June 26, 2022

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5 foods to eat before the Houston Rodeo ends that are actually worth it

4 min read

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is sadly coming to an end this Sunday, March 20.

It was great to see the biggest event of the year back after a pandemic-related hiatus (the rodeo drew so many people a TikTok of the crowds went viral), and most importantly, to sample all the great, often crazy foods that rodeo vendors have to offer.

Now that we’ve had a chance to sample everything — “everything” being a lie, but our stomachs definitely got a workout — we can confidently report on the absolute best bites you don’t want to miss out on these last few days.

Here’s our official ranking of the 5 best foods to eat before the Houston Rodeo ends.

Cajun Cowboy's jambalaya roll is an egg roll with Cajun flavors.

Cajun Cowboy’s jambalaya roll is an egg roll with Cajun flavors.

Emma Balter

5. Cajun Cowboy jambalaya roll ($8)


Cajun Cowboy is a new vendor at the Houston Rodeo this year, and came in with a bang: Their jambalaya roll won “best fried food” at the Gold Buckle Foodie awards. The dish is indeed excellent. It comes two to an order in egg roll-style wrappers, stuffed with a gooey mix of chicken, sausage, rice and Cajun seasoning, then deep-fried. It’s served with a thick, sweet-and-tangy dipping sauce that’s somewhat reminiscent of the special soy sauce found in some sushi restaurants. The jambalaya roll is a great small bite for when you want to try lots of different foods.

Where to find it: Rodeo Plaza (under the big tents outside the NRG Center building)

Yes, those are two full-sized donuts hugging that fried chicken.

Yes, those are two full-sized donuts hugging that fried chicken.

Emma Balter

4. Get Fried donut chicken sandwich ($12)

Fair food creations get more outlandish every year, but we’re not mad about Get Fried’s decision to use donuts instead of sandwich bread. This dish is simply a large piece of perfectly crispy fried chicken smashed between two glazed donuts. It’s a delicious mix of textures, and sweet and savory. The two donuts are a little much and difficult to eat with the chicken in one bite — we wouldn’t blame you if you abandoned one to make an open-faced donut-chicken sandwich.

Where to find it: Stadium Alley (between NRG Stadium and the Astrodome)

Longtime Houston Rodeo vendor Harlon’s BBQ allows you to sample all of its smoked meats on a baked potato.

Longtime Houston Rodeo vendor Harlon’s BBQ allows you to sample all of its smoked meats on a baked potato.

Emma Balter

3. Harlon’s BBQ all-meat stuffed potato ($25)

Harlon’s BBQ, with their tagline “Hickory Smoked BBQ from the Pineywoods of Nacogdoches Texas,” is a Southeast Texas favorite that’s been a vendor at the Houston Rodeo since 1989. The family who owns Harlon’s are the same friendly faces that serve you out of its bright-red truck. This year, their all-meat stuffed potato won “classic fair food” at the Gold Buckle Foodie awards. It’s a large baked potato loaded with chopped brisket, sausage, ribs, turkey, cheese and sour cream. Their stuffed turkey legs are also very popular, but they can run out for periods of time.

Where to find it: The Junction (east of the Astrodome, opposite the Stars Over Texas stage)

Bun B's Trill Burgers hosts pop ups in Houston as it searches for a permanent location.

Bun B’s Trill Burgers hosts pop ups in Houston as it searches for a permanent location.

Emma Balter

2. Trill Burgers OG onion burger ($20)

Is Houston rapper Bun B’s hyped-up smashburger worth $20? We are pleased to report that yes, it absolutely is. The burger comes with two crispy-thin patties from 44 Farms, a very reputable purveyor of ethically raised natural Black Angus beef in Texas, sandwiched in a Martin’s potato roll and served with fries. The premium ingredients pay off in Bun’s bun, which we recommend with the grilled onions. The team hopes to one day find a brick and mortar in Houston.

Where to find it: Rodeo Plaza (under the big tents outside the NRG Center building)

A watermelon Dole Whip taco is exactly what we needed on a hot Houston spring day.

A watermelon Dole Whip taco is exactly what we needed on a hot Houston spring day.

Emma Balter

1. Nitro Dole Whip Treats watermelon Dole Whip taco ($12)

Behold, the absolute best thing we ate at the rodeo. The photos of the treat you stare at while waiting in the long line are actually deceptive — this item is quite large. A huge wedge of watermelon is split in half, making room for a generous serving of pineapple Dole Whip that’s sprinkled with Tajín, then spiked with a tamarindo stick and a paper umbrella for a final flourish. The creamy Dole Whip mixes with the watermelon juices and the tangy Tajín as you eat it. Pure bliss, especially on a hot day.

Where to find it: Carnival (on the western edge of it, near the Hideout by Jim Bean)



See also  The Houston Moms summer bucket list
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