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Bar food goes carnival-style

Where to get your fix of cotton candy, Cracker Jacks and fried Twinkies

  • Lincoln Park's The Barrelhouse Flat offers different flavors of cotton candy each day.
Lincoln Park's The Barrelhouse Flat offers different flavors of… (Lenny Gilmore )
June 14, 2012|By Emily Van Zandt | RedEye

Summertime can bring back childhood memories spent roaming the state fair, ice cream cone in hand, begging mom and dad for one more funnel cake. Or maybe that was just a Norman Rockwell painting we saw once. Whatever your memories, summer fests come with iconic snacks—ones that are none too kind to the waistline. In a nod to those indulgent classics, local bars have been adding a touch of whimsy to their menus by playing off of carnival food favorites. Here are a few to hold you over until the next time you're surrounded by bumper cars and Ferris wheels.

Cotton candy

The Barrelhouse Flat

2624 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-857-0421

With such fancy drinks and bites on the menu, it may throw you off to see daily cotton candy options scrawled on the specials board. This Lincoln Park cocktail parlor bounces between nostalgic flavors such as strawberry-bubblegum or more funky kinds, including chartreuse, bacon, root beer and IPA-flavored piles of fluff ($5).

Fried Twinkie

The Anthem

1725 W. Division St. 773-697-4804

In the world of fair food, the deep-fried Twinkie is king. This Wicker Park sports bar serves one topped with Oreo cream for an extra-caloric bonus.

"Cracker Jacks"

Stout Barrel House & Galley

642 N. Clark St. 312-475-1390

There may not be a prize at the bottom of your bowl, but this mix of caramel corn, pork rinds, wasabi peas and spiced almonds ($6) will go down just as quickly as the boxed variety that served as its inspiration.

Ice cream sandwich

Telegraph

2601 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-292-9463

At this Logan Square wine bar, you can upgrade your childhood favorite (chocolate-chip cookies with vanilla ice cream, right?) for a more sophisticated version featuring strawberry semifreddo squished between two Bavarian sugar cookies, finished off with cream cheese frosting and sunflower-butter crunch ($8).

Sausage on a stick

Roots Handmade Pizza

1924 W. Chicago Ave. 773-645-4949

Ah, meat on a stick—the portable protein is a summer essential. This West Town pizzeria offers grilled half sausages (choose from Italian, bratwurst or Vienna) on a stick for $3. Upgrade to a batter-dipped corn dog or pastry-wrapped "blanket" version for $1 more.

Kettle corn

Lady Gregory's

5260 N. Clark St. 773-271-5050

The sweet-and-salty popcorn usually seen toted around in oversized bags gets a foodie boost at this Andersonville tavern: It's drizzled with truffle oil and served in a snack-sized portion for $3.

Fried Oreos

Racine Plumbing Bar & Grill

2642 N. Lincoln Ave. 773-871-1600

While other bars have hopped on the trend more recently, this Lincoln Park pub has been channeling the we'll-fry-anything practice of state fairs since it opened two summers ago. Battered and deep-fried Oreos (3 for $4 or 6 for $7) are best described as a melt-in-your-mouth puddle of chocolate, we're told. Fried cookie dough and a fried Twinkie are also on the menu.

evanzandt@tribune.com | @redeyedrinks

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