August 9, 2022

Give Me The Mike

Exploring Minnesota and Beyond

A review of official (and unofficial) new foods at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair

The 2022 Minnesota State Fair, happening August 25 - September 5, features 38 official new foods. But if you look closely around the Fairgrounds, vendors will have other new items for sale.

The 2022 Minnesota State Fair, happening August 25 – September 5, features 38 official new foods. But if you look closely around the Fairgrounds, vendors will have other new items for sale. The official new foods list is comprised of “flashy” foods that gain the media’s attention.

Here’s how this guide works. If you see a photo of a food, that means I have tried it. I also provide a rating out of 5, with 5 being the best. The descriptions posted are courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair.

I will be at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair for 10 or the 12 days, and I’ll be eating my way through the Great Minnesota Get Together. Keep reading for reviews of official and unofficial new foods I’ve tried (and photos of what they actually look like).

To see publicity photos of the official new foods, check out the State Fair’s website.

If you are looking for a list of my favorite Fair foods, click here to read a list of the 11 foods I think you need to order.


All Quacked Up!

From The Hideaway Speakeasy, Grandstand

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.

My take: I have never enjoyed a food from The Hideaway Speakeasy. This sounds pedestrian.


Arepa Bar’s Three Arepas – Pulled Pork, The Queen and Vegan

From Midtown Global Market’s Arepa Bar, International Bazaar

Baked Venezuelan crispy corn pocket with choice of three fillings (all arepas are gluten-free): The Pulled Pork Arepa is pork shoulder slow-roasted in red wine and vegetables served with shredded cheddar cheese, cabbage, carrots, green onions and parsley; The Queen (Reina Pepiada) is pulled chicken and avocado puree salad topped with mozzarella cheese and fresh arugula; and the Vegan Arepa is house-prepared black beans, fried sweet plantains, cabbage, carrots, green onions and parsley.

This is a new vendor for 2022. They will only be available the second half of the Fair, August 31 – September 5.

My take: Arepas are an underrated food.


Beauty and the Buffalo and Coco-Nuts Hummus Bowls

From Baba’s, Underwood Street, near Little Farm Hands

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.

Coco-Nuts is vegan and can be gluten-free without the pita puffs.

My take: The Baba’s brand is owned by children of the owner of Mediterranean Cruise Cafe in Burnsville. They had an extremely successful fair in 2021 as a new vendor. Their hummus is fantastic, and you can buy it at grocery stores around the Twin Cities. It’s not the most conventional Fair food, though, so if you’re coming for one day, slide it down your list and add it to your grocery store list.


Birthday Cake Paleta

From Hamline Dining Hall, Dan Patch Avenue

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.

My take: A smart move for Hamline Dining Hall to team up with an up-and-coming ice cream shop for a new food this year. I’ll definitely stop by to celebrate 125 years.


(Unofficial new food) Al’s Breakfast Pancakes

From Hamline Dining Hall, Dan Patch Avenue

Buttermilk and Blueberry Pancakes using the Dinkytown diner’s “from scratch” recipe and served with its house made syrup will be available for breakfast from 7 a.m. through 1 p.m. daily.

My take: Al’s Breakfast’s pancakes are good. We’ll see how big they make them at the State Fair. I feel that if you haven’t been to the tiny diner, you should experience the flapjacks at the diner first. The whole place is a vibe.


Breakfast Gnocchi

From The Blue Barn, West End Market

A bed of potato gnocchi topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, pesto cream, shallots and balsamic glaze.

My take: The Blue Barn always knocks it out of the park. Expect sticker shock when you look at the menu. But the quality justifies the price. Most of the items on their menu are shareable, which can prevent you from running back to the ATM.


Buzz’n … Hot Honey Chicken Sausage Kebob

From Sausage Sister & Me, Food Building

Hot honey drizzled over chicken sausage skewered with cornmeal biscuit chunks and served on a bed of coleslaw.

My take: Sausage Sister & Me hit the new food lottery years ago with the Twister Sister. I haven’t seen a new food from this booth that has matched its quality.


Celebration Cake On-A-Stick

From Mancini’s, Carnes Avenue

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.

My take: Extremely pedestrian and extremely novelty. I’m sure you’ll see personalized cakes pop up in Instagram photos.


(Unofficial new food) Cheese Curd Tacos

From Richie’s Cheese Curd Tacos, outside of the Food Building

Richie’s Cheese Curd Tacos serves two varieties in a fried flour tortilla shell: Original Cheese Curd Taco (diced bratwurst, fried cheddar cheese curds, lettuce and Baja sauce) and Box Checker Cheese Curd Taco (diced chicken, bacon, fried cheddar cheese curds, lettuce and ranch sauce).

