The best holidays are The Minnesota State Fair and Halloween.
To be honest, I wasn’t super drawn to the new list of new fair foods this year.
I know deep fried things on sticks aren’t light fare, but a lot of the items seemed to be very heavy like grilled sandwiches, foods that could either be very good or very bad (al pastor waffle, lahmucan) or boring (fried feta bites, boneless wings, or “build your own burger.”
Build your own burger as a new vendor? lol come on.
This year, we’re following the same philosophy as we dud last year. We’re not trying a new food simply for the sake of trying a new food because $$$. I’ll let the food critics go there first.
The weather on opening day was perfect – the type of day we wait for all year. A high of 73 with low humidity. If you can get here early and enjoy an hour or two pre-massive crowds, get here early.
If we return, I’ll update this post. For now, here’s our 2019 Minnesota State Fair rundown.
The Best Combination: Wine Slushy from MN Wine Country + Cheese Curds From Mouth Trap (Food Building)
Think of this like the ultimate wine and cheese pairing. Four flavors of wine slushies from the MN Wine Country building are $10 each. This year I ordered a watermelon-frose slushy. I actually like the pomegranate-blueberry slushy more, as it’s less sweet. There’s also raspberry and peach-gris flavors.
What I like about these slushies is that they’re not too sweet. They pair perfectly with Mouth Trap cheese curds.
There’s nothing new to say about Mouth Trap curds, except for they’re our favorite versions of themselves.
An OG: Salem Lutheran Church Dining Hall
Salem is one of two, church-run dining halls at the fair. Hamline is actually the oldest concession at the fair, serving food since 1897. They both serve foods you might find at a Minnesotan church basement or funeral meal. And they both serve Swedish Meatballs.
The inside of Salem looks like our grandmother’s kitchens – rosemaling and teapots line the walls. Our friends took us here for the first time.
Swedish Egg Coffee is something we’ve always heard about but never tried. Raw egg and shell is mixed with coffee grounds, supposedly producing a brew with no bitterness. An unlimited cup of egg coffee here is $2.
It tastes like, well, a good, hot cup of coffee. We sat on a bench with other Salem enthusiasts and enjoyed our Swedish meatball ($6) and Thanksgiving dinner bowls ($7.50).
The fact that there’s nothing earth shattering about these bowls might make them kind of earth shattering? Simple mashed potato, meat, gravy bowls and flavorful, homemade meatballs and tender turkey served by really nice people. You might need a salt shaker. Somehow it all goes down lighter than you’d expect.
If you’ve never been to a Lutheran church basement meal, experience some of it here.
We wait all year for Demetri gyros. I haven’t eaten all of the gyros at the MN State fair so I feel like I can’t tell you not to skip the other ones. . .If you want to eat a gyro at fair, just go to this vendor. Trust me.
The pita is perfectly toasted. It’s well constructed – it’s not underfilled and it’s not overfilled. The meat is nicely shaved and the vegetable garnishes are fresh and simple – fresh tomato slices and thinly sliced onion. Of course, there’s the cool yogurt sauce, too.
It’s one of the best gyros we find every year.
Corn on the Cob from the Corn Roast
Where $4 buys you a big ear of heaven.
Jalapeno Cheese on a Stick from Cheese on a Stick
For American cheese lovers only – not as ooey gooey blobby as the Cheese on a Stick at ValleyFair, but satisfying none-the-less. The cheese inside has a pleasing kick. It’s somehow light enough that you won’t feel sick after.
Turkey Sandwich from Turkey To Go
This was our first sandwich here. I’ve seen people rave about them for years. This really is the moistest most flavorful turkey sandwich you’ll have. For $8, it’s not the biggest sandwich you’ll ever find, but it’s enough for two people to get a satisfying snack. And like I said, it might be one of the best turkey sandwiches you’ll ever find.
What I will is advise is don’t add the buffalo sauce + blue cheese for an extra $2.50. The tiny DIY containers of sauce and blue cheese crumbles are not worth the cash. Just eat it plain or squirt some of the free BBQ sauce on top. If you must spend more money here, buy the bigger sandwich size.
Some Coffee Things
Que Viet sells Vietnamese iced coffee for $5. Refreshing as always.
Anchor Coffee sells bougie coffee. Jake ordered the new Cold Brew Lavender Shandy ($7). When Jake asked me what a cold brew shandy was, it took me a moment to connect the two words together. I googled cold brew shandy and found that coffee shandy is indeed a thing that combines cold brew and lemonade.
He and our friend enjoyed the drink. I can’t even describe how it tastes, but was surprised to find it tasted less weird that I expected. I wouldn’t order one for myself, but they enjoyed it.
Two New Foods!
Shrimp & Grits Fritters from Funky Grits
Funky Grits is a local restaurant that serves soul food with a lot of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. The only food on the menu are these shrimp and grits fritters.
Three fritters only cost $5. I love sharing crispy little bites like this at the fair. The outsides were super crispy and the insides moist. The only thing is that ours didn’t contain much shrimp. I liked the accompanying spicy mayo made with Cry Baby Craigs hot sauce.
Nashville Hot Chicken on a stick from Blue Barn $9.95 (Not pictured)
The critics are right, this is good. I tried a bite. Blue Barn fries a long piece of chicken on a stick, coated in corn flakes and drizzled with a hot chicken sauce. At first I was wary because it didn’t look like any hot chicken I know. The sauce is milder but has a nice sweet savory flavor. It’s served with pickles on a small piece of toast to soak up the hot oil.
A New Drink: Very Berry Frozen Hard Seltzer ($8.95) – Blue Barn
Critics seem to like this drink – I thought it was too sweet and I have a higher tolerance for sweet. The texture is wonderful – like the thickest, smoothest icee. But it’s weak and very sweet. I’d rather have another wine slushy.
Some Favorite State Fair Food Reviews:
I was supposed to go today (Monday) but with the pending rain, my friends ended up going Sunday, and I might roll in on thursday night. I either need to find a buddy, or need to change my attitude, because while I’m usually happy to go solo, I’m not as interested this year for some reason.