Dream big: Minnesota State Fair reveals 31 new foods for 2021

The fair is back after scrapping 2020 because of the pandemic.

There's a bit of an international flair to the Minnesota State Fair's 2021 new-foods roster. The Banh Minn Bun, Paneer Pakora, Sashimi Tuna Tacos and Esquites are among the 30 items announced, tipping the scale to nearly 500 food options available for hungry and curious fairgoers. (Foods added after the fair's initial release are marked with an asterisk.) Nine new vendors — Andy's Garage, Auntie M's Gluten Free, Baba's, Fluffy's Hand Cut Donuts, Libby's Ice Cream & Co., New Scenic Cafe, Solem Concessions Cheese Curds and Mini Donuts, Spinning Wylde and Summer Lakes Beverages — made the cut (prices, however, did not). Fair-food connoisseurs also know to be on the lookout for "new" foods that didn't make the fair's official list. The fair runs from Aug. 26 through Sept. 6.

Banana Split-on-a-Stick*

Libby's Ice Cream & Co. • Chambers St., south of Grandstand

Yes, there will be soft serve in the form of cones, cups, shakes, sundaes and floats, but this new vendor will also have several on-a-stick offerings, including banana splits, frozen bananas and cheesecake — all dipped in chocolate.

Banh Minn Bun, Banh Minn Bowl

Sausage Sister & Me • Food Building

One of the fair's most consistently innovative vendors takes on bánh mì, serving an Asian-inspired sausage two ways — one with the classic crusty baguette, the other as a bowl with a five-grain blend.

Bison Bites

Giggles' Campfire Grill • Cooper St. and Lee Av.

Tim "Giggles" Weiss is placing ravioli through the North Woods prism by filling it with ground bison, braised fennel, portobello mushrooms and basil. It's fried and served with a sweet-hot bourbon sauce.

Blue Raspberry Blitzed

Sara's Tipsy Pies • Food Building

Owner Sara Hayden is packing one of her individual-serving pies with a blueberry-raspberry-apple mix that she's blending with raspberry-infused vodka. Each pie is topped with colorful cotton candy sugar.

Buffalo Chicken Doughscuit

The Blue Barn • West End Market

This popular stand — run by Blue Plate Restaurant Co. — will serve airy biscuit-style doughnuts glazed with a sweet-and-spicy Buffalo-style icing, stuffed with shredded chicken and topped with bacon bits.

Cajun Cheese Curds*

Solem Concessions • Underwood St. and Murphy Av.

Cheese curds come in all flavors at this new stand — ranch, garlic, original and new-to-the-fair Cajun. Also on the menu? Blueberry mini doughnuts.

Caramelized Banana Pudding

Blue Moon Dine-In Theater • Carnes Av. and Chambers St.

A confection in a bowl that invokes vanilla pudding, toasted vanilla wafer cookies, caramel sauce, candied Cocoa Krispies cereal and whipped cream.

ChoriPop

Andy's Garage • International Bazaar, Midtown Global Market

This new-to-the-fair vendor is showcasing the Herbivorous Butcher's vegan chorizo, dipping it in corn-dog batter, deep frying it and serving it with avocado salsa or mole sauce. Chips, too. Aug. 26-31 only.

Cracklin Prime Nachos

Coasters • Carnes Av. and Liggett St.

Hello, meat sweats! Crispy deep-fried pork rinds blanketed with slices of prime rib and garnished with nacho cheese, pico de gallo and green onions.

Cucumber Jalapeño Limeade

Farmers Union Coffee Shop • Dan Patch Av. and Cooper St.

Go green as Minnesota-grown cucumbers take center stage in a limeade that's jazzed with a jalapeño syrup. The citrusy drink is enriched with juiced cucumbers and served with a cucumber slice.

Dual Berry Shortcake

LuLu's Public House • West End Market

More berries, this time strawberries and blueberries. They're heaped over a sugarcoated biscuit (from Betty & Earl's Biscuit Kitchen in Rosedale) and topped with a balsamic glaze and whipped cream.

Esquites

Los Ocampo • International Bazaar, Midtown Global Market

This salad version of elotes cuts sweet-corn kernels off the cob, tops them with mayo, crumbly Cotija cheese and chile powder. Los Ocampo is back at the fair after an eight-year absence. Sept. 1-6 only.

Fudge & Fruit!

Minnesota Wine Country • Underwood St. and Carnes Av.

An on-a-stick sweet that spears strawberries and fudge brownies that are dipped in a wine-infused dark chocolate. The finishing touch? Drizzles of wine-infused white chocolate.