My take: You had me at cheese curd.


Chick N Swiss Sausage

From The Gass Station, outside of the Food Building

Grilled chicken sausage custom-made with chunks of Swiss cheese and asparagus, ground pineapple, bacon and jalapeño, served on a bun.

My take: Nothing, I mean nothing, at the Gass Station is good. I swear, this booth is probably where the mob does deals.


Chicken Tandoori Rolls

From Holy Land, International Bazaar

Chicken seasoned with tandoori spices, onions and peppers wrapped in paratha flatbread, then grilled and served with a side of avocado cilantro lime sauce.

My take: Looks like a State Fair food. Sounds like a State Fair food. Has the public forgiven Holy Land after a falling out with racist remarks by a family member? 


Chilaquiles Breakfast

From Tejas Express, The Garden

Fried corn tortilla strips sauteed with guajillo chile salsa and topped with scrambled eggs, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, avocado and crema.

My take: Chilaquiles is one of my favorite foods. Chilaquiles from Tejas Express probably live up to my standards. And if I remember correctly, Tejas Express got rid of beergaritas in 2021. I haven’t forgiven them.


Concha Bacon Burger

From Aldo’s, Coliseum

All-beef patty with raspberry aioli, lettuce, pepper jack cheese, pickled jalapeños and bacon served on a concha, a traditional Mexican sweet bread roll.

My take: I’m not familiar with this food vendor at all, and they’re not new. My expectations are low.


Cotton Candy Float

From German Root Beer and Popcorn, Chambers Street

Cotton candy soda poured over Kemps vanilla ice cream and topped with cotton candy.

My take: This is something you try one bite of to say you had it. Then you throw the rest in the garbage.


Deep-Fried Ice Cream

From Snack House, Coliseum

Handmade ice cream bar covered with a crispy corn flake coating, deep-fried, drizzled with raspberry and blueberry sauces, and topped with sprinkles.

My take: If this is anything like the Mexican ice cream they used to sell at ChiChi’s, I will eat this every day.


Dej Qab Zib

From Union Hmong Kitchen, International Bazaar

A coconut lychee colada made with a blend of coconut milk, lychee syrup, lime and mint, served over ice.

My take: This will be a must-get day one. Yia Vang is the chef behind Union Hmong Kitchen, who has worked hard to share his Hmong cuisine with Minnesotans. He’s gone from a food truck to pop ups to a restaurant, with appearances on national TV sprinkled in there. He is worthy of his own State Fair booth. If you haven’t stopped by his booth inside Graze Food Hall by Target Field, definitely stop by.


Earth Sliders™ and “Meat” Balls & Marinara

From French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, Carnes Avenue

Earth Sliders™ are 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. “Meat” Balls & Marinara are 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.

Both of these items are vegan.

My take: French Meadow is one of the two best spots on the Fairgrounds for gluten-free and vegan folks (Brim is the other). Even carnivores like me enjoy their food. Their Earth Wings (think chicken wings but made with cauliflower) are great. It’s great seeing more vegan options at the State Fair.


(Unofficial new food) The return of ‘Fudge Puppies’?

From Waffle Chix, Randall Avenue

Waffle Chix serves Brownie Waffle Stick, Chicken in a Waffle On-A-Stick, Breakfast Sausage in a Waffle On-A-Stick and assorted sodas.

My take: If you’re not familiar, Granny’s Kitchen Fudge Puppies was a staple at the State Fair for decades. They left a few years back, and according to their Facebook page, the owner cites personal health reasons as the reason they can’t go back. This is the closest you’re going to get to a fudge puppy — a Belgian waffle on a stick with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.


Gray Duck Sundae

From Bridgeman’s Ice Cream, Judson at Liggett

Bridgeman’s Black Licorice Ice Cream topped with marshmallow cream, crunchy mini marshmallows, whipped cream and a cherry.

My take: Bridgeman’s does a good job with ice cream. Black licorice is not my thing, but I definitely want to try it.


Poultrygeist and Steak-xorcist

From The Herbivorous Butcher, Food Building

Poultrygeist is fried chicken topped with sausage gravy and french fried onions on buttery Texas toast; and Steak-xorcist is chicken fried steak topped with sausage gravy and french fried onions on buttery Texas toast.

Both items are vegan.

My take: The Herbivorious Butcher, a Northeast Minneapolis shop run by a brother and sister, is doing something special in the vegan community. They appeared on my show, Minnesota Live, and their meats are incredible for being vegan. I wouldn’t pass this new Fair vendor up just because they’re vegan.


