Croissants wilted. Chips staled. Ice cream melted. Cotton candy rained.

A disastrously hot forecast never quite materialized for Day 1 of the fair, but the severe humidity was enough to make a challenging day of eating a little more swampy, and to make food a little more texturally fraught. Still, the Taste Team worked its way through a record 100-plus bites of new foods — including the 34 official fair-sanctioned entries, the entire menus of seven new vendors, all the bonus dishes from existing vendors that quietly slipped into the lineup, and more pickles than we thought we'd ever eat.

Needless to say, we were stuffed. Here's our collective take on what we'd come back for, what was solid, what divided us, and which seconds we'd politely decline.

Star system:
4: We would go back for that.
3: Solid choice.
2: It's fine ... for some.
1: No thanks.

Farmer's Berry Crumble

4 star review

Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop • Dan Patch Av. between Cooper and Cosgrove Sts. • $7

Patisserie 46, shockingly, has never been at the State Fair. Thank goodness that changed this year, especially with a debut as strong as this one: Madeleine batter, oat streusel, mixed berries — it's the kind of cake a Minnesotan should always have on the counter, just in case someone stops by. With a Farmers Union coffee? Nailed it.

Blueberry Mint and Strawberry Jalapeño Jam'nades

4 star review

Jammy Sammies by Brim • North End • $7

We started out resentful for having to hike up to the farthest northern reaches of the fairgrounds — until we tasted these smile-inducing coolers of lemonade mixed with thoughtfully prepared jams. Use the boba-sized straw to stir it all around, or just sip up gobs of that (housemade) good stuff.

Everything Cream Cheese Ba-Sant

4 star review

French Meadow • Carnes Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts. • $7

This filled pinwheel of a pastry tastes like a bagel but feels like a croissant. Somehow, French Meadow stumbled onto a completely logical mashup that we can't believe never crossed our lips before. "I want one every morning," said one of our tasters. This should be on the cafe's permanent menu.

Dill-iscious Grilled Cheese Bites

4 star review

O'Gara's at the Fair • Dan Patch Av. and Cosgrove St. • $10

With a cold beer, these would be a dream. Super dilly, deep-fried grilled cheese bites — "like cheese curds with bread!" said one of our tasters — were melt-in-your-mouth bar food done right.

Al Taco Baba

4 star review

Baba's • Underwood St. between Lee and Randall Avs. • $13

Juicy beef barbacoa tops Babas' ultra-creamy hummus in the newest of their reliably harmonious hummus bowls. With spicy shatta sauce and bright kernels of corn, everything was fine-tuned. We hope we'll see this join the menu at their new Minneapolis cafe.

Lemonade Sorbet

4 star review

Quench'd • Dan Patch Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts. • $5

Quench'd, where have you been all our fairs? We never gave this lemonade stand a second glance, until now, thanks to this dainty palate cleanser of sweet-tart sorbet, mounded into a lemon half. On a long day of greasy indulgence, this is a half-time must. We learned the hard way: everyone should get their own. (Feel free to chastise the co-worker who only brings back one.)

Not Your Madre's Biscuit & Gravy

4 star review

LuLu's Public House • West End Market • $9, $12 with eggs

An excellent Betty & Earl's butter biscuit studded with bacon and cheese is topped with sausage gravy that goes for depth with nice, peppery jalapeño bits cooked in. With scrambled eggs added, the complete dish is as comforting as a chenille blanket — and on a swampy morning, that's saying something.

Cheesecake Curds

4 star review

LuLu's Public House • West End Market • $9

Little nuggets of cheesecake are battered and fried like a cheese curd that becomes more than a sum of its parts, especially when dipped in the accompanying berry sauce. It's exactly what you want from the State Fair: everyday foods, deep-fried and scrumptious.

Rosemary Lemonade

4 star review

Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop • Dan Patch Av. between Cooper and Cosgrove Sts. • $6-$7.50

It's the year of the lemonade, with inventive takes at seemingly every other food-and-drink stand. This one was our favorite, a lovely, garden-fresh celebration of rosemary, lemon and summer.

Afro Deli

4 star review

Afro Deli • Food Building • $6-$8

For a fair first-timer, Afro Deli came out swinging with an unimpeachable lineup of fair-friendly dishes. Their always excellent sambusas (in veg, beef or stellar chicken curry) were everything we love about the pillowy pastry pockets. Sweet plantains were a sunny snack. Mango juice refreshed us. And their iconic, silky Somali tea (we chose iced) brought spice to the party.

