2022 Arizona State Fair foods, ranked. Here's what to eat — and what to skip – The Arizona Republic

To all the people who say I have their dream job, may I present this piece of evidence: a pithy list of the 2022 Arizona State Fair foods, ranked from worst to best. 
I do have a dream job. Little Andi would be dumbfounded by all the freaky-delicious things I ate while roaming the fairgrounds on McDowell Road during the event’s opening weekend. Vendors were out there slinging funnel cakes topped with M&M’s and whipped cream. People deep fried oysters and served them on a stick. Others set up Mexican al pastor for roasting over open coals. There was deep-fried cheesecake and Navajo fry bread topped with cheesesteak meat. 
But part of my job is to guide you in the right direction and spare you from the wrath of bad fair food. These items aren’t necessarily new, but they stood out to me those most. So in that spirit, here’s a guide to the best and worst of the Arizona State Fair. 
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I once spent a hundred bucks on a cheesesteak, and I’ve waited hours in line for fry bread. Both were worth it, because when done right these iconic dishes are downright ethereal. That’s what I had in my mind as I stepped up to the window at Teepee Village for this never-before-seen Philly cheesesteak fry bread mashup. I wanted to love it, but this particular offering tragically fell short. With its gloopy mound of gravy-like substance in lieu of provolone or Whiz, it tasted nothing like Philadelphia’s best. And with the dough’s cakey thin texture, it didn’t really taste like a fry bread either. Next time I will stick to tried and true basics like the Indian taco, which looked pretty good as I saw another customer whisk it away. 
Vendor: Teepee Village.
Price: $18.
Verdict: Maybe just go to The Fry Bread House.  
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This is the second time I’ve made this mistake, but how can I resist a sweet circle of fried sugar dough covered in a clownish array of candies and whipped cream? The M&M’s topping with chocolate and vanilla swirl soft serve was slightly less egregious than the All American Funnel Cake with berries and Bavarian cream that destroyed me last year. But the essential problem remains. All these ingredients on top don’t make for good eating, as they clash with the soft dough and make it soggy. The funnel cake itself was perfectly fried though, and if I ever go back for a third, I will get it plain. 
Vendor: Texas Funnel Cakes.
Price: $19 with ice cream.
Verdict: Why do I do this to myself? 
I’m fortunate I was able to fit this one in before the start of Rosh Hashanah, because that would have been wrong in more ways than one. But kosher rules aside, wrapping an entire turkey leg in bacon is an interesting technique that harkens back to YouTube absurdities like “Epic Meal Time.” I thought we were over this trend five years ago but I guess the State Fair is a time warp. For being pulled straight off the fiery grill, the bacon was a little softer than I expected. And the turkey leg was a little overcooked. But otherwise not bad. 
Vendor: Bacon-A-Fair.
Price: $30.
Verdict: The State Fair says to the Ren Fair: “Hold my beer.” 
The State Fair is filled with all manner of smoky rotating meats, from massive barbecue pork butts to this glimmering mound of Mexican al pastor. Placed on its side and spinning around a pit of hot coals, the trompo still had a lot of cooking to do before it was done. So instead of being skimmed off the spit, my chile glazed pork was instead taken from a container. The pork was still pretty good, not super juicy, but the flavors were there. The resulting burrito was very well constructed with delineated layers of beans and melted white cheese. Salsa was a little off, but passable. Overall this was a decent burrito that I’d enjoy eating anywhere, not just at the fair.  
Vendor: Flaco’s Tacos.
Price: $18.
Verdict: Don’t pass-tor this one up.  
It’s lobster roll mania in Arizona these days, with everything from trendy gastropubs to local fast food chains offering their take on the Maine specialty. Piggly’s Seafood serves it along with other marine delights like lobster nachos and oysters on a stick. Being the desert rat that I am, I can’t say I’m a lobster roll purist. But the one I got this weekend was surprisingly delicious, with a perfect buttered hot dog bun that hit the flattop for a quick crisp-up. The lobster was chunked small rather than being in big fat pieces, but the texture was nice and crispy and the chipotle sauce gave it a spicy-creamy flavor. I got some lobster fries too, and while they were a bit limp, I still enjoyed the seafood mixture on top. Not bad, Piggly’s. Not bad.   
Vendor: Piggly’s Seafood.
Price: $29 each.
Verdict: It’s my Maine squeeze. 
When: Sept. 23-Oct. 30 (Thursday through Sunday).
Where: 1826 W. McDowell Road, Phoenix.
Admission: $15 for ages 8 and above, free for kids 7 and younger.
Details: 602-252-6771, azstatefair.com.
Reach reporter Andi Berlin at amberlin@azcentral.com. Follow her on Facebook @andiberlin,  Instagram @andiberlin or Twitter @andiberlin.
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