This year the Minnesota State Fair is BACK, with intent. The crowds on opening day were bigger than last year, for sure, but it felt bigger than normal for an opening day. As did the list of new food and beverages for this year.
The MSP Eating Team was out in full force on opening day. Dara already swung through with her TOP FIVE should you need some fantastic quick hits as you head out. The rest of us slogged through more than 60ish foods and 60ish beers and bevvies to really round out the day (emphasis on round), and bring you this coveted GET IT / SKIP IT / YOUR CALL guide.
We had fresh blood in the mix, Alex Lodner who is a bona fide MNSF fanatic joined the team and she was up to the task. This year, we are breaking out the bevs from the bites, so if you seek our beer recommendations, we’ve ranked them by quadrant this year.
As for the rest, there are some surprises, some super fails, and a lot, A LOT, of bonus foods that were not on the Official New Foods list, that we found to be quite worth your gut space.
Sally forth friends.
Breakfast Gnocchi: A bed of potato gnocchi topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, pesto cream, shallots and balsamic glaze. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, center section. $11.
Stephanie March: GET IT: Don’t fear the balsamic glaze, it’s not glazy. It really was the sauce, the eggs, and chunks of bacon that brought the flavor. The gnocchi were nice right off the line, but don’t tary.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. My main concern with this dish is that the gnocchi may get a bit chewy as it sits, but, I’m a worrier, I worry. Flavor was bright with a nice touch of acid from the balsamic.
Sweet Potato Poutine: Sweet potato waffle fries topped with cheese curds, Beyond chorizo sausage, turmeric gravy, pico de gallo and fresh cilantro. (Vegetarian) At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, center section. $13.
Stephanie March: GET IT: This got a little glommy, and I wasn’t sure how to dig in (does one use their fingers? A spork?), but after a sporkful I didn’t care. The Beyond chorizo was maybe the most flavorful vegan thing we ate all day, and WE ATE A LOT OF VEGAN THINGS. That’s not anger, that’s just wow.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Same concern with the whole texture thing, but the Beyond Chorizo was a pleasant surprise and one of the better vegan options of the day. Definitely not for vegans only.
Bonus Food: Sweet-Corn Elote. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, center section. $12.
Stephanie March: GET IT: Elotesque things are having a moment at the Fair in 2022, this one is a bit sweeter than I would have normally liked, but I can’t escape the fact that I kept dipping those plantain chips back in when I should NOT have.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. This dish/dip was sweeter and spicier than expected. Apparently there’s vanilla in there? Not really elote but If we didn’t have 60,000 more dishes to try today I would have eaten the whole thing.
Tot Dog: All-beef hot dog dipped in corn dog batter, rolled in a mixture of minced tater tots, cheddar cheese and onions, then deep-fried. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, west side. $7.
Stephanie March: GET IT. In the wiener on a stick milieu, one does get bored now and then, and one does look for something new. I liked the all beef dog, I liked the tater tot breading, and I like a commercial cheese sauce in which to dip. Also: I like salt.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. In theory this should have been amazing, and I’m pretty sure I’m the outlier here, but this was just a potatoey salt bomb for me.
Bonus Food: Southern Chicken Biscuit Sandwich. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, west side. $8.
Stephanie March: GET IT. One of the things I will honestly go back for. Not just for the biscuit, but because the chickie pieces were seasoned and imma ask for a bigger dose of the pimento cheese.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. All day, people would stop us and ask what our favorite bite has been so far. Although we tried this early on in the day, it remained one of my favorites throughout the slog. Get it. Don’t share it.
Belly Full is a spring onion-infused Nordic Waffle filled with sous vide seasoned pork belly with coleslaw and locally made jalapeño jam. $12. Vanilla Dream is a Nordic Waffle coated with cinnamon and sugar and filled with Norwegian vanilla custard cream. $20. At Nordic Waffles, located at West End Market, center section.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. Don’t make me write about flaccid pork belly and thin cream. Don’t.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Both items made me sad. Maybe they’ll improve the texture game in a day or two, but for now, it was all too limp and depressing. So many great things on this menu to choose instead.
Minne Hot Hot: Smoked Rib Tips tossed in Nashville Hot Sauce, served with Comeback Sauce. At RC’s BBQ, located east of West End, top of Adventure Park. $12.