Apple of Granny's Eye Ice Cream

4 star review

Granny's Apples & Lemonade, Food Building, west wall. • $8

The best of an apple crisp, all in ice cream form, plus the little container is just about the cutest of all time. A to Z Creamery's ice cream has been a beloved small producer, and being able to get access to the creamy goods on this scale makes it feel like we're getting in on a really good secret.

Momo Dosa

4 star review

Midtown Global Market, International Bazaar, east wall • $8-$13

Schedule time to check out this new vendor while they're at the Midtown Global Market stand through Aug. 29. Cardamom and mango mingle into a refreshing enticement in the lassi. The momos envelop a chicken mix, and the signature masala dosa is crispy on the outside and lush with warm-spiced split chickpeas and potato on the inside. Plus, the gluten-free veggie pakora are the best kind of crispy finger food for eating while wandering around the stalls inside the bazaar.

5 Spiced Thai Tea

4 star review

Union Hmong Kitchen, International Bazaar, south wall • $8

A runaway winner that takes the familiar tea flavor and mingles it with creamy coconut milk, which attains the lush texture of the classic drink, but makes it dairy-free. Worth the trip over there just for this drink. A bonus: UHK has changed up its ordering system to make the lines move faster than last year.

Mango Tango Tajin

4 star review

Caribbean Smoothees • Liggett St. between Carnes and Judson Avs. • $9

One of the best things we sipped on a day overflowing with tasty beverages. This smooth and gorgeous smoothie of mango, pineapple and strawberry gets a soft little kick of spice from a chamoy sauce drizzle; the saltiness of the Tajin amps up the fruity flavors. There was a brief moment of straw jousting to see who would get the last slurp.

Bee Sting Sundae

4 star review

Bridgeman's • Northeast corner of Judson Av. and Liggett St. • $9.50

As our team was clamoring for another bite, we heard a neighbor marvel, "That's the spiciest ice cream I've ever had." We tucked that nugget into our "things Minnesotans say" collection. While there are some spicy peanuts, we loved the sneaky heat mixed with the honey and creamy tastes-like-home Bridgeman's ice cream. Another winner from this beloved stand.

Cinnamon Affogato

4 star review

Hamline Church Dining Hall • Dan Patch Av. between Underwood and Cooper Sts. • $7.50

Let the orange-scented biscotti settle in for a bit and soak up the nicely spiced cinnamon ice cream as it melts from the hot coffee poured over the top, and you've got a perfect bite. Then drink the beautiful puddle that remains — a lovely eye-opener.

Holey Ham Loaf Breakfast Sandwich

3.5 star review

Hamline Church Dining Hall • Dan Patch Av. between Underwood and Cooper Sts. • $11

The signs have been telling us to "try our ham loaf" for years, and Hamline Church Dining Hall finally figured out a way to get us to comply: put Al's Breakfast in the kitchen. Those folks know their way around a griddle, and this toad-in-the-hole with onion-forward ham loaf inside was a completely satisfying diner-style day-starter.

Irish Butter Ice Cream Over Brown Sugar Cinnamon Toast

3.5 star review

Blue Moon Dine-In Theater • Carnes Av. and Chambers St. • $9

This would be a fabulous breakfast. The toast points slathered in cinnamon butter was a winner, though it was so buttery, we couldn't actually taste the butter flavor of the ice cream, made by MN Dairy Lab. As a sweet cream scoop, however, it was solid (though the salt and icing on top were distracting).

Triple OG Beef Rib

3.5 star review

Food Building, east wall. • $20

This almost tastes too fancy for fair food. Two beef ribs are seared crusty and served with a whole bottle of sauce (choose from three). The barbecue is peppery with just the right amount of molasses-sweetness for dipping, bite after bite.

BLT Fried Green Tomato Sandwich/Vegetarian Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

3.5 star review

Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop • Dan Patch Av. between Cooper and Cosgrove Sts. • $15

We were divided over our favorite way to enjoy the thick-cut slices of local, in-season tomatoes that have been breaded and expertly fried. Bacon is usually a good bet, but some of us preferred the vegetarian version, which tops things in a bright and punchy corn relish that adds some needed acid to the sandwich. Either way, it's another celebration of peak summer.


