The weirdest food at this year’s Miami Youth Fair
In Miami, you can indulge in some of the most elegant and refined dining experiences in the world. You can revel in miraculous creations from James Beard Award-nominated chefs and Michelin-starred kitchens. You can blow a cool grand on a gold-dipped steak or wait to be served in splendor at an intimate omakase counter.
Or, like a real one, you can eat a dripping Cuban sandwich made with funnel cake at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Exposition.
Every year at the fair, which runs through April 9, many vendors aren’t content to churn out the same turkey legs and fried Oreos and burgers, choosing instead to create new dishes to tempt fairgoers, preferably after they go anywhere near the Sky Screamer ride (pro tip: don’t stand under the Sky Screamer ride).
We tried a few of the new dishes, even though a couple of them were a little unsettling. You can vote on your favorite new items by scanning a QR code at each stand or at the fair website.
Other new options we didn’t try include a bacon pineapple burger, chili lime candy apples, a Greek vegetarian falafel dish and a build-it-yourself Fair Expo deli sandwich.
Cuban funnel cake sandwich
$14; The Best Around; booth 246
If you’re going to recreate the Cuban sandwich in Miami, you better know what you’re doing, and Mama Jane Harris, the creator of this messy, sweet and savory sandwich, knows. She takes two slabs of funnel cake and fills them with the usual suspects: ham, Spanish pork, Swiss cheese and pickles (when she created the sandwich at a fair in Tampa, she added salami but understands the perils of touting the controversial cold cut in Miami). She adds mustard and sticks it in a press to warm and flatten it. When she pulls it out, she adds guava or mango marmalade on top.
You might think you don’t want the guava (or mango) on top. But you do. The fruity sauce plays nicely with the meat and cheese; it’s as tasty as it is messy, so ask for a fork and a lot of napkins. Mama Jane understands.
$10; Miller & Company Concessions; booth 305
Pickle lemonade is not for the weak. It is for the strong and the showoffs. Some will ask “Why?” We ask “Why not?” The beverage is more pickle than lemon (there will even be a dill slice floating in your cup). Even if it seems like a good idea for the first few sips, about five or six swallows in, you may wish you’d stuck with the plain lemonade. Worth drinking for bragging rights, though.
Dillylicious loaded pickles
$16, Chester’s Gators & Tators 8040 L, 414
Picture all the things you love to eat but don’t because congestive heart failure is not something you aspire to: Fried pickles. Bacon. Ranch dressing. Nacho cheese. Pour the latter three over the first and you have the Dillylicious platter (and several horribly clogged arteries). Tastes good and greasy, though, and this is a fair. You can eat a salad tomorrow.
Mexican street corn pizza
$7 per slice, Angela’s International, 405, 540
Buttered sweet corn might not be something you think you want on your pizza, but you’re wrong. Gloriously, wondrously wrong. The pizza slice is also topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, drizzled mayo and tajin seasoning. It tastes like elote on a crisp crust, and it’s shockingly delicious. Best fusion dish since peanut butter and jelly.
$10, Churromania, 234
You love churros. We love churros. Everybody loves churros. So sticking a banana into one seems like a little bit of overkill. But still, there’s nothing much to complain about with this, and you can tell yourself that at least you’re eating one item that’s not fried.
Hot Cheetos in a cup
$8, Elote Lovers, 992
You had us at “hot Cheetos.” Head over to the inside part of the fair expo to find this booth selling Elote en Vaso, a bowl of corn, mayo, Mexican cream, homemade garlic butter, Parmesan, chili powder and lime topped with crushed red hot fries and chicken or beef (we recommend the chicken). Just a whiff of heat and much garlicky goodness.
$12, CLK Enterprises, 300
This drink involves deep-fried butterscotch ice cream covered in a butter-simulated caramel sauce. How many words in that sentence make you swoon? Answer: All of them. It’s topped with whipped cream, but it’s the warm shock of the hot fried ice cream that will stick with you.
Miami-Dade Youth Fair & Exposition
Where: 10901 SW 24th St. (Coral Way), near Florida International University in West Miami-Dade
When: March 16-April 9 (closed on March 27-28, April 3-4)
Hours: Gates open at 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon on weekends. During spring break, March 20-24, and also April 7, the gates open at noon. The fair is open late every night, but closing times are unspecified and vary.
Admission: General admission on site is $16; online is $14. Unlimited rides are $30-$40 depending on purchase site and day. Free admission for kids 5 and under and adults 65 and over. Parking and entertainment free
Tickets and more information: www.thefair.me