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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Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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