When March Madness finds you at the edge of your seat, why not go a little wild in the snack department as well? We scoured the city for a few of the best and most outlandish bites, so you can focus on the baskets.
Ban ban ji kurage at AGU Ramen
These slices of crunchy jellyfish come coated in signature sesame ginger sauce and work well as a starter or on their own.
White wings at Doc's Motorworks Bar & Grill
Like a chicken wing version of the Texas favorite “armadillo eggs,” these babies start with jalapeño-stuffed chicken that is wrapped in bacon then deep-fried and tossed in housemade Buffalo sauce.
1303 Westheimer Rd.; 713-521-3627
Green goddess hummus at The Dunlavy
Herb lovers gravitate toward this blend of traditional green goddess flavors and rich hummus dip. Accompaniments include a rainbow of veggies, crispy fried chickpeas and warm pita bread.
3422 Allen Parkway; 713.360.6477
Nacho Mama's Oysters at Max's Wine Dive
Elevate your nacho game with this variation that replaces tortilla chips with wontons and trades out ground beef for plump Gulf-fried oysters over creamy garlic aïoli. Even traditional jalapeños get the boot in favor of fiery habanero salsa.
Onion ring volcano at The Union Kitchen
Fun meets function with this three-tiered take on traditional onion rings loaded down with chili, Swiss and cheddar cheeses, plus nacho-inspired garnishes of pico de gallo and sour cream.
Sweet and spicy pig ears at The Hay Merchant
This craft-beer haven ups the bar-snack game with signature crispy pork ears. They're cleaned, poached and thinly sliced so that they resemble cooked noodles. After a dip in hot oil, they're coated in sugar, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne.
1100 Westheimer Rd.; 713-528-9805
Pimento cheese fritters at Field & Tides
Local cheddar finds a home in housemade pimento cheese that is made into balls, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. A mound of the ooey-gooey bites is served over pepper jelly for a contrasting combo of flavor and texture.
705 East 11th St.; 713-861-6143
Bone-in Brussels sprouts at Provisions
Forgoing the familiar piles of sprouts, this presentation lends a playful air: The entire stalk is fried and topped with smoked miso aïoli and togarashi. The unconventional preparation creates a crispy exterior that contrasts with a tender steamed interior.
807 Taft St.; 713-628-9020
Pig Candy at Bosscat Kitchen + Libations
Slow-braised smoked pork belly gets a sweet and savory kick thanks to caramel sauce made from fish sauce, garlic, shallots, sugar and rye whiskey. The sticky bites are accompanied by spicy kimchi and crunchy sesame seeds.
4310 Westheimer Rd.; 281-501-1187
Bone marrow at Tony Mandola's
For a different spin on marrow, try this silky and savory variation brûléed with a rich black pepper sauce. Plan ahead as it's available only during daily happy hour from 2–6:30 PM.
1212 Waugh Dr.; 713-528-3474
Le Pig Mac at Underbelly
The two all-pork patties squeezed between buns with "special sauce," lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions are part of a “covers” menu in which owner Chris Shepherd serves dishes inspired by industry friends across the country. This one is an ode to Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski of Cochon in New Orleans and Nashville.
1100 Westheimer Rd.; 713-528-9800
Baked chicken dandoori quesadillas at The Red Lion Pub
Order a pint to wash down this sweet and savory twist on two cultural classics. Tandoori-spiced chicken gets a kick from sweet chile sauce and pickled veggies, while mozzarella ensures the enveloping tortilla stays intact.
2316 S. Shepherd Dr.; 713-782-3030