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What's better than soaking up some Houston humidity and watching a bunch of freaks drive some weird-looking cars? Washing the whole experience down with a bunch of complimentary food and booze - that's what. Well, complimentary, if you don't include the $125 price tag for getting into the VIP area, perfect for those who choose not to associate with the "common" folk at the Art Car Parade (or those generous enough to splurge on the tickets and help raise money for the Orange Show).

In the VIP area Saturday afternoon, highlights included a rich spread of delicious food donated by several Houston-area restaurants, as well as free shots of Paula's Orange Liqueur, cans of Bud Light and Bud Light Lime and pints of ice-cold Saint Arnold. Noticeably absent this year were the iced-down bottles of Sweet Leaf Tea. Also perplexing: the abundance of Crystal Head Vodka shot glasses, but not the Crystal Head Vodka to go inside. Perhaps Dan Aykroyd was really thirsty this past weekend?

Some of the menu items:

Vietnam Restaurant - lemongrass tofu, orange chicken and something with chicken and ginger that was super tasty.

Whole Foods Market - lots of sweet treats like granola bars, dark chocolate brownie bites and kettle corn, all tossed into a handy little brown bag for snacking during the parade.

Chocolate Bar - the fudgiest brownies you've ever dreamed of, alongside chocolate-covered confections like crispy rice treats, cookies and some lovely strawberries.

Natachee's Restaurant and Bar - not open yet, and in our food excitement, we forgot to ask when and where they'll open (maybe one of you readers knows). Judging from the preview at Art Car, their sliders will be a contender in a city already bursting with great burger joints.

Beaver's - a pile of sticky riblets in honey mustard sauce alongside Kentucky dressed coleslaw. Hard to eat, but worth the sticky fingers.

Additional donors - Blue Bunny, California Pizza Kitchen, El Patio, Freebirds, Raising Cane's, and Ruggles Green.

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