December 6, 2022

Give Me The Mike

Exploring Minnesota and Beyond

Reviewing 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.

I will be at the 2022 Minnesota State Fair for 9 of 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).

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. The scale:

Absolutely worth it (5 stars)

Worth it (4 stars)

Take it or leave it (3 stars)

Pass (2 stars)

Hard pass (1 star)

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.


(Unofficial new food) Apple Lemonade

From Minneapple Pie, Judson Avenue

My take: WORTH IT. Not too sweet, but it wasn’t tart. You definitely get the flavors of apple that gives you feelings of fall. It would be perfect with some vodka.


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.


(Unofficial new food) Aronia Meringue Mini Pie

From Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop, Dan Patch Avenue

My take: WORTH IT. No online description, but it’s a tart (pretty tart) pie with a delightful meringue. When you blend the berry fruit filling with the meringue, it’s really good.


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: DEFINITELY WORTH IT. A smart move for Hamline Dining Hall to team up with an up-and-coming ice cream shop for a new food this year. If you’re curious, it’s more like ice cream than popsicle. I love funfetti cake, so I was very happy. My only gripe was that the packaging needs to be redesigned because it was really hard to get the paleta out of the wrapper. Apologies to all photographers for my horrible photos. Heads up that this flavor doesn’t really photograph great.


(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: WORTH IT. Al’s Breakfast’s pancakes are good, and they’re really good at the 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. Three pancakes are about $10 at the Fair. There’s just something that doesn’t feel right about paying $10+ for three pancakes, considering when I can get them year-round.


(Unofficial new food) BLT Mini Hand Pie

From Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop, Dan Patch Avenue

My take: PASS. So the Farmers Union discontinued their popular — yet expensive — Heirloom Tomato BLTs. Instead, they replaced them with a BLT hand pie. I love BLTs and I wasn’t a fan of this. The crust was overbaked and I wasn’t sure what was going on inside.


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: WORTH IT. 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 Twisted 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

Photo shows a sample size

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: WORTH IT, BUT BE CAREFUL. I had a sample of this at Taste of the Fair. For $12, you get two tacos. I tried the original with bratwurst. A brat was a strange and unwelcomed choice. It would be like if Taco Bell started putting bratwurst in a Chalupa. Without the bratwurst, it was really good. You definitely get cheese curd flavor right off the bat. Worth getting, but get the Box Checker, which is with chicken and bacon.


Chick N Swiss Sausage

From The Gass Station, outside of the Food Building

Photo shows a sample size

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

My take: PASS. So the menu at the Gass Station typically misses the mark. I had low expectations for this. As for foods on their menu, this is decent. It’s a juicy brat because it’s got so much stuff inside. The downfall: there’s a ton of stuff inside, including a whole string of asparagus. It’s served on the most plain hot dog bun money can buy. It’s like your uncle got really adventurous making his own brats and opened a booth at the State Fair.


Chicken Tandoori Rolls

From Holy Land, International Bazaar

One order includes 2 rolls

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: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. For $12, one order consists of 2 rolls with a cup of the avocado cilantro lime sauce. The sauce really made it. The roll itself was a bit dry. I left whelmed. I know that’s not a good food review, but there you go. I will say that if you’re still holding a grudge over Holy Land, move on. Their staff couldn’t not have been any nicer.


Chilaquiles Breakfast

From Tejas Express, The Garden

Fried corn tortilla strips sautéed 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 do not live up to my standards. And if I remember correctly, Tejas Express got rid of beergaritas in 2021. I haven’t forgiven them.


(Unofficial new food) Cinnamon Twists

From French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, Carnes Avenue

An all-butter croissant roll rolled up in organic raisins, cinnamon and vanilla pastry cream with cardamom syrup and icing.

My take: ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. Owner Lynn saw opportunity after the cinnamon roll booth in the Food Building closed. Well done.


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: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. If you believe new Fair foods should be quirky, this is the food for you. The concha makes for a Instagram worthy photo and everything strangely just works. You won’t want to eat the whole thing, so find a friend and share it.


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. I haven’t had it yet, but it’s getting decent reviews.


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: HARD PASS. It’s not ice cream. It was more like a custard. It was soft and squishy inside. And I didn’t get “raspberry” and “blueberry” flavors at all.


