Houston loves to eat. That's obvious from the 10,000+ restaurants currently open in the city, but it's probably a good idea to save some room for the awesome food festivals hitting the Bayou City this spring as well. The food fests coming to the greater Houston area in the next few months offer up everything from deep-fried Oreos to raw oysters to macaroni and cheese, with a pirate-themed gala and Menu of Menu's Iron Fork chef battle in between. Get those calendars and elastic waistbands ready.
Mardi Gras! Galveston, February 24-26, and 28
A food truck area is curated by the Houston Food Truck Association, and the wealth of street food options at this year's Mardi Gras celebration, which takes over downtown Galveston this weekend, February 24-26, as well as Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras Day) on February 28, includes various fried specialties, barbecue, smoked turkey legs, soft serve ice cream and plenty of beer and shots.
Heights Crawfish Cook Off, Sunday, February 26
The first annual Heights Crawfish Competition goes down at Southern Goods, 632 West 19th, in collaboration with Saint Arnold Brewing. Six restaurants — Southern Goods, The Boot, Ritual, Hughie’s, Kitchen 713 and Harold’s in the Heights — will compete for top crawfish honors, deemed by a panel of three judges, along with crowd favorite honors. Thirty dollars covers all-you-can-eat crawfish served in one-pound boats from noon to 6 p.m. Beer is extra, but Saint Arnold will have some good stuff on tap, including seasonals. Live zydeco by Keyun & the Zydeco Masters starts at 1 p.m. More information on Facebook.
Spirit of Texas Festival, March 2-5
Three, yes three, Guinness World Record attempts will take place at this inaugural festival at Wolf Pen Creek Park in College Station from Thursday, March 2, through Sunday, March 5, including the World's Largest Frito pie, pot of chili and Texas two-step. Also expect a car show, live music, a barbecue cook-off, a pie competition, a chili-eating competition and lots of food for the entire family. More information at sotfair.com.
Spring Party at MATCH, March 3
On Friday, March 3, Main Street Theater and Children At Risk host the First Annual Spring Party at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center of Houston at 3400 Main, a pirate-themed event including a surf and turf throw-down featuring six impressive Houston chefs — David Cordúa of the Cordúa empire, Kevin Naderi of Roost, Travis Lenig of Field & Tides, Bobby Matos of State of Grace, Jean Philippe Gaston of Izakaya, and Danny Trace of Brennan’s. Guests get a doubloon upon arrival, and after tasting the dishes, can put the token in their favorite chef’s treasure chest. The night also includes a play and plenty of cocktails, and proceeds benefit local kids in need. Tickets start at $350 per person. More information at childrenatrisk.org.
Rodeo Houston, March 7-26
From the Uncorked! Best Bites competition on February 28 to the myriad flamin' hot Cheetos options at this year's carnival, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will put you in feasting mode. Check out the festivities during the Bar-B-Que Contest, where $15 gets you admission, a free plate of beef inside The Chuck Wagon and live entertainment in the Garden. If you're still hungry after that, order up a churro or a bucket of nachos at the carnival. More info at rodeohouston.com.
Menu of Menus, Tuesday, April 4
Sample tasty dishes from 40 area restaurants alongside tastings of wine, beer and cocktails at the Menu of Menus® Extravaganza on April 4, from 6 to 10 p.m, at Silver Street Studios, 1501 Silver. The event's main attraction brings Houston’s most popular up-and-coming chefs head to head in the 6th Annual Iron Fork Chef Competition, presented by Whole Foods Market and moderated by restaurateur Kevin Naderi of Roost, who is a four-time Iron Fork winner. $45 general admission or $85 for VIP early admission. More information at menuofmenus.com.
Houston Barbecue Festival, April 9
The fifth annual Houston Barbecue Festival lands at NRG Park on Sunday, April 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. with more than two dozen restaurants represented, including Gerardo’s, Killen's Barbecue, Pinkerton's BBQ and more. Tickets are currently $50, but go up to $60. VIP entry is currently $120, but will go up to $150. A portion of proceeds benefit Vita-Living, Inc., a nonprofit that supports programs for adults and children with disabilities, including autism. More info at houbbq.com.
Macaroni and Cheese Festival, April 15
Fifty dollars gets you unlimited samples of macaroni and cheese from 50 participating area restaurants, including Beaver's, Peli Peli, Hughie's and more, as well as five drink tickets at this first-ever festival devoted to one of America's favorite dishes, as first reported in the Chronicle. More information on Facebook. Tickets available here.
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San Leon Oyster Festival, April 29
The second annual San Leon Oyster Festival returns to Bayshore Park at 2700 East Bayshore Drive on April 29 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. for all-you-can-eat oysters, more oyster specialties for purchase, plus live entertainment, crafts and family-friendly fun, not to mention the Gulf Coast's premiere grilled oyster competition. More info at sanleonoysterfest.com.