The San Diego County Fair is once again here. It’s something I look forward to every year and this year is no exception. This year’s theme is the Fab Four, celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first visit to the US.
As always, my main focus for attending is the fair food. I’m proud to say that my group of four managed to finish every single bite of what we bought at the fair this year, a first. Usually we have leftovers, unwanted food that gets tossed, etc. But we went with two people this year that more than held their weight. They promised to be human garbage cans and they fulfilled those words. Heck, even the jalapeno juice was gulped down (More on that later).
Near the main entrance is Chicken Charlie’s, one of the most popular food stands, which brings over-the-top fried creations each year. One of their new items this year was the calorie bomb Triple Decker Krispy Kreme cheeseburger. I don’t even want to know the nutritional value of that. We ended up passing on it.
But I did have my heart set on another new item, deep fried chicken skins!
I adore crispy chicken skins, so I was eager to try Chicken Charlie’s version. Each order came with 4 pieces, priced at $6.94 + tax. The seasoned batter was quite crunchy and flavorful. Unfortunately, the chicken skin itself is not at all crisp. It was still its normal fatty self. I can’t stand eating fatty chicken skin. I only eat it if the fat has been rendered off. I was surprised Chicken Charlie’s didn’t prepare that chicken skins in a way so that the chicken skin itself is crispy.
This was a little disappointing for me, but no one else seemed to mind and the rest of the group had no problems polishing off the skins, which were also served with some ranch dressing.
Ironically we followed up our chicken skins by visiting the fluffy chickens and prize-winning birds.
Bacon Wrapped Jack Daniels Infused Churros
From the Bacon A Fair station, one of the new items is bacon wrapped Jack Daniels infused churros. I was definitely curious. For $6, we got two tiny churros, only slighter bigger than the length of a finger. The bacon was soggy rather than crispy, quite a misstep considering this is the bacon everything vendor.
I also found the Jack Daniels overwhelming, making the churro batter too bitter. There also seemed to be some inconsistency, since one of the people in our group couldn’t taste any Jack Daniels. The churros were served with whipped cream and syrup. Mr. K proceeded to drink the rest of the syrup and whipped cream, setting the bar for “finishing every bite.”
The Fruit Caboose vendor was offering three new desserts. The one that sounded most interesting to me was the Cowboy Sundae. Per the San Diego County Fair website, the description is, “waffle cone shaped like a cowboy hat, filled with ice cream and topped with “cowboy” candies such as candied chiles.”
At $9, I thought the price was steep. I was even more disappointed when we got our sundae which was a sad shadow of what the picture depicts. Our sundae didn’t stand tall and instead the cowboy hat completely covered the ice cream.
I had to lift up the cowboy shaped waffle hat just to get a picture of the ice cream. The soft serve vanilla ice cream has jalapenos mixed in and is also adorned with more jalapenos. However that was the extent of the toppings, unlike the photo which shows a colorful creation. I didn’t taste any jalapeno “candies,” I also was not a fan of the jalapeno and ice cream mix.
The guys seemed to find the flavors intriguing and polished this off. And since Mr. K had drank the syrup, our friend proceeded to drink the remaining melted vanilla ice cream mixed with jalapeno juice. Oi.
After three mediocre experiences with new fair items, we decided to go for some classics, like the giant blooming onion.
It has less batter than traditional fried onion rings, letting the crisp onions shine through. I was surprised that we polished this off in minutes.
Funnel Cake with Raspberry Sauce
What’s a fair visit without some funnel cake? The fried dough creation was as good as I always remember.
Flower Exhibit Break!
Turkey Leg @ Juicys
My favorite item to get at the fair is definitely the oversized smoked turkey leg. In the past, our go-to vendor has been Turkey Shack, who are experts at keeping the meat flavorful and moist. However, when we passed by their stand, instead of cooking hundreds of turkey legs, their grills were practically empty and the employees were just standing around. I don’t know what happened but it was a depressing sight, so we decided to go to another vendor.
Juicy’s turkey legs looked mouthwatering, but were actually overcooked and bland.
Curly Fries with Cheese @ Juicys
This hadn’t been on my radar, but I saw a customer walk away with it and was immediately intrigued by the the cube of curly fries, so we ordered them.
Unfortunately, this looked more impressive than it tasted. The curly fries were quite bland, tasting only of potatoes and salt.