3.5 star review

Union Hmong Kitchen • International Bazaar • $12

It's a cozy bean bag of a dish, one worth diving into with soft, white bread exterior, crumbly meat and a hard-cooked egg. It's a mix of gentle flavors until it's hit with one of UHK's powerfully flavorful sauces. A hunk dipped in vibrant green sauce renders a major kick of spice and cilantro flavor that enlivens the whole package.

Fresh Squeezed Boba Lemonade

3.5 star review

Donut Family • Mighty Midway • $9

Do we need another lemonade? Sources say: Emphatically yes. This is so refreshing, and those bobas burst in the mouth giving every sipper a dose of little-kid, wide-eyed delight. This is the fun we love to have at the fair.

Maui-Sota Sticky Ribs

3.5 star review

RC's BBQ • North. Side of Dan Patch Av., Liggett & Chambers Sts. • $13

RC's is back after a rough showing in the new foods category last year. These smoky, sweet ribs have a flavor reminiscent of char siu, with just a bit of warming space. Properly solid State Fair 'cue showing.

Peachey's Baking Co.

3 star review

Peachey's Baking Co. • Randall Av. at Cosgrove St. • $5-$10

A standout debut for this Amish-style doughnut stand. The simple raised doughnut, hand-dipped warm in glaze, was a unanimous hit. And while the Peanut Butter Creme Doughnut was a lot, it was a combination of all good things. (Though if you're listening, Peachey's, we'd have loved it even more with some sliced banana.)

Bacon-Wrapped Waffle Dog

3 star review

Nordic Waffles • West End Market • $12

This pork-a-palooza doesn't need bacon — just the sausage in Nordic's crisp waffles would have done the trick. Still, it was a tasty, meaty way to start our day.

"Kind of Big Dill" Pickle Lemonade

3 star review

Nordic Waffles • West End Market • $6

Our first surprise of the day was how much we all liked this lemonade, which was brewed with pickling spices. It's just a classic, cooling drink with a hint of something more. "Like Country Time with a pickle in it," said one of our tasters. "If I had a hangover, it would cure it immediately," said another.

Nqaij with Rice Noodles

3 star review

Union Hmong Kitchen • International Bazaar • $15

A tangle of cold rice noodles is mixed with Union Hmong Kitchen's flavorful sausage and a welcome handful of fresh vegetables. It would be even better with a little more sauce, but the quibbles might come from the UHK raising the bar so high with all of the other dishes on the menu.

Fresh-Squeezed Pineapple Lemonade

3 star review

R&R Ice Cream • Randall Av. and Underwood St. • $9

After a few too many artificial-tasting ades, we were pleased to sip on this huge, refreshing brew of fresh pineapple and lemon juices.

Mini Donut Paleta/Dill Pickle Lemonade Paleta

3 star review

Hamline Church Dining Hall • Dan Patch Av. between Underwood and Cooper Sts. • $6

Two new entries from ice cream vendor La Michoacana Rose both scored high marks for different reasons. The mini doughnut treat was super-creamy. The strange-but-good pickle pop was refreshing and surprising, like sweet relish turned into a summery treat. Have the first one for breakfast, the second one for lunch.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream

3 star review

Blue Moon Dine-In Theater • Carnes Av. and Chambers St. • $8

It's not a new food per se, but has a new maker: MN Dairy Lab. We enjoyed the forwardness of the corn flavor and the ultra-creamy texture for a straightforward, good scoop of ice cream.

Minnesota Sweet Corn Danish

3 star review

Minnesota Farmers Union Coffee Shop • Dan Patch Av. between Cooper and Cosgrove Sts. • $7

It was a rough day for croissant dough, their flakes wilting with every passing moment in the high humidity. That said, the filling in the center of this pastry from Patisserie 46 — a mix of sweet corn, béchamel cream, and cherry tomatoes — was delicious.

Dill Pickle Donut

3 star review

Fluffy's Hand Cut Donuts • Between Liggett and Chambers Sts. and Dan Patch and Carnes Avs. • $8

As soon as we wrapped our heads around this being a fully savory doughnut, with a cream cheese-like "icing" dusted in dill weed, we got on board. Most of us, anyway.

