10.10.2018

Best New Foods at the 2018 N.C. State Fair: What Not to Miss

Unique foods. Fried foods. Gourmet dishes with a twist.  All of these culinary sweet and savory fall fair food can be found as soon as you walk through the gates of the N.C State Fair in Raleigh.  This year's vendors will serve up some of the best fair food I've ever tasted to over a million people during this year's fair season of October 12-October 21, 2018. (Hurricane Michael pushed the opening by one day this year.)

What are the best foods to eat at the N.C State Fair? There is a Best New Fair Food of 2018 Winner, of course. The Cool Runnings Jamaican Jerk pork wrap with mango salsa got the most media votes at the 2018 Media Preview. This yummy dish balanced with the heat of the jerk and the sweetness of the mango will certainly be a crowd favorite.

But honestly, there were several dishes that were so good that it was hard to name just one for the media vote. In fact, I didn't. They counted votes before I even got mine in the vendor box. I was too slow to make a final choice because I liked way too many N.C. State Fair Foods this year.

2018 New Fair Food You Must Not Miss at the NC State Fair

Jerk Pork Wrap with Mango Salsa by Cool Runnings Jamaican.


Jerk Pork Wrap with Mango Salsa by Cool Runnings Jamaican.

It's spicy, sweet and perhaps a little messy, too. The heat of the jerk chicken balances very well with the sweetness of the mango. So grab some napkins and enjoy.  This booth will be located near Dorton Arena.

Arepa Burger by Arepa Loca

Arepa Burger by Arepa Loca


I had to learn to pronounce it (ah-reh-pah), but once the name rolled off my tongue and the taste of the new Arepa burger lingered, this dish became a favorite of mine. And if I had not missed the Media "best fair food" vote due to my slowness, I think my card would have been in this vendor's jar. An arepa is a handcrafted gluten-free white cornmeal bread. This burger is served tomato and onion then topped with matchstick potatoes and traditional pink and cilantro guacamole. You will find these burgers near Kiddie Land. Parents may need the burger to keep their sanity.

Fried Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Salsa by Captain Neill's Seafood

Fried Shrimp Tacos with Pineapple Salsa by Captain Neill's Seafood


What's better than fresh North Carolina fried shrimp? Not much. But, put some cabbage slaw and the most delicious pineapple salsa then you've hit culinary fair cuisine. You will be able to find this booth near Dorton Arena.

SoJo Melt with Lamb by Neomonde Meditteranean

SoJo Melt with Lamb by Neomonde Meditteranean


This incredible dish reminded me of the look of a warm Philly cheesesteak. It's the Mediterranean take on a Philly hoagie classic. This dish is sauteed lamb with onions, soujouk spices, hummus, Lebanese pickles, melted provolone and mozzarella cheeses, Roma tomatoes plus spicy jalapeno/cilantro sauce on hoagie bread. You can find this food near Kiddie Land.

Crack and Cheese Waffle Cone by Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ

Crack and Cheese Waffle Cone by Hickory Tree Turkey BBQ


For those who like to keep on walking, this savory dish is for you. In one cone, you'll find macaroni and cheese, turkey bbq, deep friend turkey cracklings, creamy southern slaw, and special bbq sauce all in one waffle cone. It's a gourmet, southern delight with flavors that impress. You will find this food near the Education building.

Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits Eggroll by Woody's Tavern

Shrimp and Cheddar Cheese Grits Eggroll by Woody's Tavern


Deep fried food lovers will rejoice over this new state fair food. It's a southern take on a fried egg roll and it delivers big time in flavor. Everyone I talked to loved this dish. I did, too. In this eggroll, you fill N.C. farm-raised shrimp, N.C. ground cheese grits and tasso ham. It's then topped with a red pepper remoulade sauce. The inside of the eggroll is soft and not crunchy like a traditional eggroll so it surprises you at first bite. You can find this food near the Grandstand ticket area.


Candid Bacon S'more by LaFarm Bakery

Candid Bacon S'more by LaFarm Bakery


It's pretty and it tastes good, too. What more information do you need? This is sweet a dish that you may want to share with a few people. My favorite part was the homemade marshmallow filled with applewood smoked bacon ganache.  It's one of those dishes that you take a bite and say, "Oh, that's good!" Then you take another one and another one and it's half gone. With this dessert, it also depends on what side you start nibbling. The chocolate bacon ganache dipped side is definitely richer and I personally ate more of the non-dipped side. But overall, I loved the flavors. It will be much bigger than what I tasted so I think it's definitely one to share. You will find LaFarm Bakery near the North Carolina Pottery Exhibit. LaFarm is a Cary, North Carolina bakery that I've featured many times on this blog.

Durty Bull Brewing Co.


There are 22 new foods at the N.C State Fair this year plus a Public House with NC Wine and Beer. Durty Bull Brewing Company in Durham will be one of than thirty vendors on tap. I loved their samples and am a fan of its Oak-Aged Blonde Sour.  Tickets to the Our State Public House is $10 and that price allows two sample servings. Beer and cider samples are in 8 ounce pours. Wine is in 3 ounce pours.

Admit it. You love NC State Fair Food. We sampled some of the best new food at the fair for 2018. Deep-fried Fair Food. Savory. Sweet. You name it and we've compiled a list of the best food to eat at the NC State Fair in Raleigh, N.C.



You can learn more about the rides, exhibits, and attractions at the NC State Fair, where to park when visiting the fair, where to get a shuttle in Raleigh where you can park and ride to the NC State Fair, ticket prices, and lodging options near the NC State Fairgrounds by visiting the N.C. State Fair website. 

An important date to remember for the NC State Fair is Thursday, October 18 is Food Lion's Hunger Relief Day. Bring in five cans of food and get one free fair admission ticket per person. 

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