Kirbie's Cravings

San Diego County Fair 2011

I’m not quite sure when it began, but going to the San Diego County Fair has become a yearly tradition that we look forward to every year. And the main reason we go to the fair? To eat the food of course!

You can read my posts from the previous years at the fair here, here, here and here. This year’s theme is “Race to the Fair.”

Every year I look forward to checking out the new fair food offerings. I love that there is a whole map devoted to fair food, who is offering what, new items, and where the food is located.

After checking out the new fair food selection this year though, I was a little underwhelmed. It seemed creativity went out the door and instead the idea was to just deep fry everything or dip it in chocolate.

We started off our eating at Chicken Charlie’s which is one of the most popular vendors for their deep fried creations, with offerings like deep fried oreos, klondike bars, avocados, etc . This year Chicken Charlie’s new offerings were the deep fried brownies, deep fried girl scout cookies and deep fried kool aid.

I hadn’t heard good things about the deep fried Kool-aid so we ended up skipping it. Instead, we chose to try the deep fried brownies.

One order came with four brownie balls. These were pretty straightforward. Large chunks of brownies, fried in a thick batter, and topped with some chocolate sauce. I didn’t really enjoy the combination. The batter had a light saltiness to it that I didn’t quite enjoy with the brownie.

Next we headed over to the Gingerbread House, another place we visit every year for desserts like fried ice cream. This year, the new offering was the Eton Mess, which is apparently the dessert that was served at William and Kate’s wedding.

It is a combination of strawberries, raspberry puree, ice cream, vanilla meringue cookies and whipped cream. The presentation was quite cute.

No one in my family enjoys meringue cookies though and that was a main ingredient in this dessert. As a result, no one was a particular fan of this one.

We also got the Mexican fried ice cream again. While it tasted good, it also confirmed for me that it’s basically the same one I recently made, except I didn’t drench mine with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. The dessert is not really fried. Instead, vanilla ice cream is coated in cinnamon corn flake-like cereal, then drizzled with chocolate and topped with whipped cream and more chocolate.

The final “new” fair food we tried was the Rosie O’Donnell dog from Pink’s Hot Dogs. Pink’s is a new vendor this year, probably because they opened a location this year inside Harrah’s Rincon Casino. If you haven’t heard of Pink’s, it’s a famous hot dog  restaurant in Hollywood.

We passed by once on a trip to LA and were thinking of stopping by but the line was so long that we decided to pass.

Pink’s hot dogs are known for their snappy texture, and sure enough the skin on the dog has a crisp, snappiness to it. However, the dog is also quite small and skinny. The Rosie O’ Donnell dog is topped with mustard, onions, chili and sauerkraut.

We all though the hot dog was just “okay” and way overpriced. Our dog was about $8.  Given the hype about this place, I definitely would not stand in the long lines in Hollywood for this hot dog.

There were a few other new fair food I had been considering trying, but didn’t really feel like it after these bites. So we went on and had some of our usual favorites.

Last year, we really enjoyed the hash dog and the sweet potato dog offered by Del Mar’s Diner. Interestingly, both items are listed as new fair food items, even though they aren’t new.

We got both again this year, and also their garlic fries which looked really good.

The fries were thick, crispy, and topped with tons of fresh garlic.

The hash dog is a thick hot dog topped with crunchy, thin strips of potatoes. A delicious combination.

The sweet potato dog is a spicy sausage topped with bits of sweet potato. The sweet potato gets a little lost in the spicy sausage, but it’s also equally tasty.

We also got the jumbo smoked turkey legs. While you’ll see turkey legs all over the fair, my opinion is that the best ones are made by Tony’s. I’ve tried turkey legs from other vendors and have been so disappointed and now I only get them from Tony’s. Turkey legs are their specialties and you can watch the men cooking the meat and constantly checking the legs with a thermometer.

This is one of my favorite fair foods. Because it is so big, we always ask to get it wrapped up in foil to go. Apparently it is an option a lot of people choose since the person who gives you your turkey leg has a roll of foil sitting next to him.

This year we managed to polish off one at the fair, and took one home. Not only is the turkey leg fun to look at because of it’s large size, but the smoked meat is delicious as well and so much better than regular baked Thanksgiving turkey.

We ended our food adventures with the giant western sausage at Juicy’s, also one of our favorites. A few years back, my friends and I tried every single sausage offering at the fair, and agreed that the best one was the ones offered here. The sausage is large, slightly spicy, and served on a hefty roll and topped with grilled onions and peppers. For some reason, I found the sausage to be a little too salty this year, so it wasn’t as enjoyable as in the past.

