An ongoing review of new Minnesota State Fair foods for 2018

Get ready for deep-fried cauliflower and deep-fried pepperoni chips.

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The Minnesota State Fair announced June 19th that 27 new foods will make an appearance at the Great Minnesota Get Together in 2018.

Now, an expert Fairgoer will know that more than 27 new foods will be available. Typically, variations of existing foods and foods deemed “less buzzworthy” don’t make this list.

So, as a public service, keep checking back here for ALL the new foods you’ll be able to enjoy during the 2018 Minnesota State Fair, along with my takes. I’m trying foods as I get my paws on them. If there’s a photo, that means I have tasted it!

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl

  • From Cafe Caribe, near Adventure Park.
  • Ahi tuna, avocado, mango and pico de gallo tossed in a Hawaiian ginger-soy sauce and served over cold rice and with a fried wonton.
  • My take: Sounds like an appetizer you would order at Applebee’s. Pass.

Bananas Foster French Toast

  • From Hamline Church Dining Hall, just east of the Grandstand.
  • Cinnamon-swirl French toast topped with slices of banana in an orange-rum-flavored caramel sauce. Whipped cream on top, obviously.
  • My take: Hamline Church had a hit with their cranberry wild rice meatballs. They were extremely expensive, though. This French toast sounds good, but I need to see the price before I recommend it.


Bacon and cheese stuffed tater tots.
  • From The Blue Barn in the West End Market.
  • Tater tots are stuffed with bacon and cheddar cheese. They’re served with bacon-infused sour cream.
  • My take: They’re delicious. The Blue Barn has another hit.


The Bierfest Tipsy Pie is like eating a bratwurst without the mess.
  • From Sara’s Tipsy Pies in the Food Building.
  • Sauerkraut and mustard are baked with cheddarwurst infused with Fulton’s Sweet Child of Vine IPA inside a hand pie.
  • My take: I liked it. I didn’t love it. If you ever had a pasty, this is extremely similar. It was hearty.

BBQ Split

  • From Mama D’, part of the Midtown Global Market booth inside the International Bazaar.
  • It’s scoops of barbecue pulled pork, mac & cheese and coleslaw to make it look like a banana split. But instead of a banana, it’s a pickle.
  • My take: yawn.

Blueberry Rhubarb Cobbler

  • From Farmer Union Coffee Shop near the main entrance.
  • Organic blueberries and rhubarb topped with a cornmeal biscuit and whipped cream.
  • My take: Last year, they teamed up with Birchwood Cafe to come up with an eclair that was a disappointment. I do like cobbler, so you may see me in line. Say hello if you do.

UNOFFICIAL NEW FOOD: CranOrange5 Tipsy Pie

The CranOrange5 Tipsy Pie is cute, but not really what the old-school State Fair is all about.
  • From Sara’s Tipsy Pies in the Food Building.
  • Vodka-infused cranberries are mixed with green apples and stuffed inside a pie.
  • My take: Tasty, but this isn’t what the State Fair is all about. I want deep-fried pie or something beyond crazy. Sara Hayden, the woman behind this booth, is awesome and the story of her business is inspiring. She sells year-round, and I highly encourage you to buy her pies over the holidays. They would be perfect at Thanksgiving.

Earth Wings

  • From French Meadow Bakery & Cafe near Ye Old Mill.
  • Cauliflower pieces are battered, deep-fried and come with an organic sesame barbecue sauce. They’re vegan and gluten-free.
  • My take: French Meadow is the authority for gluten-free options at the Fair. Gluten-full folks will enjoy their foods, too.

Firecracker Shrimp Stuffed Avocado

  • From The Hideaway Speakeasy on the second level of the Grandstand.
  • It’s shrimp tossed with lime, onion, black beans, tomato and corn which is then stuffed in an avocado.
  • My take: their mobster caviar was a bust in 2017. Avocado is amazing, but I’m nervous. If this was deep-fried, I’d be more excited.

General Tso Chicken Taco

  • From Taco Cat, which is part of Midtown Global Market’s booth inside the International Bazaar.
  • Deep-fried chicken is tossed with a bunch of ingredients — including seasoned cream cheese — and is put in a flour tortilla which is topped with wonton crisps.
  • My take: Taco Cat is amazing. Get in line for this one. But it’s only available the first six days of the Fair this year because Midtown Global Market vendors switch out.

Honey Cream Soda Float

  • From Minnesota Honey Producers Association in the Ag-Hort building.
  • Honey cream soda (made without sugar) is poured over honey ice cream.
  • My take: Yes please. My only concern is that it’s too sweet.

Irish Tater Kegs

  • From O’Gara’s at the Fair, near the main entrance.
  • Deep-fried jumbo tater tots made with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and sour cream. Served with Thousand Island dressing and served on a bed of sauerkraut.
  • My take: O’Gara’s makes above-average food, and Dan O’Gara could not be a nicer guy. Definitely worth trying. Tater Kegs is a great name, too.

Mangonada Shave Ice

  • From Minnesowii Shave Ice in the West End Market.
  • Mango-flavored shave ice is drizzled with a Mexican chamoy sauce and topped with chili powder and mango boba pearls.
  • My take: huh?

Messy Giuseppe

  • From Mancini’s al Fresco, near the Giant Slide.
  • Ground beef and Italian pork sausage are smothered in marinara, topped with parmesan cheese and served on Italian bread.
  • My take: Wait a second. This sounds like a blend between the Gizmo, a Minnesota State Fair hidden gem, and the Italian dunkers I ate in elementary school. Sounds unoriginal, but I need to see it.

