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Fall is well on its way, and that means it’s almost Texas State Fair time! And while Oregon may be beating us with the cool factor (yeah, they’re showcasing marijuana growing for the first time this year), it’s pretty hard for any other state to compete with the insanity that is Texas State Fair food. This year’s finalists for the 2016 Big Tex Choice Awards were recently published, and fair-goers have plenty of greasy, great goodies to look forward to.

This year’s finalists for the awards that celebrate all foods fried include lots of bacon and pineapple, as well as fried Jell-O and cookie fries. The eight finalists will be whittled down to two on August 28, as judges decide on a Best Taste and Most Creative winner. You can find the whole list of these marvelous monstrosities at Austin Culture Map.

For those of us who can’t make it over to this year’s fair to check out the food, fear not. Austin has plenty of restaurants that can stand up to any weird concoction that a carnie might pierce with a stick and dip in bubbling oil. Here are just a few of our favorites that keep you feeling like a kid at a carnival.

If you don’t feel like taking a tour of the whole city, just head straight to Pluckers. It’s basically a one stop shop for all of the fried goodness that you could ever hope for. From some of the best fried pickles ever made to glorious fried Twinkies, Oreos, and brownies, the chest pains are totally worth it.

"We're the three best friends that anybody could ever have." #pluckers #atx #brownies #twinkies #friedoreos

A photo posted by Pluckers Wing Bar (@pluckerswingbar) on

 

Congrats to @dfwfoodnfun for winning Instagram of the Week! #pluckers #friedmozzarella #wings #ranch #yum

A photo posted by Pluckers Wing Bar (@pluckerswingbar) on

 

True beauty comes from within #holymac #pluckers #macncheese #atx #dfw #htown #hou

A photo posted by Pluckers Wing Bar (@pluckerswingbar) on

 

Black Sheep Lodge has both the sweet and savory covered, as well, with their fried cookie dough nuggets (a la mode) and their cheese curds. Mmmmm, cheese curds.

Fried cookie dough nuggets a la mode? Yes please.

A photo posted by jdcoffman (@jdcoffman) on

 

God Bless American Cheese!

A photo posted by Liza Rose (@lizasaurusrose) on

 

Pretzels are basically nature’s perfect hand food, and Easy Tiger’s are hard to pass up, especially when dipped in beer cheese or house-made mustard.

 

One of the best things about fair foods is how over the top and ridiculous they can be, and Hay Elotes is one Austin joint that really embraces over the top (and manages to still be somewhat healthy).

{I like big pineapples and I cannot lie}

A photo posted by Hannah Leonard (@hanz_skittle) on

 

Of course Austin’s staple for hot dogs is never one to shy away from odd fair-style experimentation. Nearly anything on Frank’s specials menus could qualify as carnie food, especially this exquisite combination of two Texas favorite, the hot dog and the Frito pie.

 

And of course fair-goers need lots and lots of sweets…

Like the tiny ice cream creations found on the Happy Happy Time menu at Qui.

 

Let's taco bout this ⬆️ #chacotaco #happyhappytime menu only (5-7pm) ? ?: @katmanian_devil

A photo posted by qui restaurant (@quiaustin) on

 

The lil nookies from Torchy’s Tacos, deep fried cookies covered in powdered sugar and cherries, may get your fingers a little messy, but in the best way possible.

So much Nookie. ?: @chaz_jae

A photo posted by Torchy's Tacos (@torchystacos) on

 

Just about anything from Gourdough’s Public House can count as fair food…

Find out your #bigfatdonuts love language at our new burnet trailer!! ?: @lizabell07

A photo posted by Gourdough's (@gourdoughspublichouse) on

 

Especially if you throw some bacon on it…

Making the king proud with this one! #fatelvis #bigfatdonuts ?: @melly_atkinson

A photo posted by Gourdough's (@gourdoughspublichouse) on

 

Austin Churro Co. may take the hand-held goodness of a churro and require you to be seated when you dig in, but boy is it worth it!

 

What delicious, extravagant carnival delights did we miss? Be sure to let us know in the comments!


Featured image from Wikipedia, Creative Commons licensed

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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