One of the most painful tolls taken by the coronavirus in Dallas has been the cancellation of the 2020 State Fair of Texas — but local restaurants are doing their best to take the sting out.
They're doing this via menus that summon the annual Big Tex Choice Awards, aka "fried food" awards, which have become a fun if slightly fading annual tradition in which State Fair vendors submit dishes of sometimes dubious value to compete for titles.
None of that will happen in 2020, but here are some places you can get your State Fair-style corny dogs, funnel cakes, and more.
The Dallas diner-ish restaurant chain has released a new State Fair-themed menu that it hopes will give customers a taste of the Midway.
"Texans may not be able to ride the Ferris wheel or hear Big Tex say 'Howdy Folks' this year, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy a taste of their favorite Fair Park treats," says Norma’s Cafe owner Ed Murph in a release.
The menu launched on August 1 and features fried favorites such as:
- mini corn dogs
- funnel cake fries
- chili cheese tots
- funnel cakes
- chicken fried steak
- deep-fried Oreo churros
- bacon mac and cheeseburgers
- sausage on a stick
- Belgium waffles
Abel Gonzales, AKA the State Fair fried food king, has won numerous awards in the annual Big Tex competition, and is set to fulfill your Fair food fix. Gonzales is a longtime State Fair vendor and repeat winner who rose to fame in 2010 with his fried butter, which won the prize for most creative.
In 2019, he opened Cocina Italiano, a casual lunch spot and catering kitchen serving Italian food at 7101 Harry Hines Blvd.
The items are currently available for catering, but Gonzales will start doing Saturday "fair" food items to go along with their weekly Saturday pickup/delivery packs they introduced after COVID-19. The Saturday packs can be anything from fajita to lasagna to smoked brisket. As Fair time nears, they'll rotate in weekly fried treats.
- Fried PBJ & B: Peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwich battered and fried, quartered, and topped with jelly
- Fried Cookie Dough: Original recipe of cookie dough deep-fried and topped with chocolate syrup
- Fried Jambalaya: Jambalaya with sausage, chicken, and shrimp, deep fried and topped with spicy sauce, served with onion rings
- Fried Butter: Topped with honey, cinnamon, and sugar
- Fried Lobster: Lobster tail, breaded and deep fried, served with Champagne gravy, French fries, and Texas caviar
- Fried Coke
- Fried Pizza
Call 214-868-8125 to order.
Fletcher's Original Corny Dogs
If any one foodstuff embodies the State Fair of Texas, it is this cornmeal-crusted hot dog on a stick. Getting your Fletcher's is at the top of pretty much every fairgoer's list.
Not to worry, the Fletcher family has come to the rescue with a series of pop-ups at restaurants across Dallas-Fort Worth, and the ones they've already hosted have drawn lines. Here's the lineup for the next few weeks, thoughtfully spread across the DFW area:
- August 7, 4-8 pm - Lakewood Growler
- August 8, 12-7 pm - Honey's Shaved Ice, Rockwall
- August 11, 3-7 pm - Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Dallas
- August 15, 12-7 pm - Atwoods Ranch, Waxahachie
- August 29, 4-8 pm - HTeaO, Plano
- September 1, 3-8 pm - Tupps Brewery, McKinney
- September 3, 3-7 pm - The Squire Shop, Fort Worth
Maple Leaf Diner
North Dallas restaurant known for Canadian specialties such as poutine is doing its own ode to Big Tex: Maple Leaf is serving Fried Oreos and a new Chicken Fried Bacon Burger. The dishes are available Friday-Sunday from 3 pm to close, and for a limited time only: through the end of Fair season, IE late October.
Big Al's Smokehouse BBQ
Family-owned and operated BBQ restaurant and caterer is doing smoked turkey legs for $9. Order online or call 214-350-2649; available for curbside pick-up or delivery within 3 miles of the restaurant.
Turkey Leg Paradise
The turkey legs at this small restaurant in the South Side district became a viral sensation ater a video posted on Twitter showed a customer shaking one of owner Corey Bradley Jr.'s turkey legs until the meat fell off the bone.He does eight flavors, sarting at $13, plus four that are "smothered."
The specialty at this chain from Korea is a corny dog, but with a twist on the good old American Fletcher's Original Corny Dogs. Rather than corn meal, Korean-style hot dogs are coated in a batter made of regular flour, rice flour, or a combination of both, with a final coat of panko crumbs before they get deep-fried. In addition to the classic Seoul dog, there's a hot dog with cheese, an all-cheese version no hot dog, and the wild-looking Potato Dog, coated in diced fried potatoes and stuffed with choice of hot dog or cheese.