From being ranked the Most Charitable City in the country to the Best City for Foodies, once-overlooked Houston has won its fair share of prizes in the last couple of years. But perhaps no prize mattered more to Houstonians than when their Major League Baseball team, the Astros, won the 2017 World Series, thanks in no small part to the seven-time All-Star pitcher and Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander. Mr. Verlander, a newcomer to the city, quickly achieved deity status here, which he further cemented when days later he married his girlfriend, often described as one of the most beautiful women in the world, the supermodel Kate Upton. Ms. Upton has rocked the cover of Sports Illustrated (several times), Vanity Fair, Esquire and Vogue to name a few, and starred in movies and music videos along the way.
The couple’s new baby girl, Genevieve, was born in Houston in November, and this March, Mr. Verlander signed a contract with the Astros that will keep them in town through the 2021 season. In other words, the couple (and little Genevieve) are now officially Houstonians.
And one of the first things Houstonians like to talk about is food. This couple is no different. “Kate and I are big foodies,” Mr. Verlander said up front during our interview. On the phone together from their home in Houston, they chatted about their favorite places in the city, and interrupted each other to more accurately describe their favorite dishes in true foodie-couple fashion. (“But does it count as a burger if it’s on an English muffin?” Mr. Verlander asked Ms. Upton at one point.)
“Houston has so much culture,” Ms. Upton said. “It is a really cool city that we didn’t know anything about and now we get to experience.” Here are their five favorite spots.
1. Nancy’s Hustle
Kate: Oh my God. Wow. My friend Stella McCartney introduced me to it and it is the best burger I have ever had. They use an English muffin instead of a bun and it really just enhances the flavors. It is so good. Justin is a big burger guy so he didn’t really trust my statement that this is the best burger ever.
Justin: Ha-ha, let me be the judge of that! I like burgers and Kate forced me to go after a day game. So we strolled in after the game and it really is to die for.
Kate: Getting his stamp of approval was really big. He said the burger was in the top 3.
2704 Polk Street Suite A; nancyshustle.com
Kate: Justin and I go to dinner there a lot. I love the charcuterie board, the Southwestern salad, the fish of the day, and of course the cookies are so good.
Justin: I went there one day before start day — a day I was pitching — and I was looking at the menu and saw the ‘Lucky Burger’ and I was like well, I guess that’s what I better get. And then I pitched well that game. As baseball players we are a little superstitious, so we kept going there every start day and I kept ordering that burger. At dinner I always order the Black and Blue, which is a filet with a decadent blue cheese risotto and a blueberry sauce.
3614 West Alabama Street; tinyboxwoods.com
3. Minute Maid Park
Justin: Well, we spend most of our time at Minute Maid Park, but we really do have really good experiences there. Winning the World Series was one. It was like a Cinderella story. We got traded here and the city embraces us, and two months later we won the World Series. Feeling that atmosphere in the ballpark was amazing.
Kate: My favorite thing to eat are the tacos. But Justin’s brother and I have a little superstitious routine: we eat popcorn to get hits. If the boys have their rally going while we’re eating popcorn, we’ll just keep stuffing our faces, even if the popcorn is a little stale.
501 Crawford Street; www.mlb.com/astros/ballpark
Kate: We love the Montrose area. There are so many good bars and restaurants and good shopping in that neighborhood. We like to go to Biscuit (a boutique home goods store), UB Preserv (a restaurant from James Beard Award-winner Chris Shepherd), and Goodnight Charlie’s (a Texas saloon-style bar). We very rarely have Saturday nights off, but on a random Monday night we like to walk around and hang out in the area.
Justin: Saturday nights I’m usually playing, but going on a Monday is sometimes better because it’s not as crowded.
Montrose, a neighborhood between Houston’s downtown and Galleria areas
Kate: We were looking for things to do during Houston summers because they get so hot, so we were looking for somewhere with air conditioning. The Menil is such an awesome art collection.
Justin: Visiting the Menil is something different to do. It’s easy for us to name restaurants, but that’s something unique and fun to do. Plus, I don’t love to sweat.
1533 Sul Ross Street; menil.org