Here’s What the Big Tex Choice Winners at the State Fair Are Really Like

The food of our 2019 State Fair of TexasEXPAND
The food of our 2019 State Fair of Texas
Kathy Tran
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Every year since 2005, the State Fair of Texas has awarded Big Tex Choice Awards to top new foods. For the first 12 years, they gave the title to two different new foods: the best tasting and most creative. Beginning in 2017, the state fair expanded the winners to three different categories by splitting up the best tasting award into two: savory and sweet.

There’s always much fanfare around these awards, with the fair releasing a list of more than 30 semifinalists in July, then whittling it down to 10 finalists in August and finally awarding the crowning three after a ticketed live tasting event featuring celebrity judges.

Lines are typically long at vendors with winning and semifinalist foods. And prices are also typically high.

We stood in line and tried all three of this year’s winning dishes so you don’t waste your time or coupons at your State Fair of Texas visit.

Ruth’s Stuffed Fried Taco ConeEXPAND
Ruth’s Stuffed Fried Taco Cone
Paige Weaver

Ruth’s Stuffed Fried Taco Cone

The winner of “best tasting - savory” is deserving of the award. Ruth’s stuffed fried taco cone (18 coupons or $9) is essentially a barbacoa burrito in ice cream cone form. The cone is a corn tortilla shell, and it’s filled with slow-cooked barbacoa, black beans and cilantro-lime rice. It’s topped with pico de gallo, queso fresco, salsa verde and a lime wedge. They also have a toppings bar at the stand where you can add additional flavors.

The meat is rich and plentiful, and the cone format makes for a portable, though messy, eating experience. It’s also a very good value — relatively — for a Big Tex Choice Award winner at under $10.

Fla’Mango TangoEXPAND
Fla’Mango Tango
Paige Weaver

Fla’Mango Tango

Winner of most creative, the fla’mango tango (25 coupons or $12.50), incorporates two desserts into one. You get a scoop of strawberry-mango sorbet alongside a hand pie stuffed with bits of mango and topped with whipped cream. Though you get two elements, the two parts of the dish are incongruous: The sorbet does not add to the mango hand pie.

And we wish the hand pie had more mango in it — the one we sampled was 80% pie crust. We’re also confused as to why this was awarded “most creative.” As our companion noted, the plastic flamingo stuck into the whipped cream was the most creative part of this dish.

Big Red Chicken BreadEXPAND
Big Red Chicken Bread
Paige Weaver

Big Red Chicken Bread

They made a bold choice, choosing the Big Red chicken bread (17 coupons or $8.50) as “best tasting - sweet" this year because half of the dish — the fried chicken wing — is not sweet at all.

This dish is a play on chicken and waffles, with a Big Red-glazed cake doughnut taking the place of waffles. The doughnut is aggressively sweet, so make sure each bite you take includes some chicken to balance out the flavors. The doughnut is also a strange texture, wet and spongy, which is slightly off putting if you eat it on its own. The chicken wing on top is well-fried, though ours was underseasoned.

Like Ruth’s stuffed fried taco cone, this is an unusually inexpensive Big Tex Choice Award winner at $8.50.

We think it would’ve made sense to swap the “best tasting - sweet” and “most creative” award winners, as we found the Big Red chicken bread to be a more inventive dish than the fla’mango tango.

The State Fair of Texas continues through Oct. 20.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.