The Restaurants That Won the 2019 Houston Rodeo Best Bites Competition

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Uncorked! Roundup and Best Bites Competition kicks off rodeo festivities in Houston each year. It’s a Texas-sized food and wine festival that is H-Town’s ultimate culinary throwdown. Anyone who’s anyone in the Houston restaurant game shows up and (hopefully) brings their best. Last night’s event was just as grand as ever, with over 100 best bites competitors and more than 450 wines honored with awards during the recent 2019 Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Competition. The sold-out event filled NRG Center with thousands of attendees, media guests, food writers and competitors.

Awards were handed out for eight separate categories, including for two people’s choice — and the people decided they like barbecued burnt ends, both with and without grits. Second-place winner Killen’s Barbecue’s unfathomably mouth-watering Pork Belly Burnt Ends drew quite the crowd. So did Grazia Italian Kitchen’s succulent and tender Wagyu Ribeye Burnt Ends over Sharp Cheddar Stone-Ground Grits, which grabbed the first-place spot in the category.

Killen's at Rodeo Best Bites
Ronnie Killen’s Pork Belly Burnt Ends are a show stopper. Photo by Carlos Brandon.

Other highlights included Trentino Gelato’s Dulce de Leche Gelato Pop, which took first place in the Tasty Tradition category, and the short rib with poblano tacos from Ouisie’s Table, which took home top prize in the entree category.

While it didn’t land an award, Eculent, the fascinating tasting menu restaurant in Kemah, still wowed attendees with Pigs in a Cloud — pork belly bites hidden inside clouds of cotton candy garnished with a mildly spicy salt blend and served on a stick.

As is tradition, winners were given giant, rodeo-worthy belt buckles and a year’s worth of local bragging rights.

Here’s the full list of winners.

Outstanding Showmanship Award
Second Place: Cupcake Kitchen
First Place: Brothers Produce

Trail Boss Food Truck Award
Bayou City Eats: Seared Shrimp with Herbed Grits

Rookie Award
Cultivated F+B at The Lancaster: “Guajillo” Short Rib Taco

Tasty Tradition Award
Second Place — Black Walnut Cafe: Carnitas Tacos
First Place — Trentino Gelato: Dulce De Leche Gelato Pop

Two-Steppin’ Dessert Award
Third Place — Seasons 52: Belgian Chocolate S’more
Second Place — Red Dessert Dive: Bourbon Caramel Cupcake
First Place — Ashley Cakes: “Royal” Mini Cake Shot

Trailblazing Appetizer Award
Third Place — The Art Institute of Houston: Smoked Buffalo Street Tacos
Second Place — Uchi Houston: Kiwi Salmon
First Place — Broken Barrel: Crispy Plantain with Pulled Pork

Lone Star Entree Award
Third Place — Sonoma Wine Bar & Restaurant: 44 Farms Red Wine Seven-Hour Braised Short Rib with Herbed Mashed Potato and Heirloom Carrots
Second Place — Merlion: Ribeye Kang Kari (Yellow Curry)
First Place — Ouisie’s Table: Short Rib Tacos with Poblano

People’s Choice Award
Second Place — Killen’s Barbecue: Pork Belly Burnt Ends
First Place — Grazia Italian Kitchen: Wagyu Ribeye Burnt Ends Over Sharp Cheddar Stone-Ground Grits

Comments (2)

Share Your Thoughts on This Article

  • February 18, 2019 at 12:57 pmMonica

    While not on the list BUT still a winner to my tastebuds…Sweet Cup Gelato – they had an AMAZING Tres Leches gelato!!! Visit them in Montrose or Oak Forest/Garden Oaks!!! Your tastebuds will thank you ????

    • February 18, 2019 at 5:32 pmPhaedra Cook

      Sweet Cup is one of my personal favorite frozen treat shops. They have some very creative flavors at any given moment. The owner is very nice, too.