Stephanie March: GET IT. Here for the zing of red habaneros on the pork seasoning and I love a good comeback sauce. Warning, rib tips can be luscious, but they can also be vexing with odd bony pieces. For me, it was worth it.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. So much going on here, from the mad spicy sauce to the tender fall-apart meat to the creamy sauce, this is a dish to savor.
Bonus Food: Espresso Tonic. At Java Jive, across from RC’s BBQ. $5.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. Wellllllllll. You really have to like bitter fizzy cold coffee for this one. And some of you do! No judgment!
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Not that it was a competition, but this was on top of my Worst Bev of the Day list. How can anyone do that to coffee?
Lemon Cookie Tortilla Chips: Lemon sandwich cookies deconstructed into four large tortilla chips made from a blend of cookies and corn, served with creamy-center-of-the-cookie cream dip topped with lemon curd. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located at the NE corner of Carnes Ave. & Chambers St. $9. Takes CC, 7am-10pm.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. Oooof. What was that? Cardboard dipped in frosting? Hard pass.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. This was exactly as weirdly conceived as the long winded description promises. For a place that usually does sweets well, this dessert disappointed.
New Mexico Chili Dog Sliders: Green chile and red chile—made with roasted-on-site New Mexico Hatch chiles and a hint of chorizo pork, topped with queso-style cheese and red onion, served over all-beef hot dogs on slider buns. Comes with a prickly pear cactus slushie shooter on the side. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located at the NE corner of Carnes Ave. & Chambers St. $10. Takes CC, 7am-10pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. These were cute and snacky, the toppings were very tasty, and the little side sipper was delish. But, for me? It felt like mini wieners and lots of bread and whistles for $10. It just was a party that I wanted to make a quick circle through and leave.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. These babies were cute and delicious. I usually like my hot dog toppings simple, but the red chile was smokey and nuanced while the green was light and kicky. Nice touch with the slushie shooter side.
Cotton Candy Float: Cotton candy soda poured over Kemps vanilla ice cream and topped with cotton candy. At German Root Beer, located in front of the Grandstand. $6. 7am-11pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. How much cotton candy love can fit into one perfect glass? Why am I so smitten with this, what power does it have over me, why is there Barbie music playing in my head? Oh, sugar. Yeah.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Was this overly sweet and coy? Yes. Was it super fun and worth the inevitable toothache? Also yes.
All Quacked Up: Fried, farm-fresh duck egg from Graise Farm in Faribault atop shaved smoked ham, aged cheddar cheese, tomato and spinach, served open-face on toasted sourdough bread with paprika aioli. At The Hideaway Speakeasy, located at the Grandstand, 2nd level west side. $12. Takes CC, 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. Look. For the first time, I actually like the flavors of a sandwich up here, and the duck egg was cooked EGGCELLENTLY (see where I am now?). But, that bread is an albatross, you can’t really cut it, you can’t lift this like a toast, so it becomes difficult. And that’s maddening because that cheese wants that egg yolk for you. But I don’t know, ditch your friends and sit with it.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Decidedly not fair food, challenging to eat and share. For the sheer non-fair-ness, and the mess factor, I say nay.
Gray Duck Sundae: Bridgeman’s Black Licorice Ice Cream topped with marshmallow cream, crunchy mini marshmallows, whipped cream and a cherry. At Bridgeman’s, located In front of Coliseum. $9. Takes CC, 8am-10pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. I’m a known fan of this ice cream. Try it.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Looked like a mound of blue cheese and mashed potatoes on the poster, so admittedly my expectations were low. Gorgeous in real life, with dark streaks of licorice ice cream and just the right amount of creamy toppings. Not a black licorice fan here, and I would get it again. And again.
Concha Bacon Burger: All-beef patty with raspberry aioli, lettuce, pepper jack cheese, pickled jalapeños and bacon served on a concha, a traditional Mexican sweet bread roll. At the Coliseum. $12. 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. I’m a sucker for new bun tech. And this bright pink concha bun is eye-catching and fun (you 90’s kids will be calling it a Pretty Patty all day). I actually liked the play between salty and sweet here, with raspberry aioli and spicy peppers and salty bacon, and a good patty tbh. Just not sure if I want a whole burger of it.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. Ok, my mouth was confused by this whole experience, but it sorta worked. The pink concha was alarmingly vibrant, and I could have done without the floury texture of the bun, but the sweetness worked with the greasy burger and pickled jalapenos. Bonus points for best t-shirt.
