WORDS BY CHLOE GALLAGHER
Made from family recipes passed down through generations, KCM offers a diverse array of authentic Vietnamese food, from the indulgent to the fresh and healthy. If you’re looking for something refreshing, there’s a rice noodle salad. If you’re GF, you can’t go wrong with spring rolls. Maximum portability can be achieved through acquisition of cream cheese wontons or chicken dumplings. If you’re looking to free your hands for dance move versatility, the signature foot-long egg roll on a stick is mighty convenient! Their slogan? “Worth your cheat meal.”
Jerry’s Cherry Lemonade & Shaved Ice
Like a shimmering mirage materializing from the desert, Jerry’s is here to quench your thirst and offer salvation from the heat. When you do things well, you don’t have to do too many things. Lemonade and shaved ice may be the only two things this concession stand does, but they’ve been perfecting the craft since 1995, and that’s plenty of time to have reached the 10,000 hours Malcom Gladwell claims it takes to master something.
Colorful, flavorful, made with all-natural ingredients: French macaron cookies are not only gluten free, they’re baked by a former mathematician, so you know they are meticulously delicious. Pillowy almond meringue hugs chocolate ganache or buttercream in a variety of scrumptious flavors, from classics like pistachio and vanilla to the more exotic pink Champagne or raspberry rose.
“Food so good, it’ll put you in a Koma,” is an intimidating claim, but while this cart’s Asian fusion fare is certainly filling, it’s also designed with health in mind. On its ever-changing menu, fried options are full of seasonal vegetables, and low-carb choices abound, such as a deli-meat sandwich served on a sliced pickle instead of bread! If that sounds too saintly, there’s also a Sinner’s Menu that includes pizza pockets and mac-n-cheese bites. Save room for dessert tacos or nachos with single or double scoops of ice cream.
Fresh corn on the cob is delicious on its own, but add a topping or two and it’s out of this world. The concisely named Corn Hole aims to elevate the humble corn cob to a “memorable, grin-inducing experience.” With rotating favors for every age and palate—such as honey habanero, cinnamon and sugar, or ranch— you can take away a classic cob or make it street-food style in a bag of chips with elote seasonings. As Tariq the Corn Kid would say, “I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing. It’s corn!”
With just more than a year in business, G-Spot has already developed quite the fan base! Seems they were won over by the XL tacos in flavor profiles both traditional (carnitas and pork belly are usually on the menu) and novel (there’s an Italian taco with marinara sauce and balsamic glaze). Sides include dirty rice, Mexican street corn, and the requisite cheese curds. If you’re looking for something sweet, three words for you: chocolate covered bacon. Like the anatomical g-spot, it does, in fact, exist.
Hockey Mom’s Brownies
Legend has it that in 2005, team manager Patti made brownies so good they inspired the Bards. The songs spread far and wide, and after ten years of growing fervor, a food truck was born. Will there be brownies? The prophecy foretells it. Just one kind? Come on now, is that how legends are born? Vanilla, caramel, cookies n cream, peanut butter, mint, espresso? As sure as fate. Gluten free? Oh, yeah sure, you betcha.
The original Rusty Taco opened in Dallas, TX, in 2010. After tasting a life-changing fish taco on a trip to Acapulco, Mexico, founder Rusty Fenton dedicated himself to researching the perfect taco. Back in Texas, he went looking in all the right places: gas stations, strip malls, and holes-in-the-wall. The success of Rusty Taco seems to be predicated on a common design principle: keep it simple, stupid. Fresh ingredients, nothing fancy, don’t skimp on flavor. Menu includes fish, roasted pork, and fried chicken tacos, as well as their signature Rusty Taco with achiote pork and grilled pineapple relish.
Tom Thumb Donut Corp.
Not much needs to be said about a bag of freshly made, sugar-dipped donuts to make them sound enticing, but there’s a thing or two you may not know about this State Fair stalwart: When the Donut Corp was founded in 1949, General Tom Thumb, an American with Dwarfism who performed with PT Barnum, was an international celebrity, and his name was used as shorthand (ahem) for things of diminutive size. The branding broadcast to fairgoers that they offered portions smaller than the typical gargantuan faire at the Fair. Sweet, soft, and as the iconic packaging promises, “lighter than air.”
Eastern Europe may not be the first culinary region you think of when you hear the word dumpling, but if you’ve yet to test the mettle of the region’s stuffed-food prowess, it’s in your best interest to make a stop at Pierogi2Gogi. If you’ve tried scrumptious potato pierogies before and want to try something new, dabble in the kluski (Polish for dumpling) tradition and try a meat filled pyzy! For something less carb-heavy you can tuck into cabbage rolls, a Czech sausage, or a smoked turkey leg. They also offer several regional sweet treats like Kremowka Papal Cream Cake and Makowiec Poppy Seed Roll. Na Zdrowie!
