Elevated Fair Food in Los Angeles

Churro ice cream sandwich at Churro Borough | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Who said you could only enjoy fair food once a year? Sure, the L.A. County Fair takes over the Fairplex in Pomona every September, but that hasn’t stopped creative chefs from riffing on popular fair foods year-round. Learn about great foods that are deep-fried, served on a stick or shrouded in sugary excess. Either way, you win.

Halo at B Sweet Dessert Bar | Photo by Joshua Lurie

B Sweet Dessert Bar

In August 2014, Chef Barb Batiste built on her catering and mobile success by opening this brick and mortar dessert bar in what’s now officially called Japantown. To create B Sweet’s Halo, she presses ice cream between a hole-free glazed donut that’s made at their Culver City commissary. B Sweet sources ube (purple yam) and green tea ice cream from Magnolia, and the remaining ice cream flavors from Thrifty, a beloved L.A. classic.

Marie Antoinette's Head at Barton G. | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Barton G. The Restaurant

Barton G. Weiss clearly doesn’t view the world like everybody else. The Miami-based chef launched a West Hollywood restaurant in 2014, featuring a grey color scheme with splashes of pink and purple. Presentation is a big focus at Barton G., particularly at dessert. Pastry Chef Michael Luna helped create Marie Antoinette’s Head, a mannequin head wrapped with bubble gum cotton candy. At the base you’ll find a slice of vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting, topped with a strawberry dipped in cream cheese that’s dressed with pearls of more strawberry and cream cheese. Fresh raspberries and strawberries are along for the ride, as is whipped cream with cream cheese curls. Why a head? Marie Antoinette met her fate at a guillotine’s blade.

Avocado tacos | Photo courtesy of Border Grill

No fair would be complete without a deep-fried avocado, and Border Grill Chef-Owners Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken have this down to a science. Avocado gets rolled with red quinoa, amaranth and black sesame before enjoying a deep-fried bath. This joins chipotle salsa, grilled corn relish and pickled onion in soft corn tortillas. The avocado tacos are available as a trio in Santa Monica, and served with organic rice and black beans.

Churro ice cream sandwich at Churro Borough | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Sure, churros are great, but aren’t they a whole lot better when you can get ice cream in the middle? Chef Sylvia Yoo and brother Paul brought this dessert innovation to Los Feliz Village in early 2015, pairing crispy churro discs with house-made ice cream in their fun, mural-lined parlor. The flat churros, which are fried to order and dusted with cinnamon sugar, are available with any flavor that's listed on the board, which could be spicy hot chocolate, horchata sherbert or strawberry buttermilk.

Red velvet Wow-Nut at DK's Donuts | Photo by Joshua Lurie

DK’s Donuts & Bakery

When in doubt, deep-fry. That seems to be an unspoken mantra from fair vendors everywhere, whether they’re armed with candied bars, fruits and vegetables, or sticks of butter. Why not a waffle? Lee and Kong Tao founded this 24/7 spot in 1981 after moving from Cambodia. Daughter Mayly and brother Sean now run this shop, which sports a pink candy-stripe sign, tiny yellow tables and orange stools. Their Wow-Nut involves deep-fry red velvet waffles served with cream cheese frosting and ube (or red velvet) crumble. Wow-Nut is also available with white chocolate and crushed Oreos.

Fried pickles at The Fat Dog | Photo by Joshua Lurie

The Fat Dog - Fairfax

This gastropub from Richard Mandeville, wife Susann and Chef John Gladish now has locations in West Hollywood and North Hollywood. Both spots honor the Mandevilles’ pet dog, which is depicted in paintings. Fried pickles feature house-made spears that are salt-cured and bathed in vinegar, bay leaf, coriander and chile flakes before they’re egg-washed, dredged in seasoned flour and breadcrumbs and deep-fried. A half-dozen come with tangy ranch yogurt dipping sauce that’s folded with crème fraiche. Better yet, the pickles are served in a paper bag branded with the Chilly Dilly cartoon character.

Corn dogs at The Lobster | Photo by Joshua Lurie

The Lobster

The corn dog clearly belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of fair food, and The Lobster undoubtedly has L.A.’s most deluxe version. Chef Collin Crannell crafts sausage with Maine lobster meat, lobster roe, Mexican white shrimp and pork fat. Seafood logs are poached, dipped in cornmeal batter and deep-fried. Lashings of sweet honey mustard and spicy chile oil grace this prized bar bite, which comes with complimentary ocean views.

Chocolate strawberry popsicle at Stick Station | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Brandon Choi’s gelateria serves tricked out popsicles in just off Miller Alley in Old Pasadena. Choose from sticks, which can consist of roasted hazelnut, peanut butter chocolate, and sorbet-based offerings like lemon, mango, and strawberry. Start by having your server dip the bar in a molten coating, which should probably be dark chocolate. From there, drizzle in chocolate or caramel and choose from various toppings. We’d recommend crushed pistachios and crunchy beads of white, dark and milk chocolate.