New Foods at the Minnesota State Fair
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New creative fair foods are on the list at the statewide event
The Minnesota State Fair has announced 47 new foods that will be served at the fair, Pioneer Press reports. Total, the event will have about 300 concessions available. The fair runs from August 22 to September 2.
Here are some highlights from the new additions:
- Bourbon Wurst: pork sausage seasoned with sage, caraway, and nutmeg and infused with bourbon whiskey at Sausage by Cynthia
- Candied bacon cannoli at Ole’s Cannoli
- Deep fried olives on a stick at Fried Fruit
- Cocoa Cheese Bites: Wisconsin cheddar cheese nuggets breaded with cocoa puffs, fried and served with a chocolate dipping sauce at Axel’s
- Deep fried bread pudding: Bite-size cubes of deep fried bread pudding served hot and drizzled with caramel sauce, at O’Gara’s at the Fair
- English Toffee Fudge Puppy at Granny’s Kitchen Fudge Puppies
For more information about how the fair and these treats, visit the fair’s website.
Top 5 Must-Try New State Fair Foods
The Space Needle is making trips up and down, the Midway is lit and the smell of deep fried food is permeating Como Avenue.
The Minnesota State Fair has begun.
For their 2015 season, the Great Minnesota Get-Together decided to go big or go home and released a whopping 51 new foods 40 dishes and 11 desserts.
It may seem like an unapproachable task to taste all new foods, and it probably isn’t wise for your wallet or your stomach. So, we’ve taken on the burden. Here are my picks for the best new foods at the Minnesota State Fair.
The Midtown Global Market has a booth in the International Bazaar each year, and this year Hot Indian and Rabbit Hole share the space. For the first half of the fair Hot Indian will be serving up samosas, spiced fries and tikka on-a-stikka. The sauce is creamy and thick, with just a hint of spice. The chicken is grilled, not fried, which is a nice change from many of the other fair foods. It’s cooked perfectly and smothered in the delectable yogurt sauce.
“We slow roasted our chicken in the spices and then smothered it with our yogurt sauce,” owner Amol Dixit said. “Then we put it on a stick for the State Fair!”
Tikka On-a-Stikka was created exclusively for the fair, so grab it while you can!
Tip: Hot Indian will leave the Midtown Global Market booth on Sept. 1. Rabbit Hole will then take over.
Located at Hot Indian at the Midtown Global Market on the east wall of the International Bazaar.
Mac & Cheese Cupcake
I like bread and I like cheese, so the fact that I enjoyed the mac & cheese cupcake is not surprising. For those that aren&rsquot sure, this is a savory cupcake &ndash not a sweet one. Essentially it’s baked mac & cheese shaped into a cupcake. Creamy, gooey, cheesy macaroni sits in a bed of breadcrumbs and is topped with, what else, more cheese.
Tip: It’s a rather large cupcake, so sharing is advised.
Located at LuLu’s Public House in the West End Market.
Italian Dessert Nachos &ndash Chocolate Caramel Bacon
“It’s a take on a traditional cannoli that’s been brought to Minnesota,” co-owner Jenny Enloe said. “It’s an ooey, gooey, walking cannoli.”
Just as in years past, bacon is a big flavor at the fair. And there are few better ways to have it than sprinkled on top of ricotta and cinnamon sugared cannoli shells covered in caramel sauce and chocolate chips.
Tip: There are four suggested Italian Dessert Nachos, but they are make your own. Fair goers can put any mix of toppings on their cinnamon sugared cannoli shell.
Located at Pizza Shoppe in the Food Building.
The trick of the fair is sometimes not all of the new foods are released in June. The pork wing from Minnesota Wine Country is one such food. The pork is cooked on the bone, retaining the flavor and softness of the meat. It’s covered with a wine bourbon sauce and served in threes.
Located at Minnesota Wine Country on Underwood Street between Carnes and Judson Avenues.
Salted Caramel Puff Corn Malt
Much like bacon, salted caramel is having its year. The winner of the “Flavor of the Fair&rdquo” contest, it is sort of a shoe-in to be a fair favorite. Caramel sauce is drizzled over Old Dutch Puff Corn and poured over a vanilla malt. The sweetness of the ice cream and silky caramel sauce are cut by the salty, crunch puff corn. If you’re a Dairy Barn fan, this is definitely a must try.
Tip: You can get it as a sundae too!
Located at the Dairy Goodness Bar in the Dairy Building.
Honorable Mention: BBQ Pickle Ice Cream
For those that may want to go outside of their comfort zone, try the BBQ Pickle Ice Cream. It sounds like it would be less than desirable, but the barbecue flavor is sweet and light, and the pickles add a nice, albeit weird, crunch that helps add texture.
Located at R&R Ice Cream on the corner of Randall Avenue and Underwood Street.
37. Strawberries ‘n Crème: Serving fresh strawberries with non-dairy whipped topping and fresh-brewed iced tea with strawberry flavoring. (Located on the southwest corner of Randall Avenue and Underwood Street.)
