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This Week in Houston Food Events: Hot Sauce Fest and Southern Fried

Southern Star has plenty of cold beer to wash down hot sauce.
Southern Star has plenty of cold beer to wash down hot sauce. Photo by Keith Amador

Here's a look at this week's hottest culinary happenings:

Tuesday, December 7

Kids Eat Free at Crust Pizza
Crust Pizza does it Chicago-style. - PHOTO BY DILLON JUUL
Crust Pizza does it Chicago-style.
Photo by Dillon Juul
For families feeling the pinch of holiday shopping, Crust Pizza offers free kids meals every Tuesday with purchase of a pizza or entree. With ten locations in the Greater Houston area, there are plenty of options, though most are located north of Houston. There are six more planned for the northern suburbs and Lake Conroe. However, a Crust Pizza will be opening up in the Heights soon at 1919 N. Shepherd, its first restaurant within the 610 Loop.


Thursday, December 9

Holiday Three Course Lunches at H Town Restaurants
click to enlarge Restaurateur Tracy Vaught and husband Chef Hugo Ortega are bringing holiday lunches back to their restaurants. - PHOTO BY ERIK KAYNE
Restaurateur Tracy Vaught and husband Chef Hugo Ortega are bringing holiday lunches back to their restaurants.
Photo by Erik Kayne
The Holiday Lunches are back at four of Chef Hugo Ortega's restaurants, Xochi, Hugo's, Caracol and Backstreet Cafe. The three course lunches ($34) are perfect for business luncheons or get-togethers with friends and are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 9 and December 16. Reservations are required. Tax, gratuity and beverages are not included.

Hugo's, 1600 Westheimer, will offer starters like Taquitos de Pollo or Ensalada de Granada, a red leaf lettuce salad with pomegranate vinaigrette, goat cheese, almonds and mandarin. Main options include Tacos de Paja and Enchiladas de Pollo. For dessert there are postres, or pastries, with choices such as a dark chocolate cake infused with chipotle pepper or a Mexican bread pudding with queso fresco ice cream.
click to enlarge Octopus often finds its way onto Chef Ortega's menus. - PHOTO BY PAULA MURPHY
Octopus often finds its way onto Chef Ortega's menus.
Photo by Paula Murphy
At Xochi, 1777 Walker, diners can begin with crispy roasted octopus or a salad of roasted beets, tamala squash, amaranth and baby red oak lettuce in a manadarin citrus-piloncillo dressing. Entree choices include brisket enchiladas, carnitas with Oaxacan beans and Huaraches de Vegetales, a vegetarian plate of oval masa with refried beans, huitlacoche, winter squash, roasted corn and tomatillo salsa. For a sweet ending, there's Tres Leche de Mocha or Poleo Cheesecake with chocolate toffee sauce.

Backstreet Cafe, 1103 S. Shepherd, offers a lovely patio for holiday lunching and its special menu for December 6 and December 19 offers a starting line-up of Delicata Squash Soup, Mushroom Soup or Grilled Octopus. For entrees guests can choose from Roasted Half Chicken, Beef Cheeks, Grilled Salmon and Pappardelle with roasted tomatoes, basil pesto and shaved Parmesan. For dessert it will be a difficult decision between Pumpkin Bread Pudding and Profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

The menu at Caracol, 2200 Post Oak, has not been released as of yet.


Saturday, December 11

Aurelian Culinary Co. Grand Opening at Tres Carnales
click to enlarge A Mexican fusion food truck reopens. - PHOTO BY THE VALDEZ FAMILY
A Mexican fusion food truck reopens.
Photo by The Valdez Family

The grand reopening for this food truck is a special one for Joel (J.D.) Valdez and his family. Valdez was an innocent bystander loading his groceries in a Kroger parking lot when he was shot six times August 6 by a man arguing with a woman, as we reported here in the Houston Press. Valdez had only recently launched his business July 1 when a simple trip to the grocery store changed his life drastically. It's been a long road to recovery with surgeries, physical therapy and PTSD from the incident but Valdez is slowly bouncing back and ready to deliver some unorthodox Mexican fusion dishes that draw inspiration from the Middle East and Southeast Asia as well.

The grand opening runs from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Tres Carnales Food Truck Park & Outdoor Bar in Pinehurst at 32127 TX 249. There will also be local vendors on hand plus face painting for the kids and a family photo booth. In addition there will be pictures with Santa (3 p.m. to 5 p.m.) and a truck meet.

Hot Sauce Fest at Southern Star Brewing
click to enlarge This girl is on fire. - PHOTO BY KEITH AMADOR
This girl is on fire.
Photo by Keith Amador

Sometimes it's good to get out of town and there's no better excuse than hot sauce and cold beer. Southern Star Brewing Company, 3525 N. Frazier, in Conroe, will have both December 11 from noon to 5 p.m. There will be several hot sauce vendors and guest can sample to see which ones fit their pepper sauce needs. There will also be a number of vendors for those who want to avoid supply chain issues and put their money in the hands of locals.

There will also be its 2nd Annual Hot Wings Challenge hosted by Saucy Sailor Pepper Company which will  be releasing its Suffer Sauce, a blend of Carolina Reapers and Hurt Berries.

The Hot Sauce Fest admission is free and kid and dog-friendly.

Southern Star will also be hosting the 7th Annual Dubs on Display with Der Luftkulers (DLK) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the same day. The event is open to Volkswagen enthusiasts and entry is $15. Best in Show trophies will be given to winners. Two food trucks, D's Cooking and Divine Dogs will be selling eats.

Southern Fried Market at Three Acres

For folks who would rather make a jaunt south of Houston, the Southern Fried Christmas Market at Three Acres Food Truck Park in Santa Fe offers food trucks, picnic tables, a playground, shopping and a bar with craft beer, wine and cider. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free. Kids and dogs are allowed but outside food and drink is not.

All Month Long

Get Maine Lobster and Perry's Holiday Collaboration

Are you a member of the Seven-Finger-High club? - PHOTO BY BARRY FANTICH
Are you a member of the Seven-Finger-High club?
Photo by Barry Fantich
For the month of December fans of Maine lobster and Perry's Famous Pork Chop can make their mouths merry with the Holiday Collaboration packages from Perry's Steakhouse and Grill and Get Maine Lobster. The first package, Chops and Tails is an 18-ounce lunch cut of the Famous Pork Chop and three 4-ounce wild-caught lobster tails from Get Maine Lobster for $119.99. The Dinner Pack ($149.99) is the 32-ounce Seven- Finger-High Dinner Cut , three lobster tails, creamed spinach, au gratin potatoes and New England Stuffed Clams. Impress the in-laws with The Ultimate Surf & Turf Bundle ($219.99) which includes two of Perry's 6-ounce Filet Mignons, Pork Chop Bites (appx. 36), a pint of creamed spinach, 1.7 ounces of steak seasoning, two ounces Signature Steak Butter and a set of four Perry's Steak Knives. It also comes with a half-pound Sweet Lobster Meat (claw and knuckle), one pound Lobster Mac & Cheese and a pound of Tiger Shrimp from Get Maine Lobster.

The packages are available online only and can be ordered here.
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Lorretta Ruggiero is a Houston Press freelance writer based in Cypress, Texas. She loves entertaining her family and friends with her food and sparkling wit. She is married to Classic Rock Bob and they have two exceptionally smart-aleck children.