top of page

Big Tex Choice Awards Tasting 2023

Hello yet again you fried food enthuuuusiasts! It's that time of year where I go eat all the insane concoctions at the State Fair of Texas so you don't have to! Biggest difference I noticed for this year was the serving sizes. They are quite significant, so we couldn't get to it all in one day! We had to split it over two days, but here are the reviews for all ten finalists...

As we entered the gates, I knew we'd have to immediately hit the Tower Building to get out of the blazing sun. Unfortunately for us and all the Opening Day fairgoers, it seems the air conditioning may have been broken. It was warm and stuffy in there. Half of your Big Tex Choice Awards Finalists are in there, so hopefully when you visit, it'll be bearable to grab a table and have a feast.

First item I grabbed was the Deep Fried Cheesy Crab Tater Bites. These are found at multiple locations including the Magnolia Beer Garden and The Cajun Cowboy, which is a stand right behind the Beer Garden near the Old Mill Inn. I got ours at Holy Biscuit in the Tower Building. They came with 5 to an order and I thought they were pretty good. I liked the Cajun Sauce they poured on top, and the crab was definitely present. Paulo thought they were a little fishy tasting, but I think I'm the bigger shellfish fan between the two of us. These were $16, which was a little steep for my liking. I enjoyed them, but have a hard time recommending at that price.

Next, just down the way in the Tower Building at Hand Tossed Pizza by the Giant Slice was the massive Loaded Fries Pizza. You can also find this in the Midway near the Children's Aquarium and in the Kidway. This was not one but TWO slices of pizza. This is essentially just loaded cheese fries on top of pizza dough. The sauce is ranch dressing and it's topped with plenty of crispy bacon. This rang in at $15 which isn't terrible for two sizable slices of pizza. I deemed this best value for the price. Tasty and filling!

Before we were forced to get some relief from the Tower Building, we grabbed the Best Taste Sweet winner, the Biscoff Delight. This cheesecake is first coated with Belgian chocolate which is then dusted with Biscoff® cookie crumbles. Its drizzle is a Lotus Biscoff® spread and has a cookie on top for good measure. I wanted to like this more than I did, but I did like it. The coating and crust is delicious, but the fact that they have to freeze the cheesecake to dip seemed to zap the delicious cheesecake flavor away. Maybe if it could have been able to sit and soften up before eating it, you'd get a better mix of all the flavors? At any rate, this rang in at $15 and is a very shareable portion. They have other flavors of dipped cheesecakes as well if Biscoff isn't your thing. This is found at the back of the Tower Building in the right hand corner if you enter from behind Big Tex. They also have a cute photo backdrop if you're so inclined. :)

We took a break from the Tower Building to go find Michelle and immediately headed right back in to grab the winner of Most Creative at the Choice Awards - the Bourbon Banana Caramel Sopapillas. This is found on the front wall of the Tower Building and rings in at a hefty $20. You can also find it behind the Grand Place near the Lagoon (pictured above). You get a heaping serving of sopapillas topped with bananas, sweet bourbon syrup, candied pecans, sweetened mascarpone cheese, crumbled Nilla Wafers, and it's dusted with powdered sugar. This would've gotten my vote for Best Taste Sweet if I was a judge on the panel, because I'm not sure what's so creative about it. Although not my idea of creative, I will say, all the flavors worked really well together and it got rave reviews from our group.

After all that food, we needed a break and thought we'd grab the only drink to make the top 10 this year. We went to the Ruth's Tamale House booth in Cotton Bowl Plaza to secure the cute boot of flavored lemonade. We experienced quite the sticker shock at $14 for a drink with no booze! To its credit, it does taste pretty good and not artificial, but the price is far too high. My recommendation is to get a Big Tex reusable cup, if you don't already have one, and head over to the refill station by the entrance of the Midway on MLK Jr. Blvd. They have a strawberry lemonade there and you can get a full cup for only $4 (pictured right).

