It was only a matter of time before I found my way to a Dash or Dynamo match at Shell Energy Stadium. This spring presented me with a fantastic opportunity to finally enjoy the Beautiful Game.
As a relative neophyte to the city, it didn’t take long to find out that Houston prides itself on being an incredibly diverse city. A melting pot of sorts. The shining example of that diversity is the incredible Houston food scene. A mix of traditional cuisine and creative fusions that both encouraged exploration and welcomed me to my new home back when I moved here in 2018.
It is fitting that a city with such a diverse cultural background would use the world’s game of soccer as a canvas to paint an incredible picture with its culinary offerings. Divine Vietnamese food, staple Texas Barbecue, strong Mexican cuisine, and more can be found throughout the city of Houston – but you can also find these offerings at Shell Energy Stadium.
Houston’s Home for Soccer
The home of the NWSL Dash and the MLS Dynamo has become a fantastic showcase of not just the Beautiful Game, but also the beautiful cuisine of this city that I have come to love and call home. An earlier reading of a piece from the Houston Chronicle spiked my interest.
Since then, I’ve been making it my personal mission to visit Shell Energy Stadium in order to experience both the game atmosphere and the food of the venue. Over my time at the stadium, both blew me away.
I arrived early for my first Shell Energy Stadium visit hoping to sample as much food as I could before the lines at each vendor became a bit too difficult to navigate. My first culinary stop was at Trill Burgers in the southeast corner of the stadium.
Founded by rapper and Texas legend Bun B, Trill Burgers has been serving up delicious smash burgers at pop-ups while the city waits for their storefront to open in Montrose. I’m always a bit wary of celebrity restaurants. However, my experience with Trill Burgers at the Shell exceeded the hype and has me extremely excited for the opening of the restaurant proper I’ll definitely have to get over there soon.
Smoked Meats in Shell Energy Stadium
Next up was a chopped brisket sandwich from Roegels Barbecue – a stalwart of the Houston Barbecue scene. It seems almost unfair that a single stadium would have two beef offerings so strong – between the griddled 44 Farms patties of Trill Burgers and the slow-smoked brisket of Roegels – but what better way to treat fans to the product that has long been the centerpiece of Texas cuisine.
As a massive barbecue fan, it was thrilling to see Roegels in the North End of the Shell. The chopped brisket sandwich was a delight and a perfect introduction for someone experiencing Texas barbecue at a soccer match.
Not Just the Beef!
Next, it was back around to the southwest corner of Shell Energy Stadium to visit Roostar Vietnamese Grill. I did have to swim upstream against the tide of Dynamo supporters making their way into the supporter’s section. Horns, drums, and chants in both English and Spanish produced a wall of sound that accompanied the entrants. The excitement for the match was infectious and I couldn’t help but be enthralled by the joy.
The honey-glazed pork banh mi that I had at the Roostar stand provided a delightful bit. Served with cucumbers, carrots, and peppers on a baguette, I enjoyed the freshness of the sandwich. The sweetness of the glaze played well with the pork and the crunchy bites of vegetables were a wonderful bit of texture showcasing why the banh mi sandwich has become so popular in Houston.
Of course, this being Texas, a healthy amount of cuisine from our neighbors to the South also makes an appearance. Chef Hugo Ortega – born in Ciudad de Mexico and long a member of the dynamic Houston food scene has Hugo’s and Urbe both in the stadium. In fact, Chef Hugo curated the incredible local food scene represented at Shell Energy Stadium.
Unfortunately, while I did attempt to eat as much food as I could during my first visit for a Dynamo match – I am only human. After getting delightful carnitas tacos from Hugo’s, I was tapped out for the night.
Wrapping Up the Tour
My subsequent visits were for matches featuring the Houston Dash. A late April visit back to the stadium saw the Dash taking on the North Carolina Courage. The match ended up being cut short with severe weather in the area but not before I sampled a tasty mesquite grilled chicken pizza from Vinny’s!
I’m not usually one for stadium pizza but I found the personal pie quite tasty. The onions and peppers provided a nice touch.
Finally, I wrapped up my tour around Shell Energy Stadium during the meeting between the Dash and the Orlando Pride. Those in Houston will know the Taqueria Arandas name. A powerhouse chain in the area, they’ve been serving up Mexican food since bursting onto the scene in 1981.
I opted for a tasty torta and popped over to Elotes Bravos next door for some elote en vaso. The corn in the cup proved a perfect accompaniment for the torta.
My last stop was the Williams Smokehouse BBQ & Blues stand for some “creole candy” wings. The wings provided both sweetness and heat. A dynamite combo that showed the influence of our neighbors to the east in Louisiana.
The Beautiful Game and Cuisine
The Houston Dash and Dynamo in providing incredible culinary options at Shell Energy Stadium buck the old stadium concession standards. However, the food experience at the Shell goes well beyond just providing better eats.
By reflecting the incredible city of Houston’s cuisine, the Dash and Dynamo reminded me just why I fell in love with the city.
In short, it felt like being welcomed to Houston all over again.
Combined with the electric atmosphere of Dash and Dynamo contests, the food truly provides a unique experience. I can’t recommend getting to Shell Energy Stadium enough. As someone who loves both food and sport, I can’t imagine a better marriage of the two. Get yourself a “Hell in the Shell” t-shirt and support the Dash and Dynamo as soon as you can while enjoying some incredible bites. Trust me, you won’t regret it.