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Category : Eats

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The Lotus Uptown

Lotus Returns to Uptown Minneapolis

The Lotus Uptown Minneapolis

Lotus returns to Uptown Minneapolis! The beloved Nguyen family that has graced us with their family tradition since 1983 is expanding their Vietnamese fare to Uptown Minneapolis (opening date to be announced). With their already established downtown favorite, will Lotus returning to the area from which they originated possibly be the end of the long running curse that has plagued this particular location? You may remember some of the past tenants; Old Chicago, Boneyard or the most recent yet short lived, GĀME. The Ngyuens are well aware of the ever-changing demographics and energy of Uptown, but they hope to restore an “old-school Uptown” vibe with the new location.  With Mama Lotus’ creative influence on the food and the execution from her husband and sons, this just might be the family vibe that Uptown has been yearning.

Lotus MN Opening

If you are familiar with the downtown location, then you probably have been greeted by the eldest son, Yoom Nguyen; with his well-known, warm, comedic, yet humble demeanor.  He will now be serving as front of house and business operations manager at the new location.  He sure will have his work cut out for him with a much larger space, a full bar and a few additional features including –availability of their signature “stacked bahn mi” sandwich as a quick to-go pick up during lunch hour, a to-go bubble tea stand, fresh rice bowls, fresh salad bowls and a late night food menu after 10pm.

Lotus Pho Uptown

Taking a seat next to the many garage door bays that will soon open to their patio in the coming weeks, my son and I decided to try a few of their signature favorite dishes and perhaps some new ones, if we can talk Mama Lotus into doing so.  For now, I’m eyeing the five specialty cocktails they now have that I must try, starting with the Café Da Lat – Hennessy VS, Kahlua & Vietnamese Coffee – $9 Now this is my kind of brunch starter right here. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this idea, I’m an instant fan!

Lotus Uptown MN

They still serve up some delicious fresh made spring rolls that I no longer have to travel a greater distance for.  I’m guessing these will be available at their late-night walk-up only window for the coming seasons.

Lotus Uptown Spring Roll

The decor is simple and shows the progression made with a telling tale of family photos covering a wall in the comfy waiting area.  Other poster-sized pictures throughout the restaurant show the Vietnamese culture in black and white, with a capture of everyday residents going about their day in their homeland.

Lotus Family Photo

Much like the one in this background of yet another one of their specialty cocktails.  Vung Tau Paradise – Rumhaven Coconut Rum, Banana Liqueur, Blue Curaco, Peach Schnapps, Strawberry Schnapps, Heavy Cream, Sprite, and Orange Juice. Tasted like sherbet, and definitely tropical -$8.

Lotus MN Drinks

Mmmmm the new Uptown location has Shrimp Egg Rolls. Finger size. My finger, not yours.

Lotus Uptown appetizer

Lotus Minnesota

Mr. Nguyen and one of his sons are running the kitchen during the soft opening.

Lotus Review

Bartenders Midian and Vikky model with some of the favorable top shelf cognacs at Lotus Uptown.

Lotus Uptown Staff

Hanoi Mule – Stoli Vodka, Fresh Lime Juice & Ginger Beer – $8.  a decent price for the area, lots of bubbles and spirit with a good ice to cocktail ratio (I really dislike when you only get one sip along with a cup of ice like some establishments, not here).

Lotus Uptown Drink

You no longer have to travel down eat street for a giant bowl of pho.  Lotus serves up their House Pho with 4-Meats – chicken, beef, meatball and seafood, to fulfill all your protein needs.   I think their bowls may have gotten bigger during transition, but I’m not complaining.

Lotus Uptown Pho

As the exterior is a solid jet black that vibrantly makes their logo pop, the interior is mainly dressed up in olive green with many high-tops and booths divided by bamboo style windows.  The bar has a modern vibe to it; housing violet neon with 10 flatscreens and 15 beers on tap.  For now, I’ll stick to that specialty cocktail menu, this one is named Nha Trang Da Chanh – Stoli Vodka, Fresh Lime Juice, Sugar & Water – $8.  Refreshing, but not for me. If you’re not a big drinker, and you’re looking for a light tasting drink, then this one is probably for you.

