Hey, baseball fans, are you looking for someplace to eat before heading to Minute Maid Park?
Or maybe just something to pick up to take to the park? In an effort to be more fan friendly, new Astros owner Jim Crane has amended the park’s policy of no outside food.
Baseball fans can now tote in one factory-sealed bottle of water (maximum size is a liter) per person. They also are allowed to bring food in clear plastic bags (maximum size is one gallon). No glass or metal containers allowed.
It will be interesting to see if any downtown eateries start offering ballpark-approved containers to go. We’re looking at you Niko Niko’s (and already imagining a Buffalo Chicken Pita in a bag).
Here are some restaurants that are within comfortable walking distance of Minute Maid Park:
Since we’ve already mentioned it, let’s start with Niko Niko's. The popular Montrose restaurant has a fancy kiosk in the middle of Market Square and serves souvlaki, gyros and kebabs as plates or sandwiches. The park setting is a natural for baseball fans who may feel under-dressed in some downtown restaurants.
Irma's Southwest Grill is normally a lunch-only spot but it has a soft spot for the Astros and their fans. The Tex-Mex restaurant famous for its super-fresh fare and no-menu policy opens three hours before opening pitch on game days. The enchiladas are pricy but worth it. Very popular, so reservations are advised.
1314 Texas Ave., 713-247-9651
Home Plate Bar & Grill
is directly across the street from Minute Maid Park. It can get crazy crowded on game days, but you're with Astros fans and the kitchen moves orders out at fastball speed. The fare is what you'd expect: burgers, wings and other fried things.
1800 Texas Ave., 713-222-1993
For a something little more relaxing and cozy, consider the Sam Bar at the Alden. Check out the pre-game happy hour specials or enjoy a post-game burger and an order of skinny potatoes fried in duck fat.
1117 Prairie St., 832-200-8800
You can get in the spirit of the game at Lucky's Pub, a sprawling sports bar just on the other side of Highway 59 but still an easy walk to the ballpark. The pub features more than 200 beers in bottle or draft, 50 televisions and an extensive menu of burgers, pizza and shareable apps. Your only risk is not wanting to give up your HD view of the ballgame for a nose-bleed seat at Minute Maid Park.
801 St. Emanuel, 713-522-2010
Beer geeks flock to the The Flying Saucer. The room is comfortable and the sidewalk picnic tables are terrific spots for people-watching. Oh, the food? Better than you'd expect. We're fans of the bratwurst, the man-sized Reuben and the Rocket-Tots, which are served with a habanero dip. Oh, yeah, that's good.
705 Main St., 713-228-7468
The much-ballyhoed Hubcap Grill closes at 3 p.m., shutting out game-going burger fans. Luckily Hubcap's isn't the only burger to be found near the ballpark.
Market Square Bar & Grill’s Blue Cheese burger is a home run of flavor. There’s a full bar and the New Orleans-style patio is a pleasant place for the gang to gather before heading to the ballpark.
311 Travis St., 713-224-6133
On Main Street, Ziggy's Bar & Grill specializes in comfort foods like meat loaf and grilled pork chops. That said, we're real fans of its burger menu, which includes options like buffalo, lamb and black bean. May we suggest the spicy garlic turkey burger?
702 Main St., 713-527-8588
It’s sandwiches, not burgers, that are specialty of sweet little Shay McElroy's Irish Pub. The Main St. Club is a beast with smoked turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar and avocado, but the attractive Irish bar is most proud of its Reuben.
909 Texas Ave., 713-223-2444
The newest spot for hungry game-goers is Georgia's Market Downtown, which specializes in organic, healthy fare. Order a panini and a craft brew and enjoy in the casual wine cellar or take a seat up front where you can watch the crowds file towards the ball park.
420 Main St., 713-225-0990
Editor’s note: This story originally appeared April 4, 2010. It’s updated annually, most recently on 4.4.12.