Unofficial guide to the BEST FOOD at the Coastal Carolina Fair

Fried Oreos at the Coastal Carolina Fair (Sydney Gallimore)

It’s officially fair season in Charleston, and it’s one of my absolute favorite times of the year. Nothing says “autumn in the Holy City” to me like lots of neon lights, a slight chill once the sun goes down, and the smell of things-that-shouldn’t-be-fried-but-are-fried-anyway wafting in the air.

With seemingly thousands of vendors and all the food your doctor would never recommend you eat within walking distance, it can be difficult to decide what foods are worth your time.

This is my totally biased guide to the best foods you can get at the Coastal Carolina Fair.

1. Fiske Fries

When it comes to the fair, not all French fries are created equal. If you’re not ordering your fries from the blue and white trailer, you’re doing it wrong. Fiske has spent the last 75ish years perfecting the French fry, which is why that’s all they sell (other than lemonade) at their trailer. Their fries are perfectly crisp on the outside, and pillowy and soft on the inside, with just a slight hint of acidity (from a light spritz of vinegar) and balanced with just the right amount of salt. Are you drooling yet?

2. Fried Oreos

When it comes to things that shouldn’t be fried but are fried anyway at the fair, you have plenty to choose from: Snickers, Milky Way, cheese, most vegetables, cheesecake, cookie dough, gummy bears, brownies, butter… I could seriously keep going all day. But the crème de la crème of fried oddities are hands down fried Oreos. Once they’re dipped in batter and placed in their oil bath, the cookies soften. So they’re super fluffy and delicate, and even though they’re topped with powdered sugar, they somehow aren’t cloyingly sweet.

3. Cinnamon Sugar Elephant Ear

Some people will try to tell you that funnel cakes are better than elephant ears, but those people are wrong, and you must not listen to them. You can get your elephant ears covered in pretty much anything—cherry pie filling, hot fudge, strawberries, powdered sugar, and even cheesecake—but my favorite is cinnamon sugar. It’s simple, but it’s just so darned good.

4. Corn Dog

When it comes to corn dogs, it’s important that you look for a fresh-dipped corndog. The footlongs are nice because they’re ginormous, but if you’re really looking for quality and flavor, look for the trailer that’s hand dipping the corndogs as you order. That’s what we call the “corn dog holy grail.” (Ok, it’s just me calling it that).

5. Turkey Leg

I don’t really like them, but I seem to be in the minority here.

What are your favorite fair food? (mobile app users CLICK HERE to vote)

Be sure to check out the Coastal Carolina Fair October 26 – November 5. Buy your tickets online to skip having to wait in line!


Sydney Gallimore is a cat-loving food writer who's lived in Charleston for almost 10 years. Her life is fueled by meals at various restaurants around the Holy City, iced coffee, and craft cocktails.

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