5 underrated Minnesota State Fair foods

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

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

Sometimes the best edible treasures are hidden in plain sight – especially amid the crowds and intensity of the Minnesota State Fair.

See also: 5 best classic Minnesota State Fair foods

A short line doesn't always mean an inferior product, at least in the case of these 5 underrated options.

Sara’s Tipsy Pies (Food Building, south wall)

These hand pies (above) from the family-owned Sara’s Tipsy Pies could easily pass these off as fresh from name-your-favorite-bakery. But these little pies for one (or two if you really like your dining companion) have an intoxicating secret. Each one is made with a little bit of booze, like whiskey, wine, or beer. 

See also: Meet the Minnesotan behind Sara's Tipsy Pies

The adult edge keeps them just on the right side of sweet stuff – not exactly savory, but not saccharine either. Check out this year’s addition of Brown Ale and Onion-Gouda, which is in fact a savory pie.

Taco King (North side of Judson Ave. between Clough & Nelson streets)

Taco King tacos fed State Fair attendees long before fair food or tacos became self-consciously cool. Hell, these were my jam before I ever discovered the magic of corn tortillas, onions, and cilantro on a taco. Visit Taco King for an epic “gringo”-style taco in a big flour tortilla with spicy ground beef, lettuce, tomato, and loads of cheese and sour cream (no, not guacamole). This may not be the cool-kid, street-style taco of now, but it is 100 percent delicious, classic, and a reminder of our taco-loving roots. 

Cheese on a Stick (East side of Liggett St. between West Dan Patch & Carnes avenues, NE corner of Judson Ave. & Nelson St., West side of Nelson St. between Dan Patch & Carnes avenues)

It’s criminal how little attention this genius creation receives at the fair. First, a hot-dog-sized tube of pure American cheesestuff gets jammed onto a stick, then drenched in batter and deep fried. Just think! The one thing you want more than a hot dog inside of your batter is beautiful, drippy, molten hot cheese. This is the Jucy Lucy of fair food, without all of that pesky ground meat getting in the way. 

The same booth (3 locations) also sells fresh-squeezed, spot-on lemonade that’s not too tart and not too sweet but is one thing and that is pure refreshment. In short, they’ve got everything: deep fried batter, liquid cheese, and sugar. 

Sausage Sisters & Me's Twisted Sister and Puff Daddy (Food Building, east wall)

It’s a difficult endeavor to improve on a corn dog or a Pronto Pup. But at Sausage Sisters & Me, they may have actually done it. The booth inside the food building has been around long enough to qualify as a regular old classic, though they do reinvent themselves often (see this year’s Sonoran Sausage). 

But the Twisted Sister and the Puff Daddy are two ingenious re-inventions of dogs wrapped in breadstuffs. The first is a straightforward Italian sausage wrapped in breadstick dough and finished with parmesan and Italian seasonings. Genius in its forthright nature and obvious symphony of stuff that just goes together. 

The Puff Daddy gets a wee more complicated. First, Thai sausage gets wrapped in puff pastry, then sliced almost through for ideal pull-apart, finger-food bites. It's paired with Thai peanut sauce for dipping.

Minnesota Apples' Apple Cider Freeze Pops (Agriculture Horticulture Building west hall)

The simple elegance of freezing Minnesota-made apple cider into a popsicle is almost too streamlined for the fair. Where’s the crazy? Where’s the crunched-up Doritos? Where’s the bacon? But Minnesota apples are a perfect thing. Cider is a perfect thing. Freezing perfect things just makes sense. When the dust and the frenzy have got the better of you, park your exhaustion beneath a shady tree, and let an icy, all-natural popsicle guide you back from crazy to cool. 

Mecca Bos is a Twin Cities-based food writer. She has an upcoming podcast called Snax Everywhere. Find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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

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