State Fair of Texas

Here's How to Eat Healthy at the Fair and Not Be Sad

There are lots of places to get a turkey leg at the fair, including Granny's.
There are lots of places to get a turkey leg at the fair, including Granny's. Kristina Rowe
Last week, just in time for opening day on Friday, the State Fair of Texas published a list of keto and Whole 30 food available at the fair. Finally, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson can stop hollering for his keto map.

The fair also compiled lists of foods for vegetarians and vegans as well as gluten-free options and other healthier choices.

Those lists are extensive, but they don’t come with a map. It’s easy to ask where a location is at any Hospitality Center on the fairgrounds but since we think eating at the fair shouldn’t ever make anyone sad, we’ve rounded up some highlights with location specifics to help you find better-for-you options for all kinds of dietary requirements.

Turkey Legs

click to enlarge The newly expanded Magnolia Beer Garden, where you can get a turkey leg and enjoy beers of the world. - KRISTINA ROWE
The newly expanded Magnolia Beer Garden, where you can get a turkey leg and enjoy beers of the world.
Kristina Rowe
Turkey legs are a great choice for carb-avoiding diets, and they’re gluten-free. With more than 10 vendors (with multiple stands each) selling this fair-time favorite, you can’t turn around at the fair without seeing a turkey leg stand.

Prices vary by vendor and location but expect to spend close to $20 for enough smoked meat to give the whole family the meat sweats.

The big Hans Mueller tent near the Chevrolet Main Stage offers jumbo turkey legs for 18 coupons. (Remember coupons are $1 now.)

You can also get a turkey leg for 18 coupons at Magnolia Smoke House and in the recently expanded and spacious Magnolia Beer Garden next door.

Juicy’s is cooking up turkey legs and more meat items at two giant stands — one near the arched entrance to the Midway and another at the back where the thrill rides are. Half-pound burgers (skip the bun for a keto-friendly or gluten-free option), sausages and barbecue chicken and/or ribs are among the other meaty options.

Milton’s Turkey Legs can be your first or last stop of the day if you come in at the main entrance (near the DART station.)

Sausage on a Stick and More Keto-Friendly and Gluten-Free Foods

click to enlarge You think that guy cries all day grilling those onions? - KRISTINA ROWE
You think that guy cries all day grilling those onions?
Kristina Rowe
Sausage on a stick is offered at lots of concession booths too. Find some at the Hans Mueller tent, Magnolia Beer Garden and Juicy’s Midway stands. You can also get some at multiple Smokey John’s BBQ locations, Lerma’s Gorditas & Fajitas in Cotton Bowl Plaza and Bailey’s Deli & Catering inside the Tower Building food court. Expect to spend around 10 coupons ($10) for sausage on a stick.

In addition to Juicy’s, the Midway boasts a couple of other large stands with plenty of other meat options. Texas Steakout has kabobs and on-a-stick dinners. Expect to spend 20 to 25 coupons for those. Apollo Greek has chicken souvlaki on a stick for 13 coupons with a side option of rice and veggies instead of French fries.

Dickel’s Smokehouse (on First Avenue, across from the lagoon) has quail breast in addition to sausage options and turkey legs.

At the State Fair Wine Garden, you can enjoy a meat, cheese and fruit platter or munch on some trail mix. There’s live music there, and on Friday nights at 8:30 p.m., you can enjoy Deep Fried Comedy, which doesn’t have a single calorie, and might, in fact, burn some.

See the full list of keto- and Whole 30-friendly options on BigTex.com.

Seafood

click to enlarge Get Cajun Crab Bombs at Gulf Coast Grill. - KRISTINA ROWE
Get Cajun Crab Bombs at Gulf Coast Grill.
Kristina Rowe
If you enjoy fish or shellfish as part of your diet, the fair has plenty of options for you. After all, the big-time Big Tex Choice Awards winner this year was Deep Fried Seafood Gumbo Balls.

Get your gumbo balls (25 coupons) at Gourmet Royale and Southern Fried Chicken inside the Tower Building food court. At the food court, you can also try another new fair food, Country Fried Shrimp Grits, at the Benavides Foods booth.

Another good bet for both fried and grilled seafood options is Cotton Bowl Plaza, where you’ll find several choices at Floyd’s Catfish and Doc’s Street Grill. Across the way and in front of the swan boats at the lagoon, you’ll find Gulf Coast Grill with their prior year’s award-winning Cajun Crab Bombs.

On Nimitz Avenue (the road between the Chevy Main Stage and the Go Texan Pavilion), look for Villa’s Seafood Village for more seafood dishes.

