Grazia's "smoked and soaked" wagyu chuck with corn pudding earned the coveted people's choice for the second year in a row. Grazia also won the award in 2016. Cotton Culinary took second place for its duck carnitas.
Other winners included Brennan's of Houston, which won best appetizer for its fried oysters with Crystal hot sauce butter; Nobu, which won top entree for its signature miso black cod; and Killen's, which won the "rookie award" for the year's best new restaurant with smoked brisket enchiladas. See the full list of winners below.
Highlights from the non-winning dishes included Uchi's salmon with mshrooms and black truffle, the Hotel Derek's smoked campechana, and Ouzo Bay's roasted lamb. All told, over 100 restaurants participate in the competition, with participants ranging from staples like Pappas Bros. Steakhouse to food hall restaurants such as The Blind Goat and KIN by chef Evelyn.
The annual event — unofficially the kick-off of Rodeo season ahead of the trail rides and barbecue cook-off — draws 5,000-plus to NRG Center. In addition to food from some of the city's top restaurants, attendees may sample some of the more than 450 wines that earned medals in the annual International Wine Competition. Thankfully, those who missed the festivities have the opportunity to sample some of the vintages in the Rodeo's wine garden, and many of the bottles will be auctioned off on March 1.
Here's the complete list of winners:
People’s Choice Award
First Place: Grazia Italian Kitchen & The Caboose – Smoked & Soaked Wagyu Chuck, Corn Pudding, Date Gastrique, Cabernet Reduction, Tallow Fried Crumble, Micro Arugula & Amaranth
Second Place: Cotton Culinary The Art of Catering – Duck Carnitas
Tasty Tradition Award
First Place: Maggiano’s Little Italy – Lasagna with Marinara Sauce
Second Place: Revival Market – Miso Mushrooms Toast, Whipped TX Goat Cheese & Houston Urban Honey
Trailblazer Appetizer Award
First Place: Brennan’s of Houston – Hot Hot Oyster with Crystal Hot Sauce Butter, Pepper Jelly Glaze & Pickled Okra Chow Chow
Second Place: Smokey Cheeks – Smokey Cheek Taco with Coleslaw, Pickled Onions & Cilantro, finished with a Blueberry Ghost Pepper Hollandaise Sauce
Third Place: The Capital Grill – Porcini-Rubbed Smoked Bacon with Sweet Corn Risotto finished with Tomato Jam
Lone Star Entrée Award
First Place: Nobu – Black Cod Miso on Lettuce Cup topped with Crispy Khataifi
Second Place: Phat Eatery – Beef Rendang
Third Place: Pinstripe’s – Short Ribs with Parmesan Polenta & Peppercorn Cream
Two-Steppin’ Dessert Award
First Place: Ooh La La Sweets – Praline Bread Pudding with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Second Place: Grimaldi’s Coal Brick-Oven Pizzeria – Mini Cannoli
Third Place: Joyce’s Seafood & Steaks – White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Killen’s in the Heights – Smoked Brisket Enchilada
Trail Boss Food Truck Award
Eaker Barbecue – Smoked Pulled Pork atop Creamed Corn with Green Onion Garnish
Outstanding Showmanship Award
First Place: Brother’s Produce
Second Place: JW Marriott – Downtown