Porkette Breakfast Sandwich

3 star review

Peters Hot Dogs • Food Building; Kidway • $7

There's just something about a hot dog at 9 a.m. In this case, a pork hot dog turned into a breakfast sandwich with the addition of fluffy scrambled eggs, shredded cheese and bacon bits. Drizzle it with maple and it works, on a McD's sausage McGriddle level (that's a good thing).

Toasted Chicken Shawarma Wrap

3 star review

Holy Land • International Bazaar • $15

The flavors were all there, and an almost deep-fried crunch on the shell of this wrap made for an enticing new way of experiencing shawarma. But for $15, we expected more on the plate — and learned after the fact that Lebanese garlic dip was indeed missing. Chalk it up to first-day kinks.

Basil Hummus

2.5 star review

Holy Land • International Bazaar • $10

Some of us could not get over the humidity-wrecked chips, which seemed stale even if they weren't. But the smooth hummus with a nice vegetal hit of basil — and legitimately spicy hot sauce on top — won the rest of us over.

Miami Mango Pickles

2.5 star review

Soul Bowl, Food Building, east wall. • $5

This one reaches back into the summer memory banks for the nostalgia of Kool-Aid pickles, but for grown-up tastes. These are a little bit mango flavored and a little bit pickle-y, and bring the cool crunch on a hot summer day. Pro tip: If one has greasy fingers and is struggling to rip open the bag, don't fret — it easily pulls apart.

Cloud Coolers

2.5 star review

Spinning Wylde • Family Fair at Baldwin Park • $12

If it's humid (or raining) out, maybe come back for these another day. Clouds of spun sugar began raining down on our hands the moment we got them, thanks to extra-heavy air that ultimately dissolved the entire treat in minutes. Based on past tastings, we're sure they would have been delicious — the juices the cotton candy came with (huckleberry, flower power and summer strawberry) certainly were.

Lord of the Bings

2.5 star review

The Herbivorous Butcher, Food Building, south wall. • $8-$14

It's a tasty mix (at left) of veggie fritter inside a crispy wrapper — a lively mix of shredded carrots, onions and Beyond Meat. This is HB's twist on bing, Chinese-stuffed bread. It's a solidly good munchie eat that's also easy to carry while you're walking around judging the food other people got.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Waffle Stick

2.5 star review

Waffle Chix • Judson Av. between Liggett and Clough Sts. • $10

It's just the right level of ridiculous: skewered chicken pieces deeply ensconced in thick and puffy waffle batter, cooked and served with a prodigious amount of bacon crumbles and ranch dressing. We dare you to take a taste and not giggle. It's hardly reinventing the wheel, but darn if this isn't a big bite of (mostly) fun that is going to fill a person up for a while.

Cowboy Texas Toast

2.5 star review

Blue Barn • West End Market • $14

The toast is just a salt and butter bomb — or is it margarine? We couldn't tell. All we know is the bread was drenched in it enough to obscure the flavors in the eggs and gravy. Still, if we hadn't tasted it right after the stellar biscuit-and-gravy offering from LuLu's, we might have gone back for a second bite.

Sweet Corn Ba-Sant

2.5 star review

French Meadow • Carnes Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts. • $7

Not enough filling, and not enough contrast between the sweetness of the corn and the laminated dough, led this to pale in comparison to its savory sibling, the Everything Cream Cheese Ba-Sant.

Grilled Steak Taco with Pumpkin Seed Butter

2.5 star review

Tejas Express • The Garden • $10

Real slices of steak were cooked just right and topped with a fresh and crunchy cabbage-corn salad. It's a reliable meal, and healthier than you'd expect in the land of deep-fried plenty.

Pickle Fries

2.5 star review

Mike's Hamburgers • Carnes Av. and Nelson St. • $8

These fried pickle spears — called "frickles" — have been cut down to the size of regular French fries, which we liked. The mustard in the batter gave them some actual heat, too. If we hadn't been eating pickles all day, and had a giant cold beer to go with it, we would have gone back for a second bite.

Sota-cuterie Board

2.5 star review

Sabino's Pizza Pies • Warner Coliseum • $14

This gets the prize for most adorable presentation at the fair, with a giant cracker standing in for the board. The selection of summer sausages, meat stick and cheeses are nice, but nothing revolutionary. It's a lovely hostess gift of a dish in an unexpected setting.

