Top 12 Food & Drink Events This Month: December 2017

Photo courtesy of Tomball German Festivals

“Tis the season…the season of eating, that is. At least here in Houston, where the local food scene is merry and bright all month long.

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With holiday cheer in full effect, December brings no shortage of fun and tasty festivities. From a tamale festival and seasonal beer, wine and cheese tasting to Christmas Eve dinner and brunch with Mr. Claus himself, here’s how to toast and eat well this month.

Top 12 Food & Drink events in Houston: December 2017

  • Brunch with Santa at Brennan’s of Houston | Saturday, December 2 – Brennan’s of Houston is hosting a one-time brunch with Santa, featuring a two-course meal with a dessert bar, photos with Santa, a keepsake ornament for the adults and an interactive ornament for children. Brunch costs $55 for adults (includes one mimosa) and $35 per child, and the includes a biscuit, muffin, choice of starter, entree, and dessert. Seating is limited and reservations are required. 9:30am to 1pm.
  • Tamale Festival at Navigation Esplanade | Saturday, December 2 – Kick off tamale season with this festive food and musical showcase. Festival-goers can expect a tamale eating contest, live music, and plenty of food and drink vendors offering tamales, festival eats, and Tex-Mex favorites. Tickets are $10 pre-sale; $20 day of; VIP tickets available for $85. Kids 12 and under can get in for free with a paid adult admission. Noon to 10pm.
  • Saint Arnold at Sonoma Wine Bar & Restaurant | Saturday, December 2 – Head to the Heights location of Sonoma wine bar for a night of holiday hops, wine, and cheese. The tasting event will feature Christmas Ale, Bishops 12 (Christmas Ale aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels), Bishops 19 (Christmas Ale aged in Chardonnay barrels), and Raspberry AF (Beer made with raspberries), plus Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and cheese pairings from the Houston Dairymaids. Tickets are $25. 2pm to 5pm.
  • Houston versus Austin BBQ Throwdown at Saint Arnold Brewery | Sunday, December 3 – Eat your weight in barbecue as Houston and Austin pitmasters face off in a smoked-filled throwdown. Participating Houston barbecue joints include Beaver’s, The Brisket House, El Burro & the Bull, Ellis Brothers BBQ, Gatlin’s BBQ, Killen’s BBQ, The Pit Room, and Tin Roof BBQ, with Austin spots including Brotherton’s Black Iron Barbecue, LeRoy and Lewis Barbecue, Micklethwait Craft Meats, and Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ. Tickets are $80 for general admission; $130 for VIP. 1pm to 4pm.
  • Wine Bar Mondays at Helen Greek Food & Wine | Mondays, December 4, 11, & 18 – Though it’s usually closed on Mondays, Helen Greek Food & Wine will open its doors and operate as a wine bar for holiday shoppers. Drop in to taste incredibly Hellenic wines alongside light bar bites like marinated feta, nuts, and olives. Guests can also create their own wine gift packages by selecting three wines of their choice or purchase pre-packaged gift sets. Opens at 4:30pm.
  • Tomball German Christmas Market & Festival at Old Town Tomball | Friday, December 8 through Sunday, December 10 | FREE – Bring the entire family for a Texas-style Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market), where you’ll find 200+ vendors, live music and dancing, a wine petting zoo, street performers, and antiques. Of course, there will also be plenty of great bites and beverages, from festival fare to traditional German food and drink like dark Dunkles Bier, warm cups of Glühwein, brats, strudels, Christmas stollen, and kennel corn. Friday 6pm to 10pm; Saturday 10am to 10pm; Sunday 10am to 6pm.
  • Houston Margarita Festival at The Water Works | Saturday, December 9 – Now in its sixth year, this tequila-soaked festival will showcase Houston’s finest mixologists and most outrageous selection of margaritas. Tickets are $20 through Friday, December 1 for general admission, but you may find limited discounted tickets for $10. Tickets include entry, a complimentary margarita, and commemorative cup; $37 for a value pass, including all of the above plus three drink vouchers; $57 for a premium value pass, with premium drink vouchers; and $90 in advance or $150 day-of for VIP, including lounge seating, express entrance, and access to a VIP zone with a $1 bar and complimentary eats. Noon to 10pm.
  • La Piccola Cucina: Holiday Edition at The Italian Cultural & Community Center | Saturday, December 9 – The Italian Cultural & Community Center will host a special holiday edition of its hands-on cultural culinary experience for children aged 3 to 10 years old. The little chefs will prepare “mezzelune alla vaniglia”, moon-shaped almond and vanilla cookies topped with powdered sugar that are found around all of Europe and are traditionally made at Christmas time. Space is limited and cost is $45 for non-members; $30 for members. Registration deadline is December 7. 11:30am to 1pm.
  • Brunch with Santa at Specialty Foods | Saturday, December 16 – Bring the gang to this festive family event, where kids and adults can enjoy holiday activities alongside a seasonal brunch menu. The Houston Fire Department will have a truck on site for Operation Stocking Stuffer Toy Drive (new unwrapped toys encouraged), and Santa and Ms. Claus will be in the house for photos with the little ones. 9am to 3pm. Activities begin at 11 am.
  • Annual Chili Cook-Off at Little Woodrow’s Midtown | Saturday, December 16 – It’s time to fire up those cookers and whip out the family chili recipe, Little Woody’s annual winter chili cook-off is here. The fun event will feature tons of tasty chili and heated competition, with all welcome to come out and taste or compete. If you are interested in signing up to compete, you can sign up at the bar or via email. This event is 21 and up only. 11am.
  • Massive Mole and Tamale Brunch Buffet at Arnaldo Richards’ Picos | Sunday, December 17 – To cap off its 12 Days of Mole, Picos will offer an extravagant mole and tamale-packed brunch buffet. Dig into a variety of moles and tamales, including chicken in black mole; tamales norteños with cremini, oyster, and white mushrooms; tamales oaxaqueños filled with chicken in green chili; pork belly chicharrones; and even dulce de leche tamales with chopped pecans and butter. Brunch will cost $29 per person; $20 per senior. 10am to 4pm.
  • Christmas Eve at La Table | Sunday, December 24 – Guests are invited to spend Christmas Eve indulging in special a la carte feast at the chic La Table. Start with lobster bisque with lobster flan or wild mushroom ravioli with black truffle, then dig into sea bass in Champagne sauce with Osetra caviar or heritage chicken for two served with winter vegetables, wild mushrooms, and a potato puree. Finish the meal with a festive Bûche de Noël au chocolate, too. 5pm to 11pm.
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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 .