Top 16 food & drink events in Houston this month: May 2016

Photo courtesy of NRG Park

Treat your taste buds, plus your other four senses, at our 16 favorite food and drink happenings in Houston in May 2016.

Also in May 2016

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With Cinco de Mayo, Derby Day and the awesome weather, May in Houston is always a good time. With our roundup of excellent food and drink events, it looks like you will be having a tasty one, too.

The month is full of happenings that feed the mind, body and soul. From benefit functions with incredible food to a couple of ways to get your mint julep and gamble on, here’s a look at May’s can’t miss culinary events.

Top 16 Food & Drink Events to Hit in Houston this Month

  • Chris Shepherd’s Korean Fried Chicken Dinner House: A Benefit at Underbelly | Sunday, May 1 – In honor of a dear friend to the Underbelly family, Chef Chris Shepherd will be transforming his restaurant into a Korean-style Chicken Dinner House (inspired by Babe’s Chicken Dinner House in Roanoke, Texas). The event will celebrate the life of Pastry Chef Victoria Dearmond’s closest friend Emily Rhodes Beard and raise money to pay off her remaining medical bills. The dining room will be open first come, first served with community seating, as the kitchen dishes out two options: Korean Fried Chicken or Ssamjang-Crusted Smoked Short Ribs (the food will also be available to-go). Both come with all the fixings: kimchi slaw, Korean macaroni salad and Korean-style green salad.
  • Cinco de Mayo at Batanga | Thursday, May 5 | Free to attend – This full out fiesta is stacked with awesomeness, including $5 margaritas and tequila shots, an “Inferno” Taco Eating Contest, piñata bashing on the patio, food specials and live salsa music and dancing.
  • 2nd Annual Derby Day Party at Julep | Saturday, May 7 – Julep’s Alba Huerta and DIY queen Ashley Rose of the Sugar & Cloth lifestyle blog will transform the space into Houston’s very own Churchill Downs. Come for a full day of oysters on-the-half-shell and Southern bites, thirst-quenching juleps, proper Southern fashion, music and a viewing of the 142nd Kentucky Derby Race.
  • 3rd Annual Mint Juleps & Jodhpurs at Houstonia House | Saturday, May 7 – Don your most darling hat and dapper suit for an afternoon of juleps at Houstonia Magazine’s annual Kentucky Derby Viewing Party. Guests can expect a mint julep competition, plus Southern-style hors d’ouvres, games, entertainment, and of course, the best two minutes in sports.
  • Cinco de Mayo Tequila Dinner at Arnaldo Richards’ Picos | Saturday, May 7 – The Mexican kitchen will continue the Cinco de Mayo celebration throughout the weekend with a special tequila dinner featuring Ruben Aceves, global brand ambassador for Tequila Herradura. Held in the private tequila room with exclusive seating for 30 guests, the event features a cocktail hour meet-and-greet followed by a four-course dinner.
  • Heights Block Party Pub Crawl | Saturday, May 7 | Free to attend – Unified by the common love of the 70s and 80s, Big Star Bar, D&T Drive Inn, Johnny’s Gold Brick, Lei Low, ReHab On The Bayou, Southern Goods and Town In City Brewing are throwing seven mini-parties to make one epic block party. Get ready for great food and music, stellar craft beer and cocktails and continuously running shuttle buses to conveniently get you from here to there.
  • Pop Up Bake Sale at Oporto Fooding House & Wine | Sunday, May 8 – In addition to a Portuguese-inspired Mother’s Day Brunch, Chef Rick Divirgilio has created a one-day-only pop-up bake shop. The sale will offer a fantastic roster of scratchmade pastries, including Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese classic lemon custard baked in a pastry shell; Malasadas, Maderia brioche doughnut balls dusted in cardamom-vanilla sugar and orange marmalade; and Olive Oil Brioche, made with ham & cheese and served with vanilla butter and quince jam, to name a few.
