The official new foods of the 2023 Minnesota State Fair are here, and while none of them hold back in the outrageousness department, one stopped us in our tracks. Lutefisk? Can this be a fair first?
Then again, the fair has long celebrated the Minnesota tradition of food preservation. And that tradition is on full display in this year's lineup. Besides the aforementioned dehydrated and rehydrated cod, which comes crisped up, glazed with hoisin and stuffed into a steamed bun, look for pickles — lots of pickles. Pickle lemonade, pickle popsicles, mango punch pickles, pickle fudge: It's like the canning competition spilled out of the Creative Activities Building and onto the menus of almost a dozen food stands.
But that's not all. In total, there are 34 new foods and seven new vendors supplying fairgoers with morning-to-night treats, from a cereal-milk biscuit and a ham loaf breakfast sandwich to deep-fried baked potatoes and butter-flavored ice cream. Stick food gets some new attention, too, with smoked walleye lollies (mixed with pickle relish, of course) and mini doughnuts (wrapped in bacon and fried) now in play. New to the scene this year are some familiar local faces delivering global flavors.
And those are just the "official" options. The Taste Team will be scouting the fair for even more (unofficial) new foods on Day One.
This year's fair kicks off Aug. 24 and runs through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Grab a tube of antacids and a napkin; these are the big bites making their Minnesota State Fair debut.
Al Taco Baba
Baba's • East side of Underwood St. between Lee and Randall Avs.
Hummus mixed with harissa-spiced barbacoa, corn, queso fresco, chili dust, spicy shatta hot sauce, crema to cool things down, cilantro and pita puffs for dipping.
Ba-Sants: Everything Cream Cheese and Sweet Corn
French Meadow Bakery & Cafe • North side of Carnes Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts.
A new dish that combines a bagel and croissant in two flavors. One is an everything cream cheese Ba-Sant that's been rolled in poppy and sesame seeds, onion and garlic flakes, black pepper and salt with a cream cheese filling. The other takes advantage of the season's harvest with a sweet corn custard and is topped with caramel corn.
Bacon-Wrapped Waffle Dog
Nordic Waffles • West End Market
Combining two beloved Minnesota traditions: the Nordic waffle and Kramarczuk's hot dog. Crispy, just barely sweet dough wrapped around the snappy dog with cheddar cheese, pickle slices and crunchy onions drizzled with a burger sauce.
Basil Hummus With Spicy Walnut Topping
Holy Land • International Bazaar, southeast corner
Holy Land's hummus comes blended with fresh basil this year and loaded up with crushed walnuts mixed with red chile flecks, garlic and olive oil. It's served with garlic Parmesan chips. It's a vegan option and there will be gluten-free chips available.
Bee Sting Sundae
Bridgeman's • Northeast corner of Judson Av. and Liggett St.
Classic Bridgeman's vanilla ice cream gets a zesty upgrade with hot honey, spicy peanuts, a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry on top. This is another bite that's vegetarian and gluten-free.
Birthday Cake Mini Donuts
Mini Donuts & Cheese Curds • East side of Underwood St. between Murphy and Lee Avs.
For those who wanted their cake and to eat it with some doughnuts, too: Birthday cake-flavored mini doughnuts are tossed in a vanilla sugar and drizzled with icing, before being crowned with sugar crystals and sprinkles.
Cheese Curd-Stuffed Pizza Pretzel
Green Mill • East side of Cooper St. between Randall and Wright Avs.
Every year Green Mill is tasked with coming up with a new pizza-centric bite, and once again they deliver. A jumbo pizza dough pretzel is hand-twisted and stuffed with Ellsworth cheese curds, pepperoni and Italian spices. It's then topped with garlic butter, more chopped up pepperoni, Italian herbs and cheese; served alongside pizza sauce.
LuLu's Public House • West End Market
Everybody's must-have fair food in dessert form. Eli's Cheesecake pieces are battered in funnel cake mix before getting the deep-fried treatment. Served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a smidge of salt for good measure. Strawberry dipping sauce is available.