Moroccan Sausage Bowl

  • From Sausage by Cynthia, near that Water Ride thing.
  • Ground beef and lamb sausage are seasoned and cooked with VEGETABLES. It’s not deep-fried.
  • My take: This will be a good thing to get on my eighth day of the Fair when I’m sick of greasy food.

Nordic Waffles

  • From Nordic Waffles in the West End Market.
  • Basically, they’re making waffle sandwiches. One has egg, bacon and cheese. Another has salmon and cream cheese. There’s one with a black bean veggie burger, too.
  • My take: This is a new vendor for 2018. There was another waffle ice cream sandwich place in the West End Market last year. We went and were super disappointed because they were just using jumbo Eggo waffles from Target’s freezer section. They must be gone?

Pepperoni Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Queso

  • From LuLu’s Public House in the West End Market.
  • Fried pepperoni chips served with a red pepper cheese sauce.
  • My take: Ketogenic dieters rejoice. Meat and cheese.

Rainbow Cloud Roll

  • From Rainbow Ice Cream in the Grandstand.
  • Oh no. It’s ice cream topped with a “fruity cereal” and wrapped in cotton candy.
  • My take: My teeth hurt.

Shrimp Ceviche

  • From Shrimp Shack. Never heard of them. Apparently it’s at Carnes and Underwood.
  • Shrimp, cucumber and other things you expect in ceviche served with tortilla chips.
  • My take: It’s an appetizer you could get at any Mexican restaurant.

Slider Flights

  • From The Hanger, a new vendor for 2018. They’re up in Shoreview, I mean, the (old) Pet Center that got transformed into a restaurant. The Pet Center has a new home.
  • They’ll have three “slider” sandwich flights at The Hanger (get it?). One is brisket, one is a burger, and the last one is pulled pork.
  • My take: I can’t wait to see what they did with the Pet Center, an extremely underutilized building.

Smoked Soft Serve Ice Cream

  • From Blue Moon Dine-In Theater which is across the street from Adventure Park.
  • Two cold-smoked ice cream flavors include COLD BREW COFFEE flavored ice cream and another with vanilla beans is served with bacon candy.
  • My take: Mike and Steph at Blue Moon knock it out of the park year after year. Their bread pudding is an honorable mention in my favorite fair foods list. And their booth is a great place to hide on a hot day. I cannot wait to try that cold brew coffee ice cream.

Swedish Meatball Smorgas

Look hard: there are meatballs underneath all that gravy goodness.
  • From The Blue Barn in the West End Market.
  • It’s a meatball sandwich with Swedish pork and beef topped with white gravy, lingonberry sauce and dill pickles.
  • My take: The Blue Barn, run by Steph Shimp from the Blue Plate Restaurant Group, is a fantastic spot for food, and their menu has something for everyone, making the wait in line worth it. The meatballs were filling but didn’t have me feeling like death.

Sweet Greek Cheese Puffs

  • From Dino’s Gyros near Ye Old Mill.
  • It’s phyllo dough filled with feta and ricotta cheese and deep-fried. They drizzle that with honey and powdered sugar.
  • My take: cheese intrigues me. They had a dud last year with the honey bread thing they made. It wasn’t memorable enough for me to remember its name. It was just way too much honey, making it really hard to eat with your hands.

Sweetie Cakes

  •  From Sweetie Cakes in the Food Building.
  • You can choose from black forest cake, birthday cake or chocolate peanut butter cake. They put whipped cream and toffee on it.
  • My take: Sounds kind of boring, although I LOVE birthday cake. Now, if they deep-fried birthday cake, I’d be the first in line.

Triple Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

  • From The Strawberry Patch on the north end of the Fairgrounds.
  • It’s a dense chocolate cake with chocolate chips and fudge icing that’s topped with strawberries and whipped cream.
  • My take: sounds like a dessert on the menu at The Cheesecake Factory.

Turducken Sausage Sandwich

What do you get when you mix a turkey with a duck and a chicken. A mediocre sausage.
  • From Giggles’ Campfire Grill at The North Woods.
  • They’re combining turkey, duck and chicken and putting that on a bun. It’s gluten-free.
  • My take: Giggles’ always has a line that’s way too long and slow, and to be honest, the food there is always over-hyped.  I tried this Turducken sausage. It was okay. It seems like more of a gimmick to get people to stand in line than a new State Fair staple.

UpNorth Puff Pasty

  • From Sausage Sister & Me in the Food Building.
  • They’re mixing porketta with cheese curds, mustard and pickles that’s all baked in a puff crust.
  • My take: Sausage Sister & Me has some delicious food. It’s not filling enough for the price you pay.

Wood-Grilled Elote

  • From Tejas Express located in The Garden (where the people who think they can sing do karaoke).
  • It’s corn on the cob brushed with chili-spiced mayo and sprinkled with queso and lime juice.
  • My take: It’s basically MexiCorn, which is delightful. Not original, but if you’ve never had MexiCorn, you should try it. Just go to El Burrito Mercado in Saint Paul and purchase it from the truck in the parking lot. That way you don’t need to pay for admission into the Fair.

Za-Waffle Sticks

  • From Green Mill, by the Family Fair stage.
  • “Waffles” are combined with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. It’s served with pepperoni-infused maple syrup (???) or a marinara sauce.
  • My take: Green Mill’s State Fair menu is boring. However, the vendor serves an important role for parents who are walking around the Fair with their tiny picky eaters.

Zesty PB&J Sausage

  • From Gass Station Grill. It’s on the outside of the Food Building.
  • It’s a sausage with peanut butter, cherry jelly, cayenne pepper and cilantro.
  • My take: Gass Station usually has food that sounds fun and quirky, but looks and tastes awful.

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