Rodeo season kicked off Sunday night with the 10th annual RodeoHouston Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition. While almost 5,000 people sampled food and drink from 82 restaurants and hundreds of wineries, a panel of "celebrity" judges from a variety of media outlets sampled the food offerings to determine winners in a variety of categories.
As the judges weighed the merits of how a red velvet Twinkie compared to white chocolate bread pudding, the attendees lined up to sample some of the city's highest profile restaurants. Crowd favorites like Killen's Barbecue and Royers Round Top Cafe saw long lines, but, in general, people were able to get whatever they wanted quickly, even prized dishes like the lobster tacos from Memorial favorite Jonathan's the Rub.
Short ribs proved to be the night's unofficial featured ingredient.
Of course, attempting to sample all of the food would be impossible. Even with the small portions, the organizers noted that a person would consume eight pounds attempting to do so.
Although it didn't find favor with the judges, Eleven XI served my favorite dish: Smoked tomato soup with bacon waffle. On the dessert side, Ooh La La Dessert Boutique's fruit-filled white chocolate bread pudding stood out among the mostly chocolate-based offerings.
In the end, familiar names and familiar flavors ruled the day. Haven took the top spot for its long-celebrated wild boar chili Frito pie. Mario's Seawall Italian Restaurant earned "Reserve Champion" status for cheese-filled meatballs.
Here are all of the winners:
Tasty Traditions Award: Mommas Meatballs from Mario's Seawall Italian Restaurant
Rookie Award: Chocolate Truffles from Chocolate Punch
Showmanship Award: 1st place, Catering to Your Taste Buds; 2nd place, Mister French's Gourmet Bakery
Trailblazing Appetizer/Entree Award: 1st place, Wild boar chili from Haven; 2nd place, Mommas Meatballs from Mario's Seawall Italian Restaurant; 3rd place, Bison burgers and French fries with chaat masala from Kiran's
Two-Stepping Bread/Cheese/Dessert Award: 1st place, Pineapple/Habanero chocolate from Cacao & Cardamom; 2nd place, White chocolate bread pudding from Ooh La La Dessert Boutique
Best Bites Popular Choice Award: 1st place, Chocolate Pizazz; 2nd place, Royer's Round Top Cafe