Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Football Food Focus...Featuring Houston Texans Tailgating!

Photo of JJ Watt courtesy of Houston Texans
I’m wrapping up my monthly football food series with a bang ahead of the upcoming Super Bowl! As many of you know, Michael and I are huge Houston Texans fans. We watch all of their games here in San Antonio, but we had never attended a game in person. Until this season, that is. We were invited by the Texans to come check out their award-winning pre-game tailgating, then stay to watch the Texans take on the New England Patriots! We had a fantastic time enjoying some great food and meeting tons of fellow Texans fans who take tailgating to amazing heights. We arrived three hours before the game and parked our car just outside the Texans Methodist Training Center, located directly across from Reliant Stadium. The team practices inside the bubble during the week, but it’s transformed into Churrascos Club, an upscale indoor tailgate party on gameday! Churrascos restaurant provides a huge buffet, there’s live music, and appearances by the  Houston Texans Cheerleaders. Imagine a huge pre-game pep rally with amazing food and cocktails and you’d be right on track.
Each home game of the season, Texans fans can purchase tickets to take part in this premium pre-game tailgate event. The ticket price includes a reserved seat and game program, a huge multi-station buffet of mouth-watering food, including: a multi-selection carving station, customized omelets, and an eye-popping dessert display. One especially nice touch is that regional foods from the opposing team's home city are featured. The Texans were playing the Patriots that week, so we enjoyed sampling regional New England specialties like lobster rolls and spinach & potato pirogies. The food was expertly prepared and presented, and there were enough stations placed around the room that the lines didn’t stack up at all. Everyone at our table seemed to enjoy the food as much as we did!
The all-inclusive price of admission to the pre-game Churrascos Club tailgate event also includes beer, wine, mimosas and sodas. We had a great time trying out all the specialties and getting geared up for the game. It was definitely a party atmosphere...perfect for getting in the mood for the big game! Before we knew it, it was nearly an hour before kickoff. That meant it was time for us to walk over to the tailgate festivities going on in the parking area just outside of Reliant Stadium. The Texans tailgating program is known for having great food and lots of die-hard Texans fans. We couldn't wait to check it out! 

We walked across the street to Reliant Stadium and around the corner to the large designated tailgatingarea. The Texans not only allow tailgating -- they wholeheartedly encourage it! It's definitely a great place to get in the spirit for some football. We found dozens of tailgate teams ranging in size from a few friends enjoying some pre-game snacks out of the trunk of their car...all the way to elaborate corporate-sponsored setups. The smell of BBQ was in the air, and upbeat music was playing. No matter the size, the tailgaters that we met had two things in common: they're all die-hard Texans fans…and they share a love of good food and good times! 

We walked around the tailgate area and talked to several of that week's participating groups. They were all very friendly, and some even offered to let us take pictures of their setups! All of the tailgate teams definitely put us in the mood for the game with their enthusiasm and team spirit. The Texans’ season didn’t exactly go as us fans had hoped this year, but you’d never know it by the enthusiasm that these spirited tailgaters displayed.
We made our way to the Reliant Stadium press box just before kickoff. We had a perfect birds-eye view of the game. It was really exciting to see a Texans game in person…it was much different from watching at home. The Texans put forth a great effort, leading going into the fourth quarter. Too bad Tom Brady had different plans, because the Patriots came from behind to win the game in the final minutes. The only thing that would’ve made our tailgating experience perfect would’ve been a Texans win, but we certainly didn’t let it dampen our spirits. We had a fantastic time!
We hope to attend a Texans game again next season…and check out the vibrant tailgating scene once again. Who knows…we even discussed the idea of arriving in the pre-dawn hours to see if we can snag a tailgating spot of our own one week next season. Wouldn’t that be a fun experience to write about?!?!?

The Texans 20013 season may be over, but my football food obsession isn't over just yet. The Super Bowl is right around the corner. Make sure to come by next week to check out my No-Stress Super Bowl Menu. I’ll be featuring my favorite tips for serving a delicious spread of food…without stressing yourself out and leaving your kitchen a huge mess to deal with post-game. I don’t like to miss a second of the Super Bowl, so I've devised some great strategies to ensure that we eat well and enjoy all of the game action…and the fun special commercials!

Disclosure: The Houston Texans provided us with complimentary passes to the Churrascos Club, as well as media credentials to enjoy the Texans-Patriots game. Except as noted, all photographs are copyrighted by Michael K. Garcia. They may not be used without prior permission.

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