June 27, 2022

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Judges crown best bites among Houston rodeo eateries

3 min read

In a makeshift restaurant in the shadow of the Astrodome, about two dozen judges engorged on what likely mounted to thousands of calories of carnival food to determine which dishes would receive the coveted Gold Buckle Foodie Award at this year’s Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

Their choices marked the best of six categories of fare found at NRG Park, where the rodeo, fair and carnival are ongoing through mid-March. From best fried food to best new flavor, these are the dishes that stood out to the panel of a half dozen judges:

Best Fried Food

The deep fried jambalaya roll from Cajun Cowboy won best fried food.

The deep fried jambalaya roll from Cajun Cowboy won best fried food.

Jay Jordan / Chron

Of the seven entries for best fried dish, only one beat out the others in the eyes of judges: Cajun Cowboy’s Deep Fried Jambalaya Roll. It’s a mix of sausage, rice, chicken, and Cajun seasoning, deep fried to perfection and often ordered with a tangy dipping sauce. 

The runners up included the chicken tender basket from Holmes Smokehouse and funnel cake Monte Cristo basket from Sills Concessions. 

Food on a Stick

The berry racer caramel apple from Munch-oes Bakery won best food on a stick.

The berry racer caramel apple from Munch-oes Bakery won best food on a stick.

Jay Jordan / Chron

A familiar pierced fruit made the top billing for this category: the Berry Racer Caramel Apple from Much-oes Bakery. The company takes a traditional candy apple and coats it with white chocolate and strawberry crunch.

The runners up include the spice corn dog from Corn Dog with No Name and the Beef K-BOB on a Stick from Saltgrass Steak House.

Classic Fair Food

The all meat stuffed potato from Harlon's BBQ won best classic fair food. 

The all meat stuffed potato from Harlon’s BBQ won best classic fair food. 

Jay Jordan / Chron

A twist on a traditional dish won this category for Harlon’s BBQ: their all-meat stuffed potato took the cake, beating out five other entries. 

The runners up include the pulled pork brisket potato from Saltgrass Steak House and brisket cheese fries from Spring’s Country Kitchen. 

Most Creative

The bonfire funnel cake from CornDog with No Name won most creative food. 

The bonfire funnel cake from CornDog with No Name won most creative food. 

Jay Jordan / Chron

A win in this category marked one of two victories for Corn Dog with No Name. Their bonfire funnel cake, created with s’mores in mind, beat out six other entries. 

The runners up include Harlon’s BBQ’s stuffed turkey leg and Saltgrass Steak House’s steak salad. 

New Flavor

The bacon mac-and-cheese egg roll from The Finer Diner won best new flavor. 

The bacon mac-and-cheese egg roll from The Finer Diner won best new flavor. 

Jay Jordan / Chron

This category had a wide field with 15 entries, but a bacon mac-and-cheese roll from The Finer Diner wowed judges more than any of the others. 

Runners up include island slaw from Island Noodles and the brisket bacon melt from Spring Country Kitchen. 

Best Dessert

The fried red velvet cupcake from Sills Funnel Cakes won best dessert. 

The fried red velvet cupcake from Sills Funnel Cakes won best dessert. 

Jay Jordan / Chron

With the best course announced last, the fried red velvet cupcake from Sills Funnel Cakes was named the best dessert of eight entries. 

The runners up include the yellow rose funnel cake from Corn Dog with No Name and the chocolate turtle cookie sandwich from Munch-oes Bakery. 


Check out Chron food editor Emma Balter’s ultimate food guide to the 2022 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for more on the flavors of rodeo season. 



See also  Tracking the Houston rodeo's $1 million steer in the food chain
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