Lotus Uptown Drinks

Well, hey there you badass bowl of sexy Vietnamese love…where have you been all my life? New menu item at their Uptown location, and I guarantee it definitely will be a crowd pleaser. Nem Nuong Salad – It’s the latest creation from Mama Lotus, she took the Vietnamese Nem Nuong and made it into a salad using seasoned ground pork, shrimp egg rolls, and their homemade Nem sauce. Crazy good portion right here, this bowl is huge.   Mama Lotus, I only have one small request, two sunny side-up eggs on top for me, please!

Lotus Uptown Dinner

The restaurant has a respectable sized outdoor patio that walks off to their own parking lot, which may be a form of entertainment in itself , with some of the parking spot placements multiple maneuvers with close-calls are a thrill to watch, for some.   If people watching isn’t your thing, don’t fret, there are also flat-screens on the patio for your viewing pleasure.   With the already established relationships and following the Nguyens have built during their journey in the surrounding communities, I’d imagine this will be a quite lively patio during the Spring and Summer seasons. After all, it is a celebration.  Oh, the drink…it’s a Saigon Connect – Hennessy & Amaretto – $9.   My kind of drink. Cheers! – Phatphood

Lotus Uptown Review

Lotus Uptown

2841 Hennepin Ave South, Minneapolis, MN  55408

Sunday – Wednesday:  11am-10pm

Thursday – Saturday:  11am-1am/2am

Barkers Bar and Grill Hudson

Barker’s Bar and Grill Hudson, WI Review

Barkers Bar and Grill Hudson

Bar food at its finest; There is some seriously good grub over the river in Hudson, WI – along with some fantastic people that greet you with genuine enthusiasm.  Marty at Barkers Bar & Grill took me under his wing from the moment I walked in until my departure. For a bar, I had some damn good service and some wonderful food to go along with it, check it out.

Barker's Bar and Grill Hudson WI

Going off of the suggestions from the general public that frequent this joint, so definitely giving these a go! Garlic-Creole Wings – The locals know these as “Beer Wings.” Sautéed with sweet butter, fresh garlic and a combination of Creole spices. These are fresh and crisp, just how I like my wangs! Now you would think upon seeing this much garlic, that is all you would taste, nope! Not over powering at all, and the taste is phenomenal. No overwhelming garlic breath lingering either. Date night approved.

Barkers Garlic Wings

Next up is their Patty Melt – Charbroiled burger, caramelized onions, cheddar and Swiss cheeses, atop grilled rye bread. I went ahead and made this a double, it made me feel more in control of things. Now I don’t like my beef more than medium, so this was bit overdone for my liking, but still a good tasting Patty Melt.

Barkers Patty Melt

Bullseye Burger – topped with Barker’s smokehouse BBQ sauce, smoked cheddar cheese and crisp, hickory-smoked bacon, and locally sourced lettuce, tomato and red onion. Yummy smoky stuff right here.

Barkers Bullseye Burger

Now we are eating! This has my name written all over it. Barker’s Smoked Green Chile-Bacon Mac & Cheese – smoked green chiles, hickory smoked bacon and cavatappi pasta topped with their house-made queso. I really love the smoked flavors along with the zestiness of their queso. I’m ordering this atop a burger next time!

Barkers Macaroni and Cheese

There just happens to be a unique featured item here at Barker’s and guess what? Yup, I ordered it! Crunchy Ramen Ahi Tuna – 6oz center-cut Ahi Yellow Fin Tuna Steak breaded with crunchy ramen noodles, flash-fried to a perfect medium-rare and glazed with their house teriyaki sauce. Served with a side of togarashi spiced potatoes (chili flakes, orange zest, sesame seeds and seaweed powder) and curried green and wax beans.

