PERFECT PRE-GAMING

12 home run hot spots near Minute Maid Park to pregame before the Astros

Take a ride on the ferris wheel at Truck Yard. Courtesy photo

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

There’s no better time to catch your World Series champs than right now in Houston. The hot bats, the All-Star pitching rotation, Orbit’s hilarious antics — it all adds up to an amazing fan experience in one of only six covered, air-conditioned ballparks in the league.

To add to that fan experience, we’ve rounded up some of the best Astros pregame destinations. These bars and restaurants' happy hours, free shuttles, and nearby free parking make them go-to, pregame favorites. So, don your favorite orange and blue gear, grab your tickets, and hit up these 12 Houston hot spots before the game.

Truck Yard
You won’t find happy hour here, but you’ll find pretty much everything else a Houston sports fan could want, including a huge selection of frozen drinks — all made in-house ($8-$15) — as well as barrel-aged and canned cocktails. To take your Truck Yard adventure up a level, pair a drink with a ride on the on-site, vintage Ferris Wheel for only $10. And then, of course, snap a pic in your favorite Astros gear and post it on Instagram. This new Houston spot has a fun vibe with refreshing drinks with combined indoor and outdoor seating. 2118 Lamar St.

Distance from Minute Maid Park: 10-minute walk 

Parking: Free parking in East Village lot, as well as street parking and rail proximity. 

Rodeo Goat
Enjoy happy hour from 4-7 pm Monday through Friday (our favorite pick is half-off cheese fries every Wednesday), or grab a beer bucket anytime — where you’ll get five beers for the price of four. Though it’s not on the happy hour menu, you need to try the super festive Moontang drink ($7) — a mix of Firefly Moonshine blended with Tang — that just so happens to be Astros orange. Talk about a team spirit. 2105 Dallas St.

Distance from Minute Maid Park: 10-minute walk 

Parking: Free parking in East Village lot, as well as street parking and rail proximity.

Lucky’s Pub Downtown
Happy hour is 4 pm-7 pm with $3 domestic drafts and wine and $4 well drinks, plus Astros game day specials like $18 buckets of beer — and the fun game day drink special called Orange Crush. Enjoy the 16,000 square feet of indoor space, four private rooms, or two outdoor patios, then take a free shuttle to and from all games and enjoy indoor and outdoor seating, plus the occasional block party for big games. 801 St. Emanuel St.

Distance from Minute Maid Park: 5-minute walk

Parking: Free parking in both of their lots (fill up fast), plus nearby free street parking after 6 pm and all day on Sunday, plus a free shuttle to and from all games.

Lucky’s Lodge
Enjoy a weekly happy hour from 4 pm-7 pm with $3 domestic drafts and wine, $5 Moscow Mules and Old Fashions, and $5 mini flatbreads. Or, you can indulge in cigars, high-end bourbon and scotch, if that’s more your thing. There are four indoor TVs and two more on the patio (if you don’t feel like making the walk over). Don't miss the live music on Thursdays (before or after the game). 2024 Rusk St.

Distance from Minute Maid Park: 5-minute walk 

Parking: Free parking in both of their lots (they fill up fast), plus nearby free street parking after 6 pm and all day on Sunday and FREE shuttle to and from all games (parked across street at Lucky’s Pub). 

8th Wonder Brewery
Located in EaDo, 8th Wonder is one of Houston’s top craft breweries and one of the city’s top sports havens. If you want space to roam and drink your beer among other sports fans, you’ve found your spot. This pre-game destination offers happy hour prices (three 12-ounce beers for $12.99) and is decked out with Houston sports memorabilia. Look for beers like Dome Faux’m (a throwback Cream Ale) and Rocket Fuel (Vietnamese Coffee Porter). 2202 Dallas St.

Distance from Minute Maid Park: 15-minute walk

Parking: Nearby free street parking or a pay lot on Dallas Street between Emancipation and Hutchins.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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