New Minnesota State Fair Foods 2021: RANKED

Note: Our food critic has not tried any of these new foods yet

Minnesota State Fair

The list is out! Let the Minnesota State Fair food planning begin. There are 26 “official” new foods and four new vendors at the Great Minnesota Get Together. There are 500 different foods at 300 different concession locations through the fairgrounds—this is the Great Minnesota Eat Together for sure.

Some headlines: Hot Indian has its own spot in the Food Building, and it lands my number one most-anticipated food of the new foods list. Biscuits are in, as are waffles. Two new fried ravioli items. Otherwise, not much on a stick here, continuing that trend. Lots of allegedly “spicy” chicken, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  If you’re looking for a juicy lucy, you sort of get a riff on that from Green Mill.

In a totally absurd exercise, I am ranking the new Minnesota State Fair foods for 2021 using only the pictures and descriptions provided. When the fair starts, I’ll actually eat these things and then you’ll see just how wrong my preconceived notions were.

Minnesota State Fair

1. Kerala Fried Chicken Kati Roll: This is going to be awesome: Marinated, battered and fried chicken tenders wrapped in paratha with chutneys and slaw. Fried, flavorful, yes please. At Hot Indian, located in the Food Building, east wall

Minnesota State Fair

2. The Naughty Biscuit: RC’s BBQ is Charlie Torgerson’s baby. He’s one of the best pitmasters in the country. You know the smoked pork belly is going to be good, but then topped with beer cheese sauce, arugula, pickled red onions, and candied jalapeños on a buttermilk biscuit? Eat it first, then walk all those calories off. At RC’s BBQ, located on the north side of West Dan Patch Avenue between Liggett & Chambers streets

Minnesota State Fair

3. Cucumber Jalapeño Limeade: Refreshing, spicy, and made with juiced Minnesota-grown cucumbers. This will be a surprise hit at Farmers Union. At Farmers Union Coffee Shop, located on the north side of Dan Patch Avenue between Cooper & Cosgrove streets

Minnesota State Fair

4. Bison Bites: Giggles has a great track record, and this reminds me of the St..Louis favorite fried ravioli, but with a North Woods spin. Ground bison, braised fennel, portobello mushrooms and fresh basil wrapped in classic egg dough, deep-fried and served with a sweet bourbon sauce with a little kick. At Giggles’ Campfire Grill, located on the southeast corner of Lee Avenue & Cooper Street at The North Woods

Minnesota State Fair

5. Buffalo Chicken Doughscuit: I’m optimistic that the combo biscuit/doughnut won’t be as sweet as a straight-up donut, and then the shredded chicken, glazed with a sweet & spicy buffalo icing and topped with crispy bacon bits will have tons of flavor. At The Blue Barn, located at West End Market, south of the History & Heritage Center

Minnesota State Fair

6. ChoriPop: Yes, a vegan item in my top 10, but the idea of putting “Chorizo” by the Herbivorous Butcher in a a classic corndog batter, deep-fried on-a-stick is a good one. Pick avocado salsa or mole sauce drizzled on top or on the side and have it with Mexican BBQ chips. At Midtown Global Market’s Andy’s Garage, located in the Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall (Available Aug. 26-31 only)

Minnesota State Fair

7. La Floretta: Roasted cauliflower is the most popular vegetable at local restaurants, so why not at the fair? Mancini’s seasons those florets, serves with Calabrian sweet chili sauce. At Mancini’s al Fresco, located on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson & Underwood streets

Minnesota State Fair

8. Dual Berry Shortcake: I am 100% a fan boy of Betty & Earl’s biscuits, so the dessert treatment of coating it with sugar and topping with strawberries and blueberries is very appealing to me. At LuLu’s Public House, located at West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater

Minnesota State Fair

9. Cracklin Prime Nachos: I think this is going to be great: snackable, sharable, deep-fried chicharrón covered in prime rib slices, ¡Que Bueno! nacho cheese, pico de gallo and green onion slices. At Coasters, located on the southeast corner of Carnes Avenue & Liggett Street

Minnesota State Fair

10. Greek Stuffed Ravioli: Dino’s is up and down for me, but another ravioli riff this time with Mediterranean pastry dough. Inside: cream cheese, tzatziki sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoncini, tomato, gyro meat. Deep-fried and drizzled with roasted garlic butter, easy to share while you’re getting ready to do karaoke at Dino’s. At Dino’s Gyros, located on the north side of Carnes Avenue between Nelson & Underwood streets

Banh Minn Bun and Banh Minn Bowl at Sausage Sister & Me

Minnesota State Fair

11. Banh Minn Bun and Banh Minn Bowl: Sausage Sisters really do a fantastic job with their sausage, so a riff ona  banh mi with an Asian-inspired sausage in a crusty French baguette seems like a smart idea. Topped with Sister’s Srirachasauce, shredded and pickled carrot, radish, chopped jalapeño and a sprig of fresh cilantro. Or you can do it as a bowl with a five-grain blend and sausage slices. At Sausage Sister & Me, located in the Food Building, east wall

Minnesota State Fair

12. Island Hopper: Doesn’t this sound good? Hollowed-out half-pineapple filled with teriyaki chicken served with steamy white rice and pineapple chunks, topped with green onions and sesame seeds. Great instagram picture, so long as the taste holds up! At The Hangar, located at the North End, southwest section

Minnesota State Fair

13. Paneer Pakora: I’m cautiously optimistic about the crispiness holding up on these fried paneer cheese cubes fried in a gluten-free batter and served with tomato butter. At Hot Indian, located in the Food Building, east wall

