Houston's 5 Best Weekend Food Bets: Margaritas, Wine and Southern Smoke

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From wine and cheese fests to Southern Smoke, here’s a look at this weekend's best culinary happenings:

Cheese Fest at Hermann Square Park
Friday, 5 to 10 p.m.
900 Smith

Downtown’s Hermann Square Park is transforming into a cheese lover’s paradise. Tickets are $35 and include unlimited samples of artisan cheeses and products, plus a drink ticket and samples of mac and cheese and grilled cheese from the Meltdown and Macdown competitions. VIP tickets are $75 and include early entry, an extra drink ticket, special access and a swag bag.

HBRW’s Harvest the Block
Friday – Sunday

Houston Black Restaurant Week is kicking off its first annual fall series, Harvest the Block, with the goal of stimulating growth between black-owned farms and the local Houston economy. On Friday beginning at 6 p.m., guests can enjoy “Kitchen Konversations: Cooking Experience,” a culinary demonstration at the grand opening of Etta’s Table, 4212 Dowling, led by chef Shakti Baum. The three-course, farm-to-table meal and cooking demonstration costs $80. On Saturday, “Harvest the Block” begins with a classic farmers' market and ends with a community-centric block party at 4100-4398 Chenevert. The afternoon continues with a heated food challenge, as patrons can sample bites from various culinary vendors (Cajun, barbecue, food trucks, desserts and more), then cast their vote for the best of the block ($25). To close out the weekend, on Sunday, a Reunion Community Dinner will be held at the Blue Triangle Community Center, 3005 McGowen. Chefs Yolanda Henry and Javani King will be preparing a family-style feast utilizing select ingredients from local farmers for $40 per person. Proceeds from the Harvest the Block fall series will benefit the renovation of the Blue Triangle communal kitchen.

Houston Wine Festival at Buffalo Bayou Water Works
Saturday, 3 to 10 p.m.
105 Sabine

Now under new management, the Houston Wine Festival is back. This year, tickets include a four-ounce tasting glass for samples of wines from regions of Argentina, Chile, France, New Zealand, Eastern Europe, Italy, South Africa, Spain and America, including Texas and California. There will also be a cocktail lounge with craft cocktails and craft beer and live music throughout the fest. Tickets are $50 for general admission, with $10 designated driver and $150 VIP tickets also available.

Houston Margarita Festival at Sam Houston Park
Saturday, noon
1000 Bagby

The fifth annual Houston Margarita Festival invites margarita fans to a celebration of Houston’s favorite beverage, featuring drinks, great eats and live music from local bands across three stages. In addition to offering more than 30 unique margarita flavors, all made with 100 percent agave tequila, the festival includes the return of the “Best Margarita Competition,” with both individual and restaurant categories, and the popular salsa dancing competition. Tickets start at $25 and include admission plus one complimentary margarita. Value passes are also available, and additional drink tickets can be purchased for $6 to $8.

Southern Smoke at Underbelly
Sunday, 4 to 8 p.m.
1100 Westheimer

Hosted by chef Chris Shepherd and the HOUBBQ Collective, the second annual Southern Smoke event brings together a dream team of Southern chefs and pitmasters with the goal of raising $200,000 for the MS Society, in honor of Antonio Gianola. The lineup includes brisket from Aaron Franklin, beer can chicken from Ashley Christensen, boudin from Stephen Stryjewski and smoked Vietnamese-style bologna with nuoc mam slaw from Tandy Wilson, all of whom are James Beard Award winners. And that's just a taste. There will be even more 'cue and a stellar roster of grapes and grains. Tickets are $200 for general admission and $350 for VIP.

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