Every year when the L.A. County Fair comes to town, a press night is held when members of the media are invited to the fairgrounds before it opens to the public to taste some of the amazing foods that will be offered. Since my first visit to the fair in 2009, I discovered that the best part of the fair was the food. Chocolate dipped treats, interesting food combinations and deep fried foods to whet every appetite including, but not limited to, Twinkies, pickles, Oreos, bacon, sausage, frogs legs, ribs, PB&J sandwiches, cheesecake, Dodger dogs, pecan pie and onion straws. That’s off the top of my head of what I have personally tried.
But the best food I have ever had at the fair was a Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich, which was a jelly doughnut cut in half. Each half was used as the buns for the chicken patty. That first bite changed my life. I never thought it would be topped.
From the master of the fairgrounds, Chicken Charlie, comes the best food ever made anywhere ever. Playing off of his previous success with the doughnut sandwich idea, he has made his opus, his Mona Lisa, his Fifth Symphony, his Citizen Kane – he has made a Krispy Kreme triple cheeseburger. Three delicious one-third lb. patties of beef grilled over open flame and topped with three slices of cheese, nestled between two full Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts. Read that sentence out loud and you will hear a chorus of angels start singing the Hallelujah chorus.
This burger, I’m sure, can’t be good for you. So I had only two because there was a lot of other food to try at the preview night. Deep fried Oreos are a staple, chocolate dipped mini cinnamon buns from the funnel cake king of the midway, smoked sausage corn dogs as big as a cat, specialty Texas (sized) doughnuts about 10 inches across topped with maple frosting and bacon or cherry frosting and cherry Pop Rocks or chocolate frosting and crumbled Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
But what if you want to eat at the fair and still live to see 50? There are some slightly healthier options that will still give you a great meal without making your left arm tingle. Ramen Burger offers great hamburgers with an Asian flare and, in place of buns, they use ramen noodles all grilled together. Really an interesting take on a burger. Farm offers an incredible grilled flatbread wrap with tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella and strawberries. An odd combination to see, but the taste says differently, especially because strawberries and tomatoes are in season right now. Mrs. C’s Famous Egg Rolls are particularly good, which is rare. I hardly ever find an egg roll that stands out – they are all kind of similar. But these rolls are an old family recipe that the chef brought into her kitchen and paired with a lemon garlic sauce that finishes the roll very nicely. I would expect to see this at an upscale restaurant more than a fairground. Or for the more adventurous, Tasti Chips offers a chile relleno burger on pretzel bread that is the best non-burger burger I have had in a while. The bread is a little thick and takes away from the heart of the sandwich, but if you tear part of the bun off it is very enjoyable.
Personally though, give me the Krispy Kreme burger and deep-fried chicken skins any day. That’s right, chicken skins.
What is the best part of fried chicken? The crispy skin. You peel it off and eat it and then have to suffer through a whole chicken breast before you can get another piece of skin. I mean chicken. So Chicken Charlie removed the middle man. Just deep fry the chicken skins and call it a day. So grab a bucket on your way to the port-a-potty and worry about regret and shame later. It’s the fair and it only comes but once a year, so live it up.
The fair opened last weekend and runs through Sept. 28. While you’re there, be sure to check out Luminasia, the all-new Chinese lantern display. It’s like an over the top Christmas light display meets a Chinese lantern festival. It’s impressive.
Take a look at our website under the PHOTOS tab or scan the QR code attached to this story to see photos of the food and lanterns of Luminasia.