Jason’s Minnesota State Fair Favorites: The Classics

New State Fair foods get the buzz, but the classics are what keep us coming back every year
Fresh French Fries celebrates 50 years at the Fair this year
Fresh French Fries celebrates 50 years at the Fair this year


This year will be my 20th Minnesota State Fair. On paper, it’s everything I would hate: crowds, lines, the smell of either wet straw or animal manure. But there’s something magical about how it all comes together—people from every corner of the state, every shape, size, age, race, and more, all mingling together. New food has become an obsession of food critics and fair visitors, but the truth is, when I go to the fair on my own time, I’m all about the classics. To whom do I award my blue ribbons? I’ll also preview the new foods when they are announced and review many of them when the fair opens, too.

Midwest Dairy
Midwest Dairy



•Apple pie from Minneapple Pie, minneapplepie.com

•French toast bites with pop rocks from Blue Barn, bluebarnmn.com

• Grilled peaches from the Produce Exchange, midtownproduceexchange.com

•Mini donuts from Tom Thumb, tomthumbdonuts.com

My choice: Strawberry malt from Midwest Dairy Goodness Bar. They sell about 100,000 malts here every year because they’re perfect. I’m partial to strawberry as you can taste the fresh berries and I adore their sweet earthiness with the nutty notes of the malt. midwestdairy.com

Que Viet
Que Viet



•Big Fat Bacon, bigfatbacon.com

•Cheese on a stick, facebook.com/statefair.cheeseonastick

•Pork chop from Peterson’s, facebook.com/petersonsporkchops

•Pronto Pup, prontopup.net

My choice: Giant egg roll from Que Viet. Pork, vegetables, and noodles all wrapped in gluten-free rice paper and deep-fried. This is a great treat from a great Vietnamese family since 2018. facebook.com/quevietconcessions

Midway Men's Club
Midway Men’s Club


On a Bun

•Breakfast burrito from Tejas Express, facebook.com/tejasexpress

•Gizmo sandwich from Gizmo’s, mnstatefair.org/fair-finder/food

•Hot dog from About a Footlong Hot Dog, facebook.com/aboutafootlonghotdog

•London broil steak sandwich from Butcher Boys, butcher-boys.com

My choice: Burger and a beer at Midway Men’s Club. This is the best bargain at the fair from a St. Paul nonprofit that donates tens of thousands of dollars every year to charitable organizations that help young people. With the coldest beer and a solid burger, this is what the State Fair is about. midwaymensclub.com



Findable Outside the Fair

•Cider freeze from Pine Tree Orchard in White Bear Lake, pinetreeappleorchard.com

•Garlic toast from Mancini’s in St. Paul, mancinis.com

•Licorice ice cream, Bridgeman’s Parlor in Woodbury and retail, bridgemans.com

•Pork schnitzel sandwich, Minnesota Farmers Union at Farmer’s Kitchen in Minneapolis, farmerskitchenandbar.com

My choice: Hummus bowls from Baba’s. One of my favorite newer foods at the fair has been so popular it launched its own restaurant. Khalid Ansari and his sister Rana are set to open Hummus House on Lyndale with their impossibly creamy and delicious hummus bowls plus traditional Palestinian flatbreads and more. lovebabas.com

Best for Sharing

•Cheese curds from Mouth Trap, facebook.com/themouthtrap

•Deep-fried pickles at the Perfect Pickle, myfriedpickles.com

•Garlic fries at Ball Park Café, facebook.com/ball-park-cafe-at-the-minnesota-state-fair

•Onion rings from Danielson & Daughter’s, facebook.com/danielson-daughters-onion-rings

My choice: Pork butt burnt ends from RC’s BBQ. Charlie Torgerson is Minnesota’s most acclaimed pit-master, helping build Famous Dave’s and currently behind Eagan’s Kitchen & Rail. These burnt ends are snackable, shareable, and incredible. facebook.com/RCsBBQMN

Manny's Tortas
Manny’s Tortas



•All-you-can-drink milk from Midwest Dairy (50/50 white milk and chocolate is the move), facebook.com/allyoucandrinkmilkstand

•Blueberry basil lemonade at Blue Barn, bluebarnmn.com

•Limeade at Holy Land, holylandbrand.com

•Mini Donut Beer at Ball Park Café, facebook.com/ball-park-cafe-at-the-minnesota-state-fair

My choice: Pina colada from Manny’s Tortas. This non-lcoholic pina colada has it all: sweet, cold, bright, fruity, and the kitsch of being in a giant, hollowed-out pineapple. It all comes from torta legend Manny Gonzales. mannystortas.com

Sweet Martha's Cookie Jar
Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar


Hall of Famers

•Bucket-o-cookies from Sweet Martha’s Cookies, sweetmarthas.com

•Ear of corn from Corn Roast, mnstatefair.org/fair-finder/food

•Turkey sandwich from Turkey-to-Go, turkeytogo.com

•Walleye cakes at Giggles Campire Inn, gigglescampfiregrill.com 

My choice: Fries from Fresh French Fries. My all-time favorite, I get an order of these every time I’m at the fair. These Minnesota potatoes are grown just for the fair and are fried from the inside out in three increasingly hot vats of oil. Creamy, crispy, full of potato flavors, they are the best fries at the best fair. freshfrenchfriesmn.com