SPOILER ALERT – The Gator remains undefeated in his battle against the State Fair of Texas. 2013 offered her mightiest resistance, but The Gator and Lady Gator were having none of it. This is not without some room for dispute, however. The Fair tried to pull some bush-league antics by withholding some of its edible eats from my mouth. By throwing out excuses like “oh, we ran out” (Spicy Spam Empanada), or admitting it was just a marketing hoax (Deep Fried BBQ Wontons), or by flat-out hiding things from the masses (The Beast Burrito), the Fair thought it could gut The Gator. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. NO! I laugh at these feeble attempts to snatch victory from my jaws. We still kicked your delicious deep-fried ass, Fair!
And, YOU, dear reader can kick some ass at the Fair, too! My mission, as it has been for the last 4 years, is to consume all the new Fair offerings (plus anything else I can’t resist), digest it all, sort through the taste vs. price metrics and report to you what’s worth your tickets and what’s best to skip. Check HERE and HERE for a taste of the insanity. So, here, in 1991 Atlanta Braves fashion (worst to first) is your guide to the 2013 State Fair of Texas eats:
18.) Fried Shrimp and Cheese Jalapeno – 18 tickets – OK. Just skip this. Biggest damn waste. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted fine, but, for 18 tickets I want it to blow me away. Or, get me buzzed (beers can run 20 tickets). Fresh jalapeno and good shrimp in a good batter that could have been cooked longer. However, just not freaking worth them paper bones. SKIP IT
17.) Spinach Dip Bites – 10 coupons – Bland spinach artichoke dip with crunchy outsides. Funky green color under the fried shell is interesting, but that’s where the interest ends. Don’t bring this waste of money and calories to any party, especially those with fish bowls. SKIP IT
16.) Loaded Avocado Fries – 14 tickets – It’s like TGI Fridays up in the Fair! Appz all in yo’ face. Extra crunchy fried batter, lots of “queso sauce”, cilantro and questionable bacon pieces (questionable because there are about 2 bits…and no actual pork involved). The avocado tasted extra fruity and floral as cooked avocado is wont to do. It could have used lots of lime. Overall, forgettable. SKIP IT
15.) Awesome Deep Fried Nutella® – 12 tickets – Here comes controversy. I’m going to be honest – it was just not very awesome. Let’s start with the ridiculous line. This is, by far, the longest line you will stand in. Longer than the Fletcher’s Corn Dog line, even. All for phyllo dough with Nutella. All for a lot of phyllo dough and a slathering of Nutella. There was supposed to be cream cheese, honey and almonds. There was none of that. There was some sliced fruit, some brownish (chocolate?) whipped cream and small uneven globs of Nutella. Iwould have rather had a jar of Nutella and spoon. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted fine. I mean, how could it not? It’s phyllo dough and Nutella. Just when you look at time in line vs. what you get it’s just SO not worth it. Stick with Fried Oreos or Fried Brownie or something. SKIP IT
14.) Texas Fried Fireball – 12 tickets – I’m not a big pimento cheese fan. Thisdidn’t endear me any further. It had good zing, a funky neon orange glow and a strong chipotle ranch for dipping. SKIP IT
13.) Deep Fried Elotes – 10 tickets – As mentioned in my preview, the Lady Gator does not like elotes. However, she didn’t mind these. Neither did I. They look like good corn fritters and taste like good corn fritters. Lots of corn to be found and a good spicy cream sauce that tastes like a blend of cream and Tobasco (or other taco sauce). Overall, this is good. I just wouldn’t waste money on it at the Fair. SKIP IT
12.) Golden Fried Millionaire Pie – 14 tickets – Dense pie crust with a not too sweet filling. The melted cream cheese with pineapple and coconut worked well and made a pretty good fried pie. If fried pie is your thing, go for it. If you want to try fried pie for the first time stick with a standard fried pie. CONSIDER IT
11.) Southern Style Chicken Fried Meatloaf – 12 or 15 tickets (depending on if you want sides) – A decent-tasting chicken fried crust was undercooked and gave way to a decent loaf-a-meat. The ketchup glaze was sweet, sour and good. The cream gravy was decent. Next time, I’ll take a slice of my mom’s meatloaf and ask them to batter and fry it. Reminder: call mom about “foodproject.” CONSIDER IT
10.) Deep Fried Cool Ranch Doritos Pizza – 14 tickets – So, for some reason this slipped through the cracks of all the new foods listings. We just happened to catch it because it’s at the same booth as the Awesome Deep Fried Nutella. It’s a pretty kick-ass booth. This little slice of stoner heaven (crushed it) tastes like some dudes took some Cool Ranch Doritos, crushed them up, did something to make them stick to a Totinos frozen pizza (I don’t want to knowwhat) and then deep-fried it. It’s served by the slice, drizzled with ranch sauce and a handful of Cool Ranch Doritos. I don’t even like Doritos and I enjoyed it. Not a must try, but if you’re bored of regular fried pizza – who are you? CONSIDER IT
