DESSERT NACHOS!

Houston Texans roll out wild new concessions at NRG Stadium

The Houston Texans invited the media to NRG Park for their annual “State of the Stadium” address and feeding frenzy of new concession goodies.

Darn the luck, I had to graze and nibble an array of over-the-top football fare, from celebrity chef Chris Shepherd’s fried sausage and cheese kolaches on tater tot casserole to barbecue lord Ronnie Killen’s pulled pork tacos to cowboy cookie Grady Spears’ brunchin’ chicken biscuit to dessert nachos topped with fresh berries and Nutella.

That’s just not fair. I’d eat football cleats if they were covered with Nutella. My favorite new item ... anything Killen handed to me.

Before the Texans rolled out the food carts (they’re no dummies), team president Jamey Rootes discussed and unveiled the new features and improvements — the “Game Day Experience” — waiting for fans this season.

NRG Stadium has undergone $30 million in additions and updates to its concession and retail outlets. Killen will have three times as many food locations as last year, Shepherd six times more. The main gift store in Bud Light Plaza has a new name — Houston Texans Team Shop. There will be a new Chevron Kids Zone for pregame romper fun. A new Tailgate Lane has been installed right next to the stadium.

“If you were any closer, you’d have to wear a helmet,” Rootes said.

I asked Killen, with all of his restaurants’ (barbecue, burgers, steaks, etc.) success in the outside world, why work Sundays at NRG Stadium?

“My relationship with the Houston Texans is very important for one main reason — I love football,” he said. “I’m a huge Texans fan. It’s as simple as that. I want to be a part of this.”

For more about the new menu items, watch this video from our news partners at ABC13.

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Originally appeared on CultureMap.

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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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