Chicken Momo With Tomato Chutney
MomoDosa • Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar
Making its fair debut, MomoDosa brings their dumplings to the Midtown Global Market stand for the first five days of the fair. These momos are a mild blend of ground chicken, onion, ginger and other spices steamed inside a thin layer of dough. Because this requires a good dipping component, there will be tomato chutney on the side. Available Aug. 24-29 only.
Spinning Wylde • North of Wright Av. between Cooper and Cosgrove Sts. at Family Fair (new location)
Spinning Wylde always brings the whimsy and opportunity for an Instagram moment. These sippers combine cotton candy with lemonade and are available in three flavor options: Summer Strawberry with strawberry lemonade and their strawberry fields flavored cotton candy; Happy Huckleberry with huckleberry lemonade topped with blackberry jam cotton candy; and Flower Power with violet lemonade topped with lavender love flavored cotton candy.
Crispy Lutefisk Steam Bun
Shanghai Henri's • International Bazaar
Yes, lutefisk is coming to this year's fair. That particular lye-cured fish from Olsen Fish Co. will be baked with hoisin sauce then stuffed inside a lotus bun, along with cabbage, carrots, cilantro. It's topped with what they're calling yum yum sauce.
The Herbivorous Butcher • Food Building, west section, south wall
A munchie-friendly feast filled with vegan fare as only Herbivorous Butcher can do. A deep-fried tortilla is filled with vegan roast beef, bacon and cheese sauce, peppers, onions and a hash brown patty. Served with vegan Follow Your Heart seasoned sour cream.
Dill Pickle Cheese Curd Taco
Richie's Cheese Curd Tacos • North side of Judson Av. between Liggett and Clough Sts.
White cheddar cheese curds are battered and fried and then served with sandwich stacker dill pickles, cream cheese, lettuce and a fruity raspberry chipotle sauce. The whole hearty (and vegetarian) dish comes in a crispy tortilla shell.
Coasters • Southeast corner of Carnes Av. and Liggett St.
The name doesn't lie, these aim for delightful fun: Mini doughnuts are cuddled up inside bacon and impaled on the requisite stick before taking a deep-fry bath. The whole thing is topped with a layer of peanut butter and drizzled with raspberry dessert sauce.
Fried Butternut Squash Ravioli
Oodles of Noodles • Food Building, east wall
Butternut squash filled ravioli are deep fried and topped with a maple cinnamon sugar. There's whipped ricotta on the side for dipping. This is another vegetarian dish.
Fried Green Tomato Sandwich, BLT and Vegetarian
Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop • North side of Dan Patch Av. between Cooper and Cosgrove Sts.
This stand always delivers fresh bites, and this year it's an enticing sandwich made with a long list of local ingredients. Cornmeal from Whole Grain Milling Co. coats green tomatoes that are tucked inside a brioche bun from The Good Bread Co. Mustard mayo is made from Lost Capital Economic's coarse spicy ale mustard, and there's locally grown lettuce, too. Vegetarians can add a charred sweet corn relish, but for those who like the porky bits, there's a BLT option with bacon from Pastures a Plenty and Hidden Stream Farm.
Fruity Cereal Milk Biscuit
LuLu's Public House • West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater
This dish goes all in on the early day breakfast treats with a Betty and Earl's biscuit that's made with fruity cereal milk and cereal bits, drizzled with icing that's again been steeped in cereal flavors. And more sugary cereal.
Union Hmong Kitchen • International Bazaar, south wall
Fresh off an incredibly successful first year at the fair, chef Yia Vang's restaurant is back with a recipe from his mom: Hmong-style steamed bun filled with ground pork, egg and spices. Served with choice of Krunchy Chili Oil, Kua Txob Hot Pepper Sauce or Lemongrass Scallion Dressing.
Holey Hamloaf Breakfast Sandwich
Hamline Church Dining Hall • North side of Dan Patch Av. between Underwood and Cooper Sts.