Deep Fried Ice Cream: Handmade ice cream bar covered with a crispy corn flake coating, deep-fried, drizzled with raspberry and blueberry sauces, and topped with sprinkles. At Snack House, located on the south side of the Coliseum. $8. Takes CC, 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. Do not attempt if you have cold teeth. You can’t really lick this, because it’s coated in corn flakes, you have to bite it. And ours was like biting into a frozen shoe.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Unless you have a kid or five with you. This was not in any way deep fried. The block of ice cream was rock solid and the coating only wished it was crispy.
Earth Sliders: A marinated, battered and crispy fried “chicken” patty topped with house-made, slightly spicy secret sauce, shredded lettuce and house-made cucumber pickles that have been marinated in turmeric, garlic and sweet onion, served on a grilled bun. At French Meadow, across from Mill. $14. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. I was v. happy with the amount of pickleage on these, as well as the sauce. The fried bits were crisp, but there was not an abundance of flavor outside the sauce and pickles. But: I’m not a vegan.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Basic vegan chx nugs on bouncy buns with enough pickles to cover the lack of chicken-ness of it all.
“Meat” Balls & Marinara: Italian herb-seasoned “meat” balls browned and sauteed in house-made garlic and oregano red marinara sauce, topped with plant-based Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, served with a slice of grilled sourdough bread. At French Meadow, across from Mill. $12. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. The wait is not worth it for sure. We were trying to cut into the meat balls and they were rather rock hard, which was doubly difficult as the bowl is tiny and the sauce abundant, which means you are likely wearing that sauce.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. The fact that it took over 30 minutes for a teeny tiny bowl of two “meat” balls in sauce was a travesty, but the sauce was actually tasty. Pro tip: never look inside vegan meat.
Bonus Food: Nana’s Caramel Sundae Cake. At French Meadow, across from Mill. $7. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. This is a cakey little toffee bar if you ask me. I liked the raisin-y spicy flavor, but it didn’t feel like fair food to me.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. If you are stoked about digging into a sundae, you will be disappointed. But the earthy, not too sweet cake was actually a nice little Thanksgivingy surprise with a lovely touch of warm spices and a creamy, gooey texture.
Bonus Food: Jalapeño Honey Lemonade. At French Meadow, across from Mill. $9. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. A nice addition to the lemonade roster at the Fair.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Nicely balanced, not too sweet. We could have sworn there were cucumbers in there? No? Either way, it was lovely.
Celebration Cake on a Stick: White cake infused with almond flavoring and decorated with white frosting. This mini version of Mancini’s house cake can be personalized on-site with short text to celebrate a favorite fair fan or special occasion. At Mancini’s, located on the north side of Carnes Ave. across Old Mill. $8. Takes CC, 8am-10pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. It’s cake on a stick, yo. You can have them write a word on your cake if you want, so here, allow me: BITE ME (classic!), UNHINGED, WINNER, MOOD, XANAX, or just GTFO.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Fun, kitchy, Insta worthy, just the way the Fair Gods intended.
Tirokroketes: Mix of spicy feta, cream cheese and mozzarella blended with Dino’s Greek seasoning, then rolled in a gluten-free panko, deep-fried and sprinkled with lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and Dino’s seasoning. (Gluten-free, vegetarian). At Dino’s Gyros, located on the north side of Carnes Ave. across Old Mill. $7. Takes CC, 9am-11:30pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. I liked it, but also didn’t. I don’t know what else to say.
Alex Lodner: GET IT, but don’t try to pronounce it. Spicy, cheesy, salty, gooey little nugs.
Vegan Corn Dog: Plant-based vegan hot dog hand-dipped in plant-based vegan corn dog batter and deep-fried. At Daryl’s Dog House, located near Ye Old Mill. $7. Takes CC, 9am-11:30pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. Something shockingly like a real hot dog is hidden in there, and if you’re a fan of fake meat, and want to trick yourself, this will do it.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Had to clarify several times that we did, in fact, get the vegan version. Not for vegans only.
