Bars With A Full Menu
Downtown Houston Hotel Bar Biggio’s Is As Swanky As It Is Sporty
“Classy sports bar” sounds like a misnomer, but Biggio’s accomplishes that by combining chef-driven cuisine with an upscale sports-watching experience. Featuring over 30 televisions, the two-story haven is attached to the luxurious Marriott Marquis Hotel at 1777 Walker in downtown Houston. The concept is a partnership between the hotel and former Houston Astros player and Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Craig Biggio, who consulted on the menu and design. “There are so many great restaurants in Houston and it’s cool to be part of the fraternity now,” says Biggio.
He’s much more than a figurehead for the restaurant. Biggio and his family regularly stop by to eat which means fans might to catch a glimpse of—or even get to shake hands with—the Astros legend. Biggio has a clear affinity towards the bar that bears his name and seems to genuinely enjoy interacting with patrons. “Honestly, it’s the reason why I got involved. I want people to come and enjoy it and have a nice place to get some good food, watch some good games on TV and have a couple beverages that they like. I’m really happy that people are having a great time and that’s what it’s all about.”
The bar also hosts occasional public meet and greet events. Details are posted on the web site when these events are scheduled.
Thoughtful touches at Biggio’s include reclining leather chairs, private viewing booths and multiple spaces for conversing and cheering for beloved teams on up to 30 customizable screens. “Ultimately what I want people to take away when they visit is ‘Wow, I didn’t expect this,’” says Bernard Hamburger, director of food and beverage for the hotel.
There are three main focal points of the seemingly endless space: the living room “lounge” filled with low-top tables, leather chairs and booths (ideal for business lunches or family dinners); a traditional bar adorned with baseball bats, which serves 64 different beers plus wine and cocktails; and a large open area with high-top tables and recliners in front of two, 30-foot tall screens.
A great perk for cell phone-toting guests is that the communal tables as well as all recliners (comfortable enough to nap in, by the way) have built-in outlets. On big game days or other busy times, those areas might require reservations or have food and beverage purchase minimums.
Upstairs is an additional bar, private booths (with two TVs each) and even more recliners and high-tops plus access to the bar’s second-floor patio overlooking the George R. Brown Convention Center and Discovery Green. The upstairs booths may also be reserved, but might also have purchase minimums on busy days. In addition, that floor is typically open only for high volume game days or private events.
Patrick Gaughan is the busy executive chef behind all of the Marriott Marquis’ culinary ventures (with the exception of Hugo Ortega’s Xochi), including Biggio’s. His team prepares ballpark classics reimagined as fancier fare. The kitchen uses 400 pounds of bison chili a week, which turns up in bowls, on top of loaded nachos and as part of the Dirty Dog, an oversized hot dog smothered in housemade queso, shredded redneck cheddar, onion strings and chives. Signature dishes—and personal favorites of Craig Biggio—include the soft Ball Park Pretzel served with beer mustard and green chili queso, and shareable-sized Chicken & Waffles. For those, pecan-smoked bacon is cooked into the batter and the dish is topped with honey-maple syrup made spicy with sriracha pepper sauce. When we visited on a recent Saturday, we were invited to sample many of the signature bites and can attest to the addictive sweet-savory appeal of the waffles and rich queso.
The signature “B G O” sandwiches are based on a dish Craig’s wife, Patty, would prepare for their family on Sundays. Slices of filet mignon are tucked into toasted English muffins smeared with herb garlic aioli, then topped with fried onion strings. A home-run side of housemade barbecue potato chips comes with thick and chunky onion dip.
Hefty burgers range from classic bacon cheddar to Tex-Mex, and there’s also a vegetarian-friendly black bean & quinoa variation. Steaks were on the original menu but the team noticed fans preferred less formal fare and swapped the presentation to big cubes of beef skewered with peppers, onions and fresh chimichurri.
There’s a fun, secret dessert menu for capping off a meal, too: brownie and chocolate chip skillets served with ice cream or banana pudding. These are well worth requesting.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. On Astros game days, a condensed menu is offered the hour before and after for speedier service. Parking options include street, valet and local garages (one beneath Discovery Green and one at Rusk and Capitol).
Most dining destinations that try to have something for everyone struggle to succeed, but Biggio’s has broad appeal for a diverse clientele. In other words, as far as upscale bars go, it’s a grand slam.