Their Twitter handle did say to try the ham loaf, so it only makes sense that Hamline Church Dining Hall is doubling down on the dish. Ham loaf gets a tangy glaze before being topped with caramelized onions and cheese in a sandwich made with fried egg-in-a-hole toast.
Hot Honey Cheese Sticks
The Blue Barn • West End Market
Perennial new food favorite the Blue Barn is frying halloumi cheese and giving it a hot honey drizzle with a crunchy honeycomb cereal topping. Plus, the whole dish is vegetarian.
Irish Butter Ice Cream Over Brown Sugar Cinnamon Toast
Blue Moon Dine-In Theater • Northeast corner of Carnes Av. and Chambers St.
European-style butter serves as a base for this ice cream from Minnesota Dairy Lab that's presented on brown sugar cinnamon toast, topped with buttery syrup and a small sprinkle of sea salt flakes.
Italian Duo Dunkers
Sara's Tipsy Pies • Food Building, northwest wall
Sara's is making two Italian hand pies with seasoned Parmesan crusts. The first goes into pizza territory with sausage, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese in a 7 Vines Winery red wine-spiked pizza sauce to make it tipsy. The other combines chicken, mushrooms and spinach with an Alfredo sauce. Both are served with garlic butter dipping sauce.
Jam'nades in Blueberry Mint and Strawberry Jalapeño
Jammy Sammies by Brim • North End, Northwest section
The company that gave us the grilled jam sandwich is using that sweetness for organic lemonade sippers. Two flavors come courtesy of locally made jams. Blueberry Mint Jam'nade has a spoonful of blueberry jam and is garnished with mint sprigs. Strawberry Jalapeño Jam'nade has a spoonful of strawberry jam and is mixed with jalapeño slices. Served with a boba tea straw, they are vegan and gluten-free.
'Kind of a Big Dill' Pickle Lemonade
Nordic Waffles • West End Market, south section
Dill pickles make everything better and the trend continues this year with a nonalcoholic lemonade made by Urban Growler that's mingled with tangy dill pickling spices and garnished with a crunchy pickle slice.
Quench'd • South side of Dan Patch Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts.
Cooling off with a giant lemonade on a hot fair day is practically a rite of passage. This beverage stand is taking it a step further by offering lemon sorbet made from fresh-squeezed lemon juice. It's garnished with mint and comes in a frozen half-lemon shell for a cool vegan and gluten-free treat.
Loaded Lobster Fries
Cafe Caribe • South side of Carnes Av. between Chambers and Clough Sts.
More lobster at the Minnesota State Fair? Why not? Cafe Caribe is topping Old Bay-seasoned fries with lobster meat that's been blanketed in garlic and herb butter. The whole thing gets topped with bacon, chipotle mayo and green onion.
Maui-Sota Sticky Ribs
RC's BBQ • North side of West Dan Patch Av. between Liggett and Chambers Sts.
Smoke-master Charlie Torgerson continues to up the ante at his fair stand, this time with low-smoked St. Louis-style ribs. They come caramelized in RC's Sticky Huli Huli sauce and sprinkled with furikake, green onion and cilantro for a meaty spin on Hawaiian huli-huli chicken.
Miami Mango Pickles
Soul Bowl • Food Building, east wall
Chef Gerard Klass' Soul Bowl is back, and new to the menu are pickles infused with sweet-and-fruity Miami mango punch.
Minneapple Pie • South side of Judson Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts.
Cookie dough lovers now have a new way of consuming the safe-to-eat treat: stuffed into a hand pie and dusted with powdered sugar. Get it with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream on the side.
Paletas in Two Flavors
Hamline Church Dining Hall • North side of Dan Patch Av. between Underwood and Cooper Sts.
Locally made paletas from Mexican ice cream and frozen treats shop La Michoacana Rose come in two new flavors. The water-based, lemon-flavored Dill Pickle Lemonade Paleta is filled with dill pickle slices; it's vegan. The vanilla ice cream-based Mini Donut Paleta mixes in mini donut bits and a whole cinnamon mini donut.
Mike's Hamburgers • Northeast corner of Carnes Av. and Nelson St.