38. Thelma’s Handmade Ice Cream Sandwiches: Serving 10 varieties of ice cream sandwiches made with two cookies and ice cream: snickerdoodle, chocolate chip, cayenne chocolate chip, strawberry sugar cookie, banana peanut butter, mint double chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, chocolate peanut butter, s’mores, and gluten-free snickerdoodle. (Located on the southeast corner of Judson Avenue and Underwood Street)
New Minnesota State Fair foods: the full list
The Minnesota State Fair has announced 40 new foods for this year’s Great Minnesota Get-Together:
Alere’s Featured Salads – Asian Salad – Romaine lettuce, fresh parsley, Mandarin orange slices, sliced almonds, sesame seeds, feta cheese and croutons with choice of Asian vinaigrette or raspberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Classic Tossed Salad – Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, pecans, dried cherry/cranberries, olives, feta cheese and croutons with raspberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Garden Salad – Mixed greens, cherry tomatoes and croutons, with choice of ranch, French or raspberry balsamic vinaigrette dressing. At Veggie Pie, Located in the Food Building
Bacon Ice Cream – Real cooked and candied bacon in ice cream with a hint of maple flavor. At Rainbow Ice Cream, Five different locations including Carousel Park, Underwood Street north of Dan Patch Avenue, Underwood Street south of Dan Patch Avenue, Carnes Avenue at Liggett Street, and the Agriculture Horticulture Building
Beef Tongue Caramelos (Tacos) (Available Aug. 27) – Served with chipotle salsa, cilantro vinaigrette, sauteed onions, cabbage and jalapeno. At Sonora Grill* (new vendor) — Taste of Midtown Global Market, Located in the International Bazaar
Breakfast Sliders – Trio of sliders (steak, Cajun sausage and ham) served with scrambled eggs, homemade garlic mayo and topped with cheese and green onions. At Ragin Cajun, Located in The Garden, on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street
Camel Burger Sliders (Available Aug. 31-Sept. 3) – Spiced camel meat served with tomato, white American cheese, spicy mayo and caramelized onions. At Safari Express — Taste of Midtown Global Market, Located in the International Bazaar
Cereal Killer Ice Cream – Soft ice cream that tastes just like the milk left at the bottom of the breakfast cereal bowl. Featuring two flavors – one sweet and chocolatey and one honey and nutty. It’s served in a bowl with a little milk creeping up the sides and topped with dry cereal. Two fruit toppings available: banana caramel and strawberry balsamic. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, Located on the corner of Chambers Street and Carnes Avenue
Cheeseburger Sticks – Hamburger, American cheese, pickles and a secret sauce wrapped up in fresh-baked pizza dough and served with pickles and dipping sauce. At Green Mill, Located west of the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park
Chicken Nachos On-a-Stick – Skewered chicken breast with corn chips, nacho cheese, pico de gallo and jalapenos. At Tejas, Located in The Garden, on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Puppies – Crushed peanut butter cups baked in the middle of a Fudge Puppy that is dipped in chocolate, layered with whipped cream and a custom-made peanut sauce. At Granny’s Kitchen Fudge Puppies, Located on the outside west wall of the Food Building
Classic Walleye Roll – Fresh walleye, served chilled “New England-style” with Minnesota wild rice and minced celery. Dusted with Giggle’s Campfire Grill special spice blend and served on a butter-toasted brioche bun. At Giggle’s Campfire Grill, Located on Cooper Street and Lee Avenue in The North Woods
Cranberry Wontons (Available Aug. 23-26) — Cranberry-infused cream cheese wrapped in a crisp, flaky wonton shell and drizzled with chocolate sauce. At Pham’s Deli — Taste of Midtown Global Market, Located in the International Bazaar
Duke’s Poutine — Freshly cut french fries topped with piping hot gravy and squeaky white cheddar cheese curds. At Duke’s Poutine* (new vendor), Located on Judson Avenue next to the All-You-Can-Drink Milk Booth
Eggplant Caramelos (Tacos) (Available Aug. 27-30) – Served with roasted red pepper, sauteed onion, Chihuahua cheese and chimichurri aioli. At Sonora Grill* (new vendor) — Taste of Midtown Global Market, Located in the International Bazaar
Eggplant Fries (Available Aug. 27-30) – Served with chimichurri aioli for dipping. At Sonora Grill* (new vendor) — Taste of Midtown Global Market, Located in the International Bazaar
French Dog – Choice of one of three sausages (original French Dog, smoked bratwurst or smoked jalapeno & pepper jack sausage) on a toasted artisan French baguette with a selection of sauces (yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, cheddar jalapeno and ketchup). Baguettes are baked fresh daily. At Sonny’s Spiral Spuds, Located in the Food Building
Gluten-Free Chicago-Style or State Fair-Style Hot Dog – Quarter-pound 100% all-beef frankfurter served on an Udi’s classic gluten-free hot dog bun in your choice of Chicago-Style or State Fair-Style hot dog. The Chicago-Style hot dog is topped with brown mustard, diced onions, green relish, diced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, sport peppers, a dill pickle spear and a dash of celery salt. The State Fair-Style hot dog is prepared with condiments of your choice. At Chicago Dogs, Located in The Garden, on the corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Underwood Street
Gluten-Free Risotto Poppers – Arborio rice balls with black beans, cheese, scallions and spices, hand-rolled and dipped in tapioca flour and egg wash, then dipped in gluten-free crushed corn tortilla chips. At French Meadow Bakery, Located on Carnes Avenue, between Nelson and Underwood streets
Great Balls of Fire – Hot and spicy ground pork sausage rolled into balls and served with dipping sauces, including Indian curry, Korean BBQ and cool cucumber. At Sausage Sisters, Located in the Food Building
Grilled Wild Alaskan Salmon Sandwich – Grilled wild Alaskan salmon served plain or with fresh lettuce, tomato and bacon on a soft corn-dusted bun. At Smokey’s Charbroiler, Located on Murphy Avenue, across from the Pet Center
Hibiscus Iced Tea (Available Aug. 27-30) – Made from the hibiscus sabdariffa flower, this tea is a tart, cranberry-like beverage infused with freshly squeezed natural orange juice. At Sonora Grill* (new vendor) — Taste of Midtown Global Market, Located in the International Bazaar
Lamb Chop On-a-Stick – 100% grassfed specially seasoned lamb loin chops served on-a-stick. At Lamb Shoppe, Located in the Food Building
Lamb Fries – Traditional Middle Eastern dish of lamb testicles marinated with Holy Land spices. Served grilled with sauteed onions or deep fried in a crumb coating and served with traditional dill sauce. At Holy Land Deli, Located in the International Bazaar, southeast corner
