Where to Eat at the Great Minnesota Get-Together
I love the Minnesota State Fair so much that I try to go all 12 days. Every year there’s a list of new food booths, serving every type of novelty deep-fried and on-a-stick creations, but when it comes down to it, half of the food sales comes from top 10 classic items. I am a traditionalist when it comes to state fair foods, so I don’t stray too far from the cheese curds and footlong hot dogs. Here’s a list of my go-to fair favorites.
If I could pick only one state fair food, this would be it. Ground beef and Italian sausage covered in their secret red sauce and seasonings, topped with melted mozzarella cheese and served on a delicious toasted Italian roll. It’s like an Italian sandwich torpedo. I’m lucky enough that these guys hit both the Iowa and Minnesota state fairs, so sometimes, I get to eat them twice a year.
Location: On the west side of Cooper between Lee and Murphy.
There are a lot of great dairy items at the great Minnesota Get-Together (we do carve our princesses out of butter). My favorite is the stand run by the Kiwanis ladies adjacent to the Fine Arts building. I have a hard time picking between chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla… so I’d suggest ordering all three and sharing with your comrades. It’s been around since 1969 and I think they still employee some of the original folks. It’s the only malt at the fair worth slurping.
Location: On east side of Cosgrove between Wright and Randall.
Speedy’s About a Foot Long Hot Dogs
I love the classics, and it just doesn’t get better than this one. I think this stand has literally been at the fair since the stone age and they do a hot dog better than any one else. You just can’t beat a simple, no-frills footlong.
Location: Next to the DNR building.
I’ve been known to make a few stops at this french fry stand, it’s a fixture of the fair and for good reason. A bag of these fries is perfect walking around food (plus, it’s easy to share).
Location: North side of Judson Ave. between Underwood St. & Nelson St.
Original Cheese Curds
More than 100,000 pounds of fried cheese curds are consumed at the MN State Fair every year, but not all curds are created equal. Trust me, I have tried them all. My go-to cheese curd purveyor has gotta be the Original outside of the food building. These gooey nuggets have a perfectly crispy exterior and an irresistible molten cheesy interior that’s garnered quite the following.
Location: On south side of Dan Patch between Nelson and Underwood.
Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar
This is a fair must, and one of those food experiences that cannot be accurately replicated at home EVEN IF their dough is available for purchase in your grocer’s freezer. Few things can beat piping hot, messy chocolate chip cookies served with an enormous glass of milk. Martha (yes, Sweet Martha is a real person), I adore you!
Location: South side of Carnes between Nelson and Underwood.
Izzy’s Ice Cream
Even when the temperatures creep close to zero here in the winter, I crave Izzy’s amazing ice cream. So it’s no surprise that on a hot day, I make a beeline for Hamline Dining Hall, which serves up several Izzy’s flavors. This year their specialty flavor is an ode to the classic Minnesota potluck dessert, jello salad.
Location: North side of Dan Patch between Underwood and Cooper.
I always make a stop at Cinnie Smiths a priority. One of the greatest pleasures in life is the gooey center of a warm cinnamon roll, so what can be better than a dozen mini cinnamon rolls with a side of creamy vanilla soft serve?
Location: Murphy Ave. & Underwood St.
Tom Thumb Donuts
Mini donuts are right up there with footlongs and cheese curds when it comes to quintessential Minnesota State Fair food. You just can’t walk past a Tom Thumb stand, as that fried dough smell wafts through the air, without buying a bag. These are only good straight out of the fryer, piping hot and dipped in sugar.
Location: West side of Cooper between Wright and Dan Patch.
While the walleye-on-a-stick is delicious, the real winner at this booth in the Food Building is the deep-fried Minnesota smelt, aka fries with eyes. Enjoy with the pimiento-spiked tartar sauce and a splash of malt vinegar.
Location: Southeast corner of the Food Building.
Frozen Cider Pop
I happen to love the apple cider freezies in the Horticulture building… it’s reminiscent of the freezer pops from your childhood, but instead of sugary fake fruit flavors, they’re made with delicious Minnesota apple cider. And at a buck, it’s the best deal at the fair.
Location: In the Agriculture Horticulture building west hall.
This stand has only been around for a few years, and after one bite you’ll understand why it instantly became a fan favorite. They’re dishing out individual apple and pumpkin pies, deep fried on site and served with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar and a scoop of creamy cinnamon ice cream. It’s fabulous, trust me.
Location: South side of Judson between Nelson and Underwood.
Blue Moon Dine-In Theater
The Blue Moon Dine-In Theater introduced their sweet corn ice cream a couple years ago and it’s been a huge hit ever since. The not-too-sweet treat strikes a perfect balance between creamy and corny, and with the optional bacon maple syrup topper, you may even find that sweet-and-salty mix you’ve been craving.
Location: Located on Carnes Ave. & Chambers St.
What’s not to love about deep-fried pickles? Salty, crunchy, sour… Another deep-fried victory.
Location: Southwest corner of Dan Patch and Liggett.
1919 Root Beer on Draft
I’m a sucker for great draft root beer. I’ll let you in on a little secret: order a 1919 Root Beer, take a few sips and then walk over to the nitro ice cream booth and top ‘er off with a few scoops of frozen ice cream for the ultimate root beer float on a hot day.
Location: On southeast corner of Dan Patch and Underwood.
Midtown Global Market
The Midtown Global Market Produce Exchange is a shining beam of fresh produce among a sea of deep-fried gut busters. They’re selling deliciously ripe mangoes on a stick sprinkled with chili lime seasoning, and my favorite sweet treat, coconut macaroons from Salty Tart topped with slices of giant Colorado peaches.
Location: North side of Judson east of Underwood.
Sausage by Cynthia
Check out this booth for the incredible specialty sausages: Cajun Andouille, creole chaurice, Minnesota wild rice and beef, Swedish, Northern Italian Tuscan, German Weisswurst, Minnesota wild rice and pork with jalapeño cheese, bourbon wurst… the list goes on and on. It’s my favorite sausage at the fair, but the real reason to seek them out is the beef jerky. It’s the best beef jerky in America.
Location: North side of Judson between Underwood and Nelson.
August 21 – September 1, 2014
1265 North Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN
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