6 Places to Savor State Fair Flavors

Rateb Aburas’ Pretzel Poutine features pretzel bites loaded with braised lamb, lamb gravy and Frisian Farms cheese curds. It’s a mash-up of his mom’s Canadian heritage and his favorite snack, soft pretzels.

Writer: Karla Walsh

When Mulberry Street Tavern’s new chef Rateb Aburas thinks back to his childhood, many of his favorite memories involve the ultimate comfort cuisine: fair foods. Think “corn dogs, Dippin’ Dots, nachos—and all the grease a little kid could consume,” Aburas says. “We went to the Missouri State Fair as a kid, and the food was always more interesting to me than the rides.”

So with that in mind, he created a new lineup of elevated State Fair-inspired features that will be available at Mulberry Street Tavern and in the Surety Courtyard Aug. 11-21. That’s perfectly timed for anyone who’s in the mood for State Fair fare, minus the actual fairground trip, crowds and parking headaches.

Giving a nod to some of the past Iowa State Fair food favorites, “coupled with some of my own experiences, I wanted to elevate the menu while still keeping it approachable and fun. Just honest wholesome ingredients prepared in a playful manner,” he says.

His favorite is the Pretzel Poutine, a mash-up of Aburas’ mom’s Canadian heritage and his all-time go-to snack: soft pretzels. It features pretzel bites loaded with braised lamb, lamb gravy and Frisian Farms cheese curds.

Other fair-inspired menu items include a chorizo corn dog, cornmeal-battered house chorizo served with chimi chimichurri; chopped beef topped with American cheese, harissa and hot honey, all tucked inside naan bread; and Yukon gold potatoes smothered in Gruyere fondue with bacon-and-scallion aioli, caviar and crème fraiche. For dessert, indulge in a deep-fried pineapple upside down cake, a funnel cake batter with pineapple, cherries and powdered sugar.

In addition to these playful specials, e
ach of these restaurant orders is hand-selected to echo fairground flavors:

  If you’re sweet on caramel corn, dive into Eatery A’s crème brûlée with popcorn, caramel corn and chantilly cream.


  If you can’t get enough corn on the cob, order a scoop of Over the Top’s August flavor of the month: Iowa Sweet Corn Ice Cream.


  If fried mac and cheese is your fave, dunk Bubba’s Mac and Cheese Bites appetizer of “country-fried” pimento mac and cheese into jalapeño-cheese sauce.


  If you adore jalapeño poppers, snack on the Bartender’s Handshake’s Pepper Poppers, sweet-spicy cream cheese-filled mild jalapeños and goat-cheese-stuffed peppadews with black sesame hoisin.

●  If you’re in the mood for mini doughnuts, try Motley School Tavern’s Fresh Brioche Donuts with lavender sugar, lemon curd and blueberry compote.

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