Deciding what to eat at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo can be a little overwhelming. Sure, it’s easy to stick to classics like turkey legs and corn dogs, but what about all the other choices?
write in Gold Buckle Foodie Awards. Now in its 15th year, the event allows food vendors from across the NRG Park complex to submit their tasty dishes to a judging panel made up of local media, chefs and influencers.
Choosing from 18 finalists in six categories, the panel takes on everything from chicken fingers and cheeseburgers to a rattlesnake corn dog and pizza slices big enough to feed a family.
As this year’s Rodeo looks to belong to Bun B – think of the nearly 75,000 strong that packed NRG Stadium for his Southern Takeover – his burger concept Trill Burgers took one of the day’s top prizes. OG Trill Burger, a classic double patty smash burger, won first place in the Classic Fair Food category.
Of course, reasonable people can disagree about the tastiest treats at the fair. CultureMap columnist Ken Hoffman highlighted some favorites that didn’t make the Gold Buckle list, including an all-new Nashville hot chicken sandwich, Hot Cheetos Cheese Pickle Pizza and Shipley’s Deep Fried Banana Split Sandwich. Dominic Palmieri of the Ray Cammack Shows explained the importance of using real Hot Cheetos and Shipley Do-Nuts in his creations.
“You can tell the difference between Cap’n Crunch and a discounted generic brand,” he explained. “They don’t taste the same or cook the same. When you create a unique product like we do, you can’t take any risks.”
Not counting the risk of accidentally dripping Trill Sauce on your cowboy boots, that is.
Here is the complete list of winners from the 2023 Gold Buckle Foodie Awards.
Best fried food
- 1st Place: Deep Fried Cookie Dough – The Original Mineapple Pie (Circle Drive 202)
- 2nd Place: Deep Fried Lasagna Roll – Southern Fried Salon (Circle Drive 204)
- 3rd Place: Chicken Tender Basket – Holmes Smokehouse (Rodeo Plaza 60)
- 1st Place: Pickle Pizza on a Stick – Swain’s Pizza on a Stick (The Junction 505)
- 2nd place: Apple pie Candy Apple – Munch-oes Bakery (NRG Senterhall E 6119)
- 3rd Place: Big K-Dog – Asian Streetness (NRG Arena 604)
Classic fair food
- 1st place: OG Trill Burger – Trill Burgers (Rodeo Plaza 130)
- 2nd Place: Southern Fried Chicken Wings – Southern Fried Salon (Circle Drive 204)
- 3rd Place: Ribeye Sandwich – Spring Country Kitchen (The Junction 506)
Most creative food
- 1st Place: Deep Fried BLT – Texas Sized Pizza/Burger & Chili Shack (Rodeo Plaza 35)
- 2nd Place Tie: Un-PHO-gettable Burger – Asian Streetness (NRG Arena 604); Rattlesnake Corn Dog – Pioneer Wagon (Circle Drive 205)
Best new flavor
- 1st Place: Brad’s BBQ Sundae – Saltgrass Steakhouse (Lobby 0063)
- 2nd place: Viet Taco – Asian Streetness (NRG Arena 604)
- 3rd Place: Loaded Pork Belly Fries – Blue Ribbon Grill (Rodeo Plaza 45)
- 1st Place: Deep Fried Bread Pudding – Cajun Cowboy (Rodeo Plaza 55)
- 2nd place: Smores Pie – Finer Diner (Rodeo Plaza 47)
- 3rd place: The Ultimate Mineapple Pie – The Original Mineapple Pie (Circle Drive 202)