For as many years as I have lived in Dallas, I’ve never made it out to the Texas State Fair. I’ve been horrified by the advertised food options, which is the main reason I’ve never attended. This year I decided to try my luck, and clog my arteries, with the search for vegan food at Texas State Fair.
I was hopeful that there would be something that I would be able to eat when I heard, from our very own Steven Doyle, that there would be a number of veggie and even vegan chefs featured in the Celebrity Chef exhibition. Surely, if there was draw to see the likes of Chef Toria Villareal of VSPOT Café, Chef Miranda Martinez & Evita Torez of Vivaraw.com and Chef Jeanette Prafiska of Crosby Catering and Coffee then there was a good chance someone there would be making something for me.
Unfortunately, none of the food vendors were listed to sort as vegan on the food map portion of the website. This meant walking the entire fair, stopping at every booth, reading every menu and asking them all lots of questions. It’s funny how little description is given for the food there, even when it is named something like ‘Donkey Tail’ (I assumed it was not nearly veggie, but with a name like that I just had to ask them what it actually was). Luckily you can do that with your alcoholic beverage.
Our first successful stop resulted in Deep Fried Texas Salsa (without the queso and plus the mojo sauce). It seemed only right to start with one of the fried food competition finalists.
The salsa filling was a blend of jalapenos, roasted garlic, onion, tomato, and pepper. Somehow they roll it together and dip it in masa before coating it in crushed up tortilla chips. The nice lady was worried that it wouldn’t taste good without the queso.
We thought it would taste like deep fried salsa. We were right. The salsa mixed with the masa, so it wasn’t too runny once you got through the crunchy shell. I’m sure it would have been a bit dry, had we not used the mojo sauce (which added a nice spicy kick). It was quite good and not greasy at all (which is one of the things I hate about fried food). I give this a must try.
I really wanted to have a night full of small appetizer bites, but that seemed too much to ask for fair food vendors. The sauerkraut balls had sausage, the fried guacamole had cheese, and so the food descriptions went for most of the night. With that plan a wash, we moved onto dessert!
Fried Plantains were the next hand held dish of yummiest of the day. These were not deep fried or battered, but I’m going to say they count as fried food. These are so sweet and good that they qualify as dessert, but they are really good for any meal. I was stoked to find them at the Cuban food vendor and couldn’t resist. It is safe to order these straight up, with no alterations. You will most certainly enjoy if this banana is your bag. For my fair friend, this was a first time taste. He voted them as good, but not as tasty as the fried salsa (he’s Texan).
With appetizer and dessert out of the way beer was the next logical food group to tackle. Fortuitously, there was a giant Jerk Tofu sign on the booth right next to the Beers of the World. Ok, so not fried, but it was definitely good.
The large portion of tofu was generously coated in dry jerk seasoning before being heated and slathered with spicy jerk sauce. This was super tasty and super spicy. I guess they were located by the beers so that you could finish your meal. It took me two beers to make it through mine.
It was a warmth that didn’t hit you right away; it slowly built and the more you put in your mouth the more heat radiated out toward the unsuspecting public. Definitely worth the flames! Not only was the food good, but the two fun ladies working there were entertaining and we all danced to Bob Marley while waiting for our jerk.
At this point I had reached my food limit. It was the kind of stuffed that prohibited me from getting on my favorite ride, the Gravitron, for fear of inappropriately sharing my food with the stranger on the ride next to me. All in all my first visit to the Texas State Fair was a good experience. I’m sure there was vegan food that I missed. Next year I’ll make sure to spend the whole day to find it, and hopefully there will be even more available to try.