The Good-Eatin’ Go-Round
Sponsored by The Arrangement
Before the first bronc bucks out of the chute, RODEOHOUSTON’s heated competition begins with the February 21 – 23 World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest at NRG Park. The three-day, open-to-the-public competition sees more than 200 teams compete in the brisket, ribs, chicken, and Dutch oven dessert categories. There are also nods for most unique pit smoker and most colorful team. But whatever team comes out on top, the real winners are the folks who get to grub on the results of the smoky endeavors. They can also pop into the Miller Lite Garden, the Rockin’ Bar-B-Que Saloon, and the Chuck Wagon for a preview of the main event’s drinking and dining options.
What’s more, there are the carnival foods that await the rodeo-
going crowds. Eat your way through the list of winning bites of the Gold Buck Foodie Awards, the annual pre-rodeo competition recognizing concessionaires’ best dishes. Last year’s winners included Fried Bacon-Wrapped Cinnamon Rolls from Fried What! and Fried Bread Pudding on a Stick from Sudie’s Catfish House. Go old-school with a funnel cake or a turkey leg. Those attendees still not stuffed ahead of the rodeo can feast on Tex-Mex, sweets, a selection of items representing international cuisines, and yet more barbecue.
The rodeo isn’t slacking on the whistle-wetting options either. Visitors can pop in to the Champion Wine Garden, featuring more than 70 wines across tasting tents and wine bars and seminars with Western oenophiles. Tent and table reservations, from which you can hear the music from the garden’s two stages, will also be available.
Your favorite rodeo cowboy or barrel racer might not finish with a buckle, but one thing is for sure: You won’t go hungry or thirsty watching him or her ride. rodeohouston.com
Feedin’ on the Range
If you’re looking to sate your appetite beyond the grounds of the HLSR, the city’s world-class dining scene as diverse as the city itself won’t disappoint. First up should be meals or drinks at one of the nominees or winners of the James Beard Awards (the culinary equivalent of the Oscars). Drop in for handcrafted cocktails at Anvil Bar & Refuge, slurp contemporary Viet-
Cajun at Crawfish & Noodles, relish a glass of red (and a rib-eye) at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, and order all of the dishes at Houston institution and Mexican restaurant Hugo’s.
One of our favorite restaurants is a sister establishment to Hugo’s, Xochi (pronounced so-chee). The chic downtown spot specializes in fine-dining renditions of the cuisine of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. The highlights here are the infladita de conejo, a squid ink-infused blue corn tortilla that is puffed and opened in the center. The pocket is then filled with silky ropes of rabbit, just this side of gamy. The tetala, a blue corn tortilla folded into a triangle with fragrant hoja santa and cheese atop a mole coloradito, makes for a quick starter. Then there is the ethereal four-item flight of moles, the complex mother sauces of Mexico, for which Oaxaca is renowned. Dive in for the mole amarillo, an earthy yellow sauce; the classic mole negro, a salsa that perfectly balances spicy and sweet notes; and the mole verde, an herbaceous order. Allow your server to recommend the final selection. And do yourself a favor: Save room for the Texas Blue Corn Whiskey-infused ice cream, a vibrant, playful finish to a stellar meal.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with a Houston stalwart like Ninfa’s on Navigation, the nearly 50-year-old restaurant that got the world hooked on sizzling fajitas.
While exploring Houston, be sure to visit The Arrangement and experience the rustic-chic & Western furnishing stop along with the new collection of sofas, chairs and dining collection.
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Houston, TX 77056
Photography: courtesy Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, shutterstock, Robert Strickland
From the January 2019 issue.