Twenty-four days of fried food: That’s a promise the State Fair of Texas can usually keep. But in 2020, the coronavirus forced the cancellation of the State Fair — which made anyone craving a corny dog and a basket of deep-fried Oreos wonder where to turn. Fortunately, Dallas-Fort Worth is full of restaurants honoring the fair’s fried food tradition.
“We are trying everything, pulling out all the stops, to stay alive,” says Jake Levy, who co-owns Desperados Mexican Restaurants in Dallas and Garland with his brother Michael Levy. The coronavirus pandemic delivered a blow to the family business, but the Levys hope to find new customers with their fair food.
“We’re just trying to stay afloat," Jake Levy says. "And we love the fair.” The family operated a booth at the State Fair of Texas for more than 10 years, ending in 2013, and is cooking some of its Big Tex Choice Awards entrants for restaurant customers this year.
23 restaurants and meal-kit companies selling fair food in September and October 2020 in Dallas-Fort Worth:
Cattleack Barbeque in Dallas (near Farmers Branch) sells smoked bologna sandwiches year-round, but the reason they’re on the menu at all is because they’re co-owner Todd David’s favorite item from the State Fair of Texas. His smoked bologna sandwich is made with 100% Akaushi and served on white bread with barbecue sauce and onions. Those in-the-know add pimento cheese on top. And they show up early: Cattleack’s smoked bologna sells out nearly every day the restaurant is open. In honor of the State Fair this year, the barbecue joint will add limited-time-only chili dogs made with Akaushi. Cattleack Barbeque is at 13628 Gamma Road, Dallas. Dawgs cost $9 and will be sold Sept. 24 and 25 and Oct. 22 and 23. Bologna sandwiches cost $14.99 and are always on the menu. The restaurant is open at lunch on Thursdays and Fridays and lunch on the first Saturday of each month.
Cocina Italiano in Dallas, a restaurant from State Fair concessionaire Abel Gonzales, is selling some of his most popular fried foods that have won at the Big Tex Choice Awards. Options include fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fried jambalaya, fried cookie dough and more. Gonzales is the winningest concessionaire for the State Fair, with five awards. Cocina Italiano is at 7101 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas.
CornDog With No Name in Dallas is all fair food, all the time. (Except for the four months when it was closed this summer because of the coronavirus pandemic.) The restaurant was started in early 2020 by two women with a long family history at the State Fair of Texas. They’re no longer involved at the fair, but they’re still frying corn dogs and selling funnel cakes. Fair-food options include corn dogs of all kinds, like beef, sausage-jalapeño, turkey, cheese and more. CornDog with No Name is at 10220 Technology Blvd. E, Dallas. It’s open Fridays and Saturdays only until Sept. 27, when it opens on Sundays, too.
Desperados Mexican Restaurants in Dallas and Garland serve one State Fair inspired item year-round: the deep-fried latte, which won a Big Tex Choice Award for “most creative” in 2007. Despite the name, it’s not a drink; it’s a sopapilla topped with maple syrup, whipped cream, coffee flakes and cappuccino ice cream made by Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream in Plano. The restaurant is tacking on three more dishes in honor of the fair. The deep-fried cosmopolitan, which was a finalist in the Big Tex Choice Awards in 2006, is cheesecake wrapped in a tortilla, fried and served with cranberry glaze, powdered sugar and a squirt of lime. (“And it really does kind of taste like a cosmopolitan [cocktail]," Jake Levy says.) They’re also selling the Super Taco made in a 16-inch flour tortilla and a sandwich called the Fajita Philly, stacked with cheese, fajita meat, sautéed onions, sautéed peppers and “mayotle” sauce. All three limited-time-only dishes were once sold at the Desperados tent at the State Fair of Texas. Desperados Mexican Restaurants are at 4818 Greenville Ave., Dallas, and 3443 W. Campbell Road, Garland. The fried cosmopolitan, Super Taco and Faijta Philly will be sold from Sept. 25 through Oct. 18. The deep-fried latte is always available.
Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ in Dallas wants to “try to fill the deep-fried hole in all our hearts," says co-owner Brandon Hays, by hosting “The State Ferris of Wheelers.” For 30 days in September and October, the restaurant will sell cotton candy, burnt-end burritos and more in addition to its regular barbecue menu. Fernie’s Funnel Cakes — the company that brought the funnel cake to the State Fair of Texas — is partnering with Ferris Wheelers to make funnel cakes on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the event. Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs will sell its fried food on a stick on Sept. 30. Entrance is free. Customers will also find fair-themed games and carnival entertainers. Ferris Wheelers Backyard & BBQ is at 1950 Market Center Blvd., Dallas. Event runs Wednesday through Sunday from Sept. 17 through Oct. 25.
Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs is one of the most iconic State Fair of Texas foods. And the cancellation of the State Fair of Texas isn’t stopping Fletcher’s from serving its deep-fried dogs all over North Texas. The most widespread place to get them is at nearly 200 Golden Chick restaurants in three states, for a limited time. The company also packed its schedule with pop-up events at breweries and festivals in Dallas-Fort Worth. Find a Golden Chick location here. Find pop-up details at here.
Frank Seoul in Frisco calls itself a “Korean fried snack cafe,” but we call it an innovative Korean restaurant where you can eat food from a brand-new place and get your fair-food fix at the same time. Frank Seoul opened in July and is getting famous for its fried stuff on sticks: corny dogs with diced potatoes deep-fried on the outside; cheese sticks (served on a stick); jalapeño corny dogs and the like. Frank Seoul is at 9292 Warren Parkway, Frisco.
Three restaurants from the Front Burner company — Ida Claire in Addison, Haywire in Plano and The Ranch at Las Colinas in Irving — are making curbside kits so you can eat fair food at home. Ida Claire’s kit, $40, includes Southern food like Andouille sausage corn dogs, grilled corn and boudin balls. Haywire and The Ranch’s barbecue-inflected kits, $65, have cheddar-jalapeño sausage, cornbread, mac and cheese and more. All three kits have the option of adding Oreo fried pies for $5, and you probably want to do that. Kits are available Sept. 15 through Oct. 20. Order by calling each restaurant directly; find restaurants here.
Holy Grail Pub in Plano is selling a batch of fair-inspired foods Sept. 29 through Oct. 30. Options include ghost pepper chili fries; fried pumpkin cheesecake; and deep-fried pecan pie empanadas topped with sauce made with Austin’s (512) Brewing Co.’s Pecan Porter and whipped cream spiked with Baileys. You’re getting that last one, right? Holy Grail Pub is at 8240 Preston Road, Plano.
Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery in Garland is selling fair food on Mondays in September. Options include a corn dog with brisket queso and chips; a bourbon-bacon funnel cake; chicken-fried burnt ends and more. (Not there on a Monday? Intrinsic is selling corn dogs and funnel cake every day, because why not?) Customers can order a limited amount of barbecue on Mondays. The brewery also sells a meatless menu with a jackfruit sandwich, meatless wings and more. Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery is at 509 W. State St., Garland.
Jaxon Texas Kitchen & Beer Garden in downtown Dallas, which opened in March in the AT&T Discovery District, is having fun with the fair by adding Luscher’s Red Hot Corn Dogs to the menu. The corn dogs are named for chef Brian Luscher, who started a red hots company in Dallas in 2012 to satisfy his love for Chicago dogs. (The concept later became a hot dog shop in Deep Ellum that has since closed, but you can still get Luscher’s red hots at a few local restaurants.) Jaxon otherwise sells barbecue, salads and modern Texas cuisine. All the food, plus the corn dogs, are available for delivery. Jaxon is at 311 S. Akard St., Dallas.
Meddlesome Moth in the Dallas Design District is adding corn dogs to its menu for the first time. The gastropub is also selling bacon lollipops drizzled with maple hollandaise and served atop a funnel cake; a Luscher’s sausage with jalapeño chutney; and crispy churro ice cream topped with coconut, caramel and chocolate fondue. Pause for a second and look at that bacon lollipop: Dang. Meddlesome Moth is at 1621 Oak Lawn Ave., Dallas. Items available Sept. 7-17. Curbside service offered in addition to patio seating and in-restaurant dining.