Kulfi: Indian-Style Ice Cream

From Hot Indian, Food Building

Made with condensed milk, nuts and infused spices. Available in three creamy flavors: Almond/Cashew/Pistachio Kulfi; Mango Kulfi; and Saffron/Almond/Pistachio Kulfi.

All are gluten-free.

My take: Hot Indian makes great food, and these should be a great way to cool down on a hot day at the State Fair.


Lemon Cookie Tortilla Chips

From Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, Carnes at Chambers

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.

My take: Blue Moon has a consistent menu (don’t pass on their bread pudding). I’ll give this a go.


Minne Hot Hot

From RC’s BBQ, Dan Patch Avenue

Smoked Rib Tips tossed in Nashville Hot Sauce, served with Comeback Sauce.

My take: Food at RC’s is good, and owner Charlie is a great guy, but it can run extremely expensive for what you get.


Minneblueberry Pie

From Minneapple Pie, Judson Avenue

Handmade blueberry pie made with a crisp, flaky crust, filled with blueberries, and served with vanilla ice cream.

My take: I love George and his sister, Joanne, who own Minneapple Pie. Their deep-fried apple pies and deep-fried pumpkin pies are a must-stop when I bring people to the Fair. I’ll definitely get one of these.


Molotes

From Midtown Global Market’s Andy’s Garage, International Bazaar

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.

Gluten-free. They will only be available the first half of the Fair, August 25 – 30.

My take: Sure, yeah.


Mov + Nqaij (Rice + Meat)

From Union Hmong Kitchen, International Bazaar

Purple sticky rice with choice of sauce, including Krunchy Chili Oil (dried Thai chilis, garlic, shallots), Lemongrass Scallion Dressing (lemongrass, ginger, garlic, shallots), and Tiger Bite (Thai chilis, garlic, shallots, cilantro, fish sauce, oyster sauce, lime juice); plus, choice of skewered and grilled meat, including Hmong Sausage (house-made coarse-ground pork sausage link with Krunchy Chili Oil), Hilltribe Chicken Thigh (ginger, lemongrass), or Lemongrass Turmeric Tofu (marinated in a lemongrass and turmeric blend).

This entire meal is gluten-free.

My take: You can get a similar version of this meal at Union Hmong Kitchen’s restaurant in Minneapolis, and it’s really good. It’s not the most walkable food. You have rice and a big sausage on a stick with a dipping sauce. If you don’t get it at the Fair, please do me a favor and go to Yia Vang’s restaurant and order this sausage.


(Unofficial new food) Nautical Bowls

From Nautical Bowls, Food Building

Nautical Bowls serves four fresh superfood bowls: Anchor Bowl (açaí, granola, banana, coconut flakes, cashew cacao butter); Nauti Bowl (açaí, pitaya, granola, banana, cacao nibs, peanut butter); Paddle Bowl (Blue Majik, mango, coconut, granola, strawberries, coconut flakes, honey); and Sunset Bowl (ube, blood orange, granola, blueberries, coconut flakes, honey). All are organic, gluten- and dairy-free, plant-based and without refined sugar. Ingredients are organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based, and contain zero refined sugars.

My take: Sounds like something I could get at Life Time Fitness.


New Mexico Chile Dog Sliders Two Ways

From Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, Carnes at Chambers

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.

My take: New Mexico green chile is delightful. The slushie shooter is a fun addition, too. It’ll be interesting to see if these have too many toppings.


Belly Full Nordic Waffle and Vanilla Dream Nordic Waffle

From Nordic Waffles, West End Market

Two new fresh-made waffle sandwiches: Belly Full is a spring onion-infused Nordic Waffle filled with sous vide seasoned pork belly with coleslaw and locally made jalapeño jam; Vanilla Dream is a Nordic Waffle coated with cinnamon and sugar and filled with Norwegian vanilla custard cream.

My take: Owner Stine at Nordic Waffles always does a great job making quality food, but again, you’ll have to pay for the quality. Behind a bucket of cookies, Nordic Waffles are typically one of the most expensive foods you’ll buy at the Fair.


(Unofficial new food) Steak Tips

From Pickle Barrel Sirloin Tips, Judson at Nelson

Pickle Barrel Sirloin Tips serves steak dinners with fresh grilled steak tips, plus steak pitas (both with optional sauteed onions and green peppers and marinated mushrooms), homemade mashed potatoes and fresh brewed iced tea.

This is a new vendor for 2022.

My take: Sounds like Applebee’s. Prove me wrong.