Chilaquiles with Chimichurri Chicken

2 star review

Tejas Express • The Garden • $10

The always solid Tejas Express delivered a pleasantly heat-forward dish. The only problem? The chicken was lackluster in both flavor and texture.

Walleye Fritter Pops

2 star review

Giggles' Campfire Grill • Cooper St. and Lee Av. • $9.50

Listen — these are not Giggles' famed walleye cakes, even if you want them to be. We were truly divided on these fish stick balls, which were smaller and harder than the far superior cakes, and a couple of us thought they tasted too fishy. Others were perfectly happy.

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookie Dough on-a-Stick

2 star review

Kora's Cookie Dough • Dan Patch Av. between Cooper and Cosgrove Sts. • $8

If you want to eat something that tastes exactly like raw cookie dough at the fair, then this is it.

Loaded Pickle Cheese Fry

2 star review

Attavio's Fries • Cooper St. and Dan Patch Av. • $10

This is not food made for walking. But the messy paper basket loaded with fries, ranch, cheese curds and dill pickle slices is pretty fun fair fare — even if a couple bites were more than enough.

Plant-based Soulsicle/Southern and Mambo flavors

2 star review

Soul Bowl, Food Building, east wall. • $10

We remember fondly these fried chicken on a stick dishes from last year, with the sweet yam coating or Mambo with the spicy zest. These were about the same, but now with a vegan/mock chicken interior. The chick'n was a little tougher and drier than the ones from our memories.

A Rockin' Sausage Roll

2 star review

Sausage Sister & Me • Food Building • $11

We never found out exactly what seasonings were used for this pastry-wrapped sausage, nor what made it rockin'. But the mildly curry-flavored meat-in-a-pocket was tasty nonetheless.

Italian Duo Dunkers

2 star review

Sara's Tipsy Pies, Food Building, northwest wall • $13

If ever you've stood in front of a microwave late at night, bleary-eyed and in a post-fun daze, this format and flavors won't be unfamiliar. One pie is stuffed with pepperoni pizza and the other with veggie alfredo. The whole mix is dusted with dried Italian herbs and cheese.

State Fair Bowl

2 star review

Nautical Bowls • Food Building • $12

Not everyone agreed about the refreshment level of this sweet-leaning breakfast bowl, but some of us found the icy blue smoothie you eat with a spoon to be a useful palate cleanser, especially thanks to the fresh banana slices, peanut butter and coconut on top.

Oat milk soft-serve twist

2 star review

The Dairy Bar • Food Building • $6-$7

If someone in the house is dairy free, there's probably a pint of oat milk ice cream in the freezer. And that's exactly what we have here, but in soft serve form.

Crunchy Balboa

2 star review

Herbivorous Butcher • Food Building • $15; $22 when ordered with Lord of the Bings

Go in for a round with this vegan Philly wrapped up in a crunchy, fried tortilla shell (right). Some on our crew were sensitive about the pervasive smoke flavor from the vegan beef and bacon, while others thought it good for a heavyweight eating kind of day.

Salted Hot Honey Sundae

2 star review

Minnesota Honey Producers Association, Ag-Hort Building, north side • $10

The classic honey ice cream is so good, and we do give credit for the sprinkling of salt for those who like the salty/sweet combo, but we missed the beauty and nuance of the honey under the dominant spiciness.

Cheers for Cherries Malt

2 star review

Dairy Goodness • Dairy Building. • $9

Those gobs of cherries mingling in the malty ice cream was a jubilee for those who love a sweet treat — or a Tootsie Roll pop. But it's also a familiar enough combination of flavors that it wouldn't draw us back for another bite.

MinneCookieDough Pie

2 star review

Minneapple Pie • South side of Judson Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts. • $10

This dish split our crew into the camps of those who eat dessert first, and those who lean a little salty. The sweet-toothers were giddy with the crispy shell and cookie dough interior in a "too much is never enough" sort of realm. For others, it was indeed too much.

Luigi's Italian Motzza Frittas

2 star review

Luigi Fries • Carnes Av. between Chambers and Nelson Sts. • $11

If you're acquainted with the oozy wonders of a properly battered and fried mozzarella stick, you'll recognize this half-moon-shaped take on the classic bar food. Served straight out of the fryer, you could wait in line at the Giant Slide, ride it down, and these would still be giving you the epic cheese pull to end all cheese pulls.

