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Houston's 5 Best Weekend Food Bets: Pigs, Q, & Tiki Drinks

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2016 World's Champion Bar-B-Que Cook Off @ NRG Center
Friday – Saturday
One NRG Park

Don’t miss the biggest, tastiest pre-party to the world's largest livestock show and rodeo. If you don’t have access to a private tent to get a taste of the barbecue goodness, you can enjoy the open-to-the-public venues, including the Miller Lite Garden, Rockin' Bar-B-Que Saloon and the Chuck Wagon, where you receive a complimentary chopped beef sandwich plate. Avoid lines and buy tickets in advance for $16.

COCHON 555 Weekend
Friday – Sunday

The epic COCHON 555 weekend kicks off on Friday with a Late Night Asian Speakeasy Pop-Up at Izakaya, 318 Gray. The two-hour all-inclusive guest chef series, which starts at 10 p.m., pays homage to Sichuan, Korean, Thai and Japanese after-hour restaurants across the country. Hosted by Izakaya’s Jean-Philippe Gaston along with guest chefs Anthony Calleo of Pi Pizza Truck, Jordan Asher of the in-the-works Ritual, Adam Dorris of Pax Americana and Manabu Horiuchi of Kata Robata, the evening begins with a welcome reception followed by a multi-course seated dinner paired with premium beverages. Get tickets for $130 per person.  

On Saturday, the fun continues with a Chef’s Course Dinner at Southern Goods, 632 West 19th, held from 7 to 10 p.m. The five-course culinary extravaganza celebrates responsible agriculture with a welcome reception followed by a seated dinner, with SG’s Lyle Bento hosting fellow chefs Jonathon Jones of El Big Bad, PJ Stoops of Foreign Correspondents, Randy Rucker of Bramble and Chris Leung of Cloud 10 Creamery. Guests should plan to arrive at 6:30 p.m. for canapés designed by each chef. Tickets are $130 per person.  

Of course, this is all in anticipation of the main event, COCHON 555. Held on Sunday at 5 p.m. (4 p.m. VIP) at the JW Marriott Downtown, 806 Main, this year's all-star lineup of competing chefs includes Izakaya's Jean-Philippe Gaston, Justin Yu of Oxheart Restaurant, David Cordúa of Américas, Richard Knight of Hunky Dory and William Wright of Helen Greek Food and Wine. The five chefs will prepare a maximum of six dishes from one whole hog, and the winner will go on to compete for the national title of “King of Porc” at Grand Cochon. Guests can expect plenty of deliciousness in addition to the 36 competition dishes, including a TarTare Bar, “Luxe Butter Bar” experience and a “Taste the New” Ramen Bar prepared by Manabu "Hori" Horiuchi of Kata Robata. Tickets start at $130.95 for general admission.

Hop Up Market @ 8th Wonder Brewery
Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
2202 Dallas

Shop local and get some great beer at the EaDo brewery’s first ever Hop Up Market. Vendors on site include Bravado Spice Co., Salinas Salsa, Co., Kickin' Kombucha and FYHA Clothing Co., among others. The Mighty Orc will be providing the live music from 2 to 5 p.m.  

2nd Anniversary Party @ Lei Low Bar
Sunday, 2 p.m.
6412 N Main

Get tikified as Houston’s favorite island-style watering hole celebrates two years of awesomeness. Enjoy music, giveaways and the release of the bar's first Lei Low mug designed by Eekum Bookum. Mahalo e Aloha!

Oscars Red Carpet Wine Dinner @ MAX’s Wine Dive Fairview
Sunday, 4 to 7 p.m.
214 Fairview

In honor of the Oscars, MWD is hosting a red carpet-worthy four-course meal during the red carpet gala before the big show. And since this is an award show, attendees can vote on their favorite course, with the winning dish being added to the restaurant’s spring menu. Enjoy happy hour with wine and passed apps to start, followed by the awesome dinner and some Oscar-worthy retail wine deals. Guests are encouraged to dress to impress. Tickets are $65 per person (plus tax/tip).

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