Doc E’s BBQ
There’s a hotly contested debate in the food world over which region of the US makes the best BBQ. Fortunately, here in the Twin Cities we have Doc E’s. Though the flavors may travel from the dry rubs favored by Texas BBQ to the vinegar-based sauces of Carolina BBQ, there’s one step this truck never skips: low and slow. To achieve the type of BBQ so tender it melts off the bones you’ve got to invest 12 hours, minimum, and at Doc E’s you can taste that level of commitment. Whether you go in for Texas–style brisket or Carolina–style pulled pork, you’ll have your choice of classic sides including mac and cheese, cowboy beans, and red tater salad.
Anchor Fish & Chips
Emissary of the traditional Irish fish-and-chipper in the NE Arts District, this truck offers up more than just their namesake dish: There’s also meat pasties, battered sausage, and poutine. (Oh my!) Their list of sides nods to the UK’s obsession with Indian food—order a side of curry, or dial it up a notch and get curry chips! Mushy peas not piquing your interest? What if we told you peas contain phenylethylamine, the so-called “chemical of love?” That, plus butter.
The Purple People Feeder LLC
The truck offers food that’s not only fast and affordable, it’s also a labor of love: After 12 years working in the nonprofit sector, owner Devin Warren was ready for a change, and a chance to put his cooking skills to the test. With the support of his wife and the help of friends, he bought a cart in the food truck Mecca of the United States, Portland, Oregon, and drove it back to Minnesota to begin feeding the community his delicious festival fare. Burgers, pulled pork, and wings take starring roles, with support from fries and tangy coleslaw.
Taste the Real Nawlins
If you’re looking to sample the flavors of the Crescent City without changing area codes, you’re in good hands with culinary guides Robert and Kathy Jefferson, who created the recipes for the delicacies this truck has to offer. You don’t have to take the DISPATCH word for it—they’ve been in business since 2011 and they’ve racked up a number of awards and accolades, including a first place finish for Kat’s Gumbo at the 2018 Brew-n-Stew cook-off. Pond-raised catfish with their house blend of herbs and spices is a standout, along with the aforementioned gumbo and po’boys of the catfish or shrimp varieties. You can’t miss the truck: It’s the one with the beautiful second line mural so vivid you might just hear the horn section.
Brought to you by Jester Concepts, the minds behind upscale eateries like P.S. Steak, Char Bar, and Butcher and the Boar, this truck makes Parlour Bar’s popular burger mobile. If burgers were celebrities, this one, dreamed up by chef Mike DeChamp, would be the A-lister. The truck’s menu stays pretty slim, leaning on the star quality of the burger itself, a menu item ordered more than 100,000 times a year between the two Parlour brick-and-mortar locations in the Twin Cities. Will there be fries? Yes. They’re confident about the burger, but they’re not heathens. There’s also a salad for the vegetally inclined.
Not all cheesesteaks are created equal. Connoisseurs will tell you it’s hard to find the authentic article outside of Philadelphia, but fortunately here in the Twin Cities we have Philly Station. The meat is properly seasoned, the bread is toasted, and the toppings are much more than just an afterthought. Don’t worry, if you overindulge and induce meat sweats, you can cool down with a “water ice,” the colloquial Philly term for what’s more widely known as Italian ice. If granita and sorbet had a baby, you’d get something like water ice. They have a wide range of flavors from the expected to the exotic.
MN Nice Cream
For a dose of nostalgia and a break from the heat, stop here for a soft-serve cone. Founded in 2016 by Katie Romanski, the truck has been so popular they have since opened two brick and mortar locations, in Minneapolis and Stillwater. The range of flavors is kept simple —classics like chocolate and vanilla, with an occasional fruit flavor—but that’s mostly to let their monster list of toppings shine. Butterfinger crumbles and sprinkles might be old hats, but what about puppy chow or fruity pebbles? Or bacon? If you want to get really fancy, try the edible glitter. Don’t eat dairy? They make vegan soft serve from oatmilk!
Tamu Grill & Catering
Chef Jojo is a multi-hyphenate of the highest order: a culinary artist, an entrepreneur, and music lover who co-hosts the killer KFAI show, African Rhythms. At Tamu Grill you can treat your taste buds to Jojo’s Kenyan fusion cuisine, informed by his early life in Nairobi where he was exposed to the cuisines of West Africa, India, and the Middle East. Though herbs and spices are a driving force in the cuisine, they are used intentionally, with special attention paid to balancing the natural flavors of each ingredient. No nuts, eggs, or dairy are present in Tamu Grill’s dishes, and there’s an emphasis on keeping the grease factor low. If you’re looking for a healthy option that doesn’t shy away from big flavor, this is your jam.
A piece of Taste of Minnesota history! Kennedy Concessions was the OG purveyor of deep fried cheese curds during the festival’s early years. Fear not, they’re still whipping up plenty of tasty fried goodness, cheese curds included. Their menu read like a Fair Food 101 syllabus, with quintessential summer outdoor concert noshes from hand-dipped corn dogs to old-fashioned footlong hot dogs.Burgers and brats also make an appearance. They’ve been in business for decades and specialize in speedy service, so if you’re looking for a streamlined experience, leave it to these experts.