rodeo best bites 2023
Top Houston-area restaurants lasso big wins at Rodeo Uncorked! and Best Bites annual competition
The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo celebrated food and wine in style Sunday, February 19 with its annual Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup & Best Bites Competition. More than 5,000 people attended the event, which pairs the almost 500 award-winning wines from the Rodeo’s International Wine Competition with bites prepared by more than 110 Houston restaurants.
While the well-dressed crowd ate and drank their way through the offerings, a panel of media judges had the difficult task of tasting all the restaurants’ dishes and picking the winners. A diverse array of dishes earned recognition — from no doubt classics like Carrabba’s meatballs to newcomers like tacos al pastor from Calavera Mexican Kitchen, which is one of the stands inside downtown’s Bravery Chef Hall.
Elsewhere, Cotton Culinary went back-to-back in winning the People’s Choice Award, following last year’s “Figgy Piggy” with the “Cotton Pearl,” wagyu beef and a lemon beurre blanc pearl on a duck fat crostini. Kemah tasting menu restaurant Eculent won the Outstanding Showmanship Award for the second year in a row.
Fan favorites among the non-winning dishes included J-Bar-M barbecue’s brisket sliders, pimento cheese with shrimp from Lagniappe Kitchen & Bar, and Daily Gather’s salmon tostada.
Best Bites serves as the unofficial kick-off to Rodeo season ahead of the trail rides and barbecue cook-off. Those who missed the festivities have the opportunity to sample some of the winning wines in the Rodeo's wine garden, and many of the bottles will be auctioned off at the Rodeo Uncorked! Champion Wine Auction & Dinner on Sunday, February 26.
Here’s the full list of winners:
People’s Choice Award
First Place: Cotton Culinary — The Cotton Pearl, duck fat crostini with wagyu beef and lemon beurre blanc pearl
Second Place: Patra Lee’s Kitchen — Caramel Stracciatella ice cream with Praline Ethiopie and Whiskey Caramel Swirl
Tasty Tradition Award
First Place: Joyce’s Seafood & Steaks — White Chocolate Bread Pudding
Second Place: Carrabba’s — Meatballs and Romano with Homemade Pomodoro Sauce
Trailblazer Appetizer Award
First Place: Low Tide Kitchen & Bar — Ceviche with Cilantro Citrus Sauce on Corn Tortilla Chip
Second Place: Terrace 54 Bar & Table — T54 Bang Bang Shrimp
Third Place: Henderson & Kane General Store — Mighty Meaty Mac
Lone Star Entrée Award
First Place: Patagonia Grill & Café — Sausage-Ribeye Outside Skirt Steak
Second Place: Calavera Mexican Kitchen — Taco Al Pastor with grilled pineapple and salsa taquero
Third Place: North Italia — Braised Short rib over creamy mascarpone polenta with mushroom medley
Two-Steppin’ Dessert Award
First Place: Mostly Chocolate — Tequila añejo 2.0, barrel aged tequila chocolate bonbon.
Second Place: Whisky Cake — Whiskey Cake
Third Place: Cacao and Cardamom Chocolatier — Popcorn and butter
Patra Lee’s Kitchen — Caramel Stracciatella ice cream with Praline Ethiopie and Whiskey Caramel swirl
Outstanding Showmanship Award
First Place: Eculent
Second Place: Brother’s Produce