Chick N Swiss Sausage: Grilled chicken sausage custom-made with chunks of Swiss cheese and asparagus, ground pineapple, bacon and jalapeño, served on a bun. At Gass Station, located outside Food Building, near Leinie Lodge. $9.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. I may need to try this again, the bites I had did not have any of the asparagus, pineapple or other goodies, It just tasted like weird red bell peppers to me.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. By the time we got this, I swore I never wanted to look at another sausage again. But this one surprised and delighted, with a nice snap and great balance of flavors.
Soulsicle: Fried chicken on-a-stick topped with candied yam sauce, cornbread crumble, mac-and-cheese seasoned cheddar cheese, hot sauce and green onions. At Soul Bowl, located on the east side of the Food Building. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. We did not get to eat this right away, and I can see how that would make a difference. But even then, I liked the layers of flavors.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. The chicken was a solid effort but the candied yam sauce was barely detectable. Overall way too salty for me. But you do you.
Bonus Food: Donut Peach Cobbler: Yeast-raised donut topped with peach cobbler filling and cookie crumbles. At Soul Bowl, located on the east side of the Food Building. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. The donut was a bit dry, but I liked the peachy bidness on top.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. The peaches seemed to be of the canned variety, and the cake was a bit dry, but I liked the general idea and would totally bring this to a holiday dinner at my in-laws.
Bonus Food: Queen B Lemonade (blueberry lavender lemonade). At Soul Bowl, located on the east side of the Food Building. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. A pouch of lemonade. This should be the norm.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Wins for best presentation. Tangy and ice cold, fun to carry around.
Poultrygeist: Fried chicken topped with sausage gravy and french fried onions on buttery Texas toast. At Herbivorous Butcher, located in the Food Building, west and south corner. $12. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. Actually, I appreciated this fake chix version better than some of the others of the day. I thought the fry tech was quite good, but wasn’t that keen on the sauce.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Darn it, I really wanted to like this. The crunch was decent but the name alluded to a spicy kick that was not there.
Steak-xorcist: Chicken fried steak topped with sausage gravy and french fried onions on buttery Texas toast. At Herbivorous Butcher, located in the Food Building, west and south side. $12. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. Just: no.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. I assumed I would not enjoy faux steak. I was right.
Sweet Cheese Blintz: Soft baked crepe filled with sweet vanilla-flavored cream cheese and sprinkled with powdered sugar. At Ipierogi, located in the Food Building, east wall. $5. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. It’s fine. You have to ask yourself one question: Do I have the gut space for this?
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. It’s just a cheese blintz, but it’s a good cheese blintz. Wish it had a sauce or two for dipping. Tangy raspberry perhaps?
Kulfi, three: Made with condensed milk, nuts, and infused spices. Available in three creamy flavors: Almond/Cashew/Pistachio Kulfi; Mango Kulfi; and Saffron/Almond/Pistachio Kulfi. At Hot Indian, located in the Food Building, east wall. $5. Takes CC. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: FLAG ON THE PLAY. We only got the packaged kulfi, and no one indicated that the sprinkles were not in the package, and not 100% sure if that was on them or on us, so we are calling a re-do.
Alex Lodner: DISCLAIMER. We only received the pre-packaged product, no sprinkles, no fun toppings as shown in the preview photos, so we’ll let them get their footing and try again.
Buzz’n … Hot Honey Chicken Sausage Kebob: Hot honey drizzled over chicken sausage skewered with cornmeal biscuit chunks and served on a bed of coleslaw. At Sausage Sister, located in the Food Building, east wall. $11. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. On paper I should have loved this, but I didn’t. This place has FAR BETTER sausage options than this one. Biscuit chunks are not my favorite grouping of words either.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. I’ve already mentioned there was a plethora of sausages peppered throughout our day, some better than others. Also, never serve mayonnaise-drenched coleslaw at the Fair on a hot day. Please and thank you.
Bonus Food: Minty Magic Tart. At Sarah’s Tipsy Pie, located in the Food Building, northwest side. $9. 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. I wish I’d had the flask to pour a little brown over this Grasshopper situation. I’ll tipsy your pie.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Wished this was a hand pie situation. Still ate more than my fair share.
