Budget Eats at Worlds?

I’m from Houston and was just at the FiT DCMP -
As many have said, there’s the massive park across the street called “Discovery Green” - there’s trees and covered areas, but those will probably be snatched up fast, and also it’s going to be hot in late April, but it’s an option.
The hallway stretching between the different “halls” of the convention center (I think all will be used for worlds) is MASSIVE. There’s tons of platforms and carpeted areas you can sit and eat.
And then lastly, the most overlooked (because we were one of the only teams doing this), if you go upstairs with the escalators, there’s like a hallway half a mile long with tons of benches, dining areas with several tables and lots of chairs (and outlets in the middle of the tables), and lots of other sitting areas. Upstairs is probably the best place to go. There’s also a starbucks upstairs with additional seating in front of it.

Finding seating won’t be a problem, it’s more of finding food: There’s several downtown restaurants not too far that you could get catered food from (Phoenician, Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, Chick-Fil-A).

Also something interesting is if food trucks know there’s 1000+ hungry people at the convention center this weekend…I bet if there was some kinda board we could post on there would be a vast multitude of food trucks parked somewhere nearby.

Good selection but pricey. Also have long line ups.

The contracts with the GRB has always had clauses that disallowed outside food, including in the areas you described. There will be many more people attending Houston Champs than attended FiT DCMP so if people are doing what you and others suggest, it is likely they will enforce those clauses of the contract. At the least, there will be attendees who are upset when they are asked to leave “because someone said we could do this”. At worst, the venue management will refuse to negotiate a contract in the future.

So you’re saying if we want to bring back St Louis or Detroit for champs we need to eat in the hallways at GRB? /s :stuck_out_tongue:


GRB was a great venue for FiT DCMP. I think the management will not differentiate between the two events and just ban all robotics events in the future if we abuse the contracts too much.

Those venues most likely will have the same contract clauses too.

If you’re going to place a team-size order with a restaurant for pickup, do NOT call them on the day-of, 20 minutes before the lunch break, and expect it to be ready for pick up. They can’t handle the volume. (IF they take your order, I’d expect a pick-up time hours in the future.)

I strongly recommend identifying potential restaurants NOW (Google Maps can help) and calling them NOW to ask them how much advance notice they would prefer. They might want you to call the day before. The same goes for any dine-in reservations you might consider for the evening. Advance warning allows restaurants to adjust staffing and manage wait times.

As for GRB, I don’t know how they work it for Texas DCMP, but for 2018 and 2019 Houston Worlds, there was security at ALL entries (including the bridges from the Hilton, the Marriott, and the parking structures) checking bags, and rejecting outside food. Expect to eat outside1. Or maybe set up a tailgate in one of the parking structures.

There are restaurants within a few blocks’ walk. Be aware that some of them close quite early (3pm) and some of them are not open on the weekend at all.

[Edit] Here’s an interactive map of downtown Houston that shows most of the restaurants. If you click a pin, it will slide open a description with hours! There’s one or two indoor malls, I don’t think they’re properly reflected here.

1If we evade the outside food ban, I wouldn’t expect management to refuse to negotiate2 new contracts. That’s too much reliable money to pass up. But they might require FIRST to pay for additional security to enforce it, or otherwise raise the rate. Actions have consequences!

2I expect FIRST not to negotiate any further contracts with GRB, but that’s a topic for another thread.


^ this

Figure out the Team Eats ahead of time.
Seriously. Saved our butts in 2019.

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Does anyone know if the food vendors at the Convention center are card only or will take cash? This isn’t 100% relevant to this topic, but closest I could find for this question.

Spend some time to check out the dining arrangements in detail ahead of time, especially the hours of operation and the price range. It would be good to verify that the restaurant can handle your group because you are likely to be going during their normal “dinner rush” on the Friday and Saturday.

Due to the number of FIRST Championship participants who will not eat their meals at GRB, expect the restaurants in the area to be overwhelmed at lunch and dinner time.

Teams with their own cars or vans may want to drive a few miles to explore areas away from the GRB since the pits close at 7 pm on Wednesday, 630 pm on Thursday and 6 pm on Friday. The Heights (between Washington Ave and the 610 North Loop and between Hwy 45 and the 610 West Loop) or the area to the north and south of Hwy 59 between Hwy 45 and the 610 Loop West both have a lot of excellent restaurants, many at reasonable prices. A few miles further west is Chinatown (14 miles away at Bellaire east and west of Beltway 8) where there are many options at very reasonable prices.

Edited to add: It is now crawfish season. I don’t know what the prices are this year. It’s well into the season so they should be of decent size and quality now.

If you’re looking for budget food options, I think your best bet is to do as others said and get a sandwich tray from a grocery store. Looking online Kroger has a 16 sandwich tray you can order for like $30. Add in chips and canned sodas and you’re spending maybe $4 a person on lunch. For dinner you can save some money by picking up BBQ. For example: Gabby’s BBQ on Shepherd has an office party pack that feeds 15-20 for a little over $150. Once you buy drinks, etc. you’re maybe talking $10-$12 a person? It’s not the same experience as taking the whole team out to a restaurant but if you want to save money for the whole group I think it will help.


We shipped a dinner bin (napkins, forks, serving spoons, plates) and then did lunches and some dinners picnic style in the park. There is plenty of room. Frisby optional.
Jason’s deli (McKinney branch) will deliver. The mini focaccia trays were good, add a fruit tray. We didn’t like their wraps tray as much. There were bunches food trucks around the sides of the park, including a reasonably priced Chick-Fil-A. Do a couple of provided meals and a buy your own.
Food trucks for the welcome party night.
Remember that many of the food places near your hotel may close before you make it back. You may have Robo prom kids who are on a schedule one night.
I have seen water bottles shipped with pits, hide them in totes and smuggled out for meals.
This is all based on past experience, not sure what you will encounter this year.
My wish for everyone going, is that they don’t have to host the ironing board breakfast buffet in their hotel room at 5:45am.

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If you install the FIRST Championships app, under the “hamburger” menu in the upper-left, select “Dining Options”, and you’ll see listings for “Restaurants” and a “Restaurants Map”.

If you zoom in on the Restaurants Map, you’ll find a few places that aren’t pinned. Amongst the pins are Finn Hall, on Main and Rusk, a “food court/dining hall” with eight restaurants and a coffee shop listed. There’s also the Shops at Houston Center, between Lamar and McKinney, northwest of Austin, which lists 17 restaurants, a Starbuck’s and a cookie shop.

Be really aware of hours for restaurants in this area. They are business lunch based and can be closed by 2 and not open on the weekend.


With that said…some are aware and schedule to stay open for large events at GRB. Check in the morning or call to find out, worst case nobody picks up and you look somewhere else.

I think we also bugged a pizza shop on Friday and they were very happy to find out the adjacent hotel would be full of teenagers for the whole weekend, and tweaked their hours for it.


Piggybacking off this and just about every other post in here, if you can get meals catered be it sandwich platters from Kroger or from fast food-ish or a nearby joint. Last Champs I was a student at we did Panda Express Catering, which has worked for us even at home as a meal for the workshop on longer build days. Nicely enough, if you don’t like calling, they have an online system to place catering orders. Just make sure the location is close to your hotel/GRB and a parent can grab it to bring back to the team.

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I know not helpful but every time I see this headline it jumbles a bit in my head to “Worlds eats at budget” Which is such a true statement.


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