The gates are open. The butter is carved. The food has been fried.
The 2016 Minnesota State Fair is officially underway.
On Thursday, the fair opened to crowds of people eager to see the sites and taste the food, old and new. This year, 25* new foods and seven frozen treats were introduced.
For many, the fair is a one-time affair, during which, tackling all 32 foods could bit a bit daunting.
So, for those who are looking to maximize their trip, and their wallets, we’ve taste-tested the new foods and compiled our list of must-try items.
In no particular order…
Deep Fried Nachos
What could be more fair-esque than deep friend nachos?
Three large balls, consisting of Pepper Jack cheese rolled in a mix of crushed, seasoned tortilla and nacho cheese then deep fried, sit around another ball of Pepper Jack cheese. All four are placed on top of salsa, topped with sour cream, guacamole, pulled pork and a cheese sauce. Despite being topped with several wet ingredients, the cheese ball maintain a nice crunch, which adds texture to an otherwise creamy dish. The Pepper Jack adds a nice hint of spice, which mingles well with the spice of the salsa. The salsa base adds a hint of sweetness and cuts the savoriness of the cheese and meat.
Based on feedback, this was one many people were really excited to try. So here is the push you need to make it to Machinery Hill to enjoy this new treat.
Located at Texas Steak Out on the west side of Underwood Street between Lee and Randall avenues on Machinery Hill.
Burnt Butt Ends
Famous Dave’s may no longer be at the State Fair, but their legacy lives on.
As Charlie Torgerson said, “Same family; new name.” This year, they are also rolling out a new dish – the Burnt Butt Ends. The pork ends are moist and tender, falling off the bone.
They are covered with a spice rub, smoked and then smothered with a sweet barbecue sauce for a burst of barbecue. This is a messy one, so be sure to grab extra napkins!
Located at RC’s BBQ on the north side of West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets, next to the West End Market. This is the former sport of Famous Dave’s.
Spicy Pork Bowl
Ever since their introduction to the State Fair in 2014, Blue Barn has been a fan favorite. Pumping out several new dishes each year, Stephanie Shimp and her team did not disappoint with the 2016 special – Spicy Pork Bowl.
“We wanted to keep in line with our restaurant’s style and bring comfort food to the fair,” Shimp said of the dish.
The dish features a herbed rice topped with black beans, sautéed garlic spinach, pork shoulder cooked in a creamy Chipotle Adobo sauce and topped with crispy fried onions.
“That is on purpose!” Shimp laughed. “We wanted to tie in the Minnesota culture, so those fried onions are absolutely there on purpose.”
The pork is moist and tender, while the Chipotle offers a sweet and smoky spice. And the onions offer a needed crunch. This composed dish is perfect to share, or great if you’re looking for a complete meal.
Located at the Blue Bar in the West End Market.
Candied Bacon Slider
Perhaps one of the most anticipated foods at the State Fair, the Candied Bacon Slider does not disappoint.
This bite-sized slider is composed of a halved mini-doughnut topped with sugared bacon and a red wine ganache. The slider stops just short of being too sweet as the savory bacon cuts through the sugar from both itself and the donut, while the ganache finishes dry and adds a hint of bitterness. The serving size comes with six, so it’s a good one to split!
Located at Minnesota Wine Country on the west side of Underwood Street between Carnes and Judson Avenues, across the street from the Agriculture building.
Izzy’s Chocolate Agate Crunch
Few things are better on a hot day than a cold scoop of ice cream.
Hamline Dining Hall has been serving up St. Paul-made Izzy’s Ice Cream for years, and each year brings a new flavor. This year is the Chocolate Agate Crunch.
Izzy’s signature creamy chocolate ice cream is mixed with Oreo cookie crumbs and chocolate rocks. Creamy and cool, with just a hint of crunch from the chocolate rocks, this is the perfect way to cleanse the palate after a day full of salt and butter.
Located at Hamline Dining Hall on Dan Patch Avenue, near the Butterfly House.
*It should be noted, Hot Indian and Rabbit Hole share a space within the International Bazaar. Rabbit Hole will be in the space from now until Aug. 31. So, we were unable to try the Paneer on a Spear.