Gluten-free fair foods*

Auntie M's • Judson Av. at Adventure Park

Gluten-free corndogs and funnel cakes (both also available in egg- and dairy-free) and cheese curds are available at this new vendor. Funnel cakes available with traditional toppings, and in strawberries and cream and apple pie flavors.

Greek-Stuffed Ravioli

Dino's Gyros • Carnes Av. and Underwood St.

Mediterranean pastry dough is stuffed with cream cheese, tzatziki sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoncini, tomato and gyro meat. It's deep-fried and drizzled with roasted garlic butter.

Hummus Bowls*

Baba's • Underwood St. between Murphy and Lee Avs.

Falafelicious (falafel, fried eggplant, warm chickpeas, pickled cabbage, Arabic pickles, tahini, sumac) and Dilly Dilly (dill pickle hummus, dill pickles, cheese curds, crispy onions) are among the out-of-the-box bowl creations at this new vendor. Plus, baklava for dessert.

Island Hopper

The Hangar • North End

A hollowed-out half-pineapple becomes a vessel for charbroiled, teriyaki-glazed chicken, plus white rice, pineapple chunks, green onions and sesame seeds.

Jumbo Donut Sundae

Fluffy's Hand Cut Donuts • Dan Patch Av. and Liggett St.

This fairgrounds newcomer will feature frosted, yeast-raised doughnuts crowned with vanilla soft-serve ice cream, hot fudge and sprinkles.

Kerala Fried Chicken Kati Roll

Hot Indian • Food Building

After several years of half-time fair appearances, this popular vendor is getting a full-time stand, serving marinated, battered and fried chicken tenders wrapped in paratha and finished with chutneys and slaw.

La Floretta

Mancini's al Fresco • Carnes Av. and Nelson St.

Gluten-free and vegan, these oven-roasted cauliflower florets, seasoned with herbs and spices, are served with a sweet-hot sauce made with Calabrian peppers.

Natural Cotton Candy*

Spinning Wylde • Underwood St.

This homegrown cotton candy company makes it debut at the fair with more than 30 dye-free and natural flavors of cotton candy. Or whet your whistle with fresh-pressed watermelon juice, which comes with a watermelon gummy skewer and edible straw.

The Naughty Biscuit

RC's BBQ • Dan Patch Av. and Liggett St.

A buttermilk biscuit, split and filled with smoked pork belly, arugula, pickled red onions, candied jalapeños and a beer-cheese sauce.

Chicken & Macaroni Nordic Waffle

Nordic Waffles • West End Market

A warm, tender waffle is filled with a Southern-fried chicken drumstick and macaroni-and-cheese. A drizzle of honey is the finishing touch.

I-Scream Waffle Sandwich

Nordic Waffles • West End Market

The classic ice cream cookie sandwich gets the waffle treatment, with the additions of kettle corn, chocolate drizzle and colorful sprinkles.

Paneer Pakora

Hot Indian • Food Building

At its new Food Building outpost, be on the lookout for this gluten-free snack of seasoned and fried paneer cheese cubes, served with tomato butter.

Pizza Lucy

Green Mill • Cooper St. and Randall Av.

A sandwich made with pizza dough, stuffed with a sausage patty, pepperoni, mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce and topped with Italian seasonings, crumbled pepperoni and more cheese.

Sashimi Tuna Tacos

New Scenic Cafe • Underwood St., between Lee and Randall Avs.

Working out of a meticulously refurbished 1969 Airstream trailer, owner Scott Graden will serve crisp wonton shells filled with tuna, avocado, pickled ginger, wasabi and a Thai-style slaw.

Sidecar Sandwich

The Hideaway Speakeasy • Grandstand upper level

Toasted sourdough layered with thick-cut (and cognac-infused) bacon, citrus marmalade, havarti, smoked Gouda, aged Cheddar and fresh orange slices.

S'mores Funnel Cake

Funnel Cakes • Food Building

A campfire spin on a fairgrounds classic, it's a graham cracker funnel cake garnished with marshmallows, milk chocolate chunks and graham cracker bits.

Summer Lakes Beverages

Summer Lakes Beverages • Underwood St. and Randall Av.

Mocktails at the fair! The newbie will be serving three sparkling water-fueled libations — ginger-citrus, lavender-infused lemonade and freshly brewed tea with lemon — all of them alcohol-free.

Waffle Burger

Andy's Grille • Carnes Av. and Chambers St.

This quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger skips the bun in favor of a pair of candied, maple-infused waffles. Maple syrup is served on the side.