The Black Tie Brisket Club at Mendocino Farms.

As sure as the sight of trail riders on busy city streets, it's Rodeo time in Houston.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officially begins Wednesday, but of course, Rodeo season starts well before that with plenty of special events—and some of them mean plenty of eating and drinking. Meanwhile, some of our favorite restaurants in Houston go the extra mile to offer special dishes and discounted fare during Rodeo time.

Consider this a guide to all that belly bustin'.

Rodeo Food & Drink

Sunday was the annual Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup & Best Bites Competition, at which 113 area restaurants serve up bites to pair with award-winning wines from the Rodeo's International Wine Competition. First place winners included:

  • Outstanding Showmanship: Brother's Produce
  • People's Choice: Grazia Italian Kitchen & The Caboose (smoked and soaked wagyu chuck, corn pudding, date gastrique, cabernet reduction, tallow fried crumble, micro arugula, amaranth)
  • Tasty Tradition: Maggiano's Little Italy (lasagna with marinara)
  • Trailblazer Appetizer: Brennan's of Houston (hot hot oyster with Crystal hot sauce butter, pepper jelly glaze, pickled okra chow chow)
  • Lone Star Entrée: Nobu (black cod miso on lettuce cup with crispy khataifi)
  • Two-Steppin' Dessert: Ooh La La Sweets (praline bread pudding with bourbon caramel sauce)
  • Rookie: Killen's (smoked brisket enchilada)
  • Trail Boss Food Truck: Eaker Barbecue (smoked pulled pork atop creamed corn with green onion garnish)

Through Saturday, people will be flocking to NRG Park to get sauced. (I'm sorry, but let's call it like it is.) The World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (thus the sauce—what did you think I was talking about?) is underway, continuing noon-11 p.m. today and 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. For $20 ($5 for ages 3-12) you can get in—entrance includes a brisket place and access to live music, plus carnival admission—but you'll need to have connections to join a private tent, where the sponsor will be serving up whatever it will be serving up. 

Finally, on Thursday, a whole host of media personalities (including this writer) will be eating a whole lot of fair food in the annual Gold Buckle Foodie Competition. That's not open to the public (honestly, you don't want in that room), but you'll certainly get a story from me about all the food I tasted the next day.

Rodeo Specials Across Town

Restaurants and bars are getting in on the Rodeo fun with special dishes, drinks, and discounts. Here are a few of our favorites:

Brazilian steakhouse Chama Gaucha is offering a few Rodeo cocktails—Bourbon Bronco (bourbon, bitters, Brazilian soda), Pineapple Pearl Snap (tequila, cointreau, jalapeño simple syrup), and Boot Scootin' Juice (whiskey, champagne, simple syrup)—through March 22.

Brennan's of Houston is celebrating Go Texan Day with a three-course prix-fixe menu: Texas duck chili frito pie, blackened catfish tacos, fried cheesecake empanada.

At Mendocino Farms, grab a Black Tie Brisket Club. This sandwich includes brisket smoked with French oak wine-barrel wood by Harlem Road Texas BBQ's Ara Malekian, plus Applewood-smoked bacon, white truffle aioli, red onions, and arugula. It's running for $12.95, and $1 for each sandwich goes toward the Rodeo Education Fund. The sandwich will be available for a limited time.

All locations of Jax Grill are featuring a few Rodeo specials: a smokehouse burger (brisket, BBQ sauce, gouda, chipotle coleslaw, pickles, onions), brisket potato (baked potato with BBQ sauce, sour cream, bacon, green onions, butter, cheese), and brisket sandwich (brisket, chipotle coleslaw, pickles, onions on Texas toast).

State of Grace is featuring cocktail called the Rodeo Milk Punch (bourbon, milk/cream vanilla blend, grated nutmeg) from March 3 to March 22.

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