The last two days of our trip, we went to a baseball game, drove to see the ocean and eat some seafood, and ate some good Mexican food before we traveled home.
Minute Maid Park
Sunday morning, we stumbled out of bed as early as we could (around 08:30), heated up our leftovers from Snow’s, and had barbecue for breakfast for the second day in a row. We checked out of our Airbnb, and hit the road for downtown Houston. We quickly found some parking, and headed into Minute Maid Park to watch the Houston Astros play the Los Angeles Angels.
To be clear, we all hate the Astros (cheaters), so we slightly pulled for the Angels. Shohei Ohtani launched a home run his first at-bat, and hit a ground-rule double later in the game.
We had great seats; albeit high, they were right behind home plate, and we could see over the strike zone. Minute Maid was a neat stadium, with lots of amenities. It’s definitely very unique, with its retractable roof (which was thankfully closed), large windows in left field, and strange outfield fence layout. During the game, Trevor got some popcorn, and Dad and I split a small Blue Bell cookies & cream container, but we were all starting to get hungry, so we left in the 8th inning. By then, the Astros had established a substantial lead, and we figured we could beat a bit of the traffic.
Since we had nothing better to do, we decided we would drive down to Galveston (yes, we listened to Glen Campbell on the way) for the evening. It was a bit of a spontaneous decision, but turned out to be a lot of fun. Along the way, we saw many oil rigs and refineries, plus some nice views of the bay from the Galveston Causeway on our way in, and a picturesque sunset by the Gulf of Mexico.
Katie's Seafood House
For dinner, we stopped at Katie’s Seafood House, a “boat-to-table” dockside eatery on the bay specializing in extremely fresh seafood (they also have a seafood market next door). We split Dockside Oysters (char-grilled oysters sizzling with garlic butter, Parmesan, and breadcrumbs) and Oysters Katie (sweet herb marinated smoked oysters grilled with crab, Alfredo, & seasonings) as an appetizer. Trevor got a rather large seafood quesadilla (fresh Gulf fish and shrimp grilled in chimichurri and folded in mozzarella, with avocado and spicy salsa), and Dad and I split a large bowl of seafood gumbo and a fish (red snapper) and shrimp platter with crab mac & cheese, rice, veggies, and cornbread with honey butter.
All the food was excellent, particularly the red snapper. Once again, the Texas-sized portions defeated us, so we did our best to clean up the seafood and leave the sides behind. One complaint the entire state of Texas needs to hear: I do not, nor will I ever want jalapeños in my cornbread or hushpuppies. I like the peppers sometimes, but there’s no need to ruin hushpuppies with their inclusion.
After dinner, we drove down to the Galveston Seawall to see the Gulf of Mexico, which nicely framed the famous Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier. After snapping a few pictures and taking in the sea breeze, we headed back towards Houston.
On our drive back, we saw many more of the refineries and oil rigs, beautifully illuminated by a crimson sunset. I tried to get some good pictures, but unfortunately my phone camera wasn’t appreciative of the combination of the bumpy interstate and low light. The refineries are seemingly endless, and slightly ominous looking at night, like some nefarious villain’s lair.
The next morning, we checked out of our hotel and drove north to the Houston Heights neighborhood, where we visited El Bolillo bakery, a Mexican bakery with a huge variety of pastries, fresh tortillas, chips, cakes, and more. It was quite an experience, and quite honestly I have no idea exactly what we purchased. We took it back to the hotel lobby to eat, and killed time by watching SportsCenter in the lobby until lunch time.
From the bakery, we got a cinnamon-sugar donut, some kind of gingerbread-like spice cookie shaped like an animal (?), a chocolate shortbread cookie, a long cream cheese danish, some kind of cream cheese icing-covered pastry with dried fruit inside, a concha, and a churro. I’m 99% certain the churro was meant to be cooked further at home, so it was pretty tough. The cookies and pastries were all good, but the real star was the cinnamon-sugar donut. The most incredible part is that all these pastries, plus three bottles of milk, only cost ~$11.
This place is getting a star not because the food is exceptionally good (although it was good), but because it’s exceptionally cheap. Also, I’d never been anywhere quite like this before. As cheap as it is, it’s worth visiting while in Houston!
* – Would definitely visit again
** – Exceptional, must visit if you’re in the area
*** – Worth making a special trip to eat there
Puebla's Mexican Kitchen
Departing the hotel for the second time, we drove back to Houston Heights to Puebla’s Mexican Kitchen, an acclaimed Tex-Mex spot with limited seating and authentic Mexican food. Dad and I split some tacos, rice, and beans, and Trevor ordered chicken enchiladas, although they gave him chicken mole enchiladas by mistake. Dad and I split the following tacos: beef fajitas, carnitas, barbacoa, asado de puerco, chicharron, and grilled chicken. The tacos were good, especially the carnitas, but paled in comparison to Vaquero Taquero (Day 2).
After lunch, we stopped to top off the rental car with petrol, drove to the airport, and made it to our gate. Our flight was delayed by almost an hour, and we finally landed back in Charlotte around 20:00. We did, at least, get to witness yet another beautiful sunset.
On the drive home, we stopped at Chick-fil-A in Gastonia, and I got to try their new Autumn Spice milkshake – it was excellent, and a refreshing change from the typical pumpkin overload this time of year. We arrived back in Granite Falls around 21:30, and I made it back up the mountain just before 23:00.
Overall, it was a great trip, and I felt like we got a tour of the best of eastern Texas. Now, it’s on to more football for the next few months.