Baseball Food

Summer means it's baseball season in Houston. Whether you love the Astros or hate them (probably hate them right now), baseball is still the American pastime. And, let's be honest, even when the games suck, you still go for the booze...we mean, food.

Baseball food has come a long way since the days of peanuts and Crackerjacks. You can still trudge through peanut shell-filled seats, but you'll have a hard time finding that nostalgic box of Crackerjacks. Instead, baseball food has taken a gourmet twist with a little backyard barbecue flair.

The Budweiser Patio at Minute Maid Park is still the same center field bar you remember, but this year they revamped it with a new look and menu. You'll find everything from gourmet nachos with rotisserie chicken to tempura-battered onion rings.

If you can't decide on which snack to indulge in from the new menu, you can get the "gourmet" platter with a little of everything -- French fries with herbs and sea salt, tempura-battered chicken fingers, skillet spinach artichoke dip, and even nachos with mounds of guacamole. If you spring for the paid seats at the Budweiser Patio, you even get a dessert plate with homemade cookies and brownies. It sounds more like a restaurant than a bar at the baseball field.

Don't forget the best part of the baseball game, the beer. Baseball games are the only place where you'll actually choose to drink Bud Light and agree to pay the hefty price for it. If you're not a beer drinker, you can get large, neon-colored margaritas - or, as our friend lovingly calls them, "cups of death." One cup of that super-sweet antifreeze, and you're down for the count.

Don't start mourning the loss of your beloved baseball food just yet. You can still find your classic dog and nachos with melted mystery cheese, because sometimes you just want a dog and a beer.

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Jane Catherine Collins