Here’s some more fair foods we didn’t end up trying.

Full of unhealthy fair food, we decided to walk it off by visiting some of our favorite spots at the fair. We went by the Home and Hobby area to see the contest winners.
Most unusual collection:

Turtle coin collection! I love turtles.

Baked goods:


Then we went by the Garden show to check out all the contest winners.

Finally, we paid a visit to the animals.

Fan tailed pigeons. I loved how they look like little turkeys.

We had a good time and left very full. The fair runs until July 4. You can get tickets at the fair for $13, of if you are looking for some deals, Albertson’s sells tickets for $2 off, and Costco has a package of 4 tickets, ride and drink coupons plus one free parking for $54.99 I believe. I was very lucky this year and was given tickets by Cathy, saving me a large chunk of change.





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16 comments on “San Diego County Fair 2011”

  1. Found this entry via Google — I finally decided to try a turkey leg this year and wanted to know what the best one would be :). Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. Nice write up! I can’t believe you passes on the deep fried Kool Aid. I might have to bite the bullet if I see it at the LA County Fair.

    • I heard it wasn’t very good, so I ended up passing. I think it’s supposed to be more like kool-aid flavored donut.

  3. Great post, Kirbie! Sadly, I will be missing the fair this year. I am due in two weeks! It has become a tradition to go and eat the food too – so I have lived vicariously through you and your FH. 🙂 I, too, enjoyed the hash dog last year and thanks for the rec about the giant western sausage. I’ve been wanting to try a really good sausage there, but never knew which one to get so I just skip it. I love how you ate the sweets first, then savory items – my hubby likes to do the same! We always venture out to the shops to find Mother’s Chocolate Chip cookies – delicious!

    • Aw, so sad you will be missing it this year. Congrats on your soon to be baby! Maybe next year you can take your baby to the fair.

  4. Great photos. It’s a good idea to try something new but also have those old favorites you can’t get the rest of the year…at least that was my initial plan. I did enjoy the chocolate covered bacon the first year I saw it; thick cut, dipped in dark chocolate and frozen. I even brought a Chinese takeout container of it home and put it in the freezer and enjoyed it until September. Never bought it again though…need to find the jalapeño stuffed with a Snickers and deep fried…also the maple bacon donut and maybe a Ceasar salad.

    • I wanted to get the jalapeno stuffed with a Snickers, but I didn’t see it and I ended up being too full and lazy to search for it. We were only planning on making this one trip this year, but when I was writing that post I saw all the foods I didn’t try and now I want to maybe go back July 4th weekend. We did that survey thing so we could go back for just $2, just in case.

  5. I miss the SD fair. The LA county one isn’t as good. 🙁

    I always end up at the BBQ place that’s on the main path. Deep fried oreos, when done right, are amazing. I can’t eat as many fried things as I used to so fair food is becoming less and less appetizing.

    The steampunk cake is awesome!

    I love visiting the animals….the bunnies! 🙂

  6. It’s really crazy how much they charge at the fair now. Last Tues for the $3 admin and $2 food samples, the fair was beyond packed. The $2 portions were really tiny and skimpy.

    My friends really loved the deep fried oreos. The hit of the night for me was the fried zucchini from New England stand (?). They used a tempura batter vs the heavy ‘hot dog on a stick’ batter that I was seeing everywhere.

    My friend bought me the chocolate covered bacon. I was beyond excited to try it . But after just one bite, we all gave each other that ‘wtf’ look. It tasted like super salty, chewy, dark chocolate. There was too thick of a coat of dark chocolate dredged over the bacon.

    And i did not try your beloved turkey leg 🙁 I shoulda but we were all too pooped at the end of the night.

    Nice post!

    BTW – that was pretty funny about the ‘most unusual collection’!!

    • I had the same reaction about the chocolate covered bacon. I’m convinced it can be done well, but the one at the fair i am not a fan of. We had the deep fried oreos a few years ago and liked it.
      I had the fried zucchini in the past. My friends love it. I don’t really like zucchini though, but I thought it was okay for zucchini. hehe.

  7. I’m going to the fair soon and it’s my yearly tradition now, too. I love going! I didn’t get the hash dog last year because I couldn’t find it, but I’ll be sure to find it this year. I’ve always been wanting to try the chocolate covered bacon, but have been put off because of the price. I’m going on a Tuesday though so hopefully will just be getting $2 tastes of most things.

    • Oh the Del Mar diner is in this little patio area, next to the Texas donuts and the Giant ice cream cone. I think I had some trouble finding it the first time also. It’s in that plaza where people go up to get to the concerts.

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