Ken Hoffman reveals 19 outrageous new ballpark foods on the menu for Astros opening day

The massive Barbacoa Burger looks to be a hit. Photo by Ken Hoffman

Originally appeared on CultureMap


Nineteen rookies have made the Houston Astros' roster for their home opener on April 2 at Minute Maid Park.

Wait, you thought I meant 19 new players? Nah, that roster was pretty much set with almost every regular back from the 2017 World Series champs.

I'm talking about the menu at concessions stands. Where to start? How about a Three Little Pigs sandwich? This little piggy has slow-smoked pulled pork, spicy Italian sausage, black pepper bacon, cabbage slaw, and golden grain mustard BBQ sauce on a butter-toasted pretzel bun. Confirmed, that's just one sandwich, served at the Brew House Tiers in centerfield. 

Think about a Cinnamon Bun Sundae, with a warm giant cinnamon roll lost under vanilla bean ice cream, whiskey caramel sauce, Bailey’s chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and berries. Most cities have obscenity laws that prohibit this sort of thing. Available at the Brew House Tiers in centerfield.

"Being World Series champions has made it exciting for us," says Mat Drain, the Ayatollah of Aioli for Aramark, which runs the food show at Minute Maid Park. 

"We know we'll see an attendance increase so it energizes our culinary team to get more creative and make sure that we add more variety. Our goal is to improve the fans' experience every year."

The Astros held their annual hot dog and pony show to introduce new menu items to a curious and hungry crowd of media superstars. Watching the media eat makes the food fight scene from Animal House look like a Martha Stewart tea party.

I once got between Chronicle sports writer David Barron and a free cheeseburger. I spent three weeks in the hospital.

The Astros are really pushing the envelope on fan food this season (Cheddar Biscuits with Burnt Ends, seriously?), but the show-stopper is a Loaded BBQ Funnel Cake. It's got pulled pork, chopped beef, smoked sausage, citrus kale black bean slaw, and BBQ sauce on top of a deep-fried funnel cake. It’s available at the Brew House Tiers in centerfield.

Dominic Soucie, Aramark's resident evil genius, gave rise to this trifle.

"I was watching a show called Carnival Eats on the Food Network. Those chefs at state fairs and carnivals are very creative and I thought, 'Why not bring a taste of the carnival to the baseball stadium?' That's how I came up with the Loaded BBQ Funnel Cake. It has all four of the major 'S' food groups: sweet, savory, smoke, and spice."

The slogan for Astros players this year is "Never Settle." Here's a slogan for Astros fans: "Skip Lunch, Come Hungry."

Here’s the rest of the Astros' new menu items for 2018.

Jane Dough Cookie Dough 
Gourmet, edible, small-batch cookie dough. Sections 113, 129, 156 and 427. Also available at the Cookies & Creamery stand behind Section 219 and The Park stand behind 231.

Haute Dog
Foot-long hot dog served on a New England style roll with chopped brisket, bacon, BBQ sauce, and pickles. Served at the Budweiser Brew House in centerfield and the Texas Legends Grill behind Section 231.

Astros Slider Trio
Texas Pulled Pork Cheesesteak, with grilled onions and peppers, topped with queso blanco on a jalapeno cheddar hoagie. Texas Brisket Cheesesteak, with chopped brisket, etc. Hot Dog Sliders, on New England-style rolls. Available behind Section 114.

BBQ Burger
Grill beef patty with onion rings, bacon, jalapeno slaw and BBQ sauce on a Challah bun. Texans Legends Grill behind Section 231.

713 Burger
Nolan Ryan Beef patty on a jalapeno potato roll. Texans Legend Grill behind Section 231.

Taco Trio
Smoked pulled pork with pineapples and salsa verde on flour tortillas. The Taco Trio location behind Section 125.

Loaded Burrito
Choice of beef or chicken fajitas with cilantro lime rice, refried beans, cotija cheese, pico and sour cream crammed into a flour tortilla. HTX MEX behind Section 215.

Loaded Burrito Bowl
Same as the Loaded Burrito above, served in a bowl. HTX MEX behind Section 215.