So as I was preparing to feast on this Asian-creation I immediately thought I was going to break a tooth. It felt like it was made out of legos in my hand. However, that wasn’t the case, it had the normal crispness of like- something coated with panko deep-fried or even a crispy fried chicken…and it actually worked. I just wish it had a spicy mayo dipping sauce. It’s a special, so get it soon. By the way, these were the most flavorful green beans I’ve ever had.

Barkers Special

Now I was told I couldn’t leave this place without trying their tuna melt, who am I to turn down some more grub? Bring it on! Dan’s Yellow Fin Tuna Melt – 6oz center-cut Pacific-fresh Ahi Tuna steak, seasoned and char-broiled medium (or to your liking). Topped with melted sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack and caramelized onions, served atop grilled sourdough. This is a fantastic tuna melt, and I made the mistake of not ordering it Tucson style, with their scratch pesto and oven roasted tomatoes, because I was thinking it was your typical green processed pesto, but it’s not. I got a side of it, and it drastically changed this Melt for the better. It was actually red and had a depth of flavor. Even got a side of it to take home.

Barkers Ahi Tuna

Barker’s hand cut fries in their home-made queso, dipping just one fry does no justice. Does anyone just eat one fry at a time?

Barkers French Fries

Just like the locals that frequent here and have been telling me that I must try, I’m telling you to come pay this place a visit and hopefully you won’t get ridiculed for waiting so long.

You can find Barker’s Bar and Grill at 413 2nd Street, Hudson, WI or visit their website. You can also check Barker’s Facebook page for daily specials.

Follow @phatphood on Instagram to see what I eat next.

Weve Tried It Favorite Soup Recipes

We’ve Tried It Favorite Soup Recipes

Favorite Soup Recipes

If you have spent any amount of time on We’ve Tried It then you know we are soup lovers. We have compiled a list with links to our top 6 favorite soup recipes for you, enjoy!

Chicken-Tortilla-Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

Cheesy-Hash-Brown-Soup-Recipe

Cheesy Hash Brown and Ham Soup Recipe

Cheeseburger-Soup

Cheeseburger Soup Recipe

Hearty-Split-Pea-and-Ham-Soup

Hearty Split Pea and Ham Soup Recipe

White-Chicken-Chili-Recipe-2

White Chicken Chili Recipe

Turkey-Chili-Recipe

Crock Pot Turkey Chili Recipe

If you try one of our favorite recipes please come back and comment and let us know what you think. Keep warm and have a wonderful weekend!

Follow We’ve Tried It on Facebook and watch for our next product giveaway.

Healthy Eating

8 Simple Ways to Eating Healthy Food on a Budget

To be well, you need a balanced diet that will feed your body with the right amounts of muscles, fat, and other nutrients. You need protein to build muscles, healthy fats to restore your losses, carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals to keep you strong against illnesses, and liquids to keep you hydrated. The bad news is, obtaining ideal nourishment has become pretty challenging because food prices are constantly going up.

You must not feel sad because we have this awesome infographic to the rescue. We will impart with you bright ideas on how to concoct healthy, balanced, and delicious recipes within your budget. We have put together tips and tricks to make you forget what is keeping you from committing to a healthier lifestyle.

Yes, eating healthy on a budget is a possibility. There is no need to struggle with your finances because there are a lot of resources that you may turn to in order to acquire the nourishment your body needs. We have the best money saving tricks to make it easier for you to eat healthy, even with limited financial capacity.

Before you turn your back on a healthy diet, check out our infographic. It will open your eyes to amazing possibilities that will allow you pick healthier food without having to go bankrupt.

Here it is:

8 Simple Ways To Eat Healthy On a Budget

Bacon Cauliflower Chowder

Bacon Cauliflower Chowder Recipe

Bacon Cauliflower Soup

Bacon Cauliflower Chowder Recipe – Rich and delicious! This soup will surely warm you up on cold winter nights.

If you follow WTI then you know that my last soup recipe was also a chowder, we can’t get enough. It seems like most of my soups have potatoes so this time I decided to try a healthier route.

