MLB.com Columnist

Alyson Footer

Astros unveil adds to Minute Maid food options

Astros unveil adds to Minute Maid food options

HOUSTON -- The Astros on Tuesday introduced several food items that will be available at Minute Maid Park this season, confident their food options will be as appealing as the team they have put together for 2017.

At a casual pre-Spring Training gathering on Tuesday, the Astros and Aramark gave local media a sneak peek at several new menu options that will be available to fans this season. Among the mouth-watering dishes are Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Chorizo Loaded Fries, French Toast Patty Melts and Pulled Pork Teriyaki Spam Sandwiches.

"In the offseason, we see what's going on in the social media world as far as food trucks and things like that," said Minute Maid Park executive chef Dominic Soucie. "Other stadiums ... we look at their menus as well. We see what's popular and then put our own Houston twist, our own Houston flavor on it."

"Flavor" being the key word. The Chorizo Loaded Fries are topped with chorizo, queso, chipotle mayo, cilantro, green onion and tortilla chips. This dish will be added to a French fry stand that will also offer brisket fries, Frito pie fries and shrimp fries.

The Italian Grilled Cheese is topped with basil pesto sauce, salami, pepperoni, ham and mozzarella cheese and served on charbroiled sourdough bread.

Soucie described it as warm and salty -- the perfect "comfort food."

"We want people to be comfortable here, and what's more comfortable than grilled cheese?" he said. "It could be good on a hot day, it could be good on a cold day."

When deciding on menu items, the culinary staff looks for tasty options that are easily transportable and won't create a mess. Although the occasional dribble of mustard from a hot dog may make it onto a fan's shirt from time to time, when it comes to the more outside-the-box creations, the goal is to offer items that are both delicious and easy to eat.

"We're looking for something that people can move around the ballpark with and not totally make a mess of their food," Soucie said. "No one really wants to have a mess on their jersey. You just spent a lot of money on a jersey; you don't want to ruin it by staining it with food. It's something that has good flavors, that can fit in your mouth easy and has a sense of quality."

Two items that will likely appeal to the wider masses are two versions of tacos: Green Chile Chicken Tacos and Tacos Al Pastor, which feature pulled pork, pastor-style pineapple, cilantro and onions, served on corn tortillas.

The French Toast Patty Melt has a unique taste given that the Nolan Ryan beef patties, peppers, onions and mustard are served on traditional French toast.

For those looking for some adventure, here's a chance to try something that is all the rage: Spam.

Yes, Spam.

Aramark created the Pulled Pork Spam Sandwich: teriyaki seared Spam, pulled pork, sliced pineapple, pickled carrots, caramelized onions and hoisin mustard.

Clearly, this isn't your mother's Spam. Things have progressed since the 1970s.

"Spam is a very hot commodity right now," Soucie said. "There's restaurants where their entire menu is based on Spam."

All items introduced on Tuesday will be available on the main concourse this season.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.