5 over-the-top foods to try at the California State Fair this year

Photos by Tori Masucci Cummins
The Krispy Kreme doughnut bacon burger at the California State Fair

If you’re like us, the words “state fair” conjure up images of bacon-wrapped-deep-fried-everything-on-a-stick. So when Cal Expo opened its doors on Friday for its 50th year hosting the annual feast fest, we were among the first in line to taste test some of the fair’s craziest concoctions. Here are five foods we found that'll make you say, "Oh Em Gee" (and maybe "Oh, Mylanta" too).

Krispy Kreme doughnut bacon burger from Stuffy’s Char-Broiler

An excursion to the state fair wouldn’t be complete without strange food pairings, and this one takes the cake, or rather, doughnut. Falling under the category of “so weird that it’s good,” the cheeseburger sandwiches a sizzling beef patty—topped with American cheese, crispy bacon slices, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles—between two warm, glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts. We’re guessing this novelty meal took us over our calorie allowance for the day (one Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut alone has about 200), but who’s counting calories at the state fair? Not us! YOLO.
Where to find it: At the Food Promenade near the entrance to the Kids Park (#40 on the state fair map)

Deep-fried nachos from Spud Ranch

Just the sight of this dish—crisp mounds gleaming with thick nacho cheese sauce—prompted two bystanders nearing the bottom of their kettle corn bag to demand to know, “Where did you get that?!” The nachos consist of shredded pepper jack formed into spheres, covered in the salty crumbs of crushed nacho-flavored Doritos, which are deep-fried, slathered with nacho sauce and topped with sliced jalapeños. The result is a crunchy shell that gives way to a subtly spicy nucleus of melted cheese—it’s a wholly addictive mess of cheese on cheese on cheese. And that’s just how we like our fair food.
Where to find it: Next door to Stuffy’s Char-Broiler at the Food Promenade near the entrance to the Kids Park (#40 on the state fair map)

Rainbow grilled cheese from Maddy Moo’s

If your mind was blown when Starbucks announced its Unicorn Frappuccino earlier this year, you won’t want to miss this brand-new addition to the State Fair’s concession lineup. At first glance, it looks just like an innocent grilled cheese sandwich, with the buttery white bread diagonally cut like your mom used to serve it. But pull the two wedges apart, and strings of multihued melty cheese reveal their magic. So how did this psychedelic sandwich rise to existence, prompting long lines of rainbow chasers? “One of our customers asked if we beat up a leprechaun,” joked the friendly cashier.
Where to find it: Across from the entrance to AgVenture Land (#31 on the state fair map)

Deep-fried bacon-wrapped Reese’s peanut butter cup from Sweet Cheeks

Your threshold for fried dough may be maxed out after a day meandering (and sampling) your way through Cal Expo, but you’d be remiss to leave without queueing up for this apocalyptically decadent dessert. The deep fryer melts a Reese’s cup inside a pocket of sweet dough, so the first bite reveals a fudgy peanut butter core oozing with chocolate and balanced by the salty, savory zing of crispy bacon. Dusted with powdered sugar, the treat comes on a stick, so you can eat it on the go while you wait for a ride on the Ferris wheel, or you can dig right in.
Where to find it: Food Promenade (#42 on the state fair map)

Churro dog from Fabe’s Churros & Gelato

This fair fare may sound like a hot dog tucked inside a churro, or a churro made with hot dogs, but it's neither. Made with a crunchy, cinnamon-dusted churro (the “dog” in this scenario) nestled inside a fluffy, chocolate-glazed doughnut bar “bun,” the dessert is topped with three hefty scoops of gelato (we went for strawberry) and dressed with dollops of whipped cream and a generous drizzle of chocolate sauce. It’s an ice cream sundae on steroids that hits our criteria for great fair food—wholly indulgent, over-the-top and inevitably share-worthy (both with spoons and on Snapchat).
Where to find it: At the Food Promenade near the entrance to the Kids Park (#40 on the state fair map)

The California State Fair runs through July 30. Cal Expo. 1600 Exposition Blvd. 263-3247. castatefair.org

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