Stadium Food Power Rankings: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans
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Here we are in week 11 of the NFL season, and the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans are facing off. The stadiums, EverBank Field and Reliant Stadium, respectively, run concessions through Levy Restaurants (winner of last week’s matchup between Detroit and Minnesota), and Aramark (previously featured in Stadium Food Power Rankings: Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals). This week’s matchup lets us explore Jacksonville, Fla., and Houston for their culinary treasures.
EverBank Field, home of the Jaguars, is located in downtown Jacksonville, Fla. Built in 1995, the stadium was erected on top of, and included parts of, what used to be the Gator Bowl stadium. The stadium still hosts the Gator Bowl each year, is one of the venues used by the U.S. national men’s soccer team, and also hosted the 2005 Super Bowl. The stadium seats just less than 70,000 but can be expanded to hold more than 80,000 fans.
Concessions items at EverBank Field are not lacking in creativity. Unique and popular items include the Mayport Shrimp Burger, made with Mayport Fisheries’ freshly harvested shrimp, is served on a toasted Telera roll with Key lime aioli; the Steak and Wedge Sandwich, composed of tenderloin steak, bacon, lettuce, tomato, blue cheese, and secret sauce; and the Jags Dog, a foot-long hot dog served with mango-infused coleslaw. Toasted flatbread sandwiches are also available, served with pot roast, turkey breast, or corn beef.
EverBank Field's The Steak and Wedge Sandwich. Photo courtesy of Levy Restaurants.
Another popular item, the Two Point Conversion Burger, is a 1-pound hamburger topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, and secret sauce, pressed between two grilled cheese sandwiches. The burger is the star of EverBank’s Fan vs. Food Competition, a battle of strong stomachs held in the hour and a half before each game, where 20 fans are invited to test their luck at finishing off the infamous burger, and if successful, can win a piece of autographed Jaguars memorabilia.
Grilled Shrimp at EverBank Field. Photo courtesy of Levy Restaurants.
Levy Restaurants and EverBank Field locally source dairy, citrus juice, and freshly caught shrimp and fish on game days, keeping in mind the lack of fresh ingredients and healthy alternatives in most traditional stadium dining. "On the Run" stands and the Bud Light Party Zone also feature gluten-free items, including hot dogs (both plain and loaded with cheese, chili, and fresh jalapeños), loaded nachos, deserts such as carrot cake muffins and chia double chocolate chip muffins, snacks such as Taste Good Tortilla Chips, Skittles, and gummy bears, and healthy vegetable and fruit cups. The stadium also offers a small selection of gluten-free beer from Bard’s Beer, Redbridge, and Angry Orchard.
The Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium, which can seat more than 70,000 spectators, was the first stadium in the NFL to have a retractable roof and natural grass. The stadium not only plays host to the Texans' games but also the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and has also welcomed a Super Bowl, WrestleMania, and the USA national soccer team.
There is plenty of variety in the food offerings at the stadium. The Chop Baker, a jumbo baked potato stuffed with chopped beef brisket and BBQ sauce, topped with Cheddar cheese, sour cream, bacon, and chives, is just one of the many unique items found at the field. Other selections include the Gonzales Meatloaf Sandwich, featuring thick-sliced roasted green-chile meatloaf, Monterey Jack cheese, and ancho BBQ sauce on a sweet mesquite bun; the Turkey BLT, with pecan-rubbed smoked turkey, candied bacon, and Monterey Jack cheese on a torta roll; the Grady Spears Brown Sugar & Coffee Rubbed Brisket, with hand-carved and brown sugar-rubbed beef brisket, BBQ sauce, and chipotle mayonnaise on a torpedo roll.
The Chop Baker at Reliant Stadium. Photo courtesy of Aramark.
New items on offer include dishes from several food trucks that set up shop in the parking lots before and after games. The current trucks' cuisines include Asian, Tex-Mex, gourmet burgers, and chicken and waffles. New nacho selections have also been added to the "Nacho Zone" in the stadium, including barbecue brisket nachos with tortilla chips topped with chopped beef brisket, cheese sauce, barbecue sauce, pickles, and onions; pulled pork nachos with tortilla chips topped with pulled pork, cheese sauce, tangy barbecue sauce, pickles, and onions; Buffalo chicken nachos with tortilla chips topped with Buffalo chicken, cheese sauce, blue cheese crumbles, celery, and blue cheese dressing; and the Monster Chicken nachos with tortilla chips topped with shredded chicken breast, charro beans, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, and salsa.
Coffee and Brown Sugar Rubbed Beef Brisket Sandwich at Reliant Stadium. Photo courtesy of Aramark.
Sustainability efforts at the stadium are at an all-time high. Reliant has eliminated 80 percent of cleaning chemicals with Orbio technology, using the power of transformed water to get the same cleaning effect without the hazards or large environmental footprint associated with the use of traditional packaged chemicals. The stadium also uses only microfiber towels to clean, eliminating the use of disposable paper towels, and has implemented large recycling efforts.
You put up a fight, Jacksonville, and while we admire the locally sourced ingredients and fresh efforts, Houston is stealing this week’s food-minded win. From food trucks to nacho selections to brisket-stuffed baked potatoes and meatloaf sandwiches, Texas is pulling out all the stops when it comes to its stadium fare. Sustainability efforts also have us intrigued, although Jacksonville’s gluten-free options have to also be given credit. So now we’ll just have to wait and see — will our food-to-win predictions be correct? Will the Texans take a win over the Jaguars? Tune in Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1:00 p.m. to find out.
Tune in next week for our Thanksgiving Day matchup between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets.
Tyler Sullivan is the Assistant Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @atylersullivan
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