Trio on the Green, a spacious outdoor eating and drinking area next to the Coliseum has lobster corn dogs.

Vegetarian Corn Dogs

You don’t have to give up your corn dog or your diet at the fair; there are options for everyone. Fletcher’s Original Corny Dogs has seven stands around the fairgrounds and they offer a cheesy dog with no meat and a veggie dog made of non-GMO soy and pea protein.

Tater Twisters, Corn and Other Veggies

click to enlarge Yardbirds has sweet potato fries and crispy avocado fries. - KRISTINA ROWE
Yardbirds has sweet potato fries and crispy avocado fries.
Kristina Rowe
If a bit of fried food is fine, but you’re still sticking to veggies, you’ll find all kinds of potatoes to eat. Tornado fries, curly fries, crinkle fries and more are served up as sides at dozens of stands and at Tornado Taters locations on Nimitz Circle (behind the Cotton Bowl) and on the Funway (near the Top ‘o Texas Tower ride.)

For something different, try the sweet potato fries, crispy avocado fries or fried guacamole at Yardbirds, which you’ll find among the large stands at the back of the Midway near the thrill rides. Texas Tater Twisters is nearby with all manner of fried potatoes, and both Juicy’s stands on the Midway have roasted corn.

You can get elotes at Jack’s Mexican Stand or corn in a cup at Lerma’s Fajitas and Gorditas in Cotton Bowl plaza. There are fried elotes corn nuggets at Johnson’s on MLK Boulevard near the Children’s Aquarium, and Frutieria Cano has corn in a cup at several of their locations.

Salads

The Tower Building food court is where you’ll find a Scrumbscious Salad (grilled chicken, grilled onions, bacon, cherub tomatoes, avocado, blue cheese, craisins and pecans) at Scrumbscious Pieshakes (yes, the pie shake place has salads).

Also in the food court look for a taco salad at Villa’s Mexican Village or a Greek salad at It’s All Greek to Me.


Fabulous Fresh Fruit Options

click to enlarge Pineapple Man has lots of fruit options. - KRISTINA ROWE
Pineapple Man has lots of fruit options.
Kristina Rowe
Fruteria Cano has multiple locations throughout the park (including one in the Tower Building) and they have mango on a stick, fresh fruit juices and several other fruit options.

Lerma’s Fajitas and Gorditas has fruit cups at their stand in Cotton Bowl Plaza. Also in Cotton Bowl Plaza, Pineapple Man has pineapple honey whip, mangonadas and fruit drinks (of the alcoholic or nonalcoholic variety) served in pineapples.

Get chocolate-dipped frozen bananas and lemon or strawberry chill (frozen fruit ice) from carts throughout Fair Park.

Sweet Connie’s has caramel apples, candy apples and chocolate-dipped strawberries on a stick at multiple locations including one near the Hall of State on Lone Star Blvd.

More Vegan and Vegetarian Options

A local favorite burger spot, Wingfield’s has a booth at the fair on Nimitz Avenue, where they serve veggie burgers along with their other burgers and fries options. Trio on the Green (near the coliseum) has Beyond Meat sliders, vegan queso and a couple of varieties of gourmet tater tots.

See a full list of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options on the BigTex.com blog.

Food Demo Samples

click to enlarge Try samples from cooking demonstrations at the fair. - KRISTINA ROWE
Try samples from cooking demonstrations at the fair.
Kristina Rowe
Some of the healthiest food at the fair might be the dishes prepared at the cookware and kitchenware demos in the Embarcadero across from the Go Texan Pavilion. Yes, you’ll have to sit through a presentation, and yes, you might have to say “no” at the end, but if you’re trying to stay healthy, this option might be appealing.

The Go Texan Pavilion is the place to find free food samples, and you’ll find plenty of salsas and nuts to snack on there.

Thrifty Thursdays or Be Thrifty Any Day

If you’re at the fair on a Thursday, many of the Thrifty Thursday options are smaller portions of fair favorites with lower prices to match. Check out the map of 60 Thrifty Thursday offerings on BigTex.com.

And if you just can’t stomach the idea of eating your way through the fair, you can bring your own food. You don’t even have to sneak it in as long as you don’t bring glass containers, alcohol or metal silverware. 
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By day, Kristina Rowe writes documentation that helps users navigate software, and as a contributor to the Dallas Observer she helps people find their way to food and fun. A long-time list-maker, small-business fan and happiness aficionado, she's also been an Observer reader for almost 40 years.
Contact: Kristina Rowe