Ingredients:

8 slices of crisp bacon, chopped

4 tablespoons butter

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 large onion diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

4 stalks of celery, diced

1/2 cup of flour

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups 2% milk

2 heads of Cauliflower

Salt and pepper for taste

Directions:

Cook bacon until crispy. Once done transfer to a paper towel and pat the grease off. Once cooled, chop and set aside.

Melt butter in a large soup kettle over medium heat. Then add the garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Stir in cauliflower, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add flour, coating vegetable mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth and milk, stir until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is cooked to your liking, about 15-20 minutes. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Garnish generously with bacon and enjoy.

Rolo Pretzel Sandwiches SM

Rolo Pretzel Sandwich Recipe

[caption id="attachment_5389" align="aligncenter" width="500"]Rolo Pretzel Sandwiches Recipe Rolo Pretzel Sandwiches[/caption]

Rolo Pretzel Sandwich Recipe: This time of year social media seems to be filled with delicious looking recipes for the holiday’s. These rolo pretzel sandwiches popped up on my Facebook feed and I knew that I had to make them.

Perfect family activity, the kiddos can unwrap the Rolos and line up the pretzels. It’s super easy! Start by lining a baking sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper, fill with pretzels. Then place Rolos on top of pretzels and place in a 250 degree pre-heated oven for 3 minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out when they start to melt. Immediately top with another pretzel. Let cool. I popped mine in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up.

Rolo Pretzels

Melted Rolos

Chocolate Pretzels

To make them festive we decided to dip half of the pretzel in melted white chocolate and add some red and green sprinkles. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes.

White Chocolate Sprinkles

Quick and easy! This would make a great gift for a teacher or friend! You could put them in a holiday tin or wrap up in a clear bag with a Christmas bow.

Ingredients:

Rolos

Pretzels

White Baking Chocolate

Sprinkles

Tin Foil or Parchment Paper

Another variation: One pretzel on the bottom, topped with a Rolo and once melted smash it down with a pecan. Yum! I am going to try those next.

Be sure to follow We’ve Tried It on Facebook.

Fudge Kit

Nestle Carnation Famous Fudge Kit Review

Nestle Carnation Famous Fudge Kit

Nestle Carnation Famous Fudge Kit Review – One of my favorite holiday treats is homemade fudge. I found this fudge making kit at Walmart and decided to give it a try.

I don’t know about you but I have tried to make homemade fudge in the past and it wasn’t easy. This kit seems like the ways to go.

Carnation Fudge Making Kit

Everything is included in the kit except for 2 tablespoons of butter. The kit includes: Carnation Evaporated Milk, Toll House Chocolate Chips, Sugar Mix and Marshmallows.

Super simple! Line an 8″ square baking pan with foil and lightly spray with non-stick cooking oil. In a heavy-duty sauce pan combine sugar mix, Carnation Evaporated Milk and butter. Over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, stir constantly for 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add Nestle Toll House Morsels and marshmallows all at once. Stir vigorously until morsels and marshmallows are melted.

Fudge

Immediately pour the mixture into pan; smooth top. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 24 pieces.

Homemade Fudge

Cutting tip: Before cutting, remove from refrigerator and let stand at room tempature for 30 minutes. Dip sharp knife into hot water and wipe dry. Wipe knife after each cut.

So good! This fudge melted in my mouth and the flavor was out of this world. We will definitely be buying this product again.

chicken vegetable chowder

Cheesy Chicken Vegetable Chowder Recipe

cheesy chicken vegetable chowder

Cheesy Chicken Vegetable Chowder Recipe: Soup season is here and there is nothing better than throwing together whatever you have on hand into a kettle and making homemade soup. In my family our creations are generally named while we are eating.

Now, depending on your time frame, you can use store bought chicken broth. Also, if you don’t have enough time to roast your chicken you can pick up a rotisserie chicken at your local deli. Using a whole chicken will result in much more tender meat.

