 50-percent chance of inheriting it. He’s chosen not to get tested, and instead, spread awareness and raise crucial funds through events like the gala.

He’s also chosen to focus on his family; miraculously, he and LaForce are expecting a baby boy this fall, and will finally enjoy the gift they’ve helped 18 families — and seven more soon — receive.

“We are incredibly grateful and inspired,” LaForce tells CultureMap. “Our goal every year is to raise more money than the previous year. We believe when people see what we are doing, and meet our HelpCureHD families, they will be supporters for life. Our gala attendees are a combination of dear friends, healthcare professionals, athletes and philanthropists — all of which understand the sense of urgency for our families and what we are trying to do. We couldn't do it without them.”

Seen in the crowd: Whitney and Jim Crane, Adrienne and Jared Crane, Kat and Ryan Pressly, Kyle Tucker, Tony Kemp, Marla and Matt Hurley, Jen and David Grisby, Dr. Erin Furr-Stimming and Chris Stimming, Jo and Jim Furr, Dr. Dottie Roach, Robert Clay and Dana Barton, Adrienne, Danny and Iris Shaftel, Jessica Roupe, Rachel and Jeff Bagwell, Debbie and Rudy Festari, Julia Morales, Iraida and Danny Brown, Dean Putterman, Elizabeth and John Elder, Dr. Sherri Levin, Amanda Boffone, Julie Chen, and Shelley Boyer.

Jim Crane, Whitney Crane, Allie LaForce, and Joe Smith.

Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Jim Crane, Whitney Crane, Allie LaForce, and Joe Smith.

Pivotal Houston Astros slugger plays first pro game in front of family from Cuba

a big win for yordan

A beloved and pivotal Houston Astros star got an extra boost on Tuesday, August 23 against the Minnesota Twins.

Designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, who defected from his native Cuba in order to live out his big league dreams in the United States, played in front of his family as a professional ballgame for the first time. The team rallied and won 4-2 against Minnesota.

Alvarez's family members arrived in Houston from Cuba last week. Those in attendance were Yordan's mother Marilyn Cardogan Reyes; his father Auguistin Eduardo Alvarez Salazar; and his brother, Yonder Alvarez Cadogan.

As the Astros explain in press materials, Alvarez originally defected from Cuba in 2016 and established residence in Haiti. While there, he signed with the Dodgers organization as an international free agent on June 15, 2016.

-----

Continue reading this story, with accompanying video, on our news partner ABC13.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' BBQ joint's Katy outpost closure leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' barbecue joint's Katy location quietly closes. Sadly, the local outpost couldn't replicate the magic of the original in Llano.

2. Ken Hoffman urges Houston travelers to keep calm and enjoy the trip at the new-look Bush IAH. Our columnist explains why travelers might be in "for a big, pleasant surprise at Houston’s Bush-Intercontinental Airport."

3. Houston's most spectacular winter light shows and events dazzle for the holidays. We rounded up where to see dazzling lights with family, friends, and visitors.

4. Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million.

5. Houston's NASA leaders 'giddy' after historic Artemis 1 moon flyby. The spacecraft cruised just 81 miles above the lunar surface.

Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.

---

Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Sugar Land as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Sugar Land is $2,793 per person, the 15th highest in the nation. As CultureMap previously reported, Sugar Land residents here make an average of $123,261; the average home price is $337,600.

Fittingly, Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

As for Greater Houston, Santa's bag could be a mixed bag, with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling far behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

Elsewhere in Texas, 10 North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531 (The only Texas city in the top 10)
  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630
  • Fort Worth, No. 366, $890
  • Dallas, No. 401, $845

Spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, CT with a budget of only $211.