The Canadian National Exhibition is back for another year, and that means from August 18 until September 4, the historic CNE grounds in Toronto will be home to some of the most innovative, exciting and deep-fried food creations yet.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 15 new food spots you absolutely need to hit when visiting this year’s CNE, including fried chicken feet and strawberry shortsteak. We recommend you bring your appetite and maybe some Tupperware to carry some of that food home in.
Pancake Bacon Tacos — Bacon Nation
Bacon Nation claims that everything is better with bacon, and who are we to disagree? This year, the stand will include Pancake Bacon Tacos, which turn pancakes into taco shells that are stuffed with eggs, tomato, green pepper, onion and, of course, bacon. If you’re looking for something more on the savoury side, the stand is selling a Canadian Red Hot Burger to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday. Wash down all that bacon with a refreshing glass of charcoal lemonade.
Cricket Cone — Bug Bistro
What screams summer more than bugs? If you can’t beat them, eat them. The Bug Bistro is introducing their new Cricket Cone, vanilla soft serve in a cone that’s been coated in coconut and finished off with chocolate-roasted crickets, proving that everything can be appetizing when covered in chocolate.
Sugar Mountain — Cake Shack
For the first time at the CNE, Cake Shack will be infusing festival-goers with a sugar high that should last until next summer’s CNE. Enter the Sugar Mountain, a sugar cone dipped in white chocolate, affixed to a brownie and a piece of cheesecake, topped off with a doughnut that’s been covered in cotton candy and powdered sugar. We got a sugar high just from reading the description.
CHLOE’S DOUGHNUT ICE CREAM — San Francesco’s Italian Sandwiches
Also new to the CNE this year is Chloe’s Doughnut Ice Cream, which sells ice cream served inside freshly baked donuts. We love when we don’t have to choose between two mouthwatering desserts.
Deep-Fried Chicken Feet — Coco Concessions
If you’re wondering whether deep-fried chicken feet mean something else, it doesn’t. For the adventurous eater, this deep-fried, savoury snack will have you running towards this food booth in a heartbeat.
DRAGON’S BREATH CRêPE — Eative
We’re often told to not play with our food, but thankfully, the chefs at the CNE have ignored that warning. The molecular chemists at Eative have created a crêpe made with liquid nitrogen that turns customers into dragons, blowing a fog-like gas through their mouths and noses. How cool is that?!
Stuffed Doritos — Farm to Fryer
There’s no shortage of fried options at this year’s Farm to Fryer stand. Customers can try the deep-fried frog legs and cod tongue, the deep-fried pork belly and turkey with cranberry mayo and cheddar on a torpedo bun known as the Turpiggy Torpedo, the Fried Mac and Curd Chimichanga or the Cheese-Stuffed Doritos, made from marble cheddar that’s been coated in a Dorito crust and then deep-fried.
Peanut Butter Sriracha Bites — Fran’s Restaurant
It may still be summer, but that doesn’t mean you have to wait for cold weather to get some good comfort food. At Fran’s Restaurant booth, customers can indulge in the Southern Slang, which includes buttermilk chicken on a cinnamon sweet bun, topped with house-made slaw and dressed in a chocolate Sriracha sauce. If you’re looking for something even sweeter, try the peanut butter Sriracha bites: deep-fried sweet dough stuffed with a peanut butter Sriracha filling, dusted with cinnamon icing sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup.
THE GREAT CANADIAN — The King of Curds
When Canadians are asked what constitutes a traditional Canadian meal, the first thing that comes to mind is often poutine. Leave it to The King of Curds to make this traditional dish even more patriotic. Not only are there deep-fried cheese curds, but The Great Canadian is also sprinkled with icing sugar and, of course, pure Canadian maple syrup. Oh, Canada!
Pork Bun — THE JUICY OINK
When it comes to the CNE, there’s no need to make any decisions when you can have your pork and eat it too. In the case of The Juicy Oink, customers can experience pork cooked five ways all in the same bun. This includes crispy pork skin, slow-roasted five spice pork belly, and a Shanghai pork dumpling stuffed and topped with Okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise and honey-apple slaw.
Rolled Grilled Cheese Dippers — MELT MY HEART
Sure, grilled cheese isn’t anything new, but the way Melt My Heart is serving it will make you rethink this comfort sandwich. The Rolled Grilled Cheese Dippers are the perfect shape to dip in the variety of sauces provided. The Tropical Twist combines grilled cheese and Hawaiian pizza in one sandwich — yum! If you’re looking for something different, try the Mediterranean, which comes with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and feta cheese.
MEXICAN HOT DOG — Mr. Mike’s
It wouldn’t be the summer without a hot dog, so why not change it up and try a Mexican hot dog that comes with chili, cheese, salsa, jalapenos, cilantro, avocado and slaw all serve together in a tortilla shell?
SPAGHETTI DOUGHNUT BALLS — Fritta
Spaghetti and doughnuts aren’t two words that often occupy the same sentence, but at this year’s CNE, they’re creating a perfect partnership. Try the sweet option: a fried spaghetti ball tossed with sugar and cinnamon and drizzled in chocolate sauce. Or if you’re looking for something more savory, there’s the fried spaghetti ball mixed with fresh Italian herbs and Parmesan cheese, topped with tomato sauce.
STRAWBERRY SHORTSTEAK — Philthy Philly’s
If you’ve got limited time to explore the food options at the CNE and want to cram dinner and dessert into one meal, Strawberry Shortsteak has you covered. The new dish is a combination of Philthy Phil’s famous cheesesteak, covered in provolone cheese and finished off with a topping of strawberry sauce and icing sugar. The sandwich is served in a sweet doughnut bun for a truly unique eating experience.