Ingredients:

3 cups chopped carrots (1 16oz bag of baby carrots chopped)

2 cups chopped celery (6 stalks)

1 cup chopped onions (medium white onion)

5 large baker potatoes chopped

48oz chicken broth

2.5 lb oven roasted whole chicken

1 cup cubed Velveeta Cheese (optional)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Salt and pepper to taste

2 pinches of thyme

roasted chicken

Directions:

If you are roasting a chicken be sure to get that going right away. Prep your vegetables. I go for a large chop because it makes the soup so much more hearty.

In large soup kettle melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add in all of your chopped vegetables, sweat for around 5 minutes on medium heat, add salt, pepper and thyme.

chopped Veggies

chopped vegetables

Now you add the chicken broth to just above the vegetable mixture, boil until all vegetables are tender. It’s time to thicken the soup. In a small fry pan melt 1/4 cup of butter and whisk in 1/4 cup of flour. Once it starts to bubble you can add your heavy whipping cream. Whisk thoroughly and then pour into your soup kettle slowly stirring until desired thickness.

flour and butter

heavy whipping cream

Now would be a good time to add the Velveeta Cheese, as a result it gives the soup a rich flavor. You can add the chicken now. We wait until the end since the chicken is already cooked. There is nothing worse than overcooked chicken.

velveeta cheese

chopped chicken

If you decided to try out this recipe please leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought.

Follow We’ve Tried It on Facebook.

Hudson Burger Battle

2016 Hudson WI Burger Battle Review

2016 Hudson Burger Battle

2016 Hudson WI Burger Battle Review – Back again for the second year in a row to give my vote for the #HudsonBurgerBattle2016.  Now you have from the 1st of November until the end of December to try five selected burgers at five local restaurants in Hudson, WI with the purchase of  a punch card for $25.00. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to BRIDGE, supporting programs that allow youth and adults with disabilities in the St. Croix River Valley to attend year-round day service programs, attain meaningful employment, participate in ongoing recreational activities, and socialize with friends.

It just wouldn’t be in We’ve Tried It fashion if I didn’t go and eat all five burgers in one evening.  So, let the meat sweats begin.

Right now I’m here at Dicks Bar & Grill for the first of five burgers in this burger battle.  Ricky Style – Topped with their special homemade sauce, lettuce, tomato, raw onion, American cheese and pickles. Kinda like a junior Mac, if you will.   Prepared nice and served open-faced.  Tasty and very fresh bun, lovely burger here with an excellent homemade sauce I might add!

Dick's Bar and Grill Burger

Moving down the street to Stone Tap for the second burger in this battle of meat.  What we have here is the C3BO – C3 is for the 3 cheeses involved; Queso, American and Wisconsin cheese curds. BO is for the bacon and onions mashed into the patty.  Stone Tap was my 1st place last year as well as the overall winner from all participants.  Does this one do justice this year with a new chef involved? Hell yes! Try this burger! It’s petite, but packs a delicious punch.

Stone Tap Burger

On to the third burger at Postmark Grille, which happens to be very unique.  The Peanut Butter Cup Juicy Lucy – a peanut butter cup (from local candy shop Knokes just across the street) stuffed burger, with crisp bacon and fried jalapeños. This actually works, there is no cheese to take away from the peanut butter cup, it oozes like a true juicy Lucy, it was just missing one major ingredient; seasoning.  However, I’m a fan.

Postmark Grille Burger

Unbuttoning the pants for this short drive to the outskirts of town to Seasons Tavern where I am chowing down on my fourth burger in this challenge which happens to be the return of a monthly special they had this summer know as their Empire Burger – 7oz burger patty, thin sliced apple, caramelized onions and bacon cream cheese on a pretzel bun.  I was a bit concerned about apples on my burger, but they really are thinly sliced and they mainly are added texture with a faint taste of apple that gets lost in the caramelized onions. Cream cheese was a nice touch with the pretzel bun.  Their caramelized onions are definitely the star in this burger.

Seasons Tavern Burger

The fifth and final burger tonight is served up at Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse, and is ironically named The Winner (aka The Trump) – 8oz blended patty of sirloin, chuck and short rib with pork Belly, Vermont cheddar, smoked chanterelle mushroom, chive horseradish sauce and arugula on a brioche bun.   Another petite burger served with all the right toppings, without the mess.  We have a serious battle going on here.