Minnesota Wine Bistro Menu – Grilled Portobello Mushroom Bar – Grilled sourdough toast brushed with creamy roasted garlic sauce, topped with aged romano and parmesan cheeses and a slice of Portobello served warm from the grill Antipasto Plate – Featuring Minnesota bison sausage, assorted cheeses, roasted peppers and sliced baguettes and Wine Smoothies At Minnesota Wine Bistro (new location), Located on Underwood Street (the former Epiphany Church Diner)
Ole’s Cannoli – Cannolis dusted with powdered sugar and topped with chocolate chips, pistachios or sprinkles. They also come in dark chocolate-dipped shells. At Ole’s Cannoli* (new vendor), Located inside the front entrance of Heritage Square
Paul Bunyan Bar – A vanilla bean or cinnamon premium ice cream bar hand-dipped to create a thick coating of chocolate, then rolled in chopped almonds, coconut flakes or chocolate. At Ice Cream Parlour, Located inside the front entrance of Heritage Square
Ragin’ Ankles – Slow-smoked tender pork shanks, crispy fried and tossed in a spicy pineapple rage sauce – a combination of grilled fresh pineapple, habaneros, BBQ sauce, pineapple juice and cayenne. At Famous Dave’s, Located on the corner of West Dan Patch Avenue and Liggett Street
Red Velvet Funnel Cake – Red-velvety funnel cake flavored with a dash of cocoa, brushed with butter, dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with a cream cheese glaze. At Smoothies and Jurassic Dogs, Located on Murphy Street across from the Pet Center
Scone with Sausage Gravy – A buttermilk scone covered with traditional southern gravy and sausages. At French Meadow Bakery, Located on Carnes Avenue between Nelson and Underwood streets
Spaghetti Eddie’s Super Stick – A stick of pepperoni and cheese dipped in a garlic batter mix, deep fried and served with marinara and hot BBQ dipping sauces. At Spaghetti Eddie’s, Located at Dan Patch Avenue and Cooper Street
Spaghetti Sticks – Spaghetti noodles, sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese all wrapped up in fresh-baked pizza dough and served with a side of spaghetti sauce. At Green Mill, Located west of the Family Fair Stage in Baldwin Park
Sushi – Two varieties of fresh sushi: California Roll features crab, cucumber, avocado, seaweed, sushi rice and sesame seeds. Tempura Shrimp Roll features tempura-battered shrimp, capelin roe, avocado, cucumber, mayo, sushi sauce, sesame seeds, sushi rice and seaweed. At Shanghaied Henri’s, Located in the International Bazaar
Sweetie’s Delights – Mashed sweet potatoes on-a-stick, lightly battered and dusted with powdered sugar. Served with a side of whipped cream. At Mr. Potato & Sweetie, Located on Liggett Street on the east side of the Horse Barn
Waffle De Liege (Belgian Street Waffle) – Authentic street-style waffles with a caramelized pearl sugar crust coating on a soft, sweet, dense and doughy waffle. Served plain or topped with Nutella, maple butter or fresh fruit. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, Located on the corner of Chambers Street and Carnes Avenue
Yosemite SAMwich – Spicy taco meat on a sesame seed bun with BBQ sauce, nacho cheese sauce, bacon bits and crispy onion tangles. At Frontier Bar, Located on the south side of Carnes Avenue, between Liggett and Clough streets
What to Eat at the Minnesota State Fair
I like to stick with tradition when it comes to the State Fair, never passing up an opportunity for cheese curds, a foot-long hot dog, an ice cold 1919 root beer and a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies. Fair food doesn’t need to be, and probably shouldn’t be, complicated or fancy. In no particular order, here’s a list of my favorite foods at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.
I want to see what you’re eating at the fair! Share your videos and photographs, tag @chefaz and use #AndrewsFairShare
Foot Longs at Carnes and Nelson
I love the classics, and it just doesn’t get better than this one. It’s a real German-style (about-a-foot-long) frank with snappy skin. I get one everyday with sauerkraut, well-done onions and a little mustard. It’s without a doubt, hands down, the best foot long at the fair. I eat one for breakfast every day I’m there.
Location: Next to the DNR building.
VIDEO: My top five favorite fair foods >>>
Tom Thumb Donuts
Mini donuts are right up there with footlongs and cheese curds when it comes to quintessential Minnesota State Fair food. You just can’t walk past a Tom Thumb stand, as that fried dough smell wafts through the air, without buying a bag. These are only good straight out of the fryer, piping hot and dipped in sugar.
Location: West side of Cooper between Wright and Dan Patch.
If I could pick only one state fair food, this would be it. A Gizmo is an Italian-style loose meat sandwich, made of ground beef and Italian sausage covered in red sauce and seasonings, topped with real melted mozzarella cheese and served on the perfect roll. It’s like an edible torpedo of pleasure. I’m lucky enough that these guys hit both the Iowa and Minnesota state fairs, so sometimes, I get to eat them twice a year.
Location: On the west side of Cooper between Lee and Murphy.
VIDEO: The Story of the Gizmo Sandwich at the Minnesota State Fair >>>
There’s a lot of dairy at the Great Minnesota Get-Together (we do carve our princesses out of butter). My favorite is the malt stand run by the Kiwanis ladies adjacent to the Fine Arts building. I have a hard time picking between chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla… so I’d suggest ordering all three and sharing with your comrades. It’s been around since 1969 and I think they still employee some of the original folks. It’s the only malt at the fair worth slurping.
Location: On east side of Cosgrove between Wright and Randall.
Izzy’s Ice Cream
Even when the temperatures creep close to zero here in the winter, I crave Izzy’s amazing ice cream. So it’s no surprise that on a hot day, I make a beeline for Hamline Dining Hall, which serves up several Izzy’s flavors. New this year is a mini waffle sundae, topped with a scoop of Izzy’s cream cheese ice cream, warm maple syrup and a maraschino cherry.
Location: North side of Dan Patch between Underwood and Cooper.
Mouth Trap Cheese Curds
What makes their product so perfect? Ellsworth cheese curds, fresh from the creamery, delivered daily—a total of 65,000 pounds of curds over the course of the 12 day festival.
Location: Food Building
VIDEO: The Best Cheese Curds at the Minnesota State Fair >>>
1919 Root Beer
I’m a sucker for great draft root beer. Made in small batches in New Ulm, Minnesota, 1919 Root Beer is one of my favorites. Order it plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, either way you can’t go wrong.
Location: On southeast corner of Dan Patch and Underwood.
