Monday, September 2, 2013

Minnesota State Fair - Vegan Guide

When my fiance decided to stop eating animals and animal products (go vegan), we thought vegan pickings would be slim at the Great Minnesota Get Together (State Fair.) To our delight, blogger Midwest Vaygun had our back. She had several years of "gorging" at the state fair in the name of providing vegans a list of fair food options. Thank goodness for upstanding Minnesotans willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of our communities. :) Also, thank you to my parents, friends and fiance who helped compile the list below. With that said, please do confirm for yourselves these dishes are vegan and note this is not comprehensive (we got full.)

2013 Minnesota State Fair Food Guide for Vegans

Our Top Five:
There's a lot to do at the fair, but these are worth the $12 entrance ticket alone!

1. Corn Roast (located near the Grandstand) 

Hold the butter, enjoy nature's food on a stick in its summer glory. This is a perennial favorite of many.

2. Produce Exchange's Sweet Dreams Peach (located across the street from the International Bazaar)

Before you judge this as not adequately deep-fried or on a stick for fair food, I dare you to tell me you've had a better peach. I dream of these peaches all year...thus they are aptly named.

3. Fresh French Fries (2 locations: between Adventure land and the Mighty Midway and in front of the Senior Center (West of the Agriculture building))
 Deep-fried, crisp salty goodness in a bucket. Made with fresh potatoes...many imitators, but none compare. The owners of these stands are probably millionaires because the crowds line up for this must have for anyone who likes french fries.

4. Harry Singh's Vegetarian Roti w/ Trinidad Scorpion Pepper hot sauce (Southeast corner of the Food Building)

Mild mannered when wrapped in its warm roti shell, open this bad boy up and add a splash of the hottest hot sauce you've probably ever had to the already flavorful curried chickpeas and this is a great meal option. We liked it better than the doubles, but they're cheaper/smaller if you just want a taste.

5. MN Apples' frozen cider pop and fresh apple sauce (in the west hall of the Agriculture building)

The State Fair is one last summer party before kids head back to school and the leaves start to change. Make the transition to Fall a little more comforting with this refreshing Mr. Freeze/popsicle cider that serves as a bridge between the seasons. The apple sauce is better than anything you'll find in a jar at the store too. Perfectly portioned and priced at less than $2 each.

Honorable Mention: Farmer's Union's iced coffee w/ a splash of soy milk (near the front gate, west side of Dan Patch)

If you get to the Fair early or need a caffeine boost, the Farmer's Union booth serves J&S Bean Factory coffee which tastes great and offers Pacific Natural Foods' barista blend soy milk (my favorite non-dairy milk for coffee drinks) 

The Goods
We liked...just didn't love these options.

6. Strawberries & Creme (Randall & Underwood - near the kidway)

We couldn't believe our eyes, but staff confirmed the whipping cream is non-dairy. The strawberries were slightly tart and cool with a generous dollop of rich, sweet creme.

7. French Meadows' brown sugar scone (Carnes & Underwood)

It was more flat than the other scones - almost cookie-like. The flavor was good and made us hope they carry it in store year round. I don't suspect it will ever have the crazed following that leads to half hour lines like the cronut/doussiant, but you can people watch the line while enjoying the scone and a coffee.

8. Hamline Dining Hall's pomegranate pizzazz sorbet (near the Visitor Center on Dan Patch)

Refreshing and cool with the iconic izzy mini scoop on top. Service was inconsistent, but the sorbet was great. Izzy's is a local favorite ice cream shop which is great about offering soy ice cream and sorbet options for vegans.

9. Spring Grove Sodas' Rhu-berry soda (on Nelson near the DNR building)

We Minnesotans love our rhubarb, but this soda was a little sweeter than we hoped. Heavy Table raves about the lemon sour and thought the rhu-berry and lemon sodas were good offerings in the Heavy Table state fair food tour (warning: not vegan).