Big Guy BBQ Burger

In short, not one of the restaurants asked how I would like my burger prepared, but all served up some wonderful creations.  Who is on top of this burger battle?  I think they are all winners this year, they really stepped it up a notch with their creativity and execution.  Unfortunately, you will have to wait until the end of the year to see who brings home the title of this annual fun and delicious burger battle.

We regret to announce that the tickets have been sold out for the 2016 battle. The winners will be announced in January 2017. If you purchased your tickets already be sure to comment and let us know your favorite.

Be sure to follow @Phatphood on Instagram .

Phatphood State Fair sm

Phatphood 2016 Minnesota State Fair Food Review

Phatphood MN State Fair 2016

Phatphood 2016 Minnesota State Fair Food Review: Well, it’s Summer ’16 and I’m back at the great Minnesota foodie get together to bring you a review of the new edible items they have to offer this year.  I took a different strategy this year by not reading any descriptions or list of the new foods before going on the first day of the State Fair.  Yea, I heard people mention items and I had seen a few pictures here and there on social media, but I stayed clear of the hype and went in blind to give an unbiased review.  With that typed; I’m giving you the description that was available on the Minnesota State Fair website first, followed by my review with a 1/5 scale, so I may have some similar descriptions as I was posting live via my Instagram account while I was eating each item in my 12-hours at the fair.  Here they are in the order that I ate them: 

Rustic Beef Pastry: Moroccan-spiced, grass-fed beef and baby spinach topped with creamy goat cheese and nestled in a flakey butter crust.

MN State Fair Rustic Beef Pastry

Located at: French Meadow Bakery & Café on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson and Underwood streets.

SF

Dry, dry, dry. Pre-cooked and under heat lamps waiting for what I guess was an eternity.  The dry crumbles of beef reminded me of Tontio’s party pizzas when I was a kid.  This would probably work at a gas station next to the Taquitos.  1/5

Spicy Pork Bowl: A mix of adobo pulled pork, rice, black beans, spinach, charred salsa and fried onion strings.

MN State Fair Spicy Pork Bowl

Located at: The Blue Barn at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center.

It’s a lovely portion, and basically a burrito bowl. I’m a fan.  The pork could be much spicier for me, it was missing that heat I expected.  3/5

Candied Bacon BLT: Crispy, thick candied bacon, rancher’s slaw and green tomato spread on a sweet egg bun.

sf 2

Located at: The Blue Barn at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center.

My favorite new item thus far! Perfection. I want this BLT daily.  Blue Barn nailed the candied bacon and it has just the right amount of sweetness.  Sooooo good!  Bun and quality of every ingredient is top notch. 5/5

Candied Bacon Donut Sliders: Sliced glazed donut holes with thick candied bacon and a chocolate red wine ganache.

sf3

Located at: Minnesota Wine Country on the west side of Underwood Street between Carnes and Judson avenues.

Cold. Not as fresh as I’d imagine. Bacon had a mild spice to it, yet cold as well.  This is the one that was brought up the most in the last few weeks leading up to opening day here at the fair so I was actually excited about trying it, not anymore.   It just could have been executed better, bummer.  1/5

Minnesota Corn Dog: Custom ground sausage on-a-stick made with blueberries, apples, wild rice, maple syrup and cayenne dipped in a homemade corn dog batter and deep-fried.

sf 5

Located at: Gass Station Grill on the west side of Cooper Street between Dan Patch and Judson avenues, outside the southeast corner of the Food Building.

Mn State Fair Minnesota Corn Dog

Actually, a pretty good tasting breakfast corn dog with a decent hint of spice.  Small, but covered an excellent tasting batter. Biggest complaint is that the sausage will come right out of the casing when biting, so you pretty much have to bite hard down onto the stick or eat it from the side and hope for the best.  For taste and the reasonable fair price of $5 it gets a 3/5.

