The 2020 Indiana State Fair was canceled leaving us daydreaming about arguably the best part of the fair—the food! To curb Hoosiers’ appetites, we compiled a list of road trip destinations across the state that will leave the whole family saying, “Are we ‘fair’ yet?”
1. Big Lug Canteen – Indianapolis, IN
The folks at Big Lug must have been equally disappointed about the cancelation of the fair because they quickly launched a special state fair menu that has us thinking they should have their own booth next year!
Their mouthwatering menu changes weekly, however, a few of our favorites have been the sugar cream pie topped with fried cookie dough, corn dog skewers, and a cheeseburger with hash browns as the bun! Is your mouth watering yet?
Even when/if their State Fair menu ends, you can always find delicious items like fried cheese curds and poutine on their regular menu. Find out what they’re serving up this week: https://www.sahmsalehouse.com/nora/
2. Coney Dog Cafe – New Haven, IN & Fort Wayne, IN
If you’re a hot dog aficionado, this down-home diner is a must-stop on your State Fair food tour! Coney Dog Cafe is slinging coney dogs, sliders, chili-cheese fries, onion rings, burgers and more at their two locations.
You can expect a different special every month and you can always count on good food with even better prices. Can you believe their famous coney dog is only $1.79?
If you’re from Indiana you’ve likely had a pork tenderloin sandwich a time or two, or a couple dozen, but we’re not judging. The tenderloin is considered Indiana’s most famous contribution to American cuisine.
No matter where you travel in Indiana, you can find these crispy sandwiches on the menu. We’re highlighting Hamilton County in particular because they have gone as far as creating a ‘Tenderloin Trail’ that includes a whopping 56 restaurants! (not recommended to complete in one day).
They have also put together this quick video to show all the ways to eat a tenderloin—a very “controversial” subject!
What do you smell as soon as you step foot into a fair, festival, or carnival? That’s right! Popcorn! Just Pop In! is an award-winning gourmet popcorn company taking popcorn flavors to the next level.
They are serving up some totally-Midwest combinations like Hot Wing and Ranch, Cheddar and Ranch, and Beer Cheese. Ope! Let’s not forget Indy Style—their most popular combination of Carmel Corn and Cheddar that will leave your sweet and salty taste buds dancing!
If you enjoy visiting Hook’s Drug Store Museum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds then push Zaharakos to the top of your road trip list. This 1900’s ice cream parlor totes a classic American menu, sundaes that are hand-dipped and cherry-topped, and a museum of old soda fountains and mechanical music instruments.
In addition to their sweet fixings, the country store sells old-fashioned candies and toys made in America. You’ll step right into the 19th century when you see the 110-year-old marble counter and hear the sound of the Welte Orchestra playing in the background.
6. TeeJay’ s Sweet Tooth – Indianapolis, IN
Established in 2018 by two dental hygienists, this ice cream shop is relatively new to the dessert scene. If you were planning to satisfy your sweet tooth at the State Fair, plan a visit to TeeJay’s instead! Their ice cream sandwich served with a warm, glazed donut looks to be right off the Midway.
7. Stay-At-Home Elephant Ears
Photo by Suzanne Krowiak
We have good news if you would rather indulge in fair food from home. Indianapolis Monthly is doing a State Fair recipe series with local chefs so you can try your hand at making fair favorites. You can find recipes like elephant ears by Newfangled Confections founder and owner, Carrie Abbott, or a lemon shake-up by Corey Ewing of Gallery Pastry Bar.