Barbecue Beef Brisket ($7 half pound, $13 whole pound)
The guys of Louie Mueller Barbecue from Taylor, Texas, were insistent: "You need to try the meat by itself. Before the bread. You need to." And they were right. The incredible three-quarters of an inch smoke ring was the first indication of the marvelous flavor of the beef. Louie Mueller's folks know what they're doing. Lean end or moist end, the beef was so awesome it required absolutely no barbecue sauce.
Three Mini-Muffulettas ($3)
The best deal at the Roadfood Festival, the New Orleans supermarket Rouses Grocery served up three-and-a-half-inch-wide sliders of ham, Genoa salami, olive salad, and Swiss cheese on seeded buns, three for three dollars. The tiny version of the usually large, round sandwiches went over great with the crowd.
12 Hour Roast Beef Sandwiches ($5)
You've had a roast beef sandwich before, right? Not like this. Boucherie's roast beef is cooked through for 12 hours straight. The cooking intensifies the flavor and the beef is served up in its own juice, topped with a shot of creamy horseradish sauce and a pile of red onion slaw. Lick-your-fingers good.
Handmade Cashew Turtles ($2)
The only chocolatier invited to the Festival, Turtle Alley Chocolates from Glouchester, Massachusetts, offered a selection of handmade chocolates, both to eat at the festival and boxed to take home. The star of the show by far: Cashew Turtles with Turtle Alley's low-alkaline chocolate and homemade caramel. The saltiness of the cashews brought the whole bite together in sweet harmony.
Chargrilled Oysters ($6)
Delicious, portable and buttery, hot smoky charbroiled oysters could be the perfect street food. Royal House's version contain just enough spice for flavor, but what you have here are the essence of great oysters. Their crawfish cakes were also tasty.
Buttermilk Delight Pie ($3 a slice, $20 whole pie)
Ah, pie—well represented by all of Texas-based Royers Round Top Café's choice slices, including chocolate chip, pecan, buttermilk, and my favorite, the Buttermilk Delight. A delicious combination of everything you'd like in a pie, this traditional buttermilk-based custard is dotted with coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips. You need a sweet tooth for this one.
Roasted Plantain Tamales ($4)
There's nothing quite like a tamale...and there are certainly few things that come close to one from the Tucson Tamale Company. The guys were serving up three sorts of hot steamed tamales. While I adored the Green Corn Tamales, I have to say the best and most unusual version was the Roasted Plantain Tamales, soft and fragrant and delicately wrapped.
Creole Cream Cupcakes ($3)
The folks who run the New Orleans-based food truck Cupcakes and Company have cornered the market on frosting-topped treats in the city. The Creole Cream Cupcake is several layers of non-traditional sweetness: a whipped-cream-cheese filling inside a vanilla bean cupcake, topped with maple cream cheese and dusted with crumbled pralines.
Soft-shell Crab Po' Boy ($5)
So good I couldn't leave it off the list. Oceana Grill's whole fried soft-shell crab encased in a French roll was a real bargain at $5. Yes, you eat the shell—It's crunchy. Oceana's nicely spiced batter was key, and their housemade coleslaw made it that much better.