The Award-Winning Foods to Try at the Houston Rodeo 2022

Yellow Rose Funnel Cake from CornDog with No Name.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is back in full swing, with concerts, bull-riding, petting zoos, games and a tremendous selection of fun fare for both the rodeo and carnival. By nature, carnival food is over-the-top, heavy, usually fried or smokey, and sometimes a combination of both. Every year, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo invites food writers, media personalities, well-known chefs, TV anchors and influencers to judge these dishes in the Gold Buckle Foodie Awards. The return of the rodeo and carnival is important and very welcome, as many of the vendors depend on this annual event for a significant portion of their livelihoods. 

Harlon's All Meat Stuffed Potato from Harlon's BBQ.
Harlon’s All Meat Stuffed Potato from Harlon’s BBQ at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Photo by Ryan Baker,

This year, the voting was held at The Ranch Saloon, a new fine dining experience from Berg Hospitality, the same business behind B&B Butchers, The Annie and other Houston restaurants. Despite having a tent for walls, The Ranch successfully offers the atmosphere of an upscale, country steakhouse, complete with handcrafted wooden furniture and cowboy-themed decor. 

With preliminary judging completed via online voting, the judges then ranked the top three dishes with the most votes in each category. The winners are listed below, and for the sake of convenience, we’ve also included where to find them. 

Funnel Cake Monte Cristo from Sill's Concessions.
Funnel Cake Monte Cristo from Sill’s Concessions at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Photo by Ryan Baker.

The 2022 Gold Buckle Foodie Award Winners

Best Fried Food:

  • 1st: Deep Fried Jambalaya Roll – Cajun Cowboy, Rodeo Plaza 55
  • 2nd: Funnel Cake Monte Cristo Basket – Sills Concessions Inc., Rodeo Plaza 120
  • 3rd: Chicken Tender Basket – Holmes Smokehouse, Rodeo Plaza 60

Best Food-on-a-Stick

  • 1st: The Berry Racer Caramel Apple – Munch-oes Bakery, NRG Center, Hall E 6119
  • 2nd: Beef K-BOB on a Stick – Saltgrass Steak House, NRG Center Lobby 63
  • 3rd: The Spice Corn Dog – CornDog with No Name, The Junction 303

Classic Fair Food

  • 1st: Harlon’s All Meat Stuffed Potato – Harlon’s BBQ, The Junction 508
  • 2nd: Pulled Pork Baked Potato – Saltgrass Steak House, NRG Center Lobby 63
  • 3rd: Brisket Cheese Fries – Spring Country Kitchen, The Junction 596

Most Creative Food

  • 1st: The Bonfire Funnel Cake – CornDog with No Name, The Junction 303
  • 2nd: Harlon’s Stuffed Turkey Leg – Harlon’s BBQ, The Junction 508
  • 3rd: Steak Salad -Saltgrass Steak House, NRG Center Lobby 63
Bacon Mac & Cheese Eggrolls at The Finer Diner.
Bacon Mac & Cheese Egg Rolls from The Finer Diner at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Photo by Ryan Baker.

Best New Flavor

  • 1st: Bacon Mac & Cheese Egg Roll – The Finer Diner, Rodeo Plaza 47
  • 2nd: Brisket Bacon Melt – Spring Country Kitchen, The Junction 506
  • 3rd: Island Slaw – Island Noodles, The Junction 404

Best Dessert

  • 1st: Fried Red Velvet Cupcake – Sills Funnel Cakes, Rodeo Plaza 120
  • 2nd: Chocolate Turtle Cookie Sandwich – Munch-oes Bakery, NRG Center, Hall E 6119
  • 3rd: The Yellow Rose Funnel Cake – CornDog with No Name, The Junction 303

All the competitors presented tasty bites worthy of being served at the world’s largest livestock show and rodeo. The CornDog with No Name and Sill’s Concessions entries, in particular, embodied the spirit of carnival concoctions. The combination of salty, sweet and crunchy created by the Funnel Cake Monte Cristo from Sill’s was a personal favorite. Another great option is Harlon’s All Meat Stuffed Potato, topped with a complete array of smoked meats including turkey leg, sausage and brisket. The Island Slaw from Island Noodles felt slightly out of place in a competition where every item was full of smoke and/or sugar, but it was well-executed, and the lighter flavors are a welcome break from the intensity.

In case your favorite isn’t listed, all of the carnival fare is available to see online

Attendees to the rodeo or carnival can try all the winning dishes and win prizes by downloading the RODEOHOUSTON app and playing the  Rodeo Rally Game. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices. Track the dishes you’ve tried by scanning the QR code at each winner’s booth. When you’ve accomplished your goal, visit The Back Porch to claim your prize. 

Comments (2)

Leave a Reply to Robert Alvarez Cancel reply

  • March 16, 2022 at 9:42 amRobert Alvarez

    Stay away from Ranch House Texas BBQ.. They served me what at first looked like 2 strips of bacon for my sliced brisket sandwich. My wife was given a burger instead of her bbq order. Very disappointed

    Reply
    • March 16, 2022 at 11:26 amPhaedra Cook

      Uh, yikes, and I’m sure those were at “special event pricing,” too. Thanks for the warning!

      Reply