The State Fair of Texas will feel a little bit like New England this year. That’s because lobster is on the menu. But it will be fried. (But of course.)
Fried lobster, alligator, buffalo are among the hot new foods at this year’s state fair. Fair officials announced the finalists Tuesday morning for the 11th annual Big Tex Choice Awards, which honors the best of the best new fair fare.
More than 50 entries were narrowed down to the eight finalists.
Two winners will be announced Aug. 30 – best tasting and most creative.
The competition is a big deal for fair concessionaires -- food is a big moneymaker for the fair. And concessionaires who win a Big Tex award typically see long lines at their food stands during the fair, which runs Sept. 25 through Oct. 18.
Drum roll, please …
Scroll down to tour our visual buffet, along with descriptions provided by the fair.
Chicken Fried Lobster with Champagne Gravy
Who made it? Abel Gonzales
What is it? Lobster is on the Big Tex Choice Awards menu for the first time. This dish includes a lobster tail, breaded and fried. It's served with a lemon butter and champagne gravy sauce. “With the lavishness of a lobster dinner and the fried factor of a traditional fair food, this dish will satisfy both a fondness for fanciness and a craving for the classics,” the fair says.
Cowboy Corn Crunch
Who made it? Isaac Rousso
What is it? It’s a mixture of sweet corn, minced jalapeño, cream cheese and smoky bacon. It’s fried and served in a palm leaf cone. “Get your taste buds ready; the first bite will knock your boots off!” the fair says.
Deep Fried Alligator’s Egg Nest
Who made it? Cassy Jones
What is it? The dish blends alligator meat with Monterey Jack cheese, chopped jalapeños, onions and garlic. It’s rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. Served on top of a “nest” of shoestring potatoes and drizzled with chipotle sauce. “This dish will make you feel like a real ragin’ Cajun!” the fair says.
Fernie’s Holy Moly Carrot Cake Roly
Who made it? Christi Erpillo
What is it? Bread swirled with cinnamon has been flattened and filled with carrot cake, raisins and julienned carrots. It’s rolled with cream cheese and breaded in a mixture of panko, graham crackers, cinnamon and nutmeg. It's drizzled with cream cheese frosting and dusted with powdered sugar. “Holy moly; this is far from your typical dessert!” the fair says.
Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo
Who made it? James Barrera
What is it? Lean ground buffalo meat is flavored with a Mesquite smoke and rolled in Pequin chili pepper. The meat is crusted in crushed Corn Nuts and dipped in a batter made from Shiner beer. It's dusted with bacon bits and served with a chipotle cream sauce. “The Fried Beer-Battered Buffalo is a tiny taste of Texas,” the fair says.
Lone Star Pork Handle
Who made it? Justin Martinez
What is it? It’s a hand-cut bone-in pork chop, marinated and dipped in batter made from Lone Star beer. The pork chop is then smothered in toasted bread crumbs and fried. Then it's coated with bourbon barbeque glaze. “This savory dish will leave you nothing short of satisfied,” the fair says.
Pretzel-Crusted Pollo Queso
Who made it? Allan Weiss
What is it? Shredded chicken is mixed with cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, cilantro and Sriracha sauce. It's rolled into a ball and crusted with a crispy pretzel breading. Then the dish is fried. It comes with a jalapeño ranch dipping sauce. “This dish is crunchy on the outside while keeping its center perfectly soft and gooey for the ultimate savory experience,” the fair says.
Smoky Bacon Margarita
Who made it? Isaac Rousso
What is it? The margarita takes the smokiness of bacon and infuses it into a frozen lime margarita. It's topped off with bacon crumbles. “An unconventional pairing of flavors adds a subtle smoky taste to a traditionally tangy drink,” the fair says.