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“If you didn’t have bacon-wrapped-somethin’ during the fair, you didn’t come here,” California State Fair Chief Executive Officer Tom Martinez said.
For vegan and vegetarian Sacramento Bee journalists, that sounded like a challenge.
On the fair’s opening, we scoured the Cal Expo fairgrounds for the tastiest veggie-forward delicacies. Here are some of our favorites.
Fresh Rolls from Say’s Thai
$7.00 with sales tax
This light, fresh snack will rescue you from a corn-dog coma. The rice paper rolls, made by Sacramento-based Say’s Thai, are stuffed with crunchy veggies and rice noodles, and come with a sweet peanut dipping sauce on the side.
Falafel Pita from The Sleek Greek
$17.40 with tax
We loved this pita wrap, complete with peppery, moist falafel, lettuce and tomatoes. It’s a hearty meal and the perfect replacement for that bacon burger you’re foregoing. If you’re a vigilant vegan, ask for the wrap without tzatziki.
Churros from Mely’s Churros
$8.58 with tax
These churros just so happen to be vegan — except for the caramel and cream cheese fillings. Warm, sweet and cinnamony, these fried treats please any sweet tooth and taste like a hug. Get one filled with strawberry jam for a fruity twist.
Takilocos from PePe’s Aguas Frescas, Fruit, and Sweets by J
$11.96 with tax
As for the traditional Takilocos without cueritos, or pork rinds, for a sweet and spicy flavor explosion like nothing else at the fair. PePe’s tops a bag of Takis with cucumber, Japanese candied peanuts, sweet chamoy, spicy Valentina hot sauce, zesty lime and chewy Tamarindo. The result? A bright purple Takis bag packing flavor punch. PePe’s also serves the same for Tostitos and Hot Cheetos.
Vegan Grinder from Always Fresh Grinders
$16.00 with tax
This item is not technically on their menu, but was made special by employees when we told them we were looking for vegan food. Ask for a Veggie Grinder — avocado, mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onions, mayo and cheese — minus the mayo and cheese. Soft bread, good seasoning and lightly oiled ingredients meant that we could devour this sandwich in the heat before we went on rides.
Garlic fries from Always Fresh Grinders
$14.00 with tax
You can go to the fair and avoid bacon. But you simply cannot go to the fair without eating something fried. We went for a classic, reliable, perfectly oily and utterly scrumptious order of garlic fries. Always Fresh Grinder did not skimp on the garlic — perhaps pack some mints.
Dole Whip from multiple vendors
$10 with tax
It was hot out there, and we were quickly craving an icy, refreshing treat. Luckily, multiple vendors at the fair serve Dole Whip, a pineapple juice-based soft serve that hits the spot. It’s creamy, tangy and 100% dairy free. Dole Whip is a famous treat often associated with Disneyland, but you don’t have to fly to Anaheim to get your fix for the next two weeks.