When we first started planning our trip to the Minnesota State Fair, I knew we would spend a good amount of our day focusing on one thing—the food. While we’re regular Iowa State Fair goers, I have to admit that I was beyond impressed by the Minnesota fair’s fare.
If your first thoughts when I say “fair food” are of deep fried oddities on a stick and outlandish large portions, the Minnesota State Fair will make you think again. You’ll still find all of your fried fair favorites, but all are offered up alongside an impressive selection of fantastic food you just, well, want to eat. From pastries warm from the oven and fruit fresh from the tree to an all-you-can-drink milk stand, this fair knows how to host an interesting variety of vendors without sacrificing quality eats.
Still don’t believe me? Try not to lick your lips reading about everything we ate during our day at the 2016 Minnesota State Fair.
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One of the things that delighted me most about the Minnesota State Fair was the array of breakfast options available. After careful consideration, we opted to share a savory ham and cheddar crepe from the French Crepe stand. While a little pricey, this freshly made favorite was hearty enough to split and get us going for a long day of exploring.
Price: Ham & Cheddar Crepe, $9
French Meadow Bakery
Located next to the French Crepe stand, French Meadow Bakery & Cafe offers everything from breakfast sandwiches to pastries fresh out of the oven. Step inside the building to watch the bakeries at work or head to the back toward People’s Organic Coffee to get your jolt of java. This coffee shop is the real deal and offers all kinds of speciality items including hemp milk.
Price: Iced Coffee, $4.50 / Iced Latte, $5.50
If there’s one thing I truly love, it’s a quality soft pretzel. After a pretty disappointing summer on the pretzel front, the Pretzel Factory was like a shining beacon. The classic salted certainly hit the spot—so much so that we headed back later in the day to try the parmesan pretzel. (Shoutout to my boyfriend and go-to hand model, Josh, for his pretzel-holding skills).
Price: Salted pretzel, $5
Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar
When we told friends we were headed to the Minnesota State Fair, Sweet Martha’s chocolate chip cookies were one of the first things each of them mentioned. So when we arrived, we were prepared to stand in line for an overflowing bucket of gooey goodness. Yes, four dozen cookies is a little excessive, but you’ll have plenty to take home to friends or enjoy later.
Pro tip (literally—we actually saw multiple seasoned fairgoers do this during our visit): Bring a gallon size ziplock bag to stash the cookies that won’t fit inside the bucket.
Price: $16 for four dozen
While they’re not my favorite food, I’m all about an annual corn dog at the Iowa State Fair. But, as any Minnesota State Fair aficionado will tell you, the Pronto Pup is no corn dog. The hotdog is coated in a flour-based batter almost like a pancake instead of a cornmeal batter. After ordering, your Pronto Pup is smeared with your choice of ketchup or mustard for easy enjoyment. A Minnesota State Fair staple since 1947, there are eight Pronto Pups stands throughout the fair. So don’t stress—you’ll never have to wait long for one of these savory snacks.
Price: $4 for regular size
After all of the fried options available throughout the fairgrounds, roast corn was a welcome addition. With huge grills and lots of busy lines, perfectly roasted corn on the cob with just a splash of butter and shake of salt and pepper is available just within reach outside of the fair grandstand.
Price: $3 per cob
An essential element of any good fair food is being able to eat it easily while walking, and few compare to the gyro. We stopped by Dino’s Gyro to try the classic gyro for an early lunch. With a zesty salad and perfectly sliced meat, Josh deemed this gyro “better than the Iowa State Fair’s,” which is high praise coming from a native Iowan.
Apple Rollover & Cider Freeze
Time and time again, the scope and variety of food at the Minnesota State Fair surprised me. Many of my favorite surprises were found in the Agriculture Building. Located in the building’s apple section, the flaky apple rollover was one of the best I’ve ever had, and paired nicely with the apple cider freeze. Is it fall yet?
Price: Apple Rollover, $3 / Apple Cider Freeze, $1.50
Minnesota Craft Beer
What would a trip to the state fair be without a little imbibing? We stopped in at the Minnesota Craft Brewers’ Guild to sample some of the state’s finest craft beers. I opted for one of the “Minnesota Mix” samplers. Of my four tastes, I especially enjoyed Bent Paddle Brewing Co.’s Cold Press Black coffee porter.
Price: $10 for four samples
Have you been to the Minnesota State Fair? What’s your favorite fair fare?