Tight End’s Guide to Houston

Owen Daniels and fiance Angela Mecca (photo via Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com)

A hunky tight end’s guide to Houston: Owen Daniels reveals where he hangs and his secret hip-hop cred

he 10-1 Houston Texans are stronger than ever, tied for the best record in the entire NFL, and, for the first time in their 10-year franchise history, part of the overanalyzed talk of being one of the Super Bowl favorites. Houston, the city, is also on a high, having taken the No. 1 spot on the Forbes list of America’s Coolest Cities To Live not so long ago.

According to the Forbes’ article, “cool” was based off Merriam-Webster’s definition of “very good; fashionable.”

Tight end Owen Daniels, the guy many consider to be the most social Texan (with apologizes to Connor Barwin), feels that Houston most definitely fits that description. Daniels, one of the main weapons in the Texans offense with 47 catches for 555 yards and six touchdowns, says that even if his football career eventually takes him elsewhere, Houston is where he plans to continue to call home.

I sat down with the 6-foot-3, 249-pound, newly-engaged tight end, who was dressed in all Jordan, and asked about all this new hype for his team and his city and the stereotypes synonymous with Texas.

“I’ve always been a rap/hip hop guy . . . I’m from the mean streets of Naperville, Illinois.”

The 30-year-old Daniels, who has spent all seven seasons of his NFL career in Houston, admits the pickup stereotype is “so true.” “I swear there’s gotta be one pickup truck for every car that’s out there,” he says. “I don’t know anywhere outside of Texas you’ll see so many pickup trucks.”

The Chicago-area native quickly debunks one popular misconception though. “I don’t think Houston is as country as people think,” Daniels says. “It’s a big city so you get every walk of life here — it’s a great mix of people. It’s not all cowboys and big teased hair.”

When asked to describe Houston in one word, Daniels claims he does not have a “great vocabulary” but chooses “sprawling.” “Even as big as our city is, it’s always growing and so spread out,” he continues.

Tight End, Owen Daniels (photo via Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com)

This is one professional athlete who actually really knows the city he plays in. Here is Owen Daniels’ Visitors Guide to Houston:

Where to stay: Hotel ZaZa 

Best Place to Shop: I don’t love shopping, but my girlfriend goes to Tootsies for dresses. I don’t mind the Galleria as long as I have some direction and know what I’m going for. I need to have a plan. I can’t just walk aimlessly through that massive place.

Texas Meal Must: Barbecue, Steak or Mexican? They gotta go barbecue. I like Mexican food, but don’t crave it like I do barbecue.

Best Barbecue: Goode Company next to Armadillo — it’s the most consistent.

Best Mexican: El Tiempo on Richmond — they’re all OK, but that’s the best one.

Best Steakhouse: No doubt, Del Frisco’s is my favorite spot to eat. Arthur (Mooradian), the GM there is amazing. I always get a filet, medium. You gotta go with the mac and cheese too — it’s a jalapeno mac and cheese with bacon in it — it’s so good!

Best Brunch: Empire Cafe 

Best Sports Venue: Obviously Reliant Stadium. The atmosphere is crazy and we have the No. 1 fans.

Best Opponent to see at Reliant: Any divisional game

Best Bar/Spot for a Celebration: If you want to go all out, go to Roak on a Saturday night. Good people watching and a pretty good atmosphere.

Best Part of Town: I don’t think the Montrose area gets talked about enough. I think they’ve got great places to eat and cool bars.

Best Place for a Cocktail: Anvil is a good place to grab a cocktail if you’re looking for something other than beer or vodka.

Best Local Beer: Love me some St. Arnolds!

Best Date Spot: I love dinner at Mark’s.

Best Radio Station: The Box (97.9). That’s the best morning show that Houston has to offer. Rod Ryan (from The Buzz) emcees my charity events, so I like him a lot too.

Fave Musician from Houston: I’m kind of embarrassed I don’t know who all is from Houston, but I know a lot of good music comes from here. I guess I’d go with Bun B — I’m on this house kick lately. I’ve always been a rap/hip hop guy . . . I’m from the mean streets of Naperville, Illinois.

Best Music Venue: I think House of Blues is cool because it’s always intimate but my favorite shows I’ve seen have been big concerts at the Toyota Center. I went to (Lady) Gaga there and it was awesome! I went to Watch the Throne tour too — that was probably the sickest show I’ve been too.

Best Local Charity: Owen Daniels’ Catching Dreams Foundation of course! We try to help critically and chronically ill children in Houston and their families. I think what makes us unique is that we not only focus on and support the patient, but their siblings and families as well.

We have “Owen’s Locker” on the 10th floor at Texas Children’s with tons of entertainment like radios, DVD players, PSPs and other stuff to help entertain them while they are there.

Daniels has already secured his spot in franchise history becoming only the second Texan (behind Andre Johnson, who has 10,714 yards and counting) to reach 4,000 receiving yards in his career.

“I think he’s physically the best he’s been,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak has said of Daniels’ season.

Presumably that has something to do with putting forth 110 percent effort on the field and knowing all the best spots in Houston to refuel.

This article was featured on Culture Map, Houston’s Daily Digital Magazine in the sport’s section.