Minnesota State Fair taste test: best new foods

We put on our most obnoxious-sloganed T-shirt, slathered up with sunscreen, and braved the crowds to find out how this year's new Minnesota State Fair food options stacked up to our predictions. Here are our picks on what's worth stretching the elastic waistband:

Mexico meets Korea, sort of, at the Blue Moon
Mexico meets Korea, sort of, at the Blue Moon

Korean BBQ Tacos ($3 for 1, $5 for 2) Blue Moon Dine In Theater (M-6, Carnes & Chambers) Props to the folks at Blue Moon for jumping on LA's Kogi food truck-wagon and bringing us Korean tacos. Having eaten the trendy, coastal treat at the Nami stand at the San Francisco Ferry Building, we can say that the ones Blue Moon is making are lacking something--for starters, they're made with marinated grilled chicken instead of bulgogi, and they're served sans kimchi. Bummer. But think of them as a teriyaki taco and they're not bad. While ours was pretty salty and also had too much liquid (soggy tacos = not good), it was fresh, light, and loaded with salsa--one of the few remotely healthy new options at the fair.

French Meadow wants you to stuff it!
French Meadow wants you to stuff it!

Stuffed French Toast Tots ($5) French Meadow (R-26, Carnes & Underwood) A new breakfast option from French Meadow: deep-fried French toast bites shaped like blocky tater tots. The thing that makes these successful is their delicacy, especially in a place where so much fried food turns leaden. The bread is light and spongy, with a thin, fried crust and a dusting of powdered sugar. Our complaint about these was the melted Swiss/Parmesan filling--the sweet-salty combo doesn't really work that well, but if you dunk them in syrup, you miss it altogether. We would have preferred a milder cheese, such as mascarpone or ricotta (assuming they'd hold up under a high-temp blast) to keep the richness and texture without the flavor distraction.

Everything on a stick, including mashed potatoes.
Everything on a stick, including mashed potatoes.

Fried Mashed Potatoes ($5.50) Potato Man and Sweetie (K-24, Dan Patch & Chambers) State Fair vendors will do anything to food to get it on a stick: freeze it, fold it, fry it--you name it. These bacon-cheddar mashed potato balls are dipped in batter and deep fried, so beneath their crust is soft, warm, carb-heavy bliss. Pick your dipping sauce: gravy, sour cream, ketchup, honey mustard, or ranch dressing. They're a solid execution--a close second to our beloved cheese curds.

Here's to chocolate, marshmallow, banana bliss...
Here's to chocolate, marshmallow, banana bliss...

Grilled Marshmallow, Chocolate, Banana sandwich ($4) Moe & Joes Coffee (N-30, Judson & Clough) In the past, Moe & Joe's has offered sweet, griddled sandwiches filled with chocolate or an Elvis-style peanut butter and banana (wha, no bacon?), This year's newcomer takes it to a new level with a sandwich version of the camper's favorite banana boat. This was the best new treat at the fair we sampled--tasty enough with its soft, warm bananas, chocolate syrup, and marshmallow spread to justify the caloric indulgence. Also, the stand is conveniently located right across from the all-you-can-drink milk.

** Also: Check out our picks for the WORST new foods at the Minnesota State Fair.

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Minnesota State Fairgrounds

1265 Snelling Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55108


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