Bonus Food: Chipotle Glazed Pork Belly Tacos al Pastor. At Tejas, located on the Garden North Wall. $10. Takes CC, 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. I liked the meat and pineapple parts, I picked them out.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. They were tacos. They were ok. Your precious belly space, your call.
Bonus Food: Tacos Birria. At Tejas, located on the Garden North Wall. $10. Takes CC, 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. There’s better ones up the block.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. Decent, but see below for a better birria option.
Bonus Food: Jumbo Stuffed Tater Tots. At Sonny’s, located in the Food Building. $9. Takes CC, 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. Tater kegs, man. Stuffed with little bits of ham and stuff! Get these and then go cop a squat at Ball Park, they’re perfect little beer soakers.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Maybe a tad too salty, but still fluffy and delicious.
Reuben Rolls: Corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut hand-rolled in an egg roll wrapper, deep-fried and served with a side of O’Gara’s homemade Thousand Island dressing. At O’Gara’s, located on the southwest corner of Dan Patch & Cosgrove, Main Gate. Takes CC, 9am-11pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. You are sitting at O’Gara’s and you have lots of liquid refreshment and friends in your future, so get these as sustenance. There’s actually a lot of meat in these puppies, it’s not just filler kraut and sauce.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Perfect crunch on the wrapper, lovely balance on the salty vs. tangy in the filling. Also, I’m well aware that I’m using the word lovely a lot today. I’m really tired ok?
Birthday Cake Paleta: A Mexican frozen dessert on-a-stick made with chunks of birthday cake, sprinkles and a vanilla extract base, specially created by locally owned La Michoacana Rose to celebrate Hamline Church Dining Hall’s 125th year at the Fair. Additional paleta varieties are also available: Strawberry, Oreo, Pistachio, Bubble Gum, Passion Fruit, a special flavor of the day, and more. At Hamline Dining Hall, located outside the Garden. $6. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT, GET THEM: Are you dead inside, you can’t enjoy a bubblegum paleta? What else are you going to do with your one wild and precious life?
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Happy anniversary Hamline! Thrilled to help you celebrate with this adorable treat.
Pork Schnitzel Sandwich: Breaded and deep-fried Minnesota pork loin topped with pickled cabbage and served with mustard mayo on a toasted bun. At Farmers Union, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave., before the Creative Activities building. $14. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. She big. This sandwich is not playing small. But it managed to be tender and crisp at the same time, and it supported the correct amount of slaw.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Big hit with the crew. And by big, I mean this thing was gigantic. And also delicious. Best bang for your buck at the Fair.
Bonus Food: Aronia Meringue Mini Pie. At Farmers Union, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave., before the Creative Activities building. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL: I liked the dollop of toasted meringue, and the pie was fine. I’m not here for pie.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Disappointed that the berries were presented in the form of gelatinous filling.
Bonus Food: BLT Mini Hand Pie. At Farmers Union, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave., before the Creative Activities building. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT: I am here for a BLT in a snappy, portable, hand pocket. I want many of these in all my pockets.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Plump dough pocket with straightforward yet scrumptious filling. Let’s do this with all our sandwiches now, k?
Bonus Food: Blood Orange Lemonade. At Farmers Union, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave., before the Creative Activities building. $6. Takes CC, 7am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. Delish.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Not too sweet, tangy, perfect for a sunny day.
Bonus Food: Shrimp Poke Bowl. At Shrimp Shack, located in front of Mill, facing the Ag-Hort Building. $12.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. A sleeper like for me, I thought it was going to be a nightmare, but it was kind of zippy. A rice bowl with edamame, fried shrimp, and truthfully lots of mayo, but not bad. If you carry hot sauce, it might even be better.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. Again with the mayo.
Molotes: Deep-fried corn masa empanadas with choice of fillings: Chipotle Style is filled with shredded chipotle chicken and topped with chipotle sour cream, cotija cheese and fresh cilantro; and Elote Style is filled with roasted corn and topped with mayo, cotija cheese and Tajin seasoning. At Andy’s Garage, located in the International Bazaar. $10. Aug. 25-30.
Stephanie March: GET IT. Shocked myself with liking the corn more than the chicken version! But you can just get one of each.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Top ten of the day for sure. Tamales meet hand-pies meet kebbe.
