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Minnesota State Fair 2021: The best new foods

Our food writer Haley Nelson picks out her favorite new dishes at the State Fair.
State Fair

730 days is a long time to wait for anything.

But for the foodies who go to the Minnesota State Fair, 730 days seems like an eternity.

When I got the opportunity to go to the fair on Day One and try some of the new foods, it was sort of a surreal experience. Was I really back at the fair?

Needless to say, I was more excited than ever to try the new foods.

Here’s what I ate:

Falafelicious Hummus Bowl – Baba’s: $12

Falafel Baba's

Location: East side of Underwood Street between Lee and Randall avenues just south of Little Farm Hands

My favorite new food of the Minnesota State Fair was the falafel-icious hummus bowl from new food vendor Baba’s.

This bowl had a base of creamy hummus, topped with fried eggplant, Arabic pickles, pickled cabbage, tahini, and falafel. The bowl was topped with a skewer of fried pita bread rounds.

ChoriPops – Midtown Global Market, Andy’s Garage: $8


Location: Midtown Global Market Andy’s Garage at the International Bazaar.

ChoriPops are a vegan treat made from vegan chorizo from the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis.

They’re battered, fried, and drizzled with your choice of sauce (I recommend the tangy green avocado salsa over the mole sauce).

This new vendor also sells two foods that didn’t make the “official” new foods list: deep-fried tamales (cheese or chicken) and horchata ice cream.

Note: ChoriPops are only available from August 26-31. After that, the booth features foods from local favorite Los Ocampo.

Paneer Pakora – Hot Indian: $8

Screen Shot 2021-08-27 at 9.08.27 AM

Location: The Food Building, east wall.

Fried cheese is ubiquitous with the Minnesota State Fair. So why not batter and deep fry paneer?

Paneer is an Indian cheese that’s mild and firm. It isn’t as melty as traditional cheese curds, which I missed when eating this app.

The paneer pakora was served with a rich tomato butter, which was really tasty.

Hot Indian’s menu includes another new food: The Kerala fried chicken kati roll.

Banh Minn Bun – Sausage Sister & Me: $8

Screen Shot 2021-08-27 at 9.08.32 AM

Location: Food Building, east wall

This might sound weird, but when I go to the fair, I’d rather eat a bunch of smaller things as opposed to one bigger thing.

The banh Minn bun is a bigger thing.

That said, it’s a delicious, flavorful sandwich, topped with pickled vegetables, jalapenos, and a sriracha sauce. My only complaint was that it was a little bready.

If you’re looking to fill up on a good sandwich, get the banh Minn bun.

Fresh-Pressed Watermelon Juice - Spinning Wylde: $10

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Location: East side of Underwood Street between Lee and Randall avenues just south of Little Farm Hands.

Spinning Wylde is a new food vendor and is perhaps already best known for its array of dye-free handspun cotton candy flavors.

But I had to try the watermelon juice.

It’s just what you would expect – and that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes you just need to splurge on a

pretty drink when walking miles and miles in the heat of the state fair.

It’s served with a watermelon gummy skewer and an edible, lime-flavored straw.

Dual Berry Shortcake – LuLu’s Public House: $7.25

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Location: At West End Market, south of Schilling Amphitheater.

I wanted to try a dessert for my review of new foods. The dual berry shortcake didn’t disappoint.

It’s another large/filling food item, so it’s ideal for sharing. It wasn’t overly sweet, but the exterior of the biscuit had a delicious sugary crunch.

It was topped with blueberries and strawberries, hence the dual. I would get it again.

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