Fair fare for frugal foodies
We all love to indulge in fair fare during the annual pilgrimage to Palmer for the Alaska State Fair-- but, eating great food doesn't have to break the bank.
So, I selflessly took on the challenge of finding great eats for $6 or less-- and I recruited my friend Alicia to help me eat our way through the fairgrounds. Here's what we found.
I'm new to Alaska, and therefore, this was my first State Fair in the 49th State. I'd received quite a few recommendations on where to eat during my adventure, and our first stop was mentioned multiple times: The Rollin' Donut. Hot and fresh from the fryer, a bag of 13 sugar-coated mini-donuts was just $5.
Next up: The Parmesan taco at Taco Dan's-- another of the spots that came with high praise. Let me tell you something: I don't know what makes this taco so incredible-- but take it from this transplant Texan-- the Parmesan taco is worth every penny of the $3.50 it takes to buy one! We washed down our tacos at the Sluice Bar while we took in some tunes and moved on.
After perusing through the Reptile exhibit, doing a bit of shopping at Alaska Girls and checking out all the livestock, we were ready for our next cheap eat. Enter Indian Valley Meats. We saw this place on the way in and were instantly intrigued. Alicia had the buffalo jalapeno cheese dog, pictured right; I went with the buffalo bratwurst. Both were delicious, and each were only $6.
On our way out for the night, we stopped at Porkey's-- which is known for their pork chop on a stick-- and grabbed a basket of cheese curds. Battered bits of fried cheese? What could be bad about that? Nothing, that's what. It should be noted that not only are the cheese curds $6 a basket, the pork chop and chicken on a stick are both each also $6.
Honorable Mentions: We actually saw lots of items around the fair for $6 or less, but we couldn't eat them all. But, if you make a lap before you start eating, you'll find lots of burger places offering up affordable fare. Multiple places have side dishes for $2 to $4. We saw several sweet treats that met our $6 limit. And we also saw breakfast foods-- pancakes and biscuits and sausage gravy. So, the moral of the story, folks, is this: You can get stuffed on great food at the fair without pulling out the money you have stuffed in the mattress.
Not counting the garlic fries pictured above , which we didn't love but fit the parameters of the story, and not counting our beverages (...and the donut brunch burger we HAD to try...), Alicia and I made it through a full day of food at the fair for a completely manageable $30 TOTAL.
We'd love to know your tips for not blowing your budget when visiting the fair! Share them with us in the comments below.