So the 2017 Minnesota State Fair is one for the record books. Literally. Two daily attendance records were broken.
As for me, I spent 11 days at the Great Minnesota Get Together. I ate a lot. Everyday, I made a game plan for what I would consume and tried nearly 30 foods making their debut in 2017.
As things wrap up, here’s my revised list of foods you need to eat which are a little more off the beaten path. Oh, for the record — those buckets of cookies y’all wait in line for are overrated.
1. Wild rice cheeseburger
Again, the wild rice cheeseburger tops my list. Don’t let ‘wild rice’ bother you; this is a juicy hamburger. It has a plain sesame seed bun, and in this case, simple is best. Make sure you get cheese. I add on onion for good measure. All the people at the State Fair stink anyway.
Where: Wild Rice Specialties, Food Building
2. Cinnamon roll
For $5, this cinnamon roll is a steal. The best part is the ooey-gooey middle. And wait until you see them slab all that frosting on top. It’s a great item to share. You know when a booth does something well when they only have two items on their menu. The other thing they serve? Stromboli. That may just be my sleeper hit for 2018.
Where: Cinnamon Rolls, Food Building
3. Mint milkshake
The most refreshing thing you’ll get on the Fairgrounds is the mint milkshake from the Gopher Dairy Bar, attached to the Cattle Barn. Run by the University of Minnesota, the college kids running that stand have a spring in their step, meaning you won’t encounter a line. I never have, and trust me, I’ve been to that booth many of times.
Where: Gopher Dairy Bar attached to Cattle Bar, Judson Avenue
4. Fish taco
I assumed State Fair officials knew a thing or two about foods available, so I asked one her favorite thing to eat. Her answer: the fish taco at San Felipe Tacos. And goodness, is it good. The tilapia isn’t deep-fried or breaded, making it light yet filling. The cost for what you get is spot on.
Where: San Felipe tacos, Food Building
5. Mini donut beer
Surprisingly not overly sweet, the mini donut flavored beer at the Ball Park Cafe is a must-have. They rim the cup with sugar. Come on now. And I will admit it — I may have sipped on a mini donut beer while eating mini donuts. No shame.
Where: Ball Park Cafe, outside of Food Building on Underwood Street
6. Polish sausage corndog
Combine the pronto pup with its wimpy hot dog with a Super Dog and its obnoxious size and novelty shape. What do you get? A Polish sausage corndog. The meat is hearty, the breading isn’t too sweet, and it really fills you up. And at $7, it’s a great price.
Where: Hand-dipped Corndogs, on Cosgrove across from Education Building
7. Giant egg roll on-a-stick
Another new food in 2017 that’s making my must-eat list for 2018 is the giant egg roll on-a-stick from Que Viet. A new vendor in 2017, Que Viet only sold four items (the egg roll, garlic cream cheese wontons, amazing Vietnamese iced coffee and bubble tea), and they were amazing. This egg roll is packed with pork and has more substance to it than a typical egg roll. And it wasn’t too crispy. I hate when all you get in your bite is the shell. Want this fix outside of the Fairgrounds? Check out Que Viet locations in Brooklyn Center and Northeast Minneapolis.
Where: Que Viet, on Cooper Street just south of Dan Patch
8. Australian battered potatoes
Don’t let the $12 price tag fool you, these potatoes are one of the best values at the Fair if you’re with a group of people. You’ll get full after eating two, and they come eight on a plate. You can pour sour cream, nacho cheese, bacon, chili and more on top. They’re warm, cheesy and delicious.
Where: Australian Battered Potatoes, on Judson Avenue between Clough and Liggett
9. Vanilla malt…but from one particular spot
For years, I’ve had a special spot in my heart for the vanilla malt from Sadie’s, located across the street from the Miracle of Birth Center. But paying $8 for a malt is a lot. So during the 2017 State Fair, I refrained from getting it until day nine. Once I had my first one for the year, I remember why I love them so much. It’s hard to explain. But they’re definitely worth it.
Where: Sadies, on Judson Avenue between Clough and Nelson
10. Deep-fried cookie dough
Deep-fried cookie dough beats out the buckets of cookies you’ll find on the Fairgrounds. They’re gooey, warm and even have powdered sugar on top. Grab two friends to try these — you’ll be done after one. And unlike the cookies, you won’t have to carry a bucket with you for the rest of your day at the Fair.
Where: Sonny’s, Food Building
- Blue cheese and corn fritts
- Where: Blue Barn, West End Market
- Chilled bread pudding
- Where: Blue Moon Drive-In Theater, corner of Carnes and Chambers