The Ultimate Guide To San Diego County Fair Food & Drink For 2017 | The Annual Event Returns To Del Mar Fairgrounds With Wild West Theme This June 2 - July 4

Chicken Charlie's Krispy Cream Ice Cream Fried Chicken Sandwich
May 25, 2017

The San Diego County Fair returns to the Del Mar Racetrack & Fairgrounds this June 2 through July 4 with the theme Where the West is Fun, and although every year it seems impossible that food concessionaires could possibly think up any more new and wild concoctions, this year fairgoers have a plethora of tempting options. Here is the ultimate guide to food concessions at the 2017 incarnation of the San Diego County Fair!

Ride ‘em cowboys! "Where the West is Fun" is the theme for the 2017 San Diego County Fair, paying tribute to the rough and tumble Wild, Wild West and celebrating how the West is fun today. The 2017 Fair will feature a Wild West saloon, numerous Western-themed educational and historic exhibits and country music for everyone to enjoy. As always, this year's fair will also offer an eclectic array of delicious and gluttonous foods for attendees to enjoy.

As always, the Bacon A-Fair vendor always offers plenty of … bacon. But this year, you can indulge in bacon and have your veggies at the same time. Bacon A-Fair is going to serve up bacon wrapped brussel sprouts and spicy sweet bacon wrapped asparagus. There will also be options like the luau kabob - that’s pineapple on a stick wrapped in bacon, grilled and then rolled in parmesan cheese. For the adventurous eater, why not enjoy a succulent with your bacon? Bacon A-Fair introduces bacon wrapped cactus this year!

Chicken Charlie’s is always the innovator when it comes to fair cuisine. Charlie dreams up new delicacies for fairgoers every year. This season, he offers a twist on an old favorite so you can have dinner and dessert at the same time - the Krispy Kreme Chicken Ice Cream sandwich, pictured above.

If you love peanut butter and you love meatballs, be sure to taste Chicken Charlie’s marriage of those foods - Peanut Butter Meatballs. He also has discovered flavors from two very different regions of our country. From Hawaii, there’s fried pineapple with ice cream, as well as pineapple sausage with Maui sauce, Hawaiian pupu chicken wings, and Kilauea Beef! Or, perhaps you would like a traditional Taste of New Orleans -  beignets on a stick.

Grantburger has some of the best burgers at the Fair. This year, their Maui Cowboy Burger unites many different flavors with an Angus beef patty on a ciabatta or telera roll, cheddar cheese, fried SPAM, marinated veggies Banh Minh style, and lettuce with spicy sauce.

Mexican Funnel Cake returns for 2017!
Grinders has created two new sandwiches keeping with the fair's Western theme. Cowboy Pastrami, features pastrami, barbeque pork, onions and cheese. The Sloppy Chicken, brings together chicken, chili, onions, and cheese. For the vegetarian, there’s a cauliflower sandwich.

Who doesn’t love the comfort of grilled cheese sandwiches? At Grilled Cheese A-Fair, you can devour their JalapeƱo Popper and Bacon Grilled Cheese, loaded with applewood smoked bacon, crispy jalapeƱo cream cheese poppers, double cheddar cheese, and chipotle aioli on grilled sourdough bread. Grilled Cheese A-Fair also debuts their Animal Style Patty Melt, featuring a grilled all-natural Brandt beef patty, double american cheese, caramelized onions and secret sauce on grilled sourdough.

Deep-Fried Octopus can be found at Reno’s Fish and Chips, but if that is not your cup of tea, their signature dish of fish & chips and spectacular deep-fried zucchini are always favorites.

Iron Skillet and Smoke brings the BBQ this year!
Popcorn fanatics are going to love the Candy Factory’s nitro pop popcorn - that’s candy popcorn infused with nitrogen!

When it’s time for dessert and the summer sun is getting hot, Shave Ice is ready with new, cool shaved ice treats. New flavors from Shave Ice include mango and chamoy, strawberry or mango with coconut milk and toasted coconut shaved ice, or watermelon and lime.

