Skip to main content
Updated:
Original:

5 hidden-gem foods at the Minnesota State Fair

Here are some surprisingly tasty options you might have missed.
Author:

This story is part of our 2017 Minnesota State Fair Music, Food & Beer Guide.

With hundreds of State Fair foods to choose from, even the diehard food enthusiasts overlook some incredible stuff. It's not humanly possible to consume everything noteworthy, but finding a few new regular year-to-year items? Heck yeah.

These five edible hidden gems could have you plotting a new route on your next fair visit.

Lingonberry Ice Cream (Southeast corner of Carnes Ave. & Underwood St.)

The Lingonberry Ice Cream stand is a sweet, old-fashioned booth selling simple ice cream treats imbued with Scandahoovia’s state berry. Pictured above, the ice cream tastes more of a rich vanilla than anything else, but pops of the astringent berry keep things interesting. I can’t help but wish I had this shade in a tube of lipstick.

Steichen’s Complete Food Market (Commisary Building)

Need diapers, cigs, or a bottle of Pepto, and you're already inside the confines of the fair? Steichen’s Complete Food Market to the rescue. In the alley behind the sheep barn, an entire convenience store awaits. (And you know we love convenience stores.) Along with pop, chips, and candy, Steichen’s also builds made-to-order simple cold cut and breakfast sandwiches. 

Open since 1933, the place feels designed to service 4H-ers and other staffers who practically live on the grounds for the fair's duration. Why live on Cheese On a Stick alone? Head to Steichen’s for a ham, egg, and cheese on a bagel for $4 – a simple, affordable way to power through livestock competitions. 

Charcoal Hut's Stuffed Tomatoes (East side of Judson Ave. between Underwood & Cooper streets, next to the International Bazaar)

Quick: Have you ever seen a salad at the fair? A tomato stuffed with chicken salad offers a... close approximation. The sight of a raw vegetable can be like an oasis. 

For vegetable matter that hasn’t been dipped in batter and fried, head to the grass-thatched Charcoal Hut, for a ripe, red tomato that’s been scored and heave-ho’d with a scoop of thick chicken salad. Though the salad in question is somewhat overly sweet, the total package offers a refreshing balance from the hot-and-fat catalogue. 

Shanghaied Henri’s Smoked Gouda Nachos (International Bazaar, north wall)

Smoked Gouda Nachos in a tray beg the question: Where have smoked Gouda nachos in a tray been all my life? Way better than ordinary cheese goo (which is saying a lot), these are also a State Fair bargain at just $5 if you take care to load them up with the gratis pickled jalapeños, plus green and red salsas. 

Pretzel Haus' Handmade Soft Pretzels (West side of Liggett St. between Carnes & Judson avenues)

Pretzel Haus' giant soft pretzels are hand-spun, slathered in butter (and naturally you will request it slathered in butter) and then served your way, alongside either cheese sauce, garlic butter, sugar and butter, or mustards. Butter and cheese sauce are the obvious choices here. They're worth the perpetually long wait in line – because they're over-the-top in size and quality.

This story is part of our 2017 Minnesota State Fair Music, Food & Beer Guide.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Timberwolves' winning streak snapped at five games

The Wolves' bid for their longest winning streak since 2014 came up short.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Teen arrested over fatal shooting of 5-year-old boy in Brooklyn Park

Police say the teen was filming a social media video while handling a gun.

Joe Biden

President Biden coming to Minnesota to promote Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Tuesday's trip follows passage of the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal.

Kirill Kaprizov

Kaprizov gets into the holiday spirit to rout Jets

Kirill Kaprizov's four points led the Wild to a 7-1 victory.

Kirk Cousins

Coller: Cure to Vikings' disrupted season lies in an explosive passing game

The Vikings go to San Francisco knowing that a win would be a huge boost to their playoff hopes.

unsplash football helmet ground

Judge upholds star QBs suspension for state championship game

Sam Backer, of Chatfield Senior High, won't be allowed to play in Friday's title game.

Screen Shot 2021-11-25 at 7.53.37 AM

Another 5,000 lbs. of goldfish removed from Carver County lakes

It all likely stemmed from people dumping their pets into local waters a few years ago.

Rosaleia Shelton

Appeal to find 19-year-old missing from Bloomington

The teen left her home on Monday afternoon.

hospital, emergency room

Deaths of twin fetuses after woman was shot ruled a double homicide

The woman was shot in the abdomen in mid-September.

Related

5 underrated Minnesota State Fair foods

Here's a handful of gems you might have forgotten or never tried.

5 best classic Minnesota State Fair foods

This is the stuff that you crave before you even enter the gate.

5 new Minnesota State Fair foods actually worth trying

Once we got past the hype, here's the stuff we're going to eat.

Minnesota State Fair Food Guide: Don't miss these hidden gems

They don't get the headlines, but maybe they should.

Hidden gems

Minnesota State Fair 2019: This year's hidden food gems

They don't get the headlines, but maybe they should.

We get it – you like Minnesota State Fair food

Here are your picks for the best foods at the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

We tried 10 tacos at the State Fair – which is the best?

This is what happens when the State Fair happens to tacos.