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: ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. Yia Vang is the chef behind Union Hmong Kitchen and 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. 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. By the way, this beverage is delightful.


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: WORTH IT. The vegan meatballs taste like regular meatballs and they’re not just for vegans. I was impressed. I thought the Earth Sliders were even better, and you get more food for your buck.


(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: WORTH IT. I don’t like black licorice, but I love ice cream. I really liked this. The ice cream is smooth and the flavor is not too overpowering.


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.


(Unofficial new food) Key Lime Crumble

From Dairy Goodness Bar, Dairy Building

Malt or sundae with a blend of vanilla ice cream topped with lime syrup and graham cracker crumbles.

My take: PASS. If you like key lime, you’ll like this. It’s got the key lime tart taste at first. But it’s basically syrup. It’s not worth the $8.


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: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. It gave me Lemon Meringue Pie vibes. The chips are crunchy and strange. The curd and dip were okay. I wasn’t obsessed, but it was fine. I’m not sure if you really need this in your life.


(Unofficial new food) Mini Deep-Dish Pizza

From Green Mill, Baldwin Park

Photo shows a sample size

Two mini deep dish pizzas made with fresh Green Mill pizza dough smothered in garlic butter and stuffed with pepperoni, mozzarella, and sauce. Topped with parmesan, pepperoni, and herbs.

My take: PASS. The parent of every picky eater needs to know where the Green Mill truck is located on the Fairgrounds. You won’t see crazy ingredients on their menu. None of the official new foods in the past have been must-eat foods. This is fine, but it’s not worth seeking out.


Minne Hot Hot

From RC’s BBQ, Dan Patch Avenue

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

My take: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. This has some serious kick. The ribs have some kick, and the sauce has some kick. If someone in your group is the ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of person, send them over to RC’s. Owner Charlie does a great job. I can handle spice and this was actually a bit too spicy for me (not in an enjoyable, let me keep eating it kind of way). It is a good shareable food, though.


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: ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. I love George and his sister, Joanne, who own Minneapple Pie. This blueberry version is a hit, and I personally like it more than the original apple. It’s not too sweet, and that warm pie with a big scoop of ice cream is a perfect match. The pumpkin is still my favorite of their four flavors, but this is definitely worth it.


(Unofficial new food) Minty Magic Tart

From Sara’s Tipsy Pies, Food Building

A grasshopper-inspired tart made on a gluten-free crust.

My take: ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. Actually, this is probably my favorite pie that owner Sara Hayden sells. I couldn’t tell that the crust was gluten-free. And it’s really light and refreshing. If you like the alcoholic grasshopper, you’ll love this.


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: HARD PASS. The corn version was bad. It was really salty and the corn was just poured into the shell in the empanada. It looked like it went straight from the can to the empanada. The chicken one was slightly better.


Mov + Nqaij (Rice + Meat)

From Union Hmong Kitchen, International Bazaar

Lemongrass tofu pictured above.

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: WORTH IT. 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. I chatted with Yia, who said he’s selling more of the tofu than the sausage, which surprised him. If you want to avoid the long line (it’s been really long), go between 9:00-10:30 and after 7:00 p.m. I didn’t say ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT because of the really long line and due to the fact you can get it at a restaurant in town.


(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: PASS. Kudos to owner Stine for not raising the prices on these. However, I wasn’t impressed with either of these 2022 new additions. The sauce on the Belly Full was way too sweet. There was an underwhelming amount of custard on the Vanilla Dream. And on both, despite waffles being made right on site, they weren’t warm.


(Unofficial new food) Nordic Spiced Tea

From Nordic Waffles, West End Market

Cold-brewed, organically grown wild picked black tea and fresh lemonade, infused with a “hygge” aromatic blend of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and orange, garnished with star anise.

My take: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. Minneapolis-based Jinx Tea teamed up with Nordic Waffles to make their State Fair debut. I’m not a big tea guy, but this was decent if you’re looking for a refreshing mocktail.