Frozen Cider Pop
I happen to love the apple cider freezies in the Horticulture building… it’s reminiscent of the freezer pops from your childhood, but instead of sugary fake fruit flavors, they’re made with delicious Minnesota apple cider. It’s the best deal at the fair.
Location: In the Agriculture Horticulture building west hall.
This stand has only been around for a few years, and after one bite you’ll understand why it instantly became a fan favorite. They’re dishing out individual apple, chocolate and pumpkin pies, deep fried on site and served with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar and a scoop of creamy cinnamon ice cream. It’s fabulous, trust me.
Location: South side of Judson between Nelson and Underwood.
I’ve been known to make a few stops at this french fry stand, it’s a fixture of the fair and for good reason. A carton of these fries is perfect walking around food (plus, it’s easy to share).
Location:East side of Liggett St. between West Dan Patch & Carnes Avenues.
Sausage by Cynthia
At Sausage by Cynthia, everything is made from scratch. Their long menu of specialty sausages include Cajun Andouille, Creole chaurice, Minnesota wild rice and beef, Swedish, Northern Italian Tuscan, German Weisswurst… the list goes on and on. It’s my favorite sausage at the fair. And their beef jerky? The best in America.
Location: North side of Judson between Underwood and Nelson.
This is a fair must, and one of those food experiences that cannot be accurately replicated at home EVEN IF their dough is available for purchase in your grocer’s freezer. Few things can beat piping hot, messy chocolate chip cookies served with an enormous glass of milk. Martha (yes, Sweet Martha is a real person), I adore you!
Location: North side of West Dan Patch Ave. between Liggett St. & Chambers St.
VIDEO: The Story of Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar >>>
Deep Fried Pickles
What’s not to love about deep-fried pickles? Salty, crunchy, sour… Another deep-fried victory.
Location: Southwest corner of Dan Patch and Liggett.
Blue Moon Dine-in Theater
The Blue Moon Dine-In Theater introduced their sweet corn ice cream a few years ago and it’s been a huge hit ever since. It strikes a perfect balance between creamy and corny, and with the optional bacon maple syrup topper, it’s the sweet-and-salty mix I’m always craving. Beyond ice cream, they always have a solid line up of sandwiches, pizza and sides—I’m excited to try the Turkish pizza this year.
Location: Located on Carnes Ave. & Chambers St.
David Burley and his team at The Blue Barn are killing it. You know why? Because they’re serving real food, made by real cooks. The brioche French toast with Minnesota-grown wild berry compote and Pop Rock whipped cream, and the blue cheese corn fritters with chimichurri are just a few of my favorites from the past couple years. Can’t wait to try the breakfast potato skins and Nashville hot chicken on-a-stick.
Location:At West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center.
Vegetarians rejoice! There’s a delicious, savory option beyond cheese curds at the fair. Harry Singh’s Caribbean Restaurant is beloved in the Twin Cities for its mix of Trinidadian, Jamaican, Caribbean and West Indies comfort food. The booth in the Food Building serves some of their best specialties, like Trinidadian “doubles” filled with chickpeas, hot sauce and chutney.
Location:In the Food Building, east wall.
Cheese on a Stick/Lemonade Booth
On a hot, sticky August afternoon, there’s really nothing better than a tart, sweet fresh-squeezed lemonade. I can’t pass the ‘Cheese on a Stick’ booth by the Carousel without quenching my thirst.
Location: East side of Liggett St. between West Dan Patch & Carnes Avenues.
VIDEO: My top five favorite fair foods >>>
Poutine is Canadian stoner food that’s crept south of the border and become a mainstay on Minnesota menus. At Duke’s, thick fresh-cut French fries are topped with cheese curds and hot gravy. Although it’s only been at the around for four years, it’s quickly become quintessential fair food.
Location: North side of Judson Ave. between Clough & Nelson streets.
One of the top grossing food vendors, the Corn Roast has been a fixture of the fair for more than 30 years. Just-picked Minnesota sweet corn is roasted in the husk, shucked and dipped in melted better—the concept is simple, but perfectly executed.
Location: Southeast corner of Dan Patch Ave. & Nelson St.
VIDEO: My top five favorite fair foods >>>
MN Honey Producers
Make a bee-line for the Ag Building to try honey in all its sweet forms: liquid, spun, creamed, comb, whipped… as well as in jams, jellies, candy, cookies, and my favorite, honey ice cream.
Location:In the Agriculture Horticulture Building, north side.
VIDEO: Learn more about the Minnesota Honey Producers >>>
If you need a break from the greasy fair food, try the Pickle Dog: a pickle spear that’s smeared with cream cheese and wrapped with pastrami. Does it get more Midwestern than that? They’ve also added a Reuben pickle dog with sauerkraut and Thousand Island.
Location: South side of Carnes Ave. between Liggett & Chambers streets.
I always make a stop at Cinnie Smiths a priority. The cinnamon rolls are made from scratch (right in the booth) to order, with real butter, real cinnamon and real sugar. I’m getting hungry right now thinking about the gooey center of the warm cinnamon rolls, dipped in their homemade creamy vanilla custard.
Location: Murphy Ave. & Underwood St.
VIDEO: Watch how Cinnie Smiths are made >>>
Midtown Global Market
I love to see local businesses succeed at the fair, and there’s a few stellar choices at Midtown Global Market in the International Bazaar. This year the booth is hosting Hot Indian Foods, with crispy Kentikka chicken sliders and bhel puri, followed by Taco Cat’s deep-fried tacos on-a-stick.
Location: At the International Bazaar, east wall.
Slow your calorie count for the day with a stop at The Produce Exchange. Last year they introduced one of the best new food items in years—overripe and juicy Colorado Mountain Lion peaches that are halved, pitted and grilled, then topped with local goat cheese and herbs. Simple and insanely crave-able.
Location: Northwest corner of Carnes Ave. & Underwood St.
Butcher Boys London Broil
Butcher Boy steak sandwiches are the most underrated least talked about hidden gems at the fair.
Location: North side of Dan Patch Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets.
Copyright © 2021 Andrew Zimmern . All rights reserved.