Bonus Food: Quesabirria. At Andy’s Garage, located in the International Bazaar. $10. Aug. 25-30.
Stephanie March: GET IT. One of my favorite dishes all day. The right presentation, the right amount of kick and spice, the correct amount of cheese. LOVED THIS.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. This is how you do birria.
Bonus Food: Mangonada Shake. At Andy’s Garage, located in the International Bazaar. $6. Aug. 25-30.
Stephanie March: GET IT. Just a perfect swirl of spice, cool, sweet, tangy, and good.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Since Andy’s residency at the Fair only lasts six days, I will return daily for this tangy, creamy dream. Note: more of a layered sundae than a shake, but let’s not get bogged down in the details.
Chicken Tandoori Rolls: Chicken seasoned with tandoori spices, onions and peppers wrapped in paratha flatbread, then grilled and served with a side of avocado cilantro lime sauce. At Holy Land, located in the International Bazaar, east side. $12. Takes CC, 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. I thought these had a lot of flavor, and I like the dipping sauce a lot, I came late to the table and the fiends had eaten most of it before I got there. Rude.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. The delicate, chewy flatbread so lovingly cradled the tender chicken, it was almost a shame to rip it apart and shove it in my mouth. But not really.
Pink Guava Slushie. At Holy Land, located in the International Bazaar, east side. $6. Takes CC, 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. I don’t mind viscous juicy things. Just don’t let Alex tell you want she thought it felt like. Ever.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. This was a hard pass for me purely for texture reasons.
Bonus Food: Key Lime Crumble. At the Dairy Building, located near the Haunted House. $8. Takes CC, 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. Woof, those limes had a bad, bad time in the Keys.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Literally stung my throat. And made me cry a little.
Minneblueberry Pie: Handmade blueberry pie made with a crisp, flaky crust, filled with blueberries, and served with vanilla ice cream (plus apple lemonade). At Mineapple Pie, located outside Dairy Building.
Stephanie March: GET IT. I loved how the hot, steamy blueberry pie worked against the very substantial and cold ice cream. It was so elemental, so basic with no gimmick, and done do well.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Finally, a Mineapple pie that isn’t encrusted with cinnamon. Note: I do not like cinnamon. It’s weird, I know.
Mov + Nqaij (Rice + Meat):Purple sticky rice with choice of sauce, including Krunchy Chili Oil , Lemongrass Scallion Dressing, and Tiger Bite; plus, choice of skewered and grilled meat, including Hmong Sausage, Hilltribe Chicken Thigh, or Lemongrass Turmeric Tofu. At Union Hmong Kitchen, located in the International Bazaar. $14/15. 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. I just love getting a little stick of quality spiced protein, and then sticky rice and pickled things with a mouth bruising sauce on the side. Eat it all with your hands, get in there.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. NOT Minnesota Nice spice level. Let me say this is not fair food. But do we care when it’s this good? No. No we do not.
Dej Qab Zib (Sweet Refreshment): A coconut lychee colada made with a blend of coconut milk, lychee syrup, lime and mint, served over ice. At Union Hmong Kitchen, located in the International Bazaar. $7.50. 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. So. Lovely. Lyrical. Luxe.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Top sip of the day. Flawlessly balanced, delicate flavors.
Tandoor-Fired Jerk Chicken Mini’zza: White chicken meat, bell pepper, onion medley, whole milk mozzarella cheese, West Indies Soul Food’s signature Jamaican Jerk Sauce and Pizza Karma’s Tikka Sauce on a mini crust. $7. Turmeric Ginger Lemon Surprise: Fresh ginger, turmeric syrup and a dash of bitters mixed with West Indies Soul Food’s Original Caribbean Lemonade. $6. At West Indies Soul, located in the International Bazaar.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. Maybe too many bell peppers for me, but not for you. Loved the cheese and the sauce, and I oddly loved that it was a soppy mess, but maybe you won’t. That drink is one you’ll go back for.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. Doesn’t feel like a great value, but the tikka sauce was good and it was easy to tear and share. The turmeric ginger lemonade, however, was a delight.
Bonus Food: Acapulco Elote Crispy Chicken Taco. At Shanghaied Henry’s, located in the International Bazaar. Takes CC, open 9am-10:30pm.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT. NOOOOOOOOOOO.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. My least favorite part of elote is the mayo (notice a theme?) and this taco was drenched in a watery version of the condiment-that-shall-not-enter-the-Fair.
