The 5 best-kept food secrets at the State Fair's International Bazaar

Thrilling trips for your tastebuds are here.

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

In the frenzied quest to taste all of the new Minnesota State Fair Foods, be sure not to bypass the outer reaches of the fairgrounds.

In the International Bazaar, beyond your name on a grain of rice, beyond the “You can Tell a German but You Can’t Tell Him Much” T-shirts, and the many, many other trinkets, some truly tasty treats await.

Here are the top five finds worth the trip. 

Singh’s Caribbean Heat's hot sauces 

What’s food without hot sauce? Nothing. The antidote to Minnesota bland is Sing’s Caribbean Heat, run by Joe Singh. The Trinidad native's brother is famous Minnesota chef Harry Singh (of Nicollet Avenue restaurant & Food Building booth Harry Singh's – both serving delectable Caribbean cuisine). 

Singh slings over 500 labels of sauces in the Bazaar, and just hanging out with the man is a spicy experience in itself. Ask for a taste of the hottest – currently a variety with Carolina Reaper, the world’s spiciest chiles. Even the Singhs themselves refused to taste it during our recent stop. 

Fiesta in America's Island Tropical Bar

Fiesta in America's booth features unique salty and sweet treats from Mexico that are inexpensive and delicious. I’m particularly fond of the hard-to-find Island Tropical Bars, the Chicago-based cult favorite ice cream treat. They come in exotic flavors like horchata (a beverage made from nuts, seeds, and warm spices), chile ice, and Mamey (a sweet, creamy, tropical tree fruit). Also more-familiar flavors like strawberry cream and pina colada are available. At just three bucks a pop, they’re just the wallet-friendly thing to cool off a whole family on a hot day at the fair. 

Hot Indian's S’moresas 

I love Hot Indian for their fresh, modern take on Indian cooking. Their food truck and Midtown Global Market space keep eaters in Indi-tacos, samosas and “indurittos.” 

They keep things fresh at the fair with new annual specialties, and this year’s “S’moresas” have been a big hit all around. A traditional S’more with dark chocolate gets stuffed into a samosa wrapper and deep fried. A sweetened, condensed milk dipping sauce with warm Indian spices keeps things even more interesting. 

The nod to the classic American fun treat with a cross-cultural twist, combined with the on-point execution has all the makings of a State Fair classic dish. 

Holy Land's Deli Samosas and Gyros on a Stick 

Samosas should be one of our state dishes, and the gyro on a stick is a gyro on a freaking stick, so these two Holy Land Deli offerings are tied for my attentions. 

The samosas are easy-to-like, deep-fried dumplings. They're veggie-filled, which garners extra points since vegetarian-friendly foods can be a challenge to find at the fair. The little pot of cucumber tzatziki on the side lets you wander, dunk, and pop. 

But the gyro on a stick delivers more than anyone could have bargained for, with a popsicle-sized and shaped slab of gyro meat offering a carnivore’s dream straight to the dome. None of that fussy bread or vegetable matter comes between you and your meat-lust here. More tzatziki means – you got it – wander, dunk, and devour. 

West Indies Soul Jerk Pork Chop 

The better-known Peterson's Pork Chop on a stick gets a lot of love from experienced fairgoers, but how many know that a spicier, smokier chop awaits inside the Bazaar? 

The most excellent West Indies Soul has been selling their super-spicy Jamaican patties and jerk wings for years, but the hot, fatty, smoky, chop on a stick is a special, sleeper hit. Add a daub of scotch bonnet hot sauce for that real-deal Caribbean punch.

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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