11 foods worth eating at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair
From alligator to milkshakes to deep-fried Twinkies, there are hundreds of foods available at the Minnesota State Fair.
And I have just as many guides to help you navigate your way around: a list of foods for first-timers, and another rattling off underrated foods. There’s even a guide with foods that the State Fair staff recommend.
It’s tradition for me to publish a list of the top foods you need to have at the Great Minnesota Get Together. It does change each year, and your feedback makes an impact. Don’t bother suggesting cookies or corn, though. Sure, they’re good, but they’re too basic. And gosh, those cookies are way overrated.
Since there was no traditional Minnesota State Fair in 2020 (although there were two Food Parades, my review here), this list was curated at the end of the 2019 State Fair. Prices of items listed below are from the 2019 State Fair.
The countdown to the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is on! Set an alarm for 6 am on August 26, 2021 when the 12 days of fun start again.
1. Wild Rice Cheeseburger
Wild Rice Specialities, Food Building
Once again, the Wild Rice Cheeseburger is my number one food at the Minnesota State Fair. It’s a hamburger patty with wild rice mixed inside. There’s a thin, melty slice of cheese on top. I get it with onions, but you can opt out of those if you want. The bun is buttery and perfect.
In 2019, I had multiple people contact me on Twitter after they tried this burger because they wanted to thank me for the recommendation.
This cheeseburger needs to be in your life. If you have a Blue Ribbon Bargain book, Wild Rice Specialities typically runs a deal for $1 off.
2. Deep-fried Cookie Dough
Sonny’s Fair Food, Food Building
Put down the bucket of Sweet Martha’s Cookies and venture into the Food Building for Deep-fried Cookie Dough. One order comes with three generous portions that are skewered on-a-stick and topped with powdered sugar. It’s rich, so you’ll be good after eating just one ball.
In 2019, there was a new vendor serving deep-fried cookie dough. It doesn’t even come close to what they’re doing at Sonny’s.
3. Australian Potatoes
Australian Potatoes, Judson Avenue across from Coliseum
I asked Twin Cities Live fans what they feel are the most underrated foods at the Minnesota State Fair, and the Australian Potatoes came in number one. I can see why. They’re hot, thinly sliced potatoes that are deep-fried and covered in ranch, chipotle, sweet chili, and cheese.
You will not be able to eat an order of these on your own. They’re incredibly filling. If you go with a group of folks, splitting an order of these turns into one of the most cost-friendly foods you can find on the Fairgrounds.
The owner tells me that the ranch/bacon/cheese option and the spicy chipotle flavors are the most popular. The booth has been at the Fairgrounds for nearly 30 years.
4. Onion Rings
Danielson’s & Daughters, outside the south side of the Food Building
The Onion Rings from Danielson’s and Daughters is another underrated food Twin Cities Live viewers tipped me off about. They’re thin and light, and when you bite down on them, the whole onion doesn’t come out from the batter.
They typically have a coupon for these in the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book as well.
5. Blueberry Key Lime Pie
Farmers Union, on Dan Patch Avenue near the main gate
From the list of new foods in 2019, the Blueberry Key Lime Pie hands down took the blue ribbon. It had the perfect blend of sweet and tangy and the graham cracker crust was delectable.
It was the right size to share with one other person, and it was priced right, too. I can’t say the same for the BLT from the Farmers Union, which clocks in at $13. That’s pretty steep, even for State Fair standards.
6. & 7. First Kiss Apple & Cider Popsicle
Minnesota Apples, in the Agriculture Horticulture Building
You need a break from the deep-fried goodness while you’re out at the State Fair, and one of the best spots to visit is the Minnesota Apples booth in the Agriculture Horticulture (Ag Hort) Building.
The First Kiss apple is developed by the University of Minnesota and is tangy and super juicy. The name comes from the fact that it is one of the first apples to come from the season’s harvest. In 2019, the Minnesota Apples staff were afraid they would run out by the end of the Fair. Fortunately, they made it.
While you’re at their booth, make sure to get a cider popsicle. It’s an inexpensive treat that will cool you down.
Make sure you know there are three counters to order from at their booth, not just one. Every time I stopped by in 2019, people would stand in line for the “register” closest to the middle of the building. There’s no need to stand in that line. You can walk right up to any of the windows and pick out your apples. All windows sell the exact same menu items.
2019 Costs: First Kiss Apple $3, Apple Cider Popsicle $1.50.
8. & 9. Peg Muffin & Boss Hog
The Peg, outside of the Agriculture Horticulture Building
The Peg is the State Fair’s only full-service, sit down restaurant. It’s like a Perkins, but the food is oh-so-much-more better. They have been on the Fairgrounds for over four decades.
If you’re going in the morning, you should stop by for Peg Muffin. It’s a sausage patty, fried egg, cheese and tomato on an English muffin. Epic good. The only issue: The Peg only serves breakfast until 11:30 am.
If you’re not an early bird and are a carnivore, you need to order the Boss Hog. The sandwich, new in 2019, is a meat lover’s dream, with smoked ham, bacon, barbecue pork, pepper jack cheese, coleslaw, chipotle and mayo on a bun.
2019 Costs: Peg Muffin $6, Boss Hog $12.
10. Fresh French Fries
2 locations, including Judson Avenue by the Dairy Building, and by the Midway
Not all French fries are created equal. There is something about these fries that make them stand out. It could be potato, it could be how their fried, or it could be the salt. But there are no better French fries on the Fairgrounds than from this specific booth.
11. Pickle Dog
Pickle Dog, Carnes Avenue near the Midway
I will admit it: it’s incredibly easy to make a pickle dog, or as some will call it, a pickle roll up. It’s pastrami with a healthy spread of cream cheese with a pickle spear, which is rolled up. But there is something special about eating one of these at the State Fair.
The Pickle Dog is the classic. The Fire Dog has jalapeños and the Reuben Dog has sauerkraut. You’re good no matter the choice.
One bonus drink! Mini Donut Beer
Ball Park Cafe, Underwood Street near The Garden
You need something to wash all this food down, and a Mini Donut Beer is a great choice. Made by Stillwater-based Lift Bridge Brewery, the beer isn’t as sweet as you would expect. It’s best without the sugar rim.
