The always-busy Rice Kristie Bars stand at the fair turns all kinds of breakfast cereals into gooey, gigantic marshmallow-coated treats. The metro area’s best grown-up rendition of the Rice Krispies Bar is the brown butter-infused version at the Bakery.
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These frozen apple cider coolers — instead of being served on-a-stick style, they’re in a plastic sleeve — are a big reason why there are such big crowds inside the Agriculture Horticulture building, especially on a sweltering day. Find them in the freezer at the Golden Fig, or where they’re made at Pine Tree Apple Orchard.
Mornings at the State Fair often include standing in line at Oklahoma Cinnamon Rolls, which has been putting on a riveting watch-them-bake show inside the Food Building for 39 years. This year, get a similar open-kitchen performance — along with well-made and lavishly iced cinnamon rolls — from Isles Bun & Coffee, an Uptown fixture since 1993.
1428 W. 28th St., Mpls., 612-870-4466
Cream puffs, part 2
The bakery cases of the beloved Minneapolis mainstay known as Kramarczuk’s always have three varieties on hand, each filled with a different flourish: vanilla cream, Bavarian cream and chocolate mousse.
215 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-379-3018
Choosing a favorite French fries purveyor is nearly impossible, given the zillions of Twin Cities restaurants that serve them. One chef with a prime French fries game is Adam Eaton at Saint Dinette; it’s hard to believe that his bologna sandwich hasn’t become a State Fair staple.
261 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-800-1415
The Twin Cities’ best pretzels are the work of Aki’s Bread Haus, run by German ex-pat Aki Berndt. No wonder so many local breweries tap into his baking prowess.
2506 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-578-7897
Pork chop on-a-stick
“To be honest, there are basically three things that I like to eat at the fair,” said Lexington chef Jack Riebel, and he’s serving his version of all of them during the fair’s usual 12-day run. The pork chops will be seasoned, grilled and speared on a stick, the roast corn will be served with a housemade butter infused with lobster stock and the cheese curds will come from top Minneapolis cheesemaker Alemar Cheese Co. “They’re making a special batch for me,” he said. “Then I’m going to let people choose their own poison: ketchup or mustard.”
1096 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-289-4990
Before the State Fair eating experience became a parade of what’s-the-latest, there were classics like crushed ice doused in sweetly flavored syrups. A favorite non-fairgrounds alternative are the shave ice treats from the Kurb Side Ice Co. food truck, the work of the folks behind the former Tin Fish lakeside restaurant at Bde Maka Ska. The flavors go beyond the traditional grape-cherry-strawberry orbit to embrace piña colada, mango, sour plum and yuzu, and they’re served from a cute 1950s van. Track the van’s whereabouts via Instagram.
Sweet corn, part 2
When Tejas Express debuted its sublime wood-grilled elotes — Mexico’s dolled-up version of roasted sweet corn — to the State Fair in 2018, the big question was, “Why hasn’t someone done this before at the fair?” During sweet corn season, Young Joni is resurrecting its version, and it’s a must for sweet corn lovers. “I’m one of those people who doesn’t live for the fair, but I love the mini doughnuts, the fried pickles and the sweet corn,” said chef/co-owner Ann Kim. “We may not have the fair this year, but at least we can bring our sweet corn back, and do it our way. It sells like hot cakes.” That’s because it’s fantastic: It’s juicy Minnesota-raised corn, roasted on the kitchen’s wood-burning hearth and dressed with Calabrian chile-infused butter, lime and pecorino cheese. Takeout only.
165 13th Av. NE., Mpls., 612-345-5719
Those with a craving for the signature dish at crowd-favorite Giggles’ Campfire Grill should once again turn to Jack Riebel at the Lexington because he and his crew turn out a superb version, sneaking in the some jalapeño heat and laying on the fresh dill.
1096 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-289-4990
Rick Nelson • @RickNelsonStrib