With caution against the pandemic and canceling this year’s state fair, the NC State Fair is making it up to North Carolinians by bringing 22 of NC’s favored fair food vendors from October 15-25. However, they are not the only ones bringing the fair food to the Triangle!
Here is a list of restaurants in the area where state fair fans can still get their fair food fix!
- Big C’s Waffles: This south Durham chicken and waffles stand serves up state-fair worthy waffles. Some are made with bacon and cheese, some with doughnut batter, but perhaps the most fair-eligible, rosy red velvet waffles, all served with fried chicken wings.
- Cloo’s Coney Island: This three-decade Raleigh favorite is keeping the fair alive from Oct. 19-23, serving up turkey legs, corn dogs, and deep-fried candy bars.
- Coronato: This Carrboro pizzeria specializes in cracker-thin Roman-style pizzas. To celebrate this would-be fair week, Coronato is frying up a doughnut special for the first time, coating some with cinnamon sugar and giving others a crown of icing and rainbow sprinkles.
- Ex-Voto: Situated in the Durham Food Hall, the team that brought you the fancy Crunchwrap Supreme has something special for the state fair. Starting this week, they’re rolling out Taki-lote, the Mexican street corn, coated in bright red Takis snacks.
- Il Palio: The worlds of fine dining and fair food collide at this Chapel Hill Italian restaurant. In honor of the fair, they’re frying up balls of arancini stuffed with pimento cheese and serving spicy Italian poutine, with fries, Amatriciana sauce, and mozzarella cheese curds.
- Kanki: This popular Triangle teppanyaki restaurant is getting into the fair food spirit, serving up fried sushi on a stick.
- ko.an: Since the beginning of the pandemic, this Cary restaurant has been pivoting and innovating. For state fair week, they’ve rolled out a Korean-inspired corn dog, with gochujang ketchup, honey mustard, and pickled onion.
- Kokyu: At the state fair, mac and cheese is just a blank melty canvas on which to create. This south Durham sandwich shop has Flamin’ Hot Mac & Cheetos on the menu, taking curly cavatappi pasta, cheddar cheese sauce, chili sauce, and topping it with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
- La Farm: This accomplished French bakery in Cary always delivers when the state fair rolls around. This year they’ll reprise their house-made s’mores, taking chocolate-dipped graham crackers, toasted marshmallow, and graham cracker crumbs.
- St. Roch Fine Oysters & Bar: Tucked amid raw and roasted oysters, gumbo and po’boys is a Sloppy Joe born for the state fair spotlight. Ladled onto a sesame seed bun is rich pork bolognese, pickled jalapenos, and french fries. Think of it as hand-held poutine.
- STIR: This North Hills restaurant, famous for having an ice chef, is serving up last year’s state fair favorite, turning a pineapple Dole Whip into a cocktail.
- Sup Dogs: There’s a lot of adventure on the menu of this UNC-Chapel Hill hot dog bar, but state fair fans should look for the funnel cake sticks, fried dough dusted with cinnamon sugar, with a side of syrup for dipping.
- Tonbo Ramen: This isn’t your dorm room ramen. This Raleigh noodle shop on Wilmington Street is taking on the fair with deep-fried ramen mac and cheese, served with Japanese karaage fried chicken.
- Two Roosters: Scooping up what has been called the best ice cream in North Carolina, Two Roosters rolls out new special flavors every month. In honor of the fair, look for Mexican Street Corn ice cream, with a base of buttered cream corn, cotija cheese, and chili spice; “Budder Beer,” a butterscotch ice cream inspired by a world of witchcraft and wizardry; and a decadent take on s’mores, with a cookie butter base, chocolate fudge and burned marshmallows.
- Whiskey Kitchen: This downtown Raleigh restaurant will check a lot of boxes for fair food fans. They’re serving up a brined and smoked turkey leg, glazed with that sweet North Carolina nectar: Cheerwine. For the sweet side, they’re dipping frozen strawberries in funnel cake batter and tossing them in the deep fryer, served with a coating of powdered sugar.
- Zweli’s: Best-known as possibly the only restaurant in the country specializing in Zimbabwean food, this Durham restaurant would likely draw a crowd at the state fair. On their regular menu, they have fried bites of pimento mac and cheese, as well as sweet or savory Magwinyas, bite-size doughnuts on a stick.
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