Saucy Shrimp & Slaw: Breaded shrimp tossed in your choice of parmesan garlic, sweet chili or buffalo sauce on a bed of fresh coleslaw.

Mn State Fair Saucy Shrimp & Slaw

Located at: Fish & Chips Seafood Shoppe at two locations: In the Food Building, northwest section, and on the west side of Liggett Street just south of Mighty Midway.

Good ol typical battered shrimp tossed in buffalo sauce. Another item that has a decent amount of heat to it, duh, buffalo sauce, and the slaw is better than at most restaurants. Basic, but good. Was never given the option for the Parmesan Garlic, ugh I hate that here and it happens every year at most vendors. 3/5

Beer Brat Buddies: Oktoberfest beer brat in a German pretzel bun with sauerkraut, chopped onions and a choice of mustards — a serving for two!

Mn State Fair Beer Brat Buddies

Located at: Sausage Sister & Me in the Food Building, east wall.

Good little buddies here, sister!  Fresh, and made to order, unlike a few other items here at the fair just sitting around waiting to be bought. I put the special sister Sriracha sauce on one and their spicy brown mustard along with raspberry jam on the other.  The pretzel buns were very fresh. No complaints here.  3.5/5

Macaroni & Cheese Curds: Rich macaroni & cheese blended with fresh cheese curds.

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Located at: Oodles of Noodles in the Food Building, east wall.

Mn State Fair Macaroni & Cheese Curds

This a hefty dish! Excellent curds (not breaded), tons of thick melted cheese, and mixed with the macaroni noodles. Carbs on carbs!  The breadstick is blah, but who in the hell cares?  Comes in a to go box, kudos on that!  4.5/5

Sheep Dog: Lamb dog served hot in a bun with garlic sautéed kale, raw fermented sauerkraut, quinoa and honey mustard drizzle. (Gluten-free option without the bun.)

MN State Fair Sheep Dog

Located at: Lamb Shoppe in the Food Building, east wall.

This is a good solid dog. The honey mustard goes great with the fermented kraut. Messy, so make sure to lick your entire hand when finished. All the ingredients worked in harmony.  4/5

Carpe Diem: A Taiyaki (fish-shaped) buttermilk miso waffle cone filled with balsamic-roasted strawberry compote and topped with vanilla ice cream, graham cracker crumble and a fresh strawberry.

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Located at: The Rabbit Hole at the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall. Available Aug. 25-30 only!

MN State Fair Carpe Diem

Oh my damn this is gooooood.  The waffle cone is crisp and amazing, especially when the balsamic compote bleeds into the cone it tastes like PB&J.  Great dessert here; Don’t take a long photo session with it, this here melts FAST! Don’t just go biting into it either, scoop it out and enjoy it or the cone will explode at the seams…I know this!  Grab the wet wipes they offer. Thomas is a stand-up dude, so make sure you say hi to him. 5/5

Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread: Savory, pull-apart artisan bread loaf filled with caramelized onions, cheese and beef broth, then baked in a wood-fired oven.

MN State Fair Cheesy French Onion Monkey Bread

Located at: Blue Moon Dine-In Theater on the northeast corner of Carnes Avenue and Chambers Street.

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French Onion Soup pored over some dinner rolls, literally. Simple, savory, deliciousness.  3/5

Bang Bang Fresh Chicken Tenders: Lightly breaded, fresh, never-frozen fried chicken tenderloins served with Bang Bang sweet and tangy chili sauce.

MN State Fair Bang Bang Fresh Chicken Tenders

Located at: LuLu’s Public House at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater.

Definitely crisp and fresh.  Great with or without the sauce since the breading is seasoned well, a little on the salty side.  The sauce is a wonderful addition, so dip away. Pair it with a beer.  4/5

Minnesnowii Shave Ice: Maple flavor with bacon crumbles. A new flavor this year at the fair. These guys are at every carnival, fair and event here in Minnesota. Definitely at the top in their category.   The maple works of the shave ice, the bacon gets a bit soggy and chewy, but it all works together.

