This is the 2018 edition of Give Me The Mike’s top Minnesota State Fair foods.
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.
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. However, if you are a Minnesota State Fair newbie, you should check out this list of State Fair foods everyone should eat.
Top 10 foods at the Minnesota State Fair
1. Wild Rice Cheeseburger
There’s no doubt 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, but 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
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 way too much money for. Enter the 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
UNFORTUNATE NEWS: The Gopher Dairy Bar is not serving mint milkshakes in 2019. I’m honestly disappointed. They replaced mint with caramel. I tried the caramel — it’s good, but not as good as mint. There is a mint shake in the Dairy Building, but it is awful.
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
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. It’s just not traditional Fair fare. 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
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. I wish I had this sandwich earlier in my life. 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
As it is with the Rueben, you would think that a pretzel wouldn’t make a best Minnesota State Fair food 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 had 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 wiener with charred onion and some mustard.
Where: multiple locations, including by the Coliseum and near the DNR building
8. Juicy Turkey Sandwich
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 you don’t need them.
Where: Turkey to Go, west side of DNR Building
9. Fresh French Fries
Maybe it’s the extra salt they pour on them 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 overrated, the French fries were mentioned by a few folks, who said they could easily make them at home. To those people, I dare you to make them that good.
Where: Two locations: near the Dairy Building and near the Midway
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 at $9, it’s a hearty meal.
Where: North end of the Fairgrounds, near the end of the SkyGlider
Mini Donut Beer
Where: Ball Park Cafe
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