If sampling all the new foods that the Minnesota State Fair champions each year is your favorite thing, we feel you. And maybe you’ve already blown through the list of GET ITs or Top 5s for this year and are pondering whether it’s now just down to classics. Of course, grab your annual Pronto Pup, but if you are one of the many people who took a pass on the Great Minnesota Get-Together (GMGT) in 2021, that means you missed a whole roster of new foods. Good news: there are still plenty of them around to sample.
We checked to see who’s still offering their Official New Food, or even a worthy Bonus Food option from 2021 and thought we’d make a new(ish) list for the varsity eating team.
Dual Berry Shortcake: Strawberries and blueberries over a sugar-coated Betty & Earl’s biscuit, topped with whipped cream and balsamic glaze. At LuLu’s Public House.
A delightful berry treat in a boozy midst! The biscuit was lovely, the berries were fresh, it was simple and like a perfect topper to a summer picnic.
Bonus Food: Scorchin’ Ghost Pepper Bites Breaded and fried ghost pepper cheese served with an orange marmalade horseradish dipping sauce. At LuLu’s Public House.
Let’s all put a safe zone around fried cheese, you’re kinda not allowed to hate it on these grounds. These little spicy nugs of fried ghost pepper cheese give you some nice heat, a good slice through the sweet beers and sugar dances around you. But, they are also not scary hot, so you will still be able to eat all day without a truly scorched face.
Sidecar Sandwich: Thick-cut cognac-infused bacon smothered with Cointreau and citrus marmalade, layered with melted havarti, smoked Gouda and aged cheddar, served on toasted sourdough bread and garnished with fresh orange slices. At The Hideaway Speakeasy.
This is a nice grilled bacon and multi sandwich on nice bread cut into triangles for easy eating and sharing. I am not a fan of the Cointreau-citrus marmalade, that just took a good sandwich to a wah-wah level for me. I would get it again, but ask for no jam.
Caramelized Banana Pudding: Layers of homemade vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, toasted ‘nilla wafers, caramelized cocoa crispy cereal, caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater.
I felt really bad that my Giant Baby son had to go to college that year and couldn’t be our cleanup Sherpa, because he would have hoovered this. It’s like all the best parts of banana cream pie in cup, with little crunchy caramelized cereal bits on top. Also: it’s a lot of puddin’.
Cracklin Prime Nachos: Deep-fried chicharrón covered in prime rib slices, ¡Que Bueno! nacho cheese, pico de gallo and green onion slices. At Coasters.
This is a sorry-not-sorry moment. These are fully just deep-fried chicharrones or pork rinds, topped with beef (ours were def not prime rib slices, but fine, day one), nacho cheese, jalapeños, and salsa. Listen, sometimes you need to shun a tortilla chip, and when you do, the crispy airy chich is a willing player in your nacho story. This was a CONTROVERSIAL take in 2021, but I stand by its trashy-ness.
Waffle Burger: Quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger served between two maple-infused candied sweet crunch waffles with a side of maple syrup. At Andy’s Grille.
This absolutely tastes how it looks. Not a lot of magic here. I appreciate the chance to choose-my-own-adventure with the syrup, but I didn’t even really get trashy love from this as the waffle to meats ratio was not in my savory favor (though the pic makes the burger look huge when really the waffles were muck thicker and dominant.) It was also a temp thing, there wasn’t a lot of hotness so I might think it could have better days if it was eaten right off the griddle.
Jumbo Donut Sundae: A jumbo frosted yeast-raised donut available in a variety of flavors, topped with vanilla soft-serve ice cream, hot fudge and blend of sprinkles. At Fluffy’s Hand Cut Donuts.
These are giant donuts with bright colorful frosting and you can choose to make one into a Sundae. Reader, make that choice. Choose your donut, choose your ice cream topping, choose sprinkles and hot fudge and peanuts, or not. It’s like a fluffy moment of destiny staring you in the face.
Bonus Food: Piggy Pops Pork wrapped in bacon on a skewer. At Frontier Bar.
Guys, this is skewered pork hunks wrapped in bacon. Ok? One stick, six bucks, barbecue sauce for the flair.
