HOUGuide

Where To Pregame The Rodeo (Or Anything Happening At NRG Stadium)

The best spots just off the Metro Rail to pregame (or postgame) the Houston Rodeo.
Where To Pregame The Rodeo (Or Anything Happening At NRG Stadium) image

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Forget parking at NRG Stadium. Unless you love playing Grand Theft Auto on hard mode, or want to compete in a steel cage match, just ride the Metro Rail instead. One, because it exists. Two, because parking and riding the rail is easier (and probably cheaper). And three, because there are plenty of spots along the rail to pregame before the Rodeo or the next Beyoncé concert

This list runs north to south, much like the rail, and is separated by neighborhood, so don’t worry about missing your stop.

THE SPOTS

NORTHSIDE

photo credit: Richard Casteel

Mexican

Northside

$$$$Perfect For:Late Night EatsSerious Take-Out OperationQuick Eats
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Why waste money on stadium food when El Taconazo exists? The cash-only Northside food truck has plenty of charred meat tacos and fajitas smothered in cheese. Plus, it’s open past 2am on weekends, so you might even be able to score a meal on your way back.


DOWNTOWN

For the folks who just need a solid cup of coffee or jolt of espresso before screaming lyrics at Bun B’s concert, there’s Fifth Vessel Coffee Co. on the edge of Downtown. Double-fist an iced yuzu espresso tonic alongside a hot Texas blossom with honey to prime those vocal cords.

photo credit: Michael Anthony

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While Bungalow makes a swanky dinner destination, you can also pop in during the afternoon for a Hennessy cocktail and a filet mignon steak sandwich with au poivre and fries. All excellent fuel for trying to score one of those giant stuffed animals at the Rodeo carnival.

Just off the Main Street and Preston stop, the second-floor cocktail spot Bad News Bar will serve you some of the best booze in town, and lightning fast. The best move here is to grab an austere amaro and bourbon cocktail, pay your tab up front, then chill on the balcony overlooking the rail line and count how many people board the train in their brand-new (and obviously uncomfortable) cowboy boots.

Open for lunch only, the Cajun restaurant Zydeco can quickly fix you up with a bunch of different lunch plates, po’boys, or gumbo before a full day of rambling around the Livestock Show looking for the mini cows. And it’s relatively inexpensive, so you can splurge on a giant beer or foam finger.


MIDTOWN

Cali Sandwich & Pho sits right across Midtown from the McGowan stop and happens to serve the best bánh mì in the city. The bread is crispy, the pork is smoky, and the mythical mayo-butter concoction tastes handed down straight from Mount Olympus. And the iced Vietnamese coffee from Cali will keep you awake for at least 36 hours so you watch every single pig race and wonder if you just ate someone’s cousin.

There’s no better way to celebrate finally securing tickets to Nickelback with your best buds than a few trays of Winnie’s oysters, or a treasure chest full of frozen drinks on ice. This Cajun restaurant and bar will set either of those up so y’all can knock them down, plus a po’boy or two.

Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails can supply you with drinks, like a frozen suffering bastard tiki cocktail, as well as coffee in nearly every form. Both can help soothe whatever social anxiety bubbles up before braving the packed cook-off crowd.

The Austin-import Home Slice Pizza always has a few grab-and-go slices on deck. While you can hang on the outdoor patio, you could also easily eat a slice of eggplant pie or a couple of pepperonis to eat while walking back to the Metro Rail.

What’s great about grabbing a meal at The Breakfast Klub is that the line here will prepare for the multiple lines you’ll encounter at NRG. The crispy, crunchy, and syrup-drenched chicken and waffles also serve as a great source of energy, something waiting around historically requires.


MUSEUM DISTRICT

Whether brunch or dinner, Lucille’s southern soul food can fill you up for a day of getting dragged around the Livestock Show convention floor. Whether that’s by a couple of kids in search of face paint or your friend who likes to make mooing sounds every time they see a cow. And yes, they do serve alcohol.

Mo’ Better Brews, a vegan soul food spot, serves fried oyster mushrooms with buttery grits, fluffy cheesecake waffles, and a massive boudin-stuffed croissant slathered in gravy—all dishes we love to share on the back patio. Balance all that out later by double-fisting corndogs and giant turkey legs.

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