Upcoming Events: Menu of Menus Is Back, Bigger and Badder (in a Good Way, of Course)

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Our grand tasting event -- Menu of Menus -- is coming up on April 9 and we want you, our loyal readers, to be the first to get discounted tickets this year. We are offering a semi-private pre-sale to loyal Houston Press readers that will allow you to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the public.

General admission tickets go on sale February 22 at 10 a.m., but we'll be offering tickets to readers for $35 starting at midnight on February 18. The pre-sale window closes at 10 p.m. on February 21. Readers must use promo code SPOON1 at checkout to get the $35 pre-sale offer. Tickets will be sold online only, so set up a reminder today.

Oyster season will be over before you know it, so enjoy the fruits of our coastal waters while they last. Saint Arnold Brewery and Foodways Texas are hosting an oyster extravaganza this Sunday, February 17, from 3 to 5 p.m. to help you do just that. The event will feature a pairing of oysters from Texas Gulf Coast reefs, chosen by oyster expert Jim Gossen, and a Saint Arnold cask of Winter Stout beer.

In addition, chef Danny Trace from Brennan's will be on hand making oyster dishes all afternoon long. Proceeds from the event will benefit Foodways Texas, an organization founded by chefs, farmers, ranchers and other residents of the state of Texas who have made it their mission to preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online.

If you've ever attended Empty Bowls, you know how the fund-raiser works: For $25, you get a simple meal of soup, bread and water, served in your choice of a handmade ceramic bowl donated by local ceramicists and other artists. The money is used to fund the Houston Food Bank, which feeds a total of 137,000 Houstonians every week.

This year, Empty Bowls is asking the public to come out and craft some of those bowls for the big lunch on Saturday, May 18. A Bowl-a-Thon will be held at San Jacinto College Central (8060 Spencer Highway) on March 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Building C13, room 150. Clay will be furnished by San Jac, and the marathon bowl-making session is open to the public.

Contact Michael A. Unger for more information at michael.unger@sjcd.edu or 281-476-1501 ext. 1761.

With the Rodeo headed to town, plenty of local restaurants are featuring a round-up of dining deals. Latin Bites will be offering half off its popular anticuchos -- grilled beef heart skewers -- during its weekday happy hour through March. Hot and cold bites from the happy hour menu will be 50 percent off as well, and you can wash them down with $5 Latin cocktails, $3 beers and $5 wines.

Guests who dine at Line & Lariat during the Rodeo can enjoy $6 parking if they show their METRORail or Rodeo stub. The restaurant will also be offering special Rodeo-inspired entrée/beverage pairings including Karbach IPA paired with braised pork tostadas for $8 and $3 Coronas with $2 crispy fish tacos. After the meal, just hop on the light rail on Main Street straight over to Reliant.

"French cowboy" chef Philippe Schmit is getting ready for the Rodeo with specially inspired entrees offered each Saturday during the Rodeo season. Starting February 23, Philippe will offer Chicken Gumbo with bacon, Andouille, bell peppers, rice and green onions ($9) and a Crispy Taco Choucroute with sauerkraut, garlic sausage, braised pork and franks with a jalapeño-old fashioned mustard sauce ($26). More specials will rotate in throughout March.

For the duration of the Rodeo, show your Rodeo ticket at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop for a complimentary #11 cocktail (a rye whiskey smash) with purchase of an entrée. Then stop in after the Rodeo concerts for Sparrow's reverse happy hour, from 9 to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

STRAITS will be featuring a weekly steak night each Wednesday during the Rodeo, beginning on February 20 and continuing on February 27, March 6 and March 13. Enjoy a 16-oz rib eye with STRAITS' special garlic fries for $19, available from 4 through 10 p.m.

Looking to get your fill of Texan fare before heading to the Rodeo? Check out some of Triniti's newest additions to its Bar Bites menu: campechana with jumbo lump crab, gulf shrimp and lobster; sloppy Joes on ciabatta; and smoked Berkshire Pork Spare Ribs. Bites are $8 each or 3 for $20. During Triniti's weekday happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., bar bites and cocktails are half off, while Texas beers are only $3.

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Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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