Vegan Mecca: international bazaar (located on the south side of the fairgrounds)
Like with restaurants, you're more likely to score vegan options if you check out the international bazaar at the fairgrounds. Here's a few:

10. Island Noodles (located in the last row near the stage in the bazaar)
Wok-fried soba noodles in a garlic ginger sauce with lots of veggies are a solid meal option. Major bonus points for slicing fresh veggies into each batch. Mmmm...wok-fried broccoli.

11. Cinnamon Roasted Almonds (located a few stalls down from Island Noodles)
They were handing out samples and claiming dairy and gluten free. If you're nuts for nuts, give them a try but ask about honey first.

12. St. Martin's Olives' olives on a stick (same row further from the stage)
More vegan-friendly food on a stick. They're olives. They're stuffed with garlic, peppers, onions and sun-dried tomatoes.

13. Holy land (Southeast corner (same row as above) of the bazaar)

Has a ton of options; including, falafel, tabbouli, hummus, grape leaves and veggie samosas. Solid food, very generous portions.

14. Los Ocampos' guacamole and chips (Eastern edge of the bazaar trades with Burrito Mercado for half the fair)

A generous 2/3 cup freshly made guacamole with lime, tomatoes, onions, and avocados. If you go earlier in the fair, you'll see Burrito Mercado in this spot and they offer a chili and lime dusted fresh mango on a stick. We've heard it's phenomenal.

The Fried
I am not crazy about fried foods (makes me a seeming anomaly at the fair), so a separate category to not bias the choices.

15. Preferred Pickles' Fried pickles (SW corner of Dan Patch & Liggett - near the Mighty Midway)

Cajun and perfect offerings are vegan if you hold on the ranch dipping sauce. We didn't check to see if the chocolate dipping sauce was vegan because that combo didn't sound good. The hot sauce was a tasty addition. 

16. Sonny's Spiral Spuds' Potato on a stick (Northwest corner of the Food Building)

Vegan on a stick option! Another fun way to eat a fried potato, but if you're only going to do one potato option make it the french fries. If you come with an army, get the potato tornado which is a massive amount of potatoes on a stick definitely made to share.

Others we didn't try
Even with a team of six hungry people, you're not going to get through all the fair's options.

17. Dole whip (located across the street from French Meadow)

Non-dairy softserve with fruit or a pineapple juice float.

18. Veggie Pie's frozen grapes on a stick (south wall of Food Building)

19. Fried Green Tomatoes (on Dan Patch by Crossroads/The Garden) Update: These contain whey and are not vegan.

Warning: Sonora Grill- sorry, the eggplant fries and eggplant tacos have egg in the breading.

236,197 people were at the Minnesota State Fair when we were on an absolutely gorgeous Sunday - setting a new attendance record!


  1. That's a ton of options! I was excited to have a handful of options at the Texas State Fair. I'm really curious about the frozen cider pop.

  2. This Fall, just freeze some apple cider in popsicle or ice cube's really easy and a tasty new way to enjoy cider.

  3. Wow! The food looks so good! If only there were such fairs where I live :)

  4. Thanks Michelle, using this to plan this year!

  5. To add to the Holy Land items, we enjoy the Kushri every year. Noodles, lentils, rice , fried onions and tomatoes! It is so Minnesotan because it like a hotdish :)

  6. Heads up! The fried green tomatoes contain whey.

    The Harry Singh's Vegetarian Roti, apple sauce, Strawberries & Creme, Hamline Dining Hall's pomegranate pizzazz sorbet, Island Noodles and fried pickles were amazing! The falafels were just OK. I prefer fresh homemade.

    Thanks for the list! It was so much help!!

  7. Kendra - thanks for the head's up, I've made an update to reflect your findings. Jen - thanks for the addition!

  8. FYI, another vegan mentioned the non-dairy creme at the strawberries and creme stand contains casein although the staff was confident the creme was vegan.

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