Well, as you already know, the 2018 Minnesota State Fair season is upon us. That end of summer glutinous traverse to a full on human stampede that we somehow still find a yearning for. Whether it’s to hang out with friends or loved ones, people watch, collect freebies, or like for me, to simply indulge. Forty-five new items in the first day in ten hours, yea…that kind of indulging. I live instagrammed my entire journey, as I do every year. So, here’s the good, the bad and the not-so-ugly. Check the visuals, but make sure you not only read the breakdown, but also the 0 to 10 ratings and price, to maybe help guide your hunger through the next twelve days.
2018 Minnesota State Fair New Food Review
Swedish Meatball Smörgås – Meatball sandwich with three traditional Swedish pork and beef meatballs topped with white gravy, lingonberry sauce and dill pickles. LOCATION: The Blue Barn – REVIEW: 7/10 $8.95
Bacon-Stuffed Tots – Scratch-made tots stuffed with bacon and cheddar cheese, topped with a dollop of bacon-infused sour cream. LOCATION: The Blue Barn – REVIEW: 7/10 $8.95
Freehouse Limelight & Strawberry Mint Fro-lé – LOCATION: The Blue Barn – REVIEW: 7.5/10 $8.95
Pepperoni Chips with Roasted Red Pepper Queso – Thinly sliced fried pepperoni chips served with a warm roasted red pepper cheese sauce. LOCATION: LuLu’s Public House – REVIEW: 7/10 $7 – Can’t go wrong, crispy with a good dip.
Croissant Breakfast Taco – scrambled eggs, chorizo sausage, onions, peppers, cheese. LOCATION: LuLu’s Public House – REVIEW: 5.5/10 $6.00 – good flavor…lot of bread that I don’t consider a croissant.
Nordic Waffles – Fresh-made waffle wraps in seven varieties: 1.) All-Day Breakfast (egg, bacon & cheddar); 3.) Slammin’ Salmon On-A-Stick (Norwegian smoked salmon with cream cheese & green onions); 2.) Vegetarian Viking (black bean veggie burger, cheddar cheese, mixed greens & chipotle sauce). 3.) Slammin’ Salmon On-A-Stick (Norwegian smoked salmon with cream cheese & green onions); 4.) S’More (marshmallow crème, crumbled graham crackers & Nutella). LOCATION: Nordic Waffles – REVIEW: 1.) 8/10 $8 2.) 6/10 $9 3.) 4/10 $10 4.) 8/10 $8 – All day breakfast and s’mores was on point…vegan was great…salmon was skimpy for the price, not much there to judge. Oh, and it had bones.
Jalapeño Spam Curds – LOCATION: Spam – REVIEW: 7/10 $8 – it’s Spam, I love Spam! New this year is the jalapeno version curds, so I had to get…for y’all! Although, I really wish they’d change the breading. It’s like grocer frozen chicken nugget style.
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. – LOCATION: Hamline Church Dining Hall – REVIEW: 6.5/10 $9.25 – it’s good french toast with an ample amount of orange zest atop the banana slices. Trying it without they syrup, banana or whipped cream…it’s really dry.
Blueberry Rhubarb Cobbler – A blend of organic blueberries and rhubarb topped with a cornmeal biscuit and whipped cream. LOCATION: Farmers Union Coffee Shop – REVIEW: 5.5/10 $8.00 – there is a LOT of blueberries/rhubarb blend here. It’s good, just too much of one thing so the ratio is off.
Tomato and Sweet Corn BLT – LOCATION: Farmers Union Coffee Shop – REVIEW: 7.5/10 $12.00 – flavors are wonderful. The bread, I’m on the fence. So, yea.
Strawberry Basil Lemonade – LOCATION: Farmers Union Coffee Shop – REVIEW: 5.5/10 $7.00 (20oz) – fresh and pulpy, not as sweet as you’d expect. So that’s lacking for a lemonade.
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-friendly bun available upon request; sausage is gluten-free, no nitrates added. LOCATION: Giggles’ Campfire Grill – REVIEW: 5/10 $7.00 – good brat goin on here. The after taste is what brought the rating down. Your call on this one, people.
New *Uffda (Beaver Island) – s’more (Excelsior) – Dill Pickle Ale (Tin Whiskers) – LOCATION: Giggles’ Campfire Grill – REVIEW 8/10 on all beers including the new UFDA (they revamped the other two to improve the taste, I dig!!
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). LOCATION: The Hangar – REVIEW: 7/10 $10 – I pleaded and begged to get one of each, but just that you know, you CAN’T. It’s all three different burgers, or three different brisket…and so on, you CAN’T mix-n-match Beef, Pork, etc. Anyhow, luscious tasting sliders served up in this huge awesome Hanger with live music and plenty of outdoor games. It’s a party in here with plenty of beer and room! The Burger was my least fave out of trio.
Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadilla – LOCATION: Quesadilla Junction – REVIEW: 9/10 $10 – it’s a dope ass CBR Quesadilla!
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. LOCATION: Green Mill – REVIEW: 3/10 $5 – Dry. Choke Hazard. Syrup was good, for an extra bump in the rating. Loved them last year. This time they dropped the ball.
Shrimp Ceviche – Fresh shrimp, cucumbers, jalapeños, onions, tomatoes and cilantro tossed with a citrus lime juice and served cold with tortilla chips. LOCATION: Shrimp Shack – REVIEW: 4.5/10 $7 – lacking on sour, over powering on black pepper.