Mudhook Bar & Kitchen in Duncanville launched a carnival-themed menu in September and October. Options include smoked turkey legs, churro funnel cakes, micheladas and mini corn dogs. They’ll still sell burgers — which is what Mudhook is known for. Mudhook is at 100 S. Main St., Duncanville.
Music City Mall in Lewisville (formerly Vista Ridge Mall) is hosting several fair-themed weekends in September. Attractions include fair food, live music, a stilt walker and a balloon artist. The carousel will be open on all three weekends. Music City Mall is at 2401 S. Stemmons Freeway, Lewisville. Events run from noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 20 and 27; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 19 and 26.
All five Norma’s Cafe restaurants have been selling a special fried-food menu since Aug. 1. Options include mini corn dogs, funnel cake fries, chili cheese tater tots, deep-fried Oreo churros and more. Customers will be encouraged to donate to United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Big Tex Youth Livestock Auction & Scholarship Program when they visit. Norma’s five restaurants are in Dallas, Frisco and Plano; find addresses here. The menu will continue to be available through Oct. 11.
One90 Smoked Meats in the Lake Highlands/White Rock Lake areas of Dallas has added turkey legs to its menu. Starting Sept. 25, One90 will sell turkey legs for $8. One90 Smoked Meats is at 10240 Northwest Highway, Dallas.
Rodeo Goat, with restaurants in Fort Worth, Dallas, Plano, Rockwall and Irving, is serving a new Big Tex burger. It starts with a 44 Farms beef patty and comes topped with a chicken-fried mashed potato cake, a fried onion ring, bacon and chorizo gravy. WHOA. If “big” is your theme, get a side of the Cheese Fries Surprise, a giant plate of hand-punched fries with chili and jalapeños, dipped in ranch if you know what’s good (... bad?) for you. Big Tex Burger available Sept. 22 through Oct. 5. Find a Rodeo Goat at rodeogoat.com.
The Rustic in Uptown Dallas is calling its party “It’s Not Fair.” From Sept. 23 through Oct. 18, the bar and restaurant is selling fair food and hosting fair-like games. Special menu items include fried brisket mac and cheese and elotes dusted with Hot Cheetos. Fletcher’s will pop up at The Rustic from 3-8 p.m. Oct. 1 and Oct. 8. On some nights during It’s Not Fair, country artists will perform, including Jason Boland and the Stragglers on Sept. 24. The Rustic is at 3656 Howell St., Dallas.
The State Fair of Texas, canceled this year, is hosting a drive-through fair-food event Sept. 19 through Oct. 18. Those who bought tickets will take a photo with Big Tex — who will be wearing a mask — before picking up Fletcher’s corny dogs, Stiffler’s fried Oreos, cotton candy and other goodies. The Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru is at Fair Park in Dallas. Tickets, priced $25 to $99, were sold in advance.
State Fair To Go is a do-it-yourself meal kit with ingredients to make six fair foods. State Fair of Texas fans can deep fry their own funnel cakes, corn dogs, okra, Oreos and more. If you can’t go to the fair, the fair can come home to you. Find details here.
The Statler in downtown Dallas transformed its ballroom into an “interactive state fair-inspired installation and activity zone,” according to a press release. It looks and feels like an Instagram museum, with the promise of more than a dozen “moments.” There’s an Elvis butter sculpture (albeit not made with real butter), a cotton candy “corral,” and games for kids. Scout, a bar on the first floor of the hotel, is now a Midway-like room, with cornhole, billiards, washers and more. At the hotel’s three restaurants — Overeasy diner, Primo’s Tex-Mex restaurant and Sfereco fast-casual Italian spot — there’s a special DFW Restaurant Week menu. Items include a loaded funnel cake cheeseburger from Overeasy and Sfereco; and fried avocados crusted with Hot Cheetos from Primo’s. Fair Play at the Statler is at 1914 Commerce St., Dallas. Tickets cost $10 for ages 7 and above; it’s free for kids 6 and under. Fair Play runs Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 11-20. Each restaurant’s fair-inspired menu is served Aug. 31 through Sept. 27; takeout and delivery available. Details on games and food at thestatlerdallas.com/fair-play.