The Beatles Exhibit
We took another break to visit The Beatles exhibit. By this time, the sun had set and it was getting chilly out. Some people hadn’t brought jackets and were ready to head home.
We made one last round for food.
Cowabunga Corn Dog
Though we were quite stuffed by this point, I couldn’t imagine leaving the fair without a corn dog. We decided to try Juicy’s version, which is stuffed with a sausage. I love the jumbo size of the corn dogs here and I did find the sausage version to be tastier than the hot dog one.
Seven food items and five sodas later, we were finally ready to call it a night. See you next year, Fair!
The Fair ends Sunday July 6 (closed Mondays and the first two Tuesdays). If you happen to have a group, Costco offers a pretty good fair package which includes 4 adult admissions, one parking pass, 4 drink coupons and 50 ride coupons for $59.99.
For another perspective, check out Cathy’s pre-opening visit.
San Diego County Fair
Del Mar Fairgrounds
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd.
Del Mar, CA 92014
Not as good as it used to be, of course, now in my old age I have dietary restrictions, so for $7.50 I got the worst 3 looking little rolled taquitos with green stuff (guacamole?) on them at the Mexican place named something (?) Delicious (NOT) by the entrance to the Ecke flower show in the middle. What a disgusting rip off!! Stay away!Can’t have wheat, so not much to chose from. The landscaping displays were a huge let down, they used to be fab!!!
oh that is too bad. =(
Nice post with a good round up of offered items…there is so much to see and do at the Fair. We always go early and have never been there at night to see it all lit up. Sad about some of the items not being as fresh as they should be…
There is so much to do and see! I do still love going every year, even if I haven’t been as impressed with the new food offerings
I agree. I’ve been less and less impressed every year. Seems for shock value there’s always something with bacon or deep-fried and now alcohol-soaked items. I’ve been reading up on other fairs in Texas and the mid-west and it seems like they have a different variety of state foods that look better than what we’re used to.
Yes, everything seems to be fried or wrapped in bacon. Now I’m really curious about Texas and mid-west fairs!
That is too bad those chicken skins aren’t crispy! That’s so weird they didn’t prep it so it would be crispy. Deep fried means crispy in my book. Too bad.
Geez, and the bacon wasn’t crispy on the churro?! What kind of travesty is this! I wanted to try the Cowboy Sundae until I saw it had jalapeno’s in it. Damn. Everything is ruined for me, haha!
That is one massive corn dog.
Love the photos of the flowers! So pretty.
I thought it was weird about the chicken too. And yes, what’s up with not making the bacon crispy? that seems like such an easy thing to do.
Jalapenos with ice cream doesn’t sound too great for some reason.
I remember you loved those turkey legs all those years ago. Sad the other vendor’s version wasn’t all that great.
I really was not a fan of the jalapeno ice cream combo. I was so bummed about the turkey leg! My friend said the ones at Disneyland are really good. Now I want to go there for a turkey leg
I think this was a great post. We go to the LA County Fair, but I don’t get too daring in trying out new things. I think I just end up getting some sort of sandwich. Pulled pork maybe. Tried the turkey leg. And the cube of fries. I’ll be on the lookout for the corn dog with the sausage in it. That sounded good.
it was good!
I don’t think I could eat fried chicken skin AFTER visiting the live, cute chickens!
luckily we ate the skins before visiting the adorable chicks!
Wow good job that’s an impressive tally! I have to say that I thought the last time I went to the fair I thought a lot of the food was overpriced and not that tasty, seems like your experience was somewhat similar. At least funnel cakes will never let you down :)))
The first few years were the most exciting and we sometimes even went 2-3 times during the few weeks it was around. the last few years though i’ve definitely felt that the new fair foods are getting less tasty and less creative. Oh well, it’s still fun if you have a good group to go with
Nice segue between eating the chicken skins and seeing the “fluffy chickens”! : ) Thanks for the heads up on those chicken skinz – too bad they were not as crisp as they could be. The thought of drinking jalapeno juice makes me shudder. I can’t believe your husband drank that, haha! I’m interested in the cauliflower sandwich actually. We are going later this week and can’t wait to experience this year’s fair!
Actually Mr K drank the syrup whereas our other friend did the jalapeno juice. The jalapeno juice made me cringe too. hehe