There is a new restaurant at the Fair - the Iron Skillet and Smoke - that will be located in the Paul Ecke Jr. Garden Show next to Spurs and Spirits. The menu showcases hickory, alder and oak smoked ingredients, reflecting the modern West. Iron Skillet and Smoke will offer fresh and satisfying entrees including smoked brisket nachos, a smoked chicken Caesar salad in addition to a Sarsaparilla Float for dessert, and more. There will also be Bradley Smoker demonstrations every Sunday at noon and 2pm.

There is also a secret at the Fair this year - a hidden speakeasy called The Jade Peacock - where fairgoers can get away to experience an Asian-inspired speakeasy saloon. It’s part of the Where the West is Fun theme, featuring a less-known element of that time period that is sometimes misunderstood. During the California Gold Rush, people arrived from Southern China supporting the miners and provided the labor to build the railroads. They formed tight-knit communities and at the center of these communities was a Joss house. The house provided a center of culture and a place of devotion and repose, it was a link between the New World and the Old.

This year’s Fair has merged this untraditional element with the modern interest in the mysterious speakeasy. Decorated in Chinese motif, The Jade Peacock is partnering with the San Diego distilleries that won medals in the Distilled Spirits Competition and serving their craft cocktails in this exclusive bar. It will only be available to those who get word of its secret location. Specific Fair bars, including the Painted Pony, Spurs & Spirits and Into the Sunset, will hand out a card with the daily password and directions to your escort. It will be open only from 7-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays of the Fair. Distilleries represented are: Copper Collar Distillery, Henebery Spirits, Cutwater Spirits, Liberty Call Distilling, Malahat Spirits Co., Tequila Fortaleza.

There's even deep fried pizza!
The Fair presents a beer brewed especially for this year's Western Theme - Into The Sunset - a special Blood Orange IPA, in partnership with Mike Hess Brewing, one of San Diego’s premier craft breweries. This brew is featured at the new Into the Sunset bar and other bar locations around the Fairgrounds. This Blood Orange IPA is brewed with 2-Row, Vienna and Wheat malts and a combination of Centennial, Citra, Nugget and Simcoe Hops. Mike Hess Brewery - with locations in Miramar, North Park Ocean Beach and another on the way for Imperial Beach - says the brew is based on their award-winning Batch #42 of their experimental IPA brand, Solis Occasus.

The Fair will also debut a new signature cocktail based on the theme "Rooty Tooty" - a blend of sarsaparilla and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. Find it in the all-new Painted Pony Saloon inside the theme exhibit or at the Into the Sunset Bar on the Main Avenue.

The San Diego County Fair opens at 4pm on Friday, June 2 and runs through Tuesday, July 4, but it is closed the first four Mondays and the first three Tuesdays. The San Diego County Fair is the largest annual event in San Diego County and one of the top 10 Fairs in the United States and Canada, drawing more than 1.6 million visitors annually. For more information, visit sdfair.com and check out the list of freebies and deals below.
  • Best Pass Ever season pass: Get access to the fair for all 26 days for only $26. Buy online or at any San Diego County Vons or Albertsons store (through June 1). 
  • $5 Fair Days: This special is only available at San Diego County Vons and Albertsons stores on Friday, June 2 (opening day), Saturday, June 3and Wednesday, June 7.
  • Military Free Day: Opening day, Friday, June 2, is Military Free Day where all military ID cardholders can pick up two free tickets at base ticket offices. This includes card-holding active duty, reservists, retirees, dependents and DoD employees. 
  • College Day: Friday, June 9 is College Day at the Fair. Present your college or university ID at the box office window to get $10 admission (an $8 savings) and discounted tickets and packages on that day only.
  • Read for Free Admission: Got a bookworm on your hands? Kids age 12 and younger can get a free ticket to the fair if they read 10 age-appropriate books and get a certificate signed by their teacher or librarian. 
  • Unemployment Day: If you're unemployed you can get two free tickets to the fair on Wednesday, June 14. Just present an EBT card or form dated July 1, 2016 or later at the Will Call booth at the O'Brien Gate. 
  • School Staff Appreciation Day: Beginning June 1, school staff can receive four $5 admission vouchers at any San Diego County Mission Federal Credit Union with a school employment ID, teaching credentials or pay stub. The vouchers can be used buy admission tickets on the following days: June 16, 23, 30. 
  • Kids Get In Free: Mark your calendar! Kids under 12 years old get in free on Tuesday, June 27.