  • Let’s Talk Houston Dinner at B&B Butchers & Restaurant | Tuesday, May 10 – This wonderful charity dinner, which features honored “table hosts” including television personality and Chef Luca Manfe of Masterchef and Golden Gloves Championship Boxer Lou Savarese, will benefit the T.J. Martell Foundation, the music industry’s largest foundation that funds innovative medical research focused on finding cures to leukemia, cancer and AIDS.
  • Wine. Dine. Design. on Wheels 2016 at Evelyn’s Park | Thursday, May 12 – Four of the homes featured in the 2016 Bellaire New Home Showcase will open their doors for this special event. Enjoy delicious food truck cuisine along with drink pairings at each home while getting whisked around on a complimentary rides on Houston Wave shuttle busses. Some of Houston’s most popular food trucks will be on-hand serving up their best dishes including Scratch Food Truck, It’s a Wrap! Mobile Bistro and Java Road. Reserve 101 will be serving specialty cocktails at their pop-up whiskey bar, and other spirit providers will be present as well.
  • “Go Wagyu” Beef Throwdown at Soma Sushi | Sunday, May 15 – After hosting “Go Pig or Go Home” in 2014, Kata Robata and the Azuma Group are back with a new signature event. Only this time, they’ve moved from swine to bovine. Ten of Houston’s top local chefs will battle it out in a Wagyu beef throwdown as guests enjoy the tastes of the special dishes along with sushi bites from the kitchens of Kata Robata and Soma, and complimentary beer from 8th Wonder Brewery, wine from Duchman Winery and sake from Mexcor.
  • CultureMap‘s Tastemaker Awards at Asia Society Texas Center | Wednesday, May 18 – Join CultureMap in celebrating the top talent in Houston’s restaurant and bar community at this swanky tasting event and awards ceremony. Celebrity Chef Bryan Caswell will emcee as the winners are unveiled. Expect food and drink samples, live entertainment and some awesome swag.
  • Big Texas Beer Fest at NRG Park | Saturday, May 21 – After 4 successful years in North Texas, The Big Texas Beer Fest is taking the party on the road for their first event in Houston. The inaugural event will feature at least 80 breweries and over 300 beers to sample (including rare brews and firkins), plus a lineup of food trucks and live music all day long.
  • 4th Annual Houston Barbecue Festival at NRG Park | Sunday, May 22 – The fourth edition of this barbecue fest features smoky goodness from an all-star lineup of pitmasters, including teams from Blood Bros. BBQ, Brooks’ Place BBQ, CorkScrew BBQ, and Gerardo’s, among plenty of others. Based on the last three years, this event is expected to sell out.
  • Recipe for Success: Delicious Alchemy | Thursday, May 19 through Saturday, May 22 – In honor of Recipe for Success Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Year, founders Bob and Gracie Cavnar are chairing this three-night fête. Thursday’s intimate Banquet at The Dunlavy will feature an exquisite 10-course meal from 10 iconic chefs. On Friday, The Art of Food tickles all the senses with a night of art, music, poetry, and delectable nosh. Sunday’s Community Supper closes out the celebration with a Sunday Streets afternoon along White Oak Bayou, complete with music and food.
  • Rebecca Masson’s “Dinner with My Friends” at Fluff Bake Bar | Monday, May 23 – This awesome dinner series features a collaborative six-course menu with a different guest chef each month. This month’s guest of honor is Chef Josh Sutcliff of the innovative New American restaurant FT33 in Dallas.
  • Guest Chef Night at The Burger Joint | Tuesday, May 31 – Last month, The Burger Joint introduced this fun dinner series, where a different Houston chef is invited to create a special menu to benefit their charity of choice on the last Tuesday evening of the month. For May, chefs Mike Potowski and Maria Gonzalez of Benjy’s will be in the house creating something delicious, with proceeds benefiting Hope Stone, Inc. 6pm to 10pm.

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Brooke Viggiano is a food and lifestyle writer residing in Houston. When she's not contributing to publications like 365 Things to Do in Houston, Thrillist Houston and the Houston Press, she's on the hunt for the coolest happenings in the city. You can follow her musings on Twitter @BrookeViggiano .