9.) Pig Toes on a Stick – 12 tickets – I’ll go ahead and recommend these great party snacks. The fresh jalapeno seals it. The tater tot in the middle could have some strong cheese or extra flavoring in it to make this even better. Bonus: it comes with a massive side of chili and cheese. You should order the PTOAS, order the Fried Cool Ranch Doritos Pizza, enjoy them separately and use the extra Doritos to dip into the chili and cheese. You’re welcome. If you’re a fan of shareable party snacks, CONSIDER IT
8.) Fernie’s Deep Fried King Ranch Casserole – 10 tickets – First off, it was served upside down and backwards. You don’t mess with Texas, bros. Then, Lady Gator just turned the cardboard serving boat around and it was all good. Wonderfully crisp and deep brown on the outside, the insides of our Texas-shaped fried pride were cold. The traditional King Ranch ingredients (the recipe can be found on at the booth) were all there and tasted good enough. The soufflé cup of canned nacho cheese was hot. If the insides would have been hot, this would have been awesome. Hope that it’s made fresh and GIVE IT A TRY
7.) Fried Thanksgiving Dinner – 14 tickets – I must first and foremost point out the presentation: an excellently festive fall napkin and corn husk. It’s like a deconstructed Thanksgiving table cornucopia. Take a bite and your mouth will be full of Simon and Garfunkle. Think about it. (You love it). It’s like deep-fried Stove Top Stuffing and that is not a bad thing. The brown gravy will take you back to your elementary school cafeteria. The orange cranberry sauce puts it over the top. TRY IT
6.) Deep Fried Shrimp and Grits – 12 tickets – Some actually good cheesy, garlicky grits with good crunchy batter. An order is two balls (of course) and if you’re lucky you’ll find a baby shrimp inside. I just enjoyed the fried grits, really. The red pepper jelly would be good on a sandwich…not so much here. If you’re running out of stuff to try, TRY IT
5.) Chocolate Chip Burrito – 10 tickets – Amazing. Obviously. My only question: is there any egg in the cookie dough? The cookie dough is still very raw and gooey. Just something to wonder about. #salmonella #takeawalkonthewildside DO IT
4.) Deep Fried Spaghetti and Meatball – 12 tickets – It was advertised to be wrapped and fried in a Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit, which had me intrigued. Sounds awesome in theory, right? In reality, however, the biscuit awesomeness gets fried out and lost. If you can manage to pick off a bit of the crispy fried dough and taste it, it tastes a bit like those addictive biscuits. Mostly, though, you have a dense ball of spaghetti and meat under a salty crunchy shell. It’s pretty damn good. Forget about the RLCBB and give this a try. DO IT (ask for extra sauce)
3.) Deep Fried Creole Boullete – 13 tickets – A coupla fish balls strongly flavored with Creole seasoning. This was the very last thing we ate on our Eatvestigation, and it was a good way to finish. Available at the Cajun stand by Big Tex, I recommend that if you usually chew down some of my gator brethren, you switch up your style and try these herby balls. Take a chance and DO IT
2.) Deep Fried Cuban Roll – 12 tickets – Like the King Ranch, not hot. There was an entire hotel pan of the Latin-flavored eggrolls ready to be served when I walked up. Not a good sign. It was ridiculously greasy, too. My hands were shiny. The mojo dipping sauce doesn’t look like anything you want near your food or shiny hands. It tasted like pure pickling liquid. But, as Lady Gator pointed out “the first rule of mojo sauce: don’t eat it alone.” Right. That said, this bastard was delicious. Moist, meaty, fatty and flavorful. Dip it in the mojo and experience magic. I realized the shininess on my hand was just mojo shine…and grease. DO IT
1.) Fletcher’s Corn Dog – 10 tickets / Root Beer – 6 tickets / Lemonade – 10 tickets – I have to include the Fletcher’s Corn Dog and Root Beer. No explanation needed as to why the Fletcher’s Corn Dog is #1. That Root Beer tastes like Santa’s elves brewed it themselves. The Lemonade, however, makes its debut at #1 this year. It took me too long to realize just how amazing this ray of citrus sun is. I question just how “fresh” it is, but when hot and full of fried salt – this gives you the strength to make 12 more bad decisions.
Things I’m left with:
#1 – I am a bit saddened that I couldn’t try the Spam Empanadas, BBQ Wontons or the Beast Burrito. I had the room and the desire, but you left me hanging, Fair!
#2 – What’s up with all the cold to lukewarm foods? Let’s get our act together, Fair. Your food may not be haute, but you shouldn’t serve it cold. *wink*
So, there you have it, reader peoples. Go forth and make the best bad decisions you can!