MN State Fair Minnesnowii Shave Ice

Located at entrance of the West End Market. 4/5

Burnt Butt Ends: Premium cuts of pork, seasoned with a BBQ rub, then smoked over oak and served with onions and jalapeños.

MN State Fair Burnt Butt Ends

Located at: RC’s BBQ on the north side of West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets (former site of Famous Dave’s).

Dry, burnt ends is right.  I’ve had much better.  Bring Famous Dave’s back!  Mmmm jalapeños. Good flavor in the sauce, on the salty side, but pretty basic.  1/5

SPAM® Curds: Cheese-flavored SPAM® that has been cubed, battered and deep-fried, served with a side of ranch dressing.

MN State Fair SPAM® Curds

Located at: SPAM® east of Chambers Street, just south of the Grandstand.

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Now you already know these are salty, but it’s a Minnesota food staple, and some us of grew up eating SPAM® and still love it.  Better with the ranch!  Not a single hint of cheese at all and not worth the $7 price tag.  Decent bar snack with a beer.  2/5

Gumbo Frites: A bed of crispy french fries topped with Ragin’s traditional New Orleans gumbo made with andouille sausage, chicken, bell peppers, onions, celery and a rich roux-based sauce, then finished off with cheese and green onions.

MN State Fair Gumbo Frites

Located at: Ragin Cajun in The Garden, west wall.

I’m turned-off when it comes to pale looking fries, but they are going to be soggy regardless and the gumbo is a wonderful reminiscence of Popeye’s gravy with nice chunks of sausage and chicken, hell yeah!  Good job on this!  3.5/5

Barbecued Shrimp Taco: Sweet, smoky, slightly spicy barbecued shrimp and cool, fresh jicama slaw in a warm flour tortilla.

MN State Fair Barbecued Shrimp Taco

Located at: Tejas Express in The Garden, north wall.

Not impressed, at all.  You would expect this at Taco Bell for $2.50, but $10 for two here with the most basic ingredients, or lack thereof.  Maybe try the macho taco if you come here.  0/5

Italian Taco: A flour tortilla baked with butter and shredded parmesan, filled with Italian sausage and mozzarella, topped with roasted bruschetta, romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, pesto, pizza sauce and parmesan cheese, and then drizzled with a balsamic glaze.

MN State Fair Italian Taco

Located at: Green Mill on the east side of Cooper Street, between Randall and Wright avenues, at Family Fair at Baldwin Park.

I didn’t expect much when I read about this one prior to locating it, but after two bites I was amazed on how good it is.  For $5 this a decent sized meal, and a tasty one at that! 4/5

Reuben Pickle Dog: A dill pickle spear with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing wrapped in a slice of pastrami.

MN State Fair Reuben Pickle Dog

Located at: Pickle Dog on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Liggett and Chambers streets.

Good little street food snack. Perfect amount of cream cheese to kraut ratio. Can’t go wrong with this one. 4/5

Deep Fried Nachos Supreme: Pepper jack cheese cubes coated with a mixture of crushed seasoned tortilla chips and nacho cheese, then deep-fried, covered with taco meat, guacamole, more nacho cheese and sour cream, and served with jalapeños on the side. Also available traditional-style without the supreme toppings.

MN State Fair Deep Fried Nachos Supreme 2

Located at: Texas Steak Out on the west side of Underwood Street between Lee and Randall avenues.

MN State Fair Deep Fried Nachos Supreme

Wow!! I am blown away by this one. I haven’t been very fond of the items sold in the last few years from Texas Steak Out, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Damn, I can’t get over how impressed I am, wonderful. Tastes like a mozzarella cheese stick wrapped in a ball of crushed Doritos deep-fried. Love. 5/5

MN State Fair Phatphood

Unfortunately I had a few bad items that I heard later in the day had improved, that is just the way it goes here at the fair.  They always have a new, young staff helping them each year and executing a new item at the same time.  So although these are my opinions of the items I had, they may be different for you when you try them.  It can be a hit or miss situation, and that is just how it is.  Had a great fulfilling time, thanks for following along and I hope you enjoyed!  Til next year.