Maybe you think the State Fair is supposed to be "fun" and "relaxing" and "not a competition," but we're here to tell you: There are always winners and losers.
Last year, there were the Egg Rolls on a Stick (crispy perfection!), the unforgettable Sonoran Sausage (cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped beauty!), the all-new curd flavors (obviously great!).
There were also the million-mile misses: the Italian Bomba Sandwich (grease incarnate), the Deep-Fried Avocado (turns out you can make avocados worse), the abominable Pizzarito (why, God?).
We ate them all, of course, which is why nothing makes our mouths water and stomachs churn simultaneously quite like each year's Big Reveal Of All The New State Fair Foods. But, in the words of Thursday Grandstand headliner and One Direction great Niall Horan: “It's funny how things never change in this old town.” And lo, in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the Fair announced what this year's debut foods will be.
There are 27 in 2018, including a BBQ Split, vegan cauliflower "Earth Wings," and Pepperoni Chips with Queso. Five new vendors, too: The Anchor Coffee House, The Hangar, Mama D’s, Taco Cat, and Nordic Waffles.
We won't get to put them to the test until August 23. In the meantime, let's collectively speculate over which of the dishes below will have us hungering for more, and which will leave us with nothing more than greasy-fingered regrets. Here they are. (All photos and descriptions courtesy of the Minnesota State Fair.)
Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl (pronounced PO-kay): Ahi tuna, avocado, mango and pico de gallo tossed in a Hawaiian ginger-soy sauce served cold over rice with a fried wonton.
At Café Caribe, located on the south side of Carnes Ave. between Chambers & Nelson streets
Bananas Foster French Toast: Cinnamon swirl French toast topped with slices of fresh bananas in an orange-rum-flavored caramel sauce and finished with a dollop of whipped cream.
At Hamline Church Dining Hall, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Underwood & Cooper streets
BBQ Split: Scoops of BBQ pulled pork, mac & cheese and coleslaw served side-by-side with a pickle spear.
At Midtown Global Market’s Mama D’s, located in the Taste of Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall
(Available Aug. 29-Sept. 3 only)
Blueberry Rhubarb Cobbler: A blend of organic blueberries and rhubarb topped with a cornmeal biscuit and whipped cream.
At Farmers Union Coffee Shop, located on the north side of Dan Patch Ave. between Cooper & Cosgrove streets
Earth Wings®: Fresh cauliflower pieces dipped in a seasoned batter, deep-fried and smothered in organic sesame BBQ sauce. Vegan and gluten-free.
At French Meadow Bakery & Cafe, located on the north side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets
Firecracker Shrimp Stuffed Avocado: Gulf white shrimp tossed with lime, onion, black beans, tomato and fire-roasted corn in a garlic aioli, drizzled with cilantro-infused olive oil, stuffed in avocado halves and served open-face with flatbread.
At The Hideaway Speakeasy, located in the Veranda, Grandstand upper level, northwest section
General Tso Chicken Taco: Battered and deep-fried chicken tossed in a sauce of ginger, garlic, soy sauce and Asian spices, with seasoned cream cheese and topped with wonton crisps and green onion, served on a flour tortilla.
At Midtown Global Market’s Taco Cat, located in the Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall
(Available Aug. 23-28 only)
Honey Cream Soda Float: Honey cream soda (made without sugar) poured over Minnesota Grown honey ice cream.
At Minnesota Honey Producers Association, located in the Agriculture Horticulture Building, north side
Irish Tater Kegs: Jumbo deep-fried tater tots made with a blend of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, sour cream and potatoes drizzled with house-made Thousand Island dressing and nestled on a bed of sauerkraut.
At O’Gara’s at the Fair, located on the southwest corner of Dan Patch Ave. & Cosgrove St.
Mangonada Shave Ice: Mango-flavored shave ice drizzled with Mexican chamoy (pronounced shah-MOY) sauce, dusted with tajin (pronounced tah-HEEN) chili powder, topped with popping mango boba pearls and served with a tamarind candy straw.
