Upcoming Events: Get Your Meat at the Houston Barbecue Festival and Your Veg at Brennan's

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If you haven't had a chance to check out the new Frank's Americana Revival yet, next Friday, March 22 is your chance for a two-fer: Dan Garrison of the famed Garrison Brothers Distillery will be on hand for a special evening of Texas bourbon sampling from 6 to 8 p.m. Frank's will have its late-1800s working chuck wagon on site, where its chefs will be doing cooking demos and preparing small bites.

Garrison Brothers will be serving its bourbon up on on the rocks as well as a bourbon-based Texas punch. From the chuck wagon, look for black coffee-guajillo glazed baby back ribs and cast-iron chicken-fried steak with red-eye gravy, smashed potatoes and peppered onion green beans. Call 713-572-8600 for more information or to make reservations for the evening.

Have you bought your tickets yet for the inaugural Houston Barbecue Festival? You probably should while you still can -- they're going fast.

The first-ever mass barbecue event featuring Houston's hands-down best pitmasters takes place on Sunday, March 24 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Bayou City Event Center just south of Reliant Park. Barbecue joints, shacks, trailers and restaurants that will be sampling their finest meats include Blake's BBQ, Burns BBQ, Gatlin's BBQ, Virgie's Bar-B-Que, Pizzitola's Bar-B-Cue, Gerardo's and many, many more.

VIP tickets are already sold out, but a limited number of $40 general admission tickets remain (children under the age of 5 get in for free). For that price, you get unlimited barbecue samples from all of the participating restaurants. A cash bar will be selling beer and other cold beverages.

Brennan's of Houston wants you to enjoy the summer this year - and its beautifully shaded courtyard patio. That's why the restaurant is hosting a series of Courtyard Socials coming up in May. For just $20 a person, chef Danny Trace will be serving a boiled crawfish feast on May 1 and hosting a shrimp boil on May 22.

Your ticket price includes sides and two drinks - not a bad package deal for $20. Both Courtyard Socials in May run from 6 to 8 p.m. and reservations are required. Call 713-522-9711 to book your post.

Don't eat seafood - or any meat, for that matter? Brennan's has you covered there too, thanks to a brand-new vegetable menu from chef Trace. The Digging Texas Creole, as the vegetarian menu is being called, is only available at the Kitchen Table for now. But perhaps with enough encouragement, the restaurant will move it into the main dining room.

Examples of the dishes on Trace's new veg-centric menu include Chicken Fried "Lot 42" Cauliflower Steak with crispy Gundermann cauliflower, purple majesty potato salad, pickled mitron and oyster plant with sherry creamed onion and Mushroom Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé with blue foot mushrooms whipped into Hatterman's hen egg whites with 330 Smith Street thyme and melted leeks.

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