The Best and Worst New State Fair Foods
At the Minnesota State Fair, new foods sell. There were long lines at every one of the 32 booths with signs reading “New Fair Food.” For good reason? Eh. Not really. This year’s list is underwhelming. But there are some gems worth adding to your list, some maybes, and some worth avoiding.
New fair foods to add to your list:
Chocolate Agate Ice Cream, Hamline Church Dining Hall, $5
Izzy’s chocolate and caramel ice cream with chocolate cookie chunks and little chocolate “rocks” inside? It’s awesome. Deep, dark, chocolate with decadent caramel swirls and the crunchy bonuses? Home run.
Spicy Pork Bowl, The Blue Barn, $9
First of all this isn’t really spicy, but it is delicious. A huge portion that is easily a full meal for a fair worker or frequent flier. Great adobo pulled pork, beautiful charred salsa adds a smoky flavor, and the sauteed spinach is perfection. Wonderful.
Spam Curds, The Spam Can near the Grandstand, $9
This will be controversial, but I liked the cheese-flavored SPAM with a little bit of cheddar cheese on the outside of the cube, breaded, and deep-fried. It’s salty, but not too salty, cheesy but not too cheesy. Perfect, fun, sharable fair food.
Minnesota Blueberry Aronia Coffee Cake Ice Cream Bar, Minnesota Farmers Union, $5.75
Awful name, delicious ice cream bar. It’s intensely fresh blueberry with little chunks of coffee cake. Grand Ole Creamery in Saint Paul created this, and it’s fabulous.
Barbeque Shrimp Tacos, Tejas Express (Food building annex), $10
Do you remember the original BBQ shrimp served at the original Tejas? This is that. And it’s awesome. It’s a chipotle barbeque sauce with a nice smoky spice balanced by a crispy jicama slaw. Only negative is the corn tortilla was falling apart, but such is life with corn tortillas. If you’re into steak, I also recommend the chipotle-glazed steak in the Macho Taco, featuring a nifty horseradish/sriracha sauce.
The maybes of new State Fair food:
Rueben Dog, Pickle Dog, $7
Take a dill pickle, smear it with cream cheese and thousand island, add kraut and wrap it in a slice of pastrami. Why not? The crunch is nice, the cheese was good, if you’re paleo or love pickle dogs, then you’ll love this. If not: you won’t. For most, it’s probably not worth a special trip.
French Onion Monkey Bread, Blue Moon Drive-In Theatre, $7
Monkey bread is great. Cheese monkey bread is better. But dumping a ladle of French Onion soup over it seems weird. And it is. Weird. And messy. But strangely tasty. Both of my kids liked it, I liked it, but it’s hard to get over the messy aspect of it.
Candied Bacon BLT, The Blue Barn, $8
This is mainly a maybe because there are so many other better things at Blue Barn, but I think this would be better if the bacon were not candied. It’s not super sweetly candied, but this sandwich still leans sweet. The avocado spread is nice and so is the bun. Let me know if you like it.
Ghost Pepper Cheese Burger Quesadilla, Tejas Express, $10
I enjoyed this, but I can’t ever picture myself buying a cheeseburger Quesadilla. Each half features two beef patties with a thick slice of non-melted ghost pepper (spicy/flavorful) cheese. There are jalapenos and a spicy mayo as well. It’s an 8/10 on the Minnesota spice scale, probably a 6/10 for non-Minnesotans.
Carpe Diem, Midtown Global Market (International Bazaar), $6
The most-buzzed about new item at the fair gets a meh rating from me because it was such an incredible mess. This thing melted so quickly I got ice cream on the lens of my iPhone camera. The carp-shaped cone is adorable and kitchy but it’s not crispy – it’s soft like a cookie. So it’s not a great vessel for ice cream, and the opening is so small it’s hard to jam much ice cream in there anyway. The balsamic-roasted strawberry compote is good but it’s near the bottom so you don’t really get much of it, plus the vanilla is industrial-grade boring. Only available through August 30.
State Fair foods to skip:
Candied Bacon Donut Sliders, Minnesota Wine Country, $9
The glazed donut hole was dry and tasted more like a bun than a donut and the bacon was extremely sweet. The best part was the chocolate red wine ganache. Too sweet for me, and you can do far better for a dessert option at $9.
Sheep Dog, Lamb Shop in Food Building, $8
The hot dog itself was delightful, nice snap, nice lamb flavor. I even liked topping it with kale. But the quinoa was messy and too much, and the honey mustard drizzle overwhelmed the rest of the dog. Dial down the driz, maybe toast the quinoa, and you’d have a winner.
Minnesota Corn Dog, Gass Station (outside Food Building), $5
This is very affordable, and if you really like maple you might be into this. But, there’s so much maple, I didn’t really pick up the apple, blueberry, and wild rice flavors that are inside the hot dog. I did like the flavor of the corn breading, although it was quite greasy.
Bonus: New drinks to try
The biggest news at the fair this year is the explosion of beer options. Remember when it was novel to have craft beer? Now it’s everywhere.
Schell’s Red Citrus Sangria Beer, Schell’s West End Market, $4.50/$7.50
It’s a Schell’s ale base infused with natural red wine sangria flavor. It starts sangria—not sweet—but deep fruit and red wine notes, and finishes with a malty ale flavor. The frozen sangria on top is fun. Share this one, I’m not sure I could drink the whole thing. But I liked it.
Funnel Cloud Beer, Mancini’s, $8
Bad Weather Brewing from St. Paul made this copper-colored ale and infused it with vanilla notes. It’s supposed to have flavors of toasted bread and caramel. I didn’t get that, and frankly I’m glad. A slightly vanilla-flavored ale would go very nicely with a Mancini’s steak sandwich. This is just a nice beer.
Barn Quilt Red Wine, Minnesota Wine Country, Part of $10 wine flight
Parley Lake Winery has been working hard in Waconia for years, and the Barn Quilt Red is the best Minnesota red wine I’ve ever tasted. Smooth, silky, jammy, delightful.