At Minnesnowii Shave Ice, located at West End Market, south section
Messy Giuseppe: A blend of seasoned ground beef and Italian pork sausage smothered in marinara, sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served on crusty Italian bread.
At Mancini’s al Fresco, located on the north side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets
Moroccan Sausage Bowl: Coarse ground beef and lamb sausage seasoned with herbs, sweet spices and a hint of red pepper, cooked with carrots, turnips and chick peas, and topped with sautéed onions and a green olive.
At Sausage by Cynthia, located on the north side of Judson Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets
Nordic Waffles: Fresh-made waffle wraps in seven varieties: All-Day Breakfast (egg, bacon & cheddar); Berries & Cream (raspberry & strawberry mixture with vanilla cream); Cinna-Sugar Butter (cinnamon, sugar & butter); Slammin’ Salmon On-A-Stick (Norwegian smoked salmon with cream cheese & green onions); S’More (marshmallow crème, crumbled graham crackers & Nutella); Turkey Chipotle Club (turkey, bacon & mixed greens with Sriracha mayo sauce); and Vegetarian Viking (black bean veggie burger, cheddar cheese, mixed greens & chipotle sauce). Also serving lemonade with blueberry or lingonberry saft.
At Nordic Waffles, located at West End Market, southwest section
Pepperoni Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Queso: Thinly sliced fried pepperoni chips served with a warm roasted red pepper cheese sauce.
At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater
Rainbow Cloud Roll: Three scoops of ice cream sprinkled with fruity cereal and wrapped in a pillow of cotton candy. Hand-rolled on-site. Ice cream choices include Superman, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.
At Rainbow Ice Cream, located in the Grandstand, upper level, east section near the elevator
Shrimp Ceviche (pronounced suh-VEE-chay): Fresh shrimp, cucumbers, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes and cilantro tossed with a citrus lime juice and served cold with tortilla chips.
At Shrimp Shack, located on the southwest corner of Carnes Ave. & Underwood St.
Slider Flights: Flights of three slider sandwiches, each with a variety of toppings, available in three varieties:
• Brisket Flight: One slider topped with coleslaw, one with pickles and onions, and one with crispy fried onions
• Burger Flight: One slider topped with thick-cut candied bacon and cheddar cheese, one with smoked gouda, and one with BBQ sauce, pepper jack cheese and crispy fried onions
• Pulled Pork Flight: One slider topped with coleslaw, one with pickles and onions, and one with crispy fried onions
At The Hangar, located on the northeast corner of Murphy Ave. & Underwood St.
Smoked Soft Serve Ice Cream: Cold-smoked cream available in two flavors, all made on-site:
• Cold Brew Coffee infused with cold-smoked Arabica beans and topped with chocolate espresso dust, a toasted marshmallow and a chocolate cookie on the side
• Muscovado Sugar Vanilla combines vanilla bean and cold-smoked molasses-rich cane sugar served with a toasted marshmallow and bacon candy round on the side
Optional sauces available: bourbon-soaked cherries or hot chocolate
At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the northeast corner of Carnes Ave. & Chambers St.
Swedish Meatball Smörgås (pronounced SMORE-gus): Meatball sandwich with three traditional Swedish pork and beef meatballs topped with white gravy, lingonberry sauce and dill pickles.
At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center
Sweet Greek Cheese Puffs: Flaky phyllo (pronounced FEE-low) dough filled with feta and ricotta cheese, deep-fried, drizzled with honey and topped with powdered sugar.
At Dino’s Gyros, located on the north side of Carnes Ave. between Nelson & Underwood streets
Sweetie Cakes: Choice of black forest cake, birthday cake or chocolate peanut butter cake, baked in a cup packed with Sassy Pecan toffee bits and served warm, topped with real whipping cream and more toffee bits.
At Sweetie Cakes, located in the Food Building, south wall
Triple Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake: Dense chocolate cake with chocolate chips and fudge icing smothered with strawberries and whipped cream.
At The Strawberry Patch, located on the west side of Liggett St. between Carnes & Judson avenues
Turducken Sausage Sandwich: A blend of turkey, duck and chicken served on a fennel bun and accompanied by a side of Giggles’ sweet and saucy relish. Gluten-free; no nitrates added.
At Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Ave. & Cooper St. at The North Woods
UpNorth Puff Pasty (pronounced PASS-tee): Porketta sausage, cheese curds, coarse grain mustard and chopped dill pickle baked in a puffy crust sprinkled with pepper and sea salt.
At Sausage Sister & Me, located in the Food Building, east wall
Wood-Grilled Elote (pronounced eh-LOW-tay): Corn on-the-cob grilled over an oak wood fire, brushed with chile-spiced mayo and sprinkled with queso Cotija (pronounced coe-TEE-hah) & fresh lime juice.
At Tejas Express, located in The Garden, north wall
Za-Waffle Sticks: Waffles blended with pepperoni and mozzarella, topped with a parmesan herb blend and served with pepperoni-infused maple syrup or marinara sauce.
At Green Mill, located on the east side of Cooper St. between Randall & Wright avenues, at Family Fair at Baldwin Park
Zesty PB&J Sausage: Peanut butter, cherry jelly and a hint of cayenne pepper and cilantro blended into a quarter-pound sausage.
At Gass Station Grill, located on the west side of Cooper St. between Dan Patch & Judson avenues, outside southeast corner of the Food Building
The Anchor Coffee House: Serving cold brew coffees (including nitro cold brew, vanilla cream, caramel cream & chocolate cream), lattes (including vanilla, caramel, mocha & chai tea), fresh-brewed drip coffee and banana chocolate chip gluten-free muffins.
Located on the west side of Underwood St. between Carnes & Judson avenues outside Ramberg Music Cafe
The Hangar: Serving breakfast items, Slider Flights (Brisket, Burger and Pulled Pork), smoked turkey legs, smoked brisket sandwiches, jumbo burgers, bacon-wrapped pork belly, kids meals (hot dog, chicken nuggets, burger with fries or fruit), and chicken-and-waffle ice cream split topped with candied bacon. Also serving fresh-squeezed lemonade, soda and craft beer.
Located on the northeast corner of Murphy Ave. & Underwood St.
Midtown Global Market’s Mama D’s: Serving mac & cheese, gluten-free mac & cheese, pulled pork sandwiches, the BBQ Split (scoops of BBQ pulled pork, mac & cheese and coleslaw served side-by-side with a pickle spear), and sweet tea.
Located in the Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall
(Aug. 29-Sept. 3 only)
Midtown Global Market’s Taco Cat: Serving Smokey Black Bean Tacos [black beans, Cotija (pronounced coe-TEE-hah) cheese, pickled cabbage, chipotle sour cream and cilantro on a flour tortilla]; Nacho Fries [breaded fries, black beans, cheese sauce, pickled jalapeños and cilantro with optional chorizo (pronounced chuh-REE-soh) sausage]; General Tso Chicken Tacos [battered and deep-fried chicken tossed in a sauce of ginger, garlic, soy sauce and Asian spices, with seasoned cream cheese and topped with wonton crisps and green onion, served on a flour tortilla]; and a cold press coffee and horchata (pronounced hor-CHA-tah) drink.
Located in the Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall
(Aug. 23-28 only)
Nordic Waffles: Serving fresh-made waffle wraps in seven varieties: All-Day Breakfast (egg, bacon & cheddar); Berries & Cream (raspberry & strawberry mixture with vanilla cream); Cinna-Sugar Butter (cinnamon, sugar & butter); Slammin’ Salmon On-A-Stick (Norwegian smoked salmon with cream cheese & green onions); S’More (marshmallow crème, crumbled graham crackers & Nutella); Turkey Chipotle Club (turkey, bacon & mixed greens with Sriracha mayo sauce); and Vegetarian Viking (black bean veggie burger, cheddar cheese, mixed greens & chipotle sauce). Also serving lemonade with blueberry or lingonberry saft.
Located at West End Market, southwest section
That's it, folks! All the new foods, all the new vendors.
We'll see you in August.
Read our complete run-down of 2017's 30-plus new foods here.
The Minnesota State Fair
August 23 – September 3, 2018
1265 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul