With a three-day weekend ahead, you can make the most of it (rain or shine) by heading to one of the patriotic parties hosted by some of the city's best restaurants.
Branch Water Tavern is hosting a Fourth of July pig roast that kicks off at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Chef David Grossman will be giving away -- yes, giving away, as in FREE -- roasted suckling pig, all-American sides and his famous housemade biscuits until the food runs out. The only caveat? You have to purchase a cocktail at the bar to get in on the free food. "Gee, I just have to order a glass of Maker's Mark, honey!" A sad affair, indeed. Our current favorite cocktail at Branch Water is the BBC, a twist on the classic champagne cocktail with champagne, peach bitters and brown sugar. But if cocktails aren't your thing, they'll also have a Bombshell Blonde and burger special for only $10.
Across town at Pico's Mex-Mex, Chef Arnaldo Richards is getting in the all-American spirit too, with an All-You-Can-Eat Backyard BBQ on Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The spread will feature classic American treats such as hot dogs and sliders as well as more autentico affairs like chilaquiles and assorted carne asada. For only $12.95 (or $8.95 for the kids), that's a pretty cost-effective way to fill your belly before heading out to watch the fireworks.
Further north, Chef Randy Rucker has a menu that will encourage you to make the trek to Tomball if you still haven't checked out Bootsie's Heritage Cafe. All week long, in honor of the Fourth of July, Bootsie's will be serving a Backyard BBQ menu straight from the smoker. They're smoking almost any meat you can put over woodchips, from quail ($6 apiece) to duck ($9 for half a bird), and from pork ribs ($6) to fatty beef brisket ($7).
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Clear your calendar next weekend if you're a vodka connoisseur: Bite Me Houston will be hosting its second alcohol-related smackdown of the past year, the Texas Vodka Throwdown. Seven vodka companies -- all of them Texan -- will be pitting their product against each other, and the public gets to judge which vodka provides the smoothest sip of all. While the companies will be there to talk up their stuff, the tasting and judging will be blind -- all the better to crown one vodka as the best in Texas. The event starts at 6 p.m. at Caroline Collective and is free (as long as you're over the age of 21).