Big Tex Choice Awards Reviews (And MORE)
Every year, I try to bring you prices, locations, and reviews of all the Big Tex Choice Awards finalists. I want to make sure you're spending your time and money wisely when you have so many options to choose from at the Fair! So let's get into it...
First, let's start off strong with our Best Taste Sweet! The Armadillo by James Barrera. This thing delivers on its award. It's a basically a giant ice cream sandwich, but the ice cream is cookie butter. The sandwich is made with two deep fried Armadillo-shaped cookies that are made with a branding iron. Take my word for it, you need 2-4 people to tackle this. It's as massive as it is delicious. This treat is 16 coupons and found at only ONE stand in the Midway called Barrera's.
Next, we'll stay with the delicious sweet treats and talk about the Texas Pumpkin Poke Cake by Michelle Edwards. It's a Texas-shaped, decadent pumpkin cake with a vanilla glaze and caramel, topped with whipped cream. It's a solid portion size and really satisfying. Packed with fall flavors- it was a moist, gingerbready flavor. I'd definitely get it again! This one is only 10 coupons and found at the Highland Park Soda Fountain in the Tower Building at the very back.
Let's switch it up and talk savory now. The Deep Fried I-35 by Clint and Gretchen Probst has been one of the most talked about items at the fair this year. Everyone's been wondering what the heck it is! It is a fried kolache with smoked beef brisket. They combined peach juice with Dr Pepper® to make a sweet and tangy BBQ glaze which is drizzled over the brisket kolache. These are all items famous along the route of I-35, West, Dublin, and Austin. There are a couple of peaches for an unknown reason(?), but this was a delicious surprise. This is hands down my recommendation when it comes to the savory entries this year. And if I was a judge, it would've been my vote for Most Creative! This is 15 coupons and found at the stand just to the right of Big Tex at Crazy Otto's or at the Gulf Coast Grill which is by the lagoon near the swan paddle boats. You can't miss the big I-35 sign!
We'll stick with savory and go ahead and talk about the Best Taste Savory and Most Creative (what?) winner- Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls. According to the description, the balls are "loaded" with Gulf Coast shrimp, stewed chicken, blue crab meat, and andouille sausage. I would beg to differ on the usage of the word loaded. Do NOT get me wrong here... these taste great. I'm a Cajun girl myself with roots from New Orleans, but this is entirely overpriced. I really wish these were not 25 coupons. I would love to recommend them. There are just too many other Cajun-inspired fried foods around the fairgrounds for me to feel good encouraging you so spend $25 on these. If you don't mind throwing money around- you won't be disappointed by the flavor... just maybe that you don't actually get that little bottle of Tabasco they have pictured.
Let's move on to the Pork Shots! MEATY! These shot "glasses" are made with a smoked sausage bottom and sides made of bacon. They are filled with mac and cheese inside. They have a spiced rub on the outside for a little extra flavor. They are served in either 3 or 6, so plan accordingly for your group size. They are VERY meaty. So meaty, in fact, the mac and cheese got lost in the meat flavor. I do wish there was more mac and cheese, but I still found these to be tasty. These are found in the giant purple tent just to the right of the Chevy Main Stage and are 12 coupons.
Back to sweet, we have to talk about Fernie's Fried Toffee Coffee Crunch Cake by the Winter Family. Fernie's is a familiar name to fairgoers as this stand has a finalist nearly every year since the Choice Awards inception. They did it again this year with this little coffee cake! It's made with old fashioned cake donuts broken into chunks. This was a very satisfying little sweet treat. You can't go wrong with this at 10 coupons! It is found at the classic Fernie's locations to the right of Big Tex and at The Dock inside the Embarcadero.
We'll stick with the sweet treats with a sticky little treat! The Brisket Brittle by Ruth Hauntz. This is a brittle made with brisket pieces instead of peanuts. The brisket pieces have a little heat making for an interesting balance of sweet and savory. This grew on me the more I ate of it. In fact, I just finished eating it while I'm writing this 2 days later. It keeps great if you want to snack on little pieces after you've left the fair. It's also served in a really cute plastic boot mug that you can keep! It's 12 coupons and found at Ruth's Tamales in Cotton Bowl Plaza.
Back to the savory options with the Crispy Crazy Corn by the same concessionaire- Ruth Hauntz. This is Ruth's less of the two options, which is disappointing after a STRONG showing in 2019 with the Stuffed Taco Cone- one of my favorites that year. This one did not measure up. This might have been an execution error by the stand itself? Re-reading the description, it says this is supposed to have a seasoning on the individually battered corn kernels- I did not taste that. I will compliment the pulled pork on top, but it did lack a topping in cilantro. I also did not taste the pineapple of the pineapple slaw that was described. The pulled pork is the only redeeming quality of this dish and it's just not enough for me to recommend this one. It is 12 coupons and found at the same stand as the Brisket Brittle!
We'll finish out the savory options the Lucky Duck Dumplin' by Bert Concessions. These are dumplins with cream cheese, blended with duck bacon and sweet corn, with a sprinkling of herbs and spices. In my opinion it was a little too much cream cheese for the amount of duck bacon. There needed to be more meat and this would've been a resounding success. I found myself enjoying the Thai chili sauce that was drizzled on top and served on the side more than what was inside. They were cooked well and had a nice crunch, but the flavor balance was a bit out of whack for me. These were 12 coupons and found in several locations. There's one just across from the birthing barn behind the Creative Arts building, one in the Funway, and one in Cotton Bowl Plaza to the right of the Midway.
And finally we come to the last item of the finalists... the Deep Fried Halloween. This monstrosity is a soft pretzel covered in candy corn syrup, chocolate sauce, marshmallow creme, M&Ms, candy corn, sprinkles, and a few pieces of chocolate candies and an Oreo. It's insane and not in a good way. First of all, it's enormous- just way too much of everything. The flavors just don't work together. I think the concept was interesting, but this was not the way to execute it. I cannot in good conscious tell you to spend money on this. Just don't do it. ALL of the other sweet options are better, so stick with those. If you're a glutton for punishment, this is 15 coupons and found at the Magnolia Beer Garden.
That's all of your Big Tex Choice Awards finalists for 2021. I'll be going back to try a couple of other new foods that did not make the finalists cut and will report back on those... including a new offering from the State Fair classic- Fletcher's! (By the way, they increased their corn dog price to $7 sadly.)
UPDATE: Tried the Hot Dallas Bird Dog from Fletcher's and it did NOT disappoint. It is a turkey corn dog made with a spicy batter split down the middle filled with mac'n'cheese and topped crispy fried jalapenos and Cholula sauce. I'm a big fan! You can only find this at ONE Fletcher's location. It's in the back very back of the Midway across from the Slingshot ride in the Thrillway for 10 coupons.
As always if you have any questions or have a specific food you want me to try, send me a message! You can find me on Instagram @tips.by.brit.