New Vendor: Libby’s Ice Cream. Located east of Chambers Street, just south of the Grandstand.
So, Libby’s is a cute little soft serve stand outside of the Grandstand, that got brought into this mix at the last minute. They have great flavors of twisty soft serve ice cream and that’s fun.
SLIDE TO FOOD
Kerala Fried Chicken Kati Roll: Marinated, battered and fried chicken tenders wrapped in paratha (layered flatbread) with chutneys and slaw. At Hot Indian, Food Bldg.
That’s a pretty massive chicken situation we have going on here. You’d think the chutneys and the slaw would be the story, but it’s really the thin paratha flat bread wrapping. It’s such the right vehicle to hold this, more savory and pliable than a tortilla, with 10 times the flavor and slight crispness that brings its own texture, instead of just being a sleeping bag for your bird.
Paneer Pakora: Seasoned paneer cheese cubes fried in a gluten-free batter and served with tomato butter. (Gluten-free, vegetarian) At Hot Indian, Food Bldg.
Fried cheese is the only Fair theme day I wish to explore. These little nugs of spiced cheese bites, in a sturdier chickpea batter than the typical curd, are worth your dip into the fragrant tomato sauce.
S’Mores Funnel Cake: Graham cracker funnel cake topped with marshmallow, milk chocolate chunks and more graham cracker bits. At Funnel Cakes, Food Bldg.
Honestly I kinda fell in love with this little family stand, which is run by the parents and kids. Sam is the 8 year old who is finally old enough to work in the stand and he has mad math skills. Also this is a funnel cake topped with marshmallow and chocolate. You already know if you’re going to get it or not.
AG to BAZAAR
Fudge & Fruit: Fresh strawberries and fudge brownies dipped in wine-infused dark chocolate, drizzled with wine-infused white chocolate and served on-a-stick. At Minnesota Wine Country.
Chocolate dipped fruit skewered between hunks of fudgy brownie. For what it was, it was what you’d think it was. If this is your jam, it’s your jam.
New Vendor: Auntie M’s Gluten free corn dogs, funnel cakes, and cheese curds. At Auntie M’s Gluten Free, located on the south side of Judson Avenue between Nelson & Underwood streets, at Adventure Park. $6
We got a GF corndog and it was just great. Have since loved the cheese curds AND funnel cakes.
Bison Bites: A North Woods spin on ravioli with ground bison, braised fennel, portobello mushrooms and fresh basil wrapped in classic egg dough, deep-fried and served with a sweet bourbon sauce with a little kick. At Giggles’ Campfire Grill.
These little crispy squares stuffed with bison meat seem like a good snack for the beer garden set. But it would be hard to pass up duck wontons for these. Not sure they were complex enough that I would trek for these specifically, but they were good.
Island Hopper: Hollowed-out half-pineapple filled with charbroiled chicken glazed with teriyaki sauce and served with steamy white rice and pineapple chunks, topped with green onions and sesame seeds. At The Hangar.
Well, it’s a big ol’ pineapple carved out and stuffed with stuff. The teriyaki glaze on the chicken wasn’t overpowering, it was pretty tasty and simple. The rice was nicely cooked and the pineapple chunks were good. It doesn’t immediately strike me as “fair food” but it was a lot of clean food in a place that has tended to gild the lily in past years.
Sashimi Tuna Tacos: Crisp wonton shells filled with ahi tuna, avocado and sesame soy. Thai slaw with peanut dressing, pickled ginger and wasabi served on the side. At Scenic 61 by New Scenic Café, just south of Little Farm Hands.
The New Scenic airstream is slick, with the kitchen in the back chuting those tuna tacos right down to you. I loved the fresh take on this, I love sashimi tuna, the wonton was crisp as hell, and the avocado was super fresh.
New Vendor: Solem Concessions. Brand-new blueberry mini donuts, plus classic cheese curds in Cajun (new to the fair!), ranch, garlic and original flavors. Located on the east side of Underwood Street between Murphy & Lee avenues.
Blueberry Mini Donuts: Loved the idea of these, and they are cute when you pull them open. I don’t think I’d house a full bag like I would the regulars, maybe that’s a good thing? Sidebar: we tried some of their schnitzel strips this year and they were very good!