Loaded Taco Fries
Fresh-cut fries smothered in picadillo, shredded lettuce, queso, olives, avocado, sour cream, and tortilla strips. The Brew House in centerfield.

.45 Express
Nolan Ryan Beef franks slathered with hot Cheetos, green chili queso, tortilla strips, cheese, pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, sour cream, and cilantro, served on a crisp, corn tortilla inside a flour tortilla. Torchy’s Tacos in centerfield.

Barbacoa Burger
Braised beef, queso, pico de gallo, lettuce, avocado, and sunny side up egg served on a butter-toasted onion roll. Brew House Tiers in centerfield.

Osso Italian Nachos
Crispy pasta chips covered with ground Italian sausage, chopped tomato and formaggio blanco. Osso & Kristalla behind Section 226.

DAT Creole Meat Pie
Louisiana-spiced Akaushi beef with rougaroux sauce in flaky pastry. Osso & Kristalla behind Section 226.

Smoked Sausage and Queso Kolache
Jackson Street BBQ behind Section 124.

Cheddar Biscuit with Burnt Ends
Jackson Street BBQ behind Section 124.

You didn't think I forgot, did you?

The Astros better win on April 2, otherwise they won't be able to sell beer the rest of the year. How come?

Answer: they will have lost the opener.



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Another tough loss for Houston. Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans lost again as their road game ineptitude continues. Former Texans stars DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt helped the Cardinals to the 31-5 victory.

1. The lack of talent is getting exposed earlier and earlier each week. The Texans have seen games slip away faster and faster from them each week. The team is overmatched almost everywhere.

2. Penalties remain a problem for the Texans. It seems like clockwork the team gets an illegal motion or illegal formation each week. Jordan Akins torpedoed a drive with a chop block. Max Scharping erased a positive play with a hold.

3. Davis Mills had some solid moments, but again, this team isn't good. It is hard to assess Mills with this team. He's making quicker decisions but he doesn't have the time or the players to make big plays.

4. The offensive line stinks. The interior of the line is still a mess and with Laremy Tunsil down the edges find themselves shaky as well. The running backs don't block well. The blocking tight ends don't block well. It is bad football in what was supposed to be a much-improved unit.

5. Desmond King was the best returner in the preseason. The team elected to give Andre Roberts an opportunity for a few games, but with his departure, the duties went to King. King is the most successful returner the Texans have had in a long while. Yes, it is that clear after just one game.

6. Max Scharping was benched in favor of Justin McCray. McCray produced similar levels of success. Scharping was benched last year for a journey-man veteran as well. The former second-round pick isn't getting it done.

7. Speaking of former second-round picks, Lonnie Johnson had an interception. That was the highlight of his day. Otherwise, Johnson frequently has me asking "what is Lonnie Johnson doing?" The former second-round pick at cornerback has been less than impressive at safety. Johnson seems to frequently be out of position or making the wrong choice in coverage.

8. DeAndre Hopkins had a solid day against the team that traded him away. Hopkins hauled in seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. After he scored, Hopkins looked to bring his hands together and mimic a prayer motion. I don't anticipate this was a nod to Arian Foster but perhaps could this have been about Jack Easterby?

9. The Texans had some sacks, but little of that action came when the game was close. Jonathan Greenard added two sacks to his total. The success Greenard is having is frustrating when you consider he couldn't get on the field last season. Charles Omenihu returned to action and had some pressures for the defense.

10. During the game reports surfaced that the Panthers might be interested in trading for Deshaun Watson. It was also reported by the Houston Chronicle Watson had vetoed a trade to Philadelphia, so the Eagles will not be involved in the Watson sweepstakes. The Panthers can only trade two first-round picks. The Miami Dolphins have three first-round picks they can trade for Deshaun Watson.

11. The Texans decided on a "culture" head coach in David Culley. His team has looked lifeless on the road. While the Texans took their beating, the Lions gave it their all against a good Rams team. Detroit is winless, but they play harder and better than the Texans. It grows clearer each week "culture" is meaningless if the team can't win.

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