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The Minnesota State Fair is back in all its pre-pandemic splendor. Many fair fans haven’t enjoyed a "normal" State Fair since 2019.

2021 was a little quieter - a bit scaled back.

2020 was… well, you know.

Needless to say, we were more excited than ever to be back at the fair and try the new foods.

And they did not disappoint.

Here’s what we tried:

Minne Hot Hot – RC's BBQ: $12

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Location: RC’s BBQ, north side of West Dan Patch Avenue, between Liggett and Chambers streets.

The Minne Hot Hot is a BBQ dish consisting of smoked rib tips tossed in Nashville hot sauce on grilled bread, served with southern-style comeback sauce.

At first, I thought the sauce was a little salty, but when the heat hit it seemed to all balance out. This was a decently spicy dish per Minnesota standards. The comeback sauce was the perfect creamy, tangy accompaniment and worked to tame down the heat a bit.

The rib tips were tender and the portion size was generous.

Cheese Curd Tacos – Richie's Cheese Curd Tacos: $12

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Location: North side of Judson Avenue between Liggett and Clough streets, outside the Sheep & Poultry Barn.

We couldn’t resist this over-the-top fair food from new vendor Richie’s Cheese Curd Tacos. We tried the original, filled with diced bratwurst, fried cheese curds, lettuce, and baja sauce in a fried flour tortilla.

The tacos had it all – meat, cheese, something fried and a great sauce – and I would recommend adding this one to your fair food bucket list.

Chicken Tandoori Rolls – Holy Land: $12

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Location: Holy Land, at the International Bazaar, southeast corner

And we have a winner! This was our favorite new food of the fair. And this was at the end of our eating extravaganza, so we weren’t even hungry!

Every component of the chicken tandoori rolls was perfection: The chicken was seasoned just right with tandoori spices. The paratha flatbread was flaky and soft. And the avocado-cilantro-lime sauce added a great tang and spice.

Birthday Cake Paleta – Hamline Church Dining Hall: $6

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Location: Hamline Church Dining Hall, located on the north side of Dan Patch Avenue between Underwood and Cooper Streets.

Paletas (or “little sticks” in Spanish) are a Mexican frozen dessert, a refreshing treat perfect for walking around on a hot day at the State Fair. La Michoacana Rose created a variety of paleta flavors to celebrate the 125 th anniversary of the Hamline Church Dining Hall.

The birthday cake paleta was creamy, not too sweet, and spiked with chunks of birthday cake and sprinkles.

Nautical Bowls – Nautical Bowls: $12

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Location: In the Food Building, center section, north wall

Not only are Nautical Bowls’ superfood bowls pretty, they’re also quite tasty and healthy. A welcome change to the typical heavy, fried food selection at the fair.

We tried the Nauti Bowl, with acai, pitaya, granola, banana, cacao nibs and peanut butter. This is another dish we tried late in the day – and finished it all. Check it out if you want a cool, refreshing, fruit- based smoothie-like treat. We thought it tasted somewhere in between sorbet and a smoothie with lots of toppings and add-ins.

Pro tip: Here’s a handy map of the new food locations, so you can plan your food adventures step by step.

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