The State Fair Of Texas Gluten Free | Dallas Eats

Everyone knows that everything is bigger in Texas. So when it comes to hosting a State Fair, leave it to Texas to do it up with incredible pomp and circumstance.

What is it?

The State Fair of Texas is exactly what you think of when you conjure thoughts of a good ‘ole American fair. This is an annual recreational and competitive gathering promoting the products and people of a state. This particular fair opened for the first time on October 25, 1886. And, it is still hosted on the same grounds in Dallas that it was back then. What began as an 80 acre affair has amazingly grown to a staggering 277 acres. (As a point fo reference: Magic Kingdom is only 107 acres) That makes this the largest State Fair in the country. And make no mistake. This is one of the pride and joys of Texas. The mascot of the fair is Big Tex. You will find him in plush character form walking around and greeting fair goers, plastered on every logo throughout the complex, and sitting smack in the middle of the grounds as a larger than life electronic version standing 55 feet tall. So…bring your walking shoes folks and get ready to experience an overwhelming rush of games, rides, exhibits, shows and fun.

Food

The official website states: “The State Fair Of Texas And Great Food Go Hand And Hand.”

But…is that true for those who eat gluten free?

The webpage goes on to say that “Tasting “Fair food” is a big reason why people visit the State Fair of Texas.” And, about a decade ago, the State Fair of Texas did indeed start to make a name for itself in the food world. Known for creative culinary creations, the Big Tex Choice Awards have elevated the art of food here. Unfortunately, the awards are tied to fried food recipes. Meaning, every time you turn a corner you encounter something fried: beer, bacon, butter, cotton candy, jellybeans, pepperoni pizza, Sriracha.

If you happen to be living the gluten free lifestyle, just where in the world does one find gluten free food in a place where even the condiments are deep fried? Can someone eating gluten free can actually spend an entire day at the State Fair of Texas without leaving the property to eat? This year, the Kid Allergy Travel family partnered with the State Fair of Texas (via sponsorship) to investigate this specific question and share just how it can be done.

The fair itself gives no direction to those with food allergies other than states that if you have food allergies you may bring in outside food. So, we turned to a trusted travel source, TripSavvy for guidance from their post detailing gluten free food you could encounter at the State Fair of Texas. Do we have the same experience? Can we eat just as much?

We visit with one pescatarian adult, one adult and one kid eating gluten free, and one picky Kindergartner. Check out the map and follow along below to see just how it all turned out.

Front Gate DART Fair Park Station/Gate 4

Between the D.A.R.House and the Texas Vietnam Veterans Memorial there are stalls set up outside, along with coupon vending stations and booths (area FG).

GLUTEN FREE AVAILABLE

Dippin’ Dots (Various Locations)

Varies by product. The ice cream itself is gluten free but add ins may contain gluten (like the Oreos in the Cookies-n-Cream for example). Vendor wouldn’t comment yes or no. Pointed to the sign on the stall referencing allergies.

NOTHING GLUTEN FREE

Milton’s

You know how we learned in the TripSavvy that he turkey legs and twisted tators were gluten free? We did not find one place that agreed with that statement and this place was no different. When asked, they said nothing there was gluten free.

Sutter’s State Fair Salt Water Taffy

It started out promising as the ingredients are only corn syrup, butter plus flavoring. But then we got—oh, but they use a non stick product of some sorts. Could be a product that uses wheat–can’t be sure. Sadly, we had to leave these treats behind.

Newport

Remember TripSavvy gave us that great tip about the Sausage on a Stick being gluten free and from Newports? Guess who turned us down right away. Nothing here is gluten free we were told. But I pointed out they sell pickles and chocolate bananas and popsicles. Surely one of those? They said nope and moved on to the next customer.

Texas Auto Show/Automobile Building

This is across the Esplanade and houses all sorts of cool domestic cars and fun auto themed car games like the Dodge Challenger Forza Game and the Ford race car experience (area AB).

GLUTEN FREE AVAILABLE

Auto Grill

This place was gluten free heaven! Primarily because someone working the concession has a daughter with celiac disease. She brought out all packages so I could inspect them which was a great help and gave me great confidence. You can have the popcorn, Barefoot Wine Spritzer, Nachos, and even a Frito Pie because the Chili and Fritos are labeled gluten free! This place gets a gold star for being knowledgable and helpful.

Big Tex Circle

An destination itself, everyone wants a chance to visit with Big Tex (area BTX).

NOTHING GLUTEN FREE

Old Mill Inn & Patio

We were intrigued by this courtyard because it provides some shade and actual tables to enjoy a meal in the shadow of Big Tex. Unfortunately, we were told that they can not guarantee that the “value hot dogs” are gluten free and there was too much cross contamination around to be safe.

Bayou Kitchen

Nada. Lots of fried food here and what is flying all over the place behind that counter. Plus, if you happen to be a pescatarian who eats no meat like Mr. Kid Allergy Travel, you won’t be able to enjoy the seafood gumbo either. They put sausage in there. Crawfish étouffé is actually sans meat but by noon when we visited, they had already run out. Don’t bank on those jambalaya balls either if you don’t eat meat because they don’t fall in that category of no meat either. So, the hubby settled for some fried crawfish pies that are served with a mustard sauce instead.

