The top 10 Minnesota State Fair foods, 2018 edition

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It’s a yearly tradition for me to share my top 10 Minnesota State Fair foods. I love to compile this list, simply because I love the Fair. During the Fair’s 12 day run, I am usually there 10 or 11 days. I end up eating a lot.

You can read the 2017 edition and the 2018 editions of my top food picks by clicking the links here and here.

Now, this list doesn’t have cookies or Pronto pups. These are a bit more off the beaten path, and to be honest, they are all better than paying $17 for a bucket of cookies that get cold fast.

There are a few staples you’ll find on all of my top Fair foods lists. I put some careful consideration into this edition and made some changes. Enjoy.

Top 10 foods at the Minnesota State Fair

1. Wild Rice Cheeseburger

I couldn’t wait to bite into my favorite Fair food, the Wild Rice Cheeseburger.

There’s no doubt about making the Wild Rice Cheeseburger my number one State Fair food for the third year in a row. It’s not a wild rice patty, instead, it’s hamburger mixed with wild rice to make a delightful, juicy burger. It has the perfect amount of grease. Make sure to get it with cheese and onion. Before you buy, check the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book. They usually have a coupon to save you a dollar.

Where: Wild Rice Specialties, Food Building

2. Deep-fried Cookie Dough

Move over, bucket of cookies. Deep-fried cookie dough is the way to go.

Sure, the top of a bucket of Sweet Martha’s cookies are warm, soft and gooey, but you get tired of them after a couple and you’re left with a bucket of cold cookies you paid $17 for. Enter deep-fried cookie dough. Available at Sonny’s in the Food Building, you get three deep-fried balls on-a-stick. Now, they’re extremely rich, so you’ll be done after eating just one. Split an order with a couple friends and see what you’re missing.

Where: Sonny’s, Food Building

3. Mint Milkshake

Avoid the lines in the Dairy Building and get a simple milkshake from the Cattle Barn.

There are plenty of places on the Fairgrounds for a malt. The Dairy Goodness Bar in the Dairy Building (next to the butter sculptures) is fine. However, their lines can be really long. My preferred option: go to the Gopher Dairy Bar outside of the Cattle Barn and get a mint milkshake. The booth is operated by young whipper-snapper students who are quick on their feet. They’re also not having to put all sorts of toppings on your malt. They serve vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and my preferred option, mint. It’s a refreshing dessert after a long day walking around the Fairgrounds.

Where: Gopher Dairy Bar, outside of the Cattle Barn

4. Fish Taco

The Fair Taco at San Felipe is a State Fair hidden gem.

I typically stay far away from seafood at the Fair. It’s harder to find quality products while keeping price points low. Plus, it must be difficult keeping it safe for consumption in the confined spaces vendors have on the Fairgrounds. When I asked a State Fair official about her favorite hidden gem food a couple years ago, I was a bit skeptical when she told me to get a fish taco. I’m so glad I did. San Felipe serves tilapia with an incredibly delightful mango pineapple vinaigrette and a mango salsa. It’s not deep-fried and is filling. San Felipe serves a regular size for $7.50 and a grande for $10; the regular is all you need.

Where: San Felipe, Food Building

5. Rueben

The Rueben is one of the most filling and delicious State Fair foods I’ve ever had. Split one order with two people.

During the State Fair, I don’t like buying food I can find off the Fairgrounds. A Rueben, especially one coming from Saint Paul restaurant O’Gara’s, would fall into that category. KSTP-TV anchor Lindsey Brown featured the Rueben as one of her favorite Fair foods, so I was intrigued. When another person recommended it to me, I had to go buy one. Shoot, I wish I had this sandwich in my life earlier. The sandwich is a ton of food; you’ll be full after one half. At $9.50, it’s an incredible deal. The corned beef was really good and the bread was great. The sauerkraut wasn’t too overpowering and the cheese was melted just right. It’s my sleeper hit for 2019.

Where: O’Gara’s at the Fair, near the main entrance

6. Pretzel

A huge pretzel for $6. Get it with salt, butter and cheese. Be careful with the garlic version (unless you’re trying to fend off vampires).

As it is with the Rueben, you would think that a pretzel wouldn’t make my list. You can get one at just about any mall. But these aren’t your ordinary pretzels. A couple years ago, I had the garlic pretzel. It was delightful, but it was WAY too much garlic. At the 2018 State Fair, I took a more simple route and got a salted pretzel with butter and cheese sauce. Delightful. They’re baked on-site and at $6, are a great deal.

Where: south of the Midway entrance, near the Horse Barn

7. About A Foot Long Hot Dog

This is the traditional fair food I have to eat every year. A skin-on weiner with charred onion and some mustard.

Where: multiple locations, including by the Coliseum and near the DNR building

8. Juicy Turkey Sandwich

The only time when a soggy bun is fine. It holds all that delicious turkey meat juice.

Turkey To Go has been on the Fairgrounds for over 60 years, crafting a juicy shredded turkey sandwich for Fairgoers. The meat juice soaks into the bun, making it slightly soggy and oh so good. You can add on your own barbecue sauce. They also offer toppings for a fee, but those aren’t worth the additional cost.

Where: Turkey to Go, west side of DNR Building

9. Fresh French Fries

Good luck trying to make French fries this good at home.

Maybe it’s the extra salt they pour on it or the quality of potato, but there’s something unique about the French fries from Fresh French Fries. Maybe it’s because you eat them out of a bucket? When I asked what Fair foods are the most overrated, the French fries were mentioned by a few people, who said they could easily make them at home. I dare you to make them that good.

Where: Two locations: near the Dairy Building and near the Midway

10. Gizmo

The Gizmo is a hidden gem, perfect for a cool morning at the State Fair.

The Gizmo has been around since 1946, but it’s still a State Fair hidden gem. Ground beef and Italian sausage are mixed with a special sauce and covered in a thick layer of mozzarella cheese. It’s served on a toasted Italian roll and wrapped up in a tinfoil blanket. Make sure you add on banana peppers; they’re available on the side of the booth. Coming in $9, it’s a hearty meal.

Where: North end of the Fairgrounds, near the end of the SkyGlider

Honorable mentions:

  • Mini Donut Beer
    • Where: Ball Park Cafe
  • Pickle Dog
    • Where: On Carnes, near the Midway entrance
  • Vanilla Malt from Sadie’s
    • Where: across from the Miracle of Birth Center
  • Garlic Cream Cheese Wontons
    • Where: Que Viet, just north of the Leinie Lodge and east of the Food Building




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