Love the Farmers Union Coffee Shop offerings at the Minnesota State Fair? A pop up currently underway from The Minnesota Farmers Union and Birchwood Cafe will include state fair hits. F + B in the former Spoonriver restaurant space in downtown Minneapolis has a menu that includes Minnesota State Fair best sellers such as Maple Cream Nitro Cold-press made with Peace Coffee, lavender lemonade and Birchwood’s Heirloom Tomato + Sweet Corn BLT. The BLT sandwich is also available for curbside pickup at Birchwood Cafe. 750 South 2nd St., Minneapolis birchwoodcafe.com
Lavender Lemonade at Farmers Union Coffee Shop is pictured at the Minnesota State Fair, on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. (Andy Rathbun / Pioneer Press)
From Aug. 26 to 30, Cafe Alma is featuring a State Fair menu to enjoy on its outdoor seating area or for takeout. State Fair classics get a cheffy twist in the Roasted Sweet Corn (covered in jalapeno aioli, franks hot sauce and potato chips), Mini Donut Holes (tossed in 5 spice, cinnamon, cane sugar), Kettle Corn (with caramelized sugar and sea salt), Candied Bacon (pork belly glazed with fish sauce, crispy garlic, lime and green herbs) and Corn Dogs (with roasted poblano mustard, guajillo “ketchup” and sweet corn). Prices range from $4 to $7. You can order online or at the counter during those dates. 528 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis 612-379-4909 almampls.com/cafe
The Sample Room is offering a way to eat fair favorites while enjoying it on their new socially distanced patio. Corn dogs, cheese curds, green tomatoes, pickles as well as Mini Donuts with peach glaze, crushed pecans and powdered sugar are part of the line up. Order or make a reservation online. 2124 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis 612-789-0333 the-sample-room.com
If you’re looking for your favorite State Fair beer, chances are the brewery that makes it is featuring it right now. Some notables:
Lift Bridge Brewing Company will offer its Mini Donut and Key Lime Pie beers, both limited-edition Fair flavors, on tap in its Stillwater taproom between Aug. 27 and Sept. 7, the dates during which the Minnesota State Fair had been scheduled. Pre-sales of crowlers of the beers sold out in July. 1900 W. Tower Drive, Stillwater 888-430-2337 liftbridgebrewery.com
One of our personal favorite State Fair beers, the dill pickle kolsch now known as Deep Space Brine from Tin Whiskers, is available in retail four-packs and also on tap at the downtown St. Paul taproom. 125 E. 9th St., St. Paul twbrewing.com
If you are going to miss visiting the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild stand at the Fair, fear not! They have a virtual gig going on, with video content that includes beer style explorations, special release previews, behind-the-scenes looks at the industry and roundtable discussions with leaders in the craft brew scene. You can purchase an all-access pass for $35, which includes all of the above, but also discounts on merch and an entry into a raffle for a passport pack, which includes more than $1,000 in craft beer 2-for-1 deals across the state. For a preview of content and to purchase the pass, go to mncraftbrew.org/event/state-fair
You’ll have to do some prep work in some cases, and for sure to turn on the oven or grab a saucepan for frying, but these State Fair To Go kits from this Minnetonka-based outfit lets you enjoy some favorites at home. Each of the family style kits ($59.95) serves five and includes Sweet Martha’s Cookies, State Fair Mini Donuts, Sweet Corn, Ellsworth Cheese Curds, French Fries and Corn Dogs. Shipping in Minnesota is free, and an additional $14.95 elsewhere. 763-512-1212 [email protected] statefairtogo.com
You can also buy some of your favorite fair foods at retail locations year round:
9 Weird New Foods to try at the Minnesota State Fair
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A true Minnesotan will tell you that our State Fair is the highlight of the summer months, topping even weekends at the cabin and biking around Lake Calhoun. The Fair is the place where fun meets food you can stuff your face with Sweet Martha’s Cookies and unlimited chocolate milk in one moment, and go careening down the Giant Slide in the next.
Perhaps the Fair’s most famous attraction, however, is not the Midway theme park or the Miracle of Life barn, but its reputation for providing the strangest food combinations ever sold commercially. Think: Alligator on a Stick, Beer Gelato, Hot Dish on a Stick and Deep-Fried Pig Ears.
The 2016 Minnesota State Fair food lineup doesn’t disappoint, featuring many new and strange items. Here are 9 of this year’s weirdest additions.
1. Sheep Dog
Photo courtesy of fox9.com
Don’t get your hopes up, you (probably) won’t be finding any cute and cuddly sheep/dog hybrids at the fair this year. However, you do have the opportunity to try this lamb-meat hot dog, featuring raw sauerkraut, garlic-sauteed kale, quinoa and honey-mustard sauce.
Find this upscale hot dog at Lamb Shoppe in the Food Building.
2. Spam Sushi
Photo courtesy of fox9.com
To me, this new food is an abomination to the sophisticated and delicious name of sushi. On the other hand, you can’t knock it ’til you try it. Maybe this upscale way to eat Spam will make it more appetizing. The jury is still out on that one.
Find this odd combination at Sushi Rolls in the Warner Coliseum.
3. Burnt Butt Ends
Photo courtesy of biznews.com
Yes, this is the real name. After you get over the fact that you’re eating something labeled ‘burnt’ and ‘butt,’ perhaps you’ll be able to enjoy these premium cuts of pork, “smoked over oak and served with onions and jalapeños.”
Find this oddly-named roast at RC’s BBQ on West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets.
4. Paneer on a Spear
Photo courtesy of bringmethenews.com
Finally, your favorite cheesy Indian staple is available in stick form. Following the Minnesota State Fair’s trend of everything-on-a-stick, this portable, deep-fried version of Indian paneer with tomato garlic chutney might be a new crowd favorite this year.
Find your Indian cheese fix at Hot Indian in the Midtown Global Market.
5. Spam Curds
Photo courtesy of amazonaws.com
Clearly, sushi was not enough. Canned-meat lovers will rejoice as they follow up their SPAM Sushi with these deep-fried cubes of cheese-flavored SPAM. Are SPAM curds the new cheese curds? Only time will tell.