Dill Pickle Cheese Curd Taco

2 star review

Richie's Cheese Curd Tacos • Judson Av. between Liggett and Clough Sts. • $13

The fryer is doing some work on this dish. A big bite digs deep into layer upon layer and then another layer of fried foodstuffs. The dill and ranch come in with some herb and tart flavors to break up the greasy goods — what more could anyone ask for in a fair food? It was too hefty for some, but par for the crispy course for others.

Boston Cream Mini-Donuts

2 star review

Donut Family • Mighty Midway • $12

This is the sort of dish that's going to have onlookers craning their necks to get a good look — it's a showstopper tumble of doughnuts. We just have to caution that this is very sweet, and it really is a lot in general with all the cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream. It's extra.

Nikkolette's Macarons

2 star review

Nikkolette's Macarons • West End • $10 for 4 cookies

Even in the heat and humidity, the delicate little cookies from this new vendor maintained their airy crunch with a nice selection of flavors.

Barbie Bubblegum Milkshake

2 star review

West End Creamery • West End • $11

If you're a Barbie girl living in a State Fair world, this bubblegum confection is a fun, sweet treat topped with glitter and a gold-flecked pink gumball. But the bubblegum flavor isn't going to be for everyone. (The Just Ken Milkshake wasn't available at tasting time; guess it wasn't Kenough.)

Lutefisk Steam Bun

1.5 star review

Shanghai Henri's, International Bazaar, north wall • $14.50

This one's in the mouth of the beholder. Are you the sort who doesn't mind a dish that brings a back note of fishiness to the table? Do you like hoisin sauce? This might be a fun party trick to dazzle your out-of-town friends. But if you're someone who is not a fan of fish aftertaste, or of squishy buns with the absence of flavor, maybe watch someone else eat it and hold the camera for the reaction shot. One thing is for certain: it's not your church basement lutefisk.

Loaded Lobster Fries

1.5 star review

Cafe Caribe • South side of Carnes Av. between Chambers and Clough Sts. • $15

Pulling out the lobster at the fair of a landlocked state takes guts, and we appreciate the gumption of this vendor — and its proximity to cold beer. An icy cup along with a good spritz of lemon and these skinny fries aren't bad. But for those looking for a great bite of lobster, these little buttery nuggets are not the ones.

Birthday Cake Mini Donuts

1.5 star review

Mini Donuts & Cheese Curds • Underwood St. between Murphy and Lee Avs. • $10

What could have been a fun Funfetti-style doughnut, all warm and rainbow-dotted, got ruined by excess frosting and sprinkles that made our teeth hurt. If you get this, go for the ones at the bottom of the bucket that have been untouched by the extra shower of sugar.

Dole Soft Serve/Dole Floats

1.5 star review

Tasti Whip • Dan Patch Av. and Underwood St. • $8-$10

Four flavors of soft serve come in cups or in a float of pineapple juice. While the strawberry was refreshing, we wish the lemon, mango and pineapple had tasted more like real fruit.

Como Cup

1.5 star review

Grandstand Frozen Custard • East of Chambers St., south of the grandstand. • $6

Coffee poured over your choice of frozen custard is a rich and creamy treat, but the custard swallows up the coffee flavor and overtakes it into full-on ice cream soup territory. For some, that's their favorite way to eat it.

Banana Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk

1.5 star review

Minnesota Honey Producers Association, Ag-Hort Building, north side • $5-$11 (based on number of scoops)

It's a bold idea that unfortunately didn't quite deliver. The buckwheat is about as subtle as the "b" in the word subtle. It's hard to make an argument for ordering something other than the classic and beloved regular honey ice cream.

Cherry Limeade

1 star review

3B Fresh Squeeze Lemonade & Food Long Corn Dogs • Liggett St. between Carnes and Judson Avs. • $9

This takes like drinking the bottom of a melted cherry snow cone. Not terrible in theory, but also not our favorite way to enjoy cherry or lime flavors.

Hot Honey Cheese Sticks

1 star review

Blue Barn • West End Market • $11

Squeaky halloumi, with the texture of calamari, dies on the vine so fast after coming out of the kitchen. If the dish was hotter, it might have worked; instead it was a paper basket of salty sticks.