Another of this year's many pickle-related offerings, this one slices dill pickles thin, coats them in cornmeal and seasoned mustard batter and fries them. Chipotle dipping sauce comes on the side.
Smoked Beef Arepa
Arepa Bar • Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar
Available Aug. 30 to Sept. 4 only, chef Soleil Ramirez's expert arepas — those Venezuelan crispy corn pockets — come stuffed with smoked roast beef, avocado purée, tomatoes, red onions and arugula. They're gluten-free, too. Other new items include yuca fries and the creamy coconutty cocada drink.
Sabino's Pizza Pies • Warner Coliseum, north side
This pizza stand is whipping up a charcuterie board with Minnesota-made meats, cheese and pickles, and even the "board" is edible: It's made from an herb-crusted cracker.
Walleye Fritter Pops
Giggles' Campfire Grill • Southeast corner of Lee Av. and Cooper St., at the North Woods
Giggles is always a solid choice for walleye, usually in the form of terrific walleye cakes. This year, the stand is offering walleye pops. The smoked fish is mixed with a cheese blend, dill pickle relish, garlic and spices before being rolled in panko and deep-fried. Served with lemon and dipping sauce.
NEW FOOD VENDORS
Food Building, east wall
Afro Deli's sambusas come in three varieties. The fried triangles of pastries are filled with beef, chicken or lentils and combined with onions, garlic and cilantro. Served with basbaas, a spicy Somali dipping sauce made from fresh jalapeños, cilantro, onions and lemon juice. Plus, there are sweet plantains, fried until golden brown; Somali tea, a fragrant, spiced infusion of tea leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg, served hot or iced; and fresh mango juice.
Grandstand concert venue (separate concert ticket required)
Bites available from this local vendor while seeing shows include a burger, the "Brucy Lucy" bratwurst, Chicken Press sandwich, Lil Smoky Hot Dog, pretzel nuggets, facepunch pretzels (!), deep-fried baked potato, nachos, popcorn, peanuts, assorted candy and a variety of beer, wine, soda, Red Bull drinks, lemonade and bottled water.
Churros & Aguas Fresca
Northeast corner of Lee Av. and Underwood St.
There are all kinds of churros here: some with caramel, others with fudge sauce; filled churros with strawberry, Nutella or Bavarian cream; sundaes made with churros atop vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. Plus, as the name promises, aguas frescas in watermelon, mango, pineapple and strawberry-lime flavors.
Taste of the Midtown Global Market booth at the International Bazaar, east wall; Aug. 24-29 only
Kicking off the first week of the fair, MomoDosa makes its debut with the newChicken Momo with Tomato Chutney. Also on the menu: masala dosa (a South Indian crêpe made from rice and lentil batter, ghee and served with tomato chutney and coconut chutney). Plus, a veggie Pakora (shredded cabbage and onions dipped in chickpea batter, fried and served with mint and cilantro chutney and tamarind chutney) that's vegan and gluten-free; and a mango lassi, a smoothie made with mangoes, yogurt, powdered cardamom and cloves.
Peachey's Baking Co.
North side of Randall Av. between Cooper and Cosgrove Sts.
This newcomer specializes in giant Amish doughnuts made on-site using traditional recipes, topped with a vanilla glaze and served warm. Flavors also include a peanut butter cream doughnut topped with housemade vanilla custard, peanut butter crumbles and whipped cream. They also serve Southern sweet tea, sweetened with cane sugar.
Northwest corner of Dan Patch Av. and Underwood St.
That fruity fresh Dole Soft Serve comes in pineapple, mango, strawberry and lemon flavors. Plus, get Dole Floats with pineapple, mango, strawberry and lemon Dole Whip in pineapple juice. And there's fresh pineapple juice, too.
Creative Activities Annex, south wall
There's an abundance of fudge from this vendor, which will be stocked with more than 70 varieties of fudge that have been made the old-fashioned way. Check out custom-for-the-fair flavors like strawberry rhubarb, blueberry cheesecake and the city-specific St. Paul pickle.