Find these interesting curds at SPAM, east of Chambers Street, just south of the Grandstand.
6. Italian Taco
Photo courtesy of ytimg.com
One of the tastier-sounding new Fair foods, the Italian taco is a zesty twist on the Latin American staple. It’s filled with “Italian sausage and mozzarella, topped with roasted bruschetta, romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, pesto, pizza sauce and parmesan cheese, and then drizzled with a balsamic glaze.”
Find these fancy tacos at Green Mill, in Family Fair at Baldwin Park.
7. Reuben Pickle Dog
Photo courtesy of citypages.com
In addition to the Sheep Dog, this new inside-out Reuben Dog features a pickle spear, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing wrapped in corned beef. You could even call it a low-carb Reuben (so it’s healthy, right?).
Find this inside-out ‘dog at Pickle Dog, located on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets.
8. Iron Range Meat and Potatoes
Photo courtesy of kstp.com
This dish embodies the essence of Northern Minnesota. The odd combination of seasoned beef topped with cheddar cheese and mashed potatoes captures Minnesotans’ love of meatloaf, and the Northern Minnesotan affinity for hearty, meaty meals.
Find this predictably Minnesotan dish at Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue and Cooper Street at The North Woods.
9. Carpe Diem Taiyaki
Taiyaki, a fish-shaped buttermilk miso waffle cone, is filled with “balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and topped with vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumble and a fresh strawberry.” This strange-looking dessert may be the perfect opportunity for an artsy Instagram picture.
Seize the day and find this aesthetic dessert at The Rabbit Hole, located at the Midtown Global Market.
New Foods at the Minnesota State Fair
The Minnesota State Fair start this week! This is one of my favorite times of year. Peyton and I have gone to the Minnesota State Fair every single year of her life, including the year she was in my belly. It’s one of our favorite things to do to end the summer. We head to the state fair early in the morning and eat our way through till we can’t eat anymore, the sun goes done or we are so hot we can’t go on.
I got a little sneak peak at some of the new foods at the fair so I thought I would share my thoughts with you. There are more new foods than I will be sharing with you today.
First up – Shaved Ice by MinnesnowiiThere are several different flavors of shaved ice to choose from at Minnesnowii. Each cup of shaved ice is drizzled with 100% sweetened condensed milk which gives it a unique, sweet taste. I think it enhances the flavor and sets them apart from other shaved ice vendors. But, this year’s exclusive flavor is sure to have you coming back for more. Maple Bacon Shaved ice topped with bacon bits and a maple syrup drizzle. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I tried it. And ….it’s good!
You can taste the maple syrup and the bacon compliments the dish. I have no clue what made them think of making this flavor choice on shaved ice but it works. And it works really well together.
One word of caution ….These melt fast! So be sure to take a break and enjoy your Minnesnowii. They serve it with a spoon and straw so you can enjoy every last drop.
You can find Minnesnowii at the West End Market at the Minnesota State Fair.
Minnesota Corn Dog
I’m going to be honest and admit when I first saw this one I was just excited because it was a corn dog! I didn’t read the description before I took my first bite or second. It was my third bite I finally stopped and read the description – Custom ground sausage on a stick made with blueberries, apples, wild rice, maple syrup and cayenne dipped in a homemade corn dog batter and deep-fried.
It was really tasty and I was trying to put my finger on the ingredients. When I read them I was a little taken back. Wild rice? with blueberries? cayenne? But it’s so good! You do not need anything else except a napkin with this corn dog. The cayenne is subtle, I could tell it was there but not spicy. I would have let Peyton have some if she would’ve been with. It’s a very good twist on the corn dog.
You can find the Minnesota Corn Dog at Gass Station Grill located on the west side of Cooper Street between Dan Patch and Judson Avenues, on the southeast corner of the food building.
This is a new vendor to the Minnesota State Fair! Maybe you’ve seen his food truck around town? I tried the Nacho Tater Tots and they were scrumptious. All the taco fixing were there on top of a bed of crispy fried tater tots. YUM! They will also be serving bacon-wrapped tots (I really want to try these), loaded tots, chili tots, tots’n’tenders, tots’n’dogs, poutine tots and more.
The portions are generous. You can definitely share this one or make it a meal in itself. I personally like to share so I can try more foods while I am out at the fair.
You can find Tot Boss on the east side of Underwood Street between Wright and Dan Patch Avenues, just south of the kidway.
Rustic Beef Pastry
French Meadow Bakery & Cafe has created a Moroccan-spiced, grass-fed beef, topped with creamy goat cheese and baby spinach in a flaky butter crust.
This is another filling treat but I would only share it with one other person. You will definitely want more than one bite. It’s full of flavor and unique.
You can find the rustic beef pastry at the French Meadow Bakery & Cafe located on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson and Underwood.
Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread
I’m a huge fan of French Onion soup so I could not wait to get my hands on this one. You could easily share this with 3 other people but you won’t want to.
It’s a pull-apart artisan bread loaf filled with caramelized onions, cheese and beef broth. So good! It can be messy so this is a treat to have when you want to take a moment in the shade. I am not one that would be able to walk and eat this without losing the onions.
You can find the Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread at the Blue Moon Dine-In Theater on the northeast corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street.
Grilled Cheese Bites
I know what you are thinking. Big deal. Grilled cheese. But these are not your average grilled cheese. Made with white cheddar cheese blended with beer batter, cubed and deep fried. See, I told you they are not your average grilled cheese. I love how they are bite size. But I haven’t told you the best part ….they come with a bloody mary mix marinara sauce! And the sauce is the perfect accompaniment to the bites. Peyton and I will be stopping here to pick up a full order. I haven’t decided yet if I’m sharing with her or not.
We have O’Gara’s to thank for these little morsels. You can find them on the southwest corner of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street.
I enjoyed getting a little sneak preview of some of the new food being offered this year at the state fair. Here is a list of ALL the new foods you can find this year at the Minnesota State Fair.
The Minnesota State Fair starts on Thursday, August 25th and run thru Labor Day.