(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: ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. So most of the pizza vendors at the State Fair are now gone (most notable, the one in the Food Building). It made way for Rick and his son, Tristan, who run this truck. I’m not a big fan of pickles, but I gave this a try. It was really good. It’s a serious contender for my top 10 foods list. They’re making the crust right on the Fairgrounds. It’s soft and perfect. The mozzarella and white sauce are lovely. The dill pickles and the dill on there aren’t overwhelming. The only downfall is that it’s $9 a slice. They’re big enough that you could share with another person, but overall it’s absolutely worth it.


Pink Guava Slushie

From Holy Land, International Bazaar

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

My take: ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. I was lucky enough to try it at Taste of the Fair, and it’s not too sweet or sugary. It doesn’t give you a brain freeze, either. Staff at Holy Land say they are encouraging people to mix all three flavors of their slushies — Mango, Mediterranean Lemonade (a must get) and this new flavor. They’re calling it the Neapolitan.


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: ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. Filling, good flavor, and you’re supporting Minnesota farmers.


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: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. 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. These taste like Reuben, but the egg roll was too crunchy for me and it had me yearning for rye bread.


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.


(Unofficial new food) Southern Chicken Biscuit Sandwich

From LuLu’s Public House, West End Market

A freshly baked Betty & Earl’s (B&E) Biscuit, hand- battered, deep-fried Chicken Tenders, Pimento Cheese Spread.

My take: ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. Betty & Earl’s Biscuits, run by Jason Matheson, are really good. You can get them at the State Fair, inside POTLUCK at Rosedale, or Lush in Minneapolis. This version takes the buttery biscuit, adds LuLu’s chicken tenders (the best thing on their menu) and pimento cheese. Although my biscuit was a bit overbaked, it’s still well worth it.


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.


(Unofficial new food) Sweet Corn Elote

From The Blue Barn, West End

Creamy fresh-off-the-cob sweet corn, lime and vanilla. Served with plantain chips.

My take: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. I love cream corn. The plantain chips were unexpected, and it made the whole dish a bit lighter. It ran a bit too sweet, and my group felt it could have used a bit of spice, along with more plantain chips.


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: PASS. My original thought: sweet potato waffle fries and cheese curds? Yes. However, that Beyond chorizo does not sit well with this carnivore. Beyond that, it’s a bar appetizer.


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 Gryos 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: PASS. The team at Lulu’s is incredible, but this was wayyyyy too salty for me to finish. I did appreciate the quality of the beef hot dog they’re using, though.


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.


(Unofficial “new” food) Unicorn Dog

From Poncho Dogs, Dan Patch

So I’m not sure if this is a new food, but I’m going to include it because it’s new to me, and I’ve been going to Fair every year since 1990. At the Poncho Dogs booth by the main gate, they have a hidden menu item called the Unicorn Dog. It’s not on the sign. I heard one staff member mention it in a news interview, but didn’t describe it, so I stopped by to learn about it. Since the Poncho Dogs booth hand-dips their corn dogs (Poncho Dogs uses a machine), they may leave them in the batter a bit too long, thus creating a bit of a unicorn horn made of extra batter at the end. They may not have Unicorn Dogs ready, but you can always ask to see if they can make you one.

For the record, I’m team Pronto Pup. It’s a texture thing.


Vegan Corn Dog

From Daryl’s Dog House, Carnes Avenue

Photo shows a sample size

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

My take: PASS. If you’re vegan, it’s great to see the Fair and its vendors add more options. If you’re not a vegan, this is skippable. At first bite, it tasted like a corn dog, so kudos to them. You taste the cornmeal in the batter. However, that flavor quickly faded, and you’re left with “deep-fried air”. The vegan ‘meat’ used inside had no flavor and once that cornmeal taste evaporated, I was just chewing.


(Unofficial new food) Vegetarian Fiesta Taco Cone

From San Felipe Tacos, Dan Patch Avenue

Flame-roasted corn, bell peppers, black beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole and chipotle ranch dressing.

My take: WORTH IT. The San Felipe Fish Taco has made my top 10 Fair foods list before and it’s on the list of favorite foods of State Fair staff. This doesn’t quite hit Fish Taco levels, but it’s good. It’s in a fried tortilla cone, making it easy to walk and eat. Someone did stop me along my way to ask what it was because it looked so good. I wish it had more guacamole.