Pickle Pizza: Hand-tossed homemade pizza dough topped with homemade specialty dill ranch sauce, fresh mozzarella and crunchy dill pickles, and finished with dill weed seasoning. At Rick’s Pizza, located on Cosgrove, up from the Creative Activities building. $9.
Stephanie March: GET IT. This is what you want at the Fair!! Crazy pickles on a ranch sauced pizza!! The insanity! So the crust is a little floppy, and QC does it better, WHO CARES!?
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. We were all so excited to try this we practically skipped all the way down there. The ranch sauce was better than expected, the rest not so much.
Bonus Food: Mini Deep Dish Pizzas: Two mini deep dish pizzas made with fresh Green Mill pizza dough smothered in garlic butter and stuffed with pepperoni, mozzarella, and sauce. Topped with parmesan, pepperoni, and herbs. At Green Mill, by Great Big Wheel on Cooper. $7. Takes CC.
Stephanie March: SKIP IT: Exactly as described, no more no less.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. Exactly as described, no more no less. Kids like pizza? Kids don’t like sharing pizza? There you go.
Waffle Chix: Serves Brownie Waffle Stick, Chicken in a Waffle On-A-Stick, Breakfast Sausage in a Waffle On-A-Stick and assorted sodas. Located outside Eco Experience Building. $8.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. I see you people who want your breakfast sausage with maple syrup. We only tried one kind, I might have to go back and do some vetting.
Alex Lodner: SKIP IT. Great promise with the mapley waffle (who else misses Fudge Puppies?) but the breakfast sausage was devoid of any real flavor.
Sundae Sammie: Grilled sandwich with cinnamon bread, Minnesota strawberry jam, vanilla cream, fresh strawberries, whipped cream, toasted peanuts, confetti sprinkles and flaked sea salt. At Brim, located at the trailer in the North End. Takes CC, 8am-9pm
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. This was WAY too sweet for me, I could not get past one bite of this on a hungry day. But I did like the toasted peanut add, and everyone in there seems to be having so much fun!
Alex Lodner: GET IT. They were going for that IG moment and they succeeded, but it also happens to be delicious. Would have preferred the sandwich to include that freshly ground nut butter Brim is known for, but the salty peanuts on top were a nice touch.
Bonus Food: Hibiscus iced tea, hibiscus mint lemonade, vanilla cold brew, Vanilla Joey Mary. At Brim, located at the trailer in the North End. Takes CC, 8am-9pm.
Stephanie March: YOUR CALL. These were all pretty good and on the nose for what you think they’ll be.
Alex Lodner: YOUR CALL. The iced tea and lemonade lacked the puckery punch I wanted, but the vanilla cold brew hit the spot at 3 p.m.
Bonus Food: Lobster Roll. At Scenic 61 by New Scenic by Little Farm Hands. $20. Takes CC, 9am-9pm.
Stephanie March: GET IT. Yes, this might be the big ticket item of the day at $20 a pop, but it’s loaded with lobster and very, very delicious. Makes you feel both coastal AND elite.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. Once again breaking my own rule of no seafood at the Fair. Totally worth it.
The Beauty and the Buffalo bowl features ranch hummus, buffalo chicken, crumbled blue cheese, scallions, buffalo sauce and buffalo dust, served with pita puffs. The Coco-Nuts bowl features hazelnut chocolate hummus, chocolate chips, hazelnuts, shredded coconut and bananas, served with powdered sugar pita puffs. At Baba’s, located by Little Farm Hands. $13. Takes CC.
Stephanie March: GET IT for the Buff bowl, I liked this a lot. The chicken was great and the sauce really kicky. YOUR CALL on the Coco-Nuts bowl, which is chocolate hummus. If that freaks you out, get over it, the trend has almost passed you by. But if you are a diary-free human and hava a chocolate shake itch? This will scratch it.
Alex Lodner: GET IT. The Beauty and the Buffalo was one of my favorite bites of the day. The smooth hummus made a great base for the feisty buffalo chicken. Now, the chocolate hummus bowl, I’m not as confident in. Tasted exactly like a smoothie bowl, so maybe a good dairy free alternative?