Pickle Pizza

From Rick’s Pizza, Cosgrove Street

Hand-tossed homemade pizza dough topped with homemade specialty dill ranch sauce, fresh mozzarella and crunchy dill pickles, and finished with dill weed seasoning.

My take: There are multiple pizzerias around that already make pickle pizza. I guess when I go to the State Fair, I’d rather get foods I can only get at the State Fair. So this pickle pizza better be good.


Pink Guava Slushie

From Holy Land, International Bazaar

Frozen slushie drink made with juice squeezed from fresh pink guavas.

My take: The basil limeade from Holy Land is a lovely alternative to pop when you’re out at the Fair. I’m sure this beverage will be amazing, too.


Pork Schnitzel Sandwich

From Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop, Dan Patch Avenue

Breaded and deep-fried Minnesota pork loin topped with pickled cabbage and served with mustard mayo on a toasted bun.

My take: The Farmers Union has a quality menu, with multiple foods making my ‘top 10 foods’ list from past Fairs (blueberry key lime pie, the BLT). I have high expectations for this one, too.


Reuben Rolls

From O’Gara’s at the Fair, Dan Patch at Cosgrove

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.

My take: O’Gara’s has a success with its Reuben. It is one of my favorite State Fair foods. It’s extremely shareable, making it priced right. If these are like the sandwich, sign me up. The new foods in the past few years at O’Gara’s haven’t been much of a success.


Soulsicle

From Soul Bowl, Food Building

Fried chicken on-a-stick topped with candied yam sauce, cornbread crumble, mac-and-cheese seasoned cheddar cheese, hot sauce and green onions.

My take: Like Union Hmong Kitchen, Soul Bowl is another restaurant inside Graze Food Hall in Minneapolis, and will be a new vendor at the 2022 State Fair. Soul Bowl’s food is fantastic, so this is on my list of things to try.


Sundae Sammie

From Brim, North End

Grilled sandwich with cinnamon bread, Minnesota strawberry jam, vanilla cream, fresh strawberries, whipped cream, toasted peanuts, confetti sprinkles and flaked sea salt.

My take: Brim’s sandwiches are really good, and they’re worth the walk to the North End of the Fairgrounds. Their menu is gluten-free and they also have vegan options available.


Sweet Cheese Blintz

From iPierogi, Food Building

Soft baked crepe filled with sweet vanilla-flavored cream cheese and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

My take: Mmmmm, nah.


Sweet Potato Poutine

From The Blue Barn, West End

Sweet potato waffle fries topped with cheese curds, Beyond chorizo sausage, turmeric gravy, pico de gallo and fresh cilantro.

My take: Sweet potato waffle fries and cheese curds? Yes.


Tandoor-Fired Jerk Chicken Mini’zza

From West Indies Soul Food, International Bazaar

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.

My take: If you haven’t been to Pizza Karma, you should really check it out. They have a couple locations around the Twin Cities now and make Tandoor-fired pizzas. This item sounds rather simple for the State Fair.


Tirokroketes

From Dino’s Gyros, Carnes Avenue

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.

These are gluten-free.

My take: I go to Dino’s Gryo’s on day 9 of the Fair when I’m tired of eating Fair foods. I get a gyro because it’s actual food and because they usually have a coupon in the Blue Ribbon Bargain Book. Beyond that, everything on the menu at Dino’s is bad. The new foods they introduce every single year are misses. I expect nothing different in 2022.


Tot Dog

From LuLu’s Public House, West End Market

All-beef hot dog dipped in corn dog batter, rolled in a mixture of minced tater tots, cheddar cheese and onions, then deep-fried.

My take: LuLu’s has one of the best patios at the State Fair (it’s a rooftop patio, too). In 2021, they elevated their decent food menu with the addition of Jason Matheson’s Betty & Earl’s Biscuits. In the past, they’ve had some new food misses (deep-fried pepperoni comes to mind). This one could be a toss up, but I don’t have a good feeling about it.


Turmeric Ginger Lemon Surprise

From West Indies Soul Food, International Bazaar

Fresh ginger, turmeric syrup and a dash of bitters mixed with West Indies Soul Food’s Original Caribbean Lemonade.

This is gluten-free and vegan.

My take: I love seeing all these refreshing non-alcoholic beverages on the new foods menu for 2022.


Vegan Corn Dog

Plant-based vegan hot dog hand-dipped in plant-based vegan corn dog batter and deep-fried.

My take: It’ll be interesting to see if they can keep up with demand. Some of these vegan and gluten-free specialty booths ran into production problems in 2021.