Grand Place

This is a place of commerce where you can buy exhibitor products, crafts, and enjoy a virtual reality experience (area G).

GLUTEN FREE AVAILABLE

Frontier Fruit & Nut Co.

This stall is tucked in nicely within the hall and takes cash only instead of coupons. The staff was very helpful and seemed knowledgeable about gluten and cross contamination–so knowledgable, in fact, that Kid Allergy ended up sampling the cashews and cranberry nut mix, then buying some dried fruit.  The following products are gluten free: any of the non-coated nuts, dried meats, and fruits. They have two other locations you may also visit located in the Embarcadero Building and the Craft Tent. Kid Allergy enjoyed the dried papayas mix very much which cost less than $5 for 1/4 of a pound.

Velasquez

You can grab some popcorn here that is gluten free. Kid Allergy scarfed it down and gave it a thumbs up.

The Midway #sftmidway

This is a family favorite because you can get your game on via various boardwalk style challenges, enjoy carnival rides for those big and small, and enjoy the view from the incredible ferris wheel (area MW).

GLUTEN FREE AVAILABLE

State Fair Cotton Candy

Cotton candy is gluten free and you can enjoy it in the shadow of the ferris wheel.

Darn Good Corn

Incredible roasted corn that is gluten free! If you need to stay away from diary just ask them to give you the corn straight out of the roaster. For everyone else, enjoy a selection of butter, mayo or parmesan cheese as a topping.

Steak Out

The person at the counter did go and ask someone which products were gluten free. She said that both the steak on a stick and sausage on a stick were the only things they had available. She didn’t sound very confident though and the grill spaces looked to be potential cross contamination nightmares. I wasn’t super convinced. I then mentioned the corn sitting on a grill in the corner and she added “oh yeah, that too I guess.” So….you know, eat at this one at your own risk. And please, use your own judgment here.

Bert’s Snow Cones

Packaged Fritos, Cheetos & Lay’s potato chips.

NOTHING GLUTEN FREE

Sweet Connie’s

She was very quick to tell me that she didn’t have any idea and we should just assume nothing is safe. Kid Allergy was bummed he couldn’t enjoy a caramel or candy apple, nor the chocolate covered strawberries.

Catfish Floyd

This is another one of those turkey leg/sausage on a stick vendors that turned us immediately away. Nothing gluten free here we were told.

Tower Building

Lots of food concessions under one roof (area TB).

GLUTEN FREE AVAILABLE

There were soooo many vendors I only had a chance to visit a few select vendors I had a hunch might offer some gluten free options. Every one I visited did have at least one thing available.

It’s All Greek to Me

Only the greek salad. Order without croutons. Salad dressing has been confirmed gluten free.

Larry’s Bar & Grill

I was turned away immediately saying nothing was gluten free. When I inquired about the roasted corn she did say that was safe because they roast it in the husk and peel it in front of you. But, the knowledge of gluten free was pretty minimal here. This is one of those eat at your own risk kinda places.

BWs Famous Fried Ribs & Roasted Nuts

This was a very knowledgable concession stand that had lots of options and hospitality to back it up. Falafel and French fries are fried in a dedicated fryer. Black eyed peas and pinto beans are gluten free. Hummus can be ordered without pita. The Bavarian nuts don’t have gluten, just cinnamon and sugar. Chocolate hummus will work for those eating gluten free just order without pretzels (you get to use strawberries instead!). They also serve wine!

For anyone who is actually able to eat gluten, let me just put in a plug for the banana cream fried pie topped with homemade whipped cream. The gluten eaters of our family said it was absolutely divine (thanks BWs for sharing that one on the house with Kid Allergy Travel!).

Pedro’s Tamales

All tamales and chili are gluten free.

Fruteria Cano

The visual appeal of the mountains of fresh fruit and veggies will draw you in. The beautifully carved mango flowers on a stick will make you lick your lips and amongst all the unhealthy fare you will find yourself needing to purchase something gluten free here.

Texas Chili Parlor

You can finally get a hot dog! They don’t grill their buns so there is no cross contamination with their gluten free hot dogs! Chili and Fritos are also gluten free to make a gluten free Frito pie. Plus, packaged nachos and gluten free cheese for nachos are available.

Cotton Candy Stand

Plopped right in the center of the room, you may have another opportunity to enjoy gluten free cotton candy here.

Totally Bananas

Located directly outside the entrance of this building, this cart has a sign on it that says the frozen chocolate bananas are gluten free!


Verdict?

Ultimately, it depends on who works the concessions, how much knowledge and attention has been placed on training the staff, and your comfort level and medical sensitivity to cross contamination. The logistics behind walking around the 277 acres is complicated. Your interests drive where you go within this complex. The crowds dictate where you linger. How your kids feel control the immediacy of your actions. We may never have gotten to enjoy one of those delicious looking turkey legs, but we did find some other safe options. In the end, Kid Allergy didn’t get sick and he didn’t actually starve. We hope the same goes for you and your family. And, we hope that in some small way we could help you achieve that.


Kid Allergy Travel received sponsorship via complementary entrance to the State Fair of Texas. Although this was part of a media visit, rest assured, the opinions provided in the post by Kid Allergy Travel remain our own. Photos by Kid Allergy Travel.




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