Minnesota State Fair

14. Sashimi Tuna Tacos: I’m excited to see New Scenic Cafe at the fair, but not sure how excited I am to try ahi tuna in a wonton shell on a 95 degree day. Crisp wonton shells filled with ahi tuna, avocado and sesame soy. Thai slaw with peanut dressing, pickled ginger and wasabi served on the side. At Scenic 61 by New Scenic Café, located on the east side of Underwood Street between Lee & Randall avenues, just south of Little Farm Hands

Minnesota State Fair

15. Blue Raspberry Blitzed: Potential to be too-sweet, but it doesn’t get sweeter than Sara and her Tipsy Pies, so I’m optimistic about this. Traditional hand pie filled with a raspberry, blueberry, and apple blend infused with UV Blue Vodka and topped with cotton candy sugar. At Sara’s Tipsy Pies, located in the Food Building, south wall

Minnesota State Fair

16. Caramelized Banana Pudding: This could be amazing or horrifying. I’m very conflicted about this caramelized banana pudding: Layers of homemade vanilla pudding, fresh bananas, toasted ‘nilla wafers, caramelized cocoa crispy cereal, caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream. At Blue Moon Dine-In Theater, located on the northeast corner of Carnes Avenue & Chambers Street

Minnesota State Fair

17. Esquites: Esquites are elotes but off the cob in a bowl. Grill the corn, shave it, top it with mayo, Cotija cheese and pequin chile powder. It’s going to be good if the corn can keep its crunch. At Midtown Global Market’s Los Ocampo, located in the Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall (Available Sept. 1-6 only)

Minnesota State Fair

18. Fudge & Fruit!: Another it-could-go-either-way pick, depending on what this wine-infused dark chocolate tastes like. Fresh strawberries and fudge brownies dipped chocolate sounds like a good idea, bonus point for served on-a-stick. At Minnesota Wine Country, located on the west side of Underwood Street between Carnes & Judson Avenues

Minnesota State Fair

19. Jumbo Donut Sundae: This is going to be someone’s favorite fair item without a doubt, and Fluffy’s is a new vendor with a lot of experience in the big fair circuit. Sweet on sweet isn’t my favorite, but maybe it’s yours. A jumbo frosted yeast-raised donut available in a variety of flavors, topped with vanilla soft-serve ice cream, hot fudge and blend of sprinkles. At Fluffy’s Hand Cut Donuts, located between West Dan Patch & Carnes Avenues and Liggett & Chambers Streets

Minnesota State Fair

Minnesota State Fair

20. Nordic Waffles – Chicken & Macaroni Nordic Waffle and I-Scream Waffle Sandwich: A low ranking from me for a vendor I love. The southern-fried spicy Chicken drummy and cheesy macaroni sounds hard to share, and sounds a little disgusting. But we shall see. On the other hand, the classic ice cream cookie sandwich sounds pretty great, punctuated with crunchy kettle corn and chocolate drizzle dusted with sprinkles all wrapped in a Nordic waffle. At Nordic Waffles, located at West End Market, south section

Minnesota State Fair

21. Pizza Lucy: This sounds like a calzone to me, but it’s being sold as a lucy, which just makes me mad because we deserve a juicy lucy. It’s a Sausage patty topped with pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, stuffed in homemade Green Mill pizza dough, and topped with Italian seasonings, cheese and crumbled pepperoni. At Green Mill, located on the east side of Cooper Street between Randall & Wright avenues, at Family Fair at Baldwin Park

Minnesota State Fair

22. S’Mores Funnel Cake: Graham cracker funnel cake topped with marshmallow, milk chocolate chunks and more graham cracker bits. Call your dentist. At Funnel Cakes, located in the Food Building, east wall

Minnesota State Fair

23. Spufull Puff: This is the item I’m hopeful I’m underselling, but the quality of the mashed sweet potatoes/cream cheese mix has me nervous.  Take whatever that is, wrap it in dough and fry it. Also negative points for dusting it with powdered sugar, because that mess is going to get all over my WCCO polo shirt. At Potato Man & Sweety, located on the west side of Liggett Street between Carnes & Judson avenues, outside the Horse Barn

Minnesota State Fair

24. Summer Lakes Beverages in 3 varieties – Wedge-Hammer, Lake Storm Lemonade and Bama! Lemon Sweet Tea: I’m not against these beverages, I’m just not sure I’m going to find room for them personally since I’ll be testing and tasting all the new State Fair beers. That said, I’m glad we have some mocktails. The Wedge-Hammer is fresh ginger, orange and other citrus juices, zest, sparkling water and simple syrup. Lake Storm Lemonade is lavender-infused lemon, Bama! Lemon Sweet Tea is fresh brewed tea, fresh lemon and other citrus juices. At Summer Lakes Beverage*, located on the east side of Underwood Street between Lee & Randall avenues, just south of Little Farm Hands

Minnesota State Fair

25. Sidecar Sandwich: Looks like an absolute train wreck: Thick-cut cognac-infused bacon smothered with Cointreau and citrus marmalade, layered with melted Havarti, smoked Gouda and aged cheddar, served on toasted sourdough bread and garnished with fresh orange slices. At The Hideaway Speakeasy, located in the Veranda, Grandstand upper level, northwest section

Minnesota State Fair

26. Waffle Burger:This riff on the donut burger trend that I thought went away is back with a bacon cheeseburger served between crunchy maple-infused candied waffles. At Andy’s Grille, located on the south side of Carnes Avenue between Chambers and Nelson streets

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