Bratwurst Burger (Double) – LOCATION: Mac’s Grille – REVIEW: 6/10 $6.75 – decent brat burger. I’ve tasted much better. Not enough brat flavor, missing that punch.
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. LOCATION: Mancini’s al Fresco – REVIEW: 7.5/10 $7.75 – That’s one huge slice of bread, could use a little more smothered meat, but still…spicy Italian goodness. Fan.
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. (Available Aug. 23-28 only). LOCATION: Midtown Global Market’s Taco Cat – REVIEW: 5/10 $12 – boneless wings in Tso sauce. Too big of chunks to work in a taco. Not much going on here. Good luck with handling these.
Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl – Ahi tuna, avocado, mango and pico de gallo tossed in a Hawaiian ginger-soy sauce served cold over rice with a fried wonton. LOCATION: Cafe Caribe – REVIEW: 8.5/10 $9.50 – it’s not too bad here. Some good cuts, some not so good cuts. But overall, it’s a good price with a nice portion. Just shy of loving it.
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. LOCATION: Sausage by Cynthia – REVIEW: 5/10 $9 – decent with all the fixings, but still missing flavor. Even got it with sauerkraut and peppers. Idk, another your call.
Earth Wings® – Fresh cauliflower pieces dipped in a seasoned batter, deep-fried and smothered in organic sesame BBQ sauce. Vegan and gluten-free. LOCATION: French Meadow Bakery & Café – REVIEW: 8/10 $7 – great texture and flavor, very desirable and I’d get again. BUT…20min line wait plus an hour (exactly) to get this boat full made it not worth it. It really was a shit show.
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. LOCATION: Blue Moon Dine-In Theater – REVIEW: 6.5/10 $8 – got the coffee flavor with the bourbon cherries. Didn’t get much smoke flavoring all. Coffee? Yes. Cherries were good, almost too many, but was a good bonus for the buck up-charge. I really like their soft serve texture here.
Sweet Greek Cheese Puffs – Flaky phyllo dough filled with feta and ricotta cheese, deep-fried, drizzled with honey and topped with powdered sugar. LOCATION: Dino’s Gyros – REVIEW: 8/10 $5 – a cream cheese puff/baklava hybrid? I’m down with this!
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. LOCATION: O’Gara’s at the Fair – REVIEW: 7.5/10 $8 – these are delish and work! Give me 6 instead of 5 and I’d be even more ecstatic!
Wood-Grilled Elote – Corn on-the-cob grilled over an oak wood fire, brushed with chile-spiced mayo and sprinkled with queso Cotija & fresh lime juice. LOCATION: Tejas Express – REVIEW: 9/10 $5 – Boooooommmmmbb!!
Yucatán Shrimp Cocktail – REVIEW: 3/10 $10 – ridiculous price for this ridiculous dish. Meh.
Chicken Enchiladas with salsa verde and goat cheese – REVIEW: 3/10 $11 – flavorless chicken, all the smothering can’t save it.
UpNorth Puff Pasty – Porketta sausage, cheese curds, coarse grain mustard and chopped dill pickle baked in a puffy crust sprinkled with pepper and sea salt. LOCATION: Sausage Sister & Me – REVIEW: 7.5/10 $8 – light and flaky with some really great flavors on the inside. Only gripe, fill it more.
Honey Cream Soda Float – Honey cream soda (made without sugar) poured over Minnesota Grown honey ice cream. LOCATION: Minnesota Honey Producers – REVIEW: 7.5/10 $9 – that’s a good float that comes with a hefty price tag. It’s the beesnazz!
Zesty PB&J Sausage – Peanut butter, cherry jelly and a hint of cayenne pepper and cilantro blended into a quarter-pound sausage. LOCATION: Gass Station Grill- REVIEW: 7.5/10 $6.00 – unique and different is a good thing. Wasn’t expecting much, but as soon as you lift it to your face, you smell pb&j right away. Zest and jelly stand out whilst eating, pb gets lost. Still embracing this cool dog.
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. LOCATION: Sweetie Cakes – REVIEW: 8.5/10 $7.00 – just tried one, chocolate pb. It’s a nice hot cake cup! It was really good! I’d imagine that the others being just the same.
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. LOCATION: The Hideaway Speakeasy – REVIEW: 8/10 $14.00 – really good and fairly priced. It would be a $12 app outside of fair. Fresh to def!
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. LOCATION: Rainbow Ice Cream – REVIEW: 9/10 $8.00 – I got Superman ice cream, many colors involved, but the cut just showed pink. I’m not mad, this is simple and an awesome dessert! Definitely on cloud 9. Love it!
Triple Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake – Dense chocolate cake with chocolate chips and fudge icing smothered with strawberries and whipped cream. LOCATION: The Strawberry Patch – REVIEW: 8.5/10 $6 – I’m not even big on strawberries, that chocolate cake/fudge/chocolate chip combo elevated this dessert to a whole new level. Yum.
Mangonada Shave Ice – Mango-flavored shave ice drizzled with Mexican chamoy sauce, dusted with tajin chili powder, topped with popping mango boba pearls and served with a tamarind candy straw. LOCATION: Minnesnowii Shave Ice – REVIEW: 8/10 $6 – nice play on this, popping boba? Damn.
Pumpkin Spiced Shave Ice – pumpkin-flavored shave ice, whipped cream core, cinnamon brown sugar dusting. REVIEW: 8/10 $6 – just like a slice of pumpkin pie. Whoa!
If you tried any of the items listed, we love reading your comments below. Which was your favorite and least favorite item at the 2018 MN Stare Fair? Did you agree with Phat’s reviews?