To round out our first day full of food, we had the Ox'cellent Soul Roll at Pearlie's Southern Kitchen. This one can be a bit tricky to find as it's not on the main path, but on the road that circles closest to the Cotton Bowl right off MLK Jr. Blvd. This is made to order, so it will take a bit and comes out HOT. These are made of beef oxtails, potatoes, gouda, mozzarella, all wrapped up in a spring roll and fried. The cheese is super melty and delicious. You'll get two rolls, two yummy hushpuppies, and a delectable garlic chili sauce. It's on the pricey side at $22, but I think it's one of my favorites of the savory items this year.

Day two started with none other than Fernie's and their Deep Fried Cherry Pie in the Sky. As always, you can find the State Fair staple at The Dock in the Embarcadero. We chose this one because it has air conditioning! They also have a prominent stand just to the right of Big Tex across from the Old Mill Inn. This is exactly what you'd expect it to be! It's a small fried cherry pie and a side of Blue Bell ice cream. The crumble on top was a nice add on, but it's just a pretty generic offering. It tastes good, but there was nothing exciting or unique about it. For $15, I can't recommend it, but you'll enjoy it if you love pie.

We quickly hurried over to the Midway to find the Deep Fried Pho. It is only found at one location in the Midway, so my advice is to get there early if you can. The Country Round-Up is a good landmark to help find the Eat Crispies booth. The line was very LONG on the first day. It's possible they had a day one hiccup with supply/demand, which wouldn't be the first Best Taste Winner to suffer that fate. Luckily, today we walked right up with no problem. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this worked. I gladly accepted the offer of both hoisin sauce and sriracha to boost the flavors. I also decided to pour my broth onto each bite instead of dip. It's a bit messy, so I'd recommend finding a table to enjoy this offering. We had to side with the Choice Awards judges as it got both mine and Paulo's votes as best taste. It's a refreshingly unique option amongst all the finalists. It also the most expensive item this year at $24, so prepare yourself accordingly!

We stayed in the Midway to get the Deep Fried Turkey Ribs from Vandalay Industries. This is exactly what is sounds like and tastes about how you'd expect. They offer it in two ways when you order- either Thanksgiving Style or BBQ. We opted for both, but they only gave us the jalapeños and not the BBQ sauce, so we only tried it with the gravy any and cranberry sauce. There was nothing bad about this per se, but like the Cherry Pie in the Sky, it just wasn't very interesting. I think the Deep Fried Thanksgiving is a better option if that's the kind of thing you're into... which just so happens to be a part of Thrifty Thursdays at $7 found at Trio on the Green. A much better price than the steep $20 this costs. You certainly won't dislike this if you want to try it, but there are better, more fun options out there.

At long last, we finally decided to try the Sweet Encanto from Tony's Taco Shop. It initially was a maybe from me as it comes with shredded coconut on it. Luckily, they made it without for me! (Just my preference, but I hate coconut.) This little treat is found in the Centennial Building which houses the car show (and includes boats this year!) You may be thinking, "Britni, there are two car shows." You'd be correct, so just know this is the building to the left of the Esplanade closer to the Stunt Dog Show. You can also find this in the Tower Building. The Sweet Encanto was the surprise of the year for me. I can't believe we almost bypassed it. It's so simple, and not fried, which was so refreshing after all the others! It has the fruit as you can see pictured, caramel dulce de leche, cream, and sweetened condensed milk. It's all sandwiched between two waffles which taste like ice cream cones. Paulo said it was the best thing he had, which is a big compliment coming from him. This will set you back $15, which seems to be the average for these 2023 finalists.

Thanks so much for sticking with me for another year if you're coming back, and welcome if you're new! I love nothing more than answering any questions you may have at the State Fair, so message me on Instagram at if you need anything!

Brit's Tip: Stick to the Deep Fried Pho or the Ox'cellent Soul Roll for your main dishes. I'd recommend the Sweet Encanto as a lighter, sweet end to your day... but if you're really hungry, a Bourbon Banana Caramel Sopapilla would definitely hit the spot!



bottom of page