Cheese Curd Stuffed Pizza Pretzel

1 star review

Green Mill • Cooper St. between Randall and Wright Avs. • $9

You've got to hand it to Green Mill for continuing to try and come up with new variations on bread, cheese, sauce and pepperoni. This year they're all wrapped up in a pretzel sort of thing. Order if any of those ingredients sound unfamiliar.

Fruity Cereal Milk Biscuit

1 star review

LuLu's Public House • West End Market • $8

At least one of us is a serious Fruity Pebbles fan, but even she could not get behind the treacly drizzle on this otherwise nice Betty & Earl's biscuit. The glaze tasted like perfume inspired by breakfast cereal, and even that sounds better than it actually was.

Banana Cream Pie Donut

1 star review

Fluffy's Hand Cut Donuts • Between Liggett and Chambers Sts. and Dan Patch and Carnes Avs. • $9

Such a good doughnut is destroyed by the flavor of phony banana. (Worth noting here that we are constantly dismayed, year after year, by imitation banana flavor showing up in various foods at the fair. Do better.)

PB&J Crepe and Peanut Butter Banana Crepe

1 star review

French Creperie • Carnes Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts. • $9 each

For such a popular morning stand, one of the first breakfast lines we encountered, we had high hopes for this charming creperie. Alas, the crepe itself was thick and chewy, and wasn't worth the precious stomach space it required.

Wow Fudge

1 star review

Wow Fudge • Creative Activities Annex, south wall • $7 per quarter pound

The humidity certainly didn't do any favors for this fudge, which took on the texture of a melted bar of soap pretty fast. Or maybe you just have to love fudge. Either way, three flavors (out of many) were created for the Minnesota State Fair, but didn't impress the Minnesotans in our group. (For what it's worth, the St. Paul Pickle fudge is more like minty dill, and left us deeply divided.)

Churros & Aguas Fresca

1 star review

Churros & Aguas Fresca • Lee Av. and Underwood St. • $6-$10

We love churros. We love aguas fresca. We really wanted to love this new food vendor, but the too-skinny, almost wiry churros (with dipping sauce, in a sundae and filled) were hard enough to knock some sense into somebody, almost as if they'd been made a little too far ahead of time.

Chicken in a Pita

1 star review

Butcher Boys • Liggett St. between Carnes and Judson Avs. • $15

The chickens are right there, and we feel like they might be judging this one, too. The wrap was dominated by cooked onions, and the dried-out pita was cooked within an inch of being burned. But we have to give credit for the creamy sauce being both creamy and saucy, and the banana peppers perking the party up a bit.

Donut Delights

1 star review

Coasters • Carnes Av. and Liggett St., southeast corner • $7.50

This is a conundrum: We like bacon. We like doughnuts. We like peanut butter and jelly. And yet this did not equal good things. Math isn't our strong suit, but somewhere in the doughy, undercooked center, we knew the answer was pass.

Island Lemonade

1 star review

Island Noodles • corner of Carnes Av. and Chambers St. • $9

We're voting this passion, orange and guava lemonade mix off the island for its overwhelmingly artificial taste. What it lacks in flavors we love, it makes up in volume.

Fried Butternut Squash Ravioli

1 star review

Oodles of Noodles • Food Building • $10

We like all the ingredients in this crispy dessert ravioli. We just didn't really need them together — and we especially didn't need them in the middle of a food marathon.

MinneVegetarian Egg Rolls

1 star review

Que Viet Concessions • Cooper St. and Dan Patch Av. • $10

A stand known for exceptional giant egg rolls goes miniature for these vegan and gluten-free versions, which are encased in a flaky wrapper that absorbed too much oil for our tastes.

Scottish Sausage with Tatties

1 star review

Sausage by Cynthia • Judson Av. between Nelson and Underwood Sts. • $11

The color of the mustard is an unfortunate hue, and that's not something we can blame on anyone. But the dish doesn't end there, and it was not for us. Not because they were instant tatties (mashed potatoes), and not because it was late in the day. It's because every new-fair-food day has to have that one dish that we all agree we never want to eat again. And, unfortunately, this was that dish.

The Taste team did not review the new foods inside the grandstand, because a separate ticket is required, or Arepa Bar, which starts at the fair Aug. 30.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Arepa Bar, which starts at the fair Aug. 30.