Of the 10 Big Tex Choice Awards finalists at the State Fair of Texas in 2018, the most expensive item is the best.

You simply must to set aside 20 coupons (that's $10) to buy the cinnamon-spiced rice ball, deep fried and served with ice cream, called arroz con leche.

It ranked No. 1 in GuideLive's annual taste-test of the Big Tex Choice Awards. It was also an award winner among judges in a State Fair taste-test, where it was named "best taste - sweet." And we believe it will be No. 1 in your heart.

Eat these: State Fair of Texas announces 10 gut-busting, award-winning foods

We're passionate about State Fair of Texas food, can you tell? Each year, my fellow entertainment reporters and I go to the State Fair on opening day and try the new foods. Every taster ranks the dishes on a scale from 5 to 0, scrutinizing them for presentation, taste, presentation and price point. 

You shouldn't spend 157 coupons (or $78.50) to buy all 10 Big Tex Choice Awards like we did. So here's your definitive ranking of the best and worst State Fair of Texas finalists from 2018. Find each of the foods below by using this handy fair food map.

The best: 1. Arroz con leche

If you're going to buy one dish at the State Fair of Texas, make it arroz con leche.

If you're going to buy one dish at the State Fair of Texas, make it arroz con leche.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? Two sweet fried rice balls dusted with cinnamon and served with vanilla ice cream
Price: 20 coupons, or $10
Score: 4.55 out of 5

4 essential State Fair of Texas foods

Our opinion: Garza family members said in an interview that arroz con leche is "something we grew up with as a family," relating it to fried "Mexican morning oatmeal." It reminded us of cinnamon toast crunch or a snickerdoodle, and came beautifully fried with a hint of sweetness. "This is something you couldn't get anywhere but the fair," says events producer Chandler Boese. Other journalists used words like "amazing" to describe this unique, surprising and fun dish. An impressive seven out of 10 voters gave it a perfect 5 score.

2. Deep-fried shepherd's pie

Sara Burgos (left) and Dawn Burkes react to the fried green beans that come on the side of the deep-fried shepherd's pie at the State Fair of Texas.

Sara Burgos (left) and Dawn Burkes react to the fried green beans that come on the side of the deep-fried shepherd's pie at the State Fair of Texas.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? A ball of mashed potatoes, beef and veggies, fried and served with sides of gravy and fried green beans
Price: 16 coupons, or $8
Score: 4.27 out of 5

16 coupons gets you two fried shepherd's pie balls at the State Fair of Texas.

16 coupons gets you two fried shepherd's pie balls at the State Fair of Texas.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

Our opinion: Sorry, mom: The first few words spoken after Dallas Morning News reporters bit into the deep-fried shepherd's pie were NSFW. We loved it, basically. TV critic Dawn M. Burkes called it "better than heaven," and the group mostly agreed that the mashed potatoes and the fried green beans on the side were stars. For anyone underwhelmed by Fried Thanksgiving Dinner, a savory dish that debuted at the State Fair of Texas in 2013, concessionaire Clint Probst's deep-fried shepherd's pie masters the one-bite meal beautifully.

3. Deep-fried skillet potato melt in a boat

Brentney Hamilton (left) and Sarah Blaskovich really like State Fair food.

Brentney Hamilton (left) and Sarah Blaskovich really like State Fair food.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer
Say "deep-fried skillet potato melt in a boat" — it's a mouthful. It's also delicious if you get the right bite.

Say "deep-fried skillet potato melt in a boat" — it's a mouthful. It's also delicious if you get the right bite.

Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer

What is it? "A tater tot on steroids," its concessionaires say
Price: 17 coupons, or $8.50
Score: 3.1 out of 5

Our opinion: It's easy to want to like a fried ball filled with sausage and Babybel cheese and topped with bacon bites and a drizzle of sour cream chipotle. And we mostly did, especially those who love very salty food. However, this fried bar snack was nearly impossible to eat because its insides fell apart once we cut it open. Those who gathered the perfect bite enjoyed it. Others were left wishing it held up better.

4. Fernie's hoppin' john cake with jackpot sauce

That piece of pickled okra isn't just for show. Include it in a bite of the Fernie's hoppin' john cake with jackpot sauce.

That piece of pickled okra isn't just for show. Include it in a bite of the Fernie's hoppin' john cake with jackpot sauce.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? A cake with black-eyed peas, rice, sausage and green onions, fried
Price: 16 coupons, or $8
Score: 2.9 out of 5

Our opinion: Give us a boat of that jackpot sauce, honey, and we would dip everything in it, including a Fletcher's corny dog. Our hoppin' john cakes were well made but seriously divisive: Anyone who loved black-eyed peas found this State Fair dish to be complex and delicious. But those who don't, like How We Live reporter Charlie Scudder and Guide editor Sara Burgos, were repulsed by the texture. ("I just don't like it, I'm not about it, and I'm not gonna like it," Scudder said. Fair enough.) Reporter Brentney Hamilton figured out the perfect bite: hoppin' john cake, jackpot sauce and a bite of tangy pickled okra. Yes. 

5. Texas fried Hill Country

Texas Fried Hill Country is like a caprese salad: mozzarella, tomatoes, basil.

Texas Fried Hill Country is like a caprese salad: mozzarella, tomatoes, basil.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? Mozzarella, basil and green tomatoes, fried and drizzled with balsamic vinegar and honey
Price: 14 coupons, or $7
Score: 2.8 out of 5

How to get discounted tickets to the State Fair of Texas

Our opinion: The name is stupid, that's Thing One. The Texas Hill Country is home to Luckenbach, and wine country, and lavender fields. And ... a fried Caprese salad? Name aside, this is a good caprese, though: Hamilton called it "the most surprising fair food" she'd tried all day. All agreed that the dish, made by concessionaires Rudy and Justin Martinez, was the closest to thing we ate that we'd consider "restaurant food." So for anyone at the State Fair who'd rather avoid the staples, like a turkey leg and a funnel cake, Texas fried Hill Country might be for you.

6. State Fair Fun-L Cake ice cream

The State Fair Fun-l Cake ice cream at the State Fair of Texas felt a little light on the funnel cake.

The State Fair Fun-l Cake ice cream at the State Fair of Texas felt a little light on the funnel cake.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? Vanilla ice cream spiked with funnel cake bits
Price: 12 coupons, or $6
Score: 2.77 out of 5

Our opinion: We wanted to like this more than we did. Essentially, it tastes like a scoop of vanilla ice cream with occasional crunch. It comes from a very likeable company, Howdy Homemade, which employs people with special needs. But it isn't drastically different than a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream.

7. Cotton candy taco

Does Kelly Dearmore have something on his face?

Does Kelly Dearmore have something on his face?

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? A graham cracker waffle cone with cotton candy
Price: 14 coupons, or $7
Score: 2.67 out of 5

Cotton candy taco crowned 'most creative' in State Fair of Texas' biggest food contest

Our opinion: It is true that the award of "most creative" fits this cotton candy taco. State Fairgoers gawked as we walked past Big Tex, holding a wacky-looking puff of white cotton candy with chocolate sticks poking out like antennae. Editor Tiney Ricciardi called it "stunningly beautiful," and events producer Norma Cavazos gave it a resounding 5 out of 5 because it looks like the quintessential State Fair of Texas food. But then everyone took a bite. The cotton candy had flattened in just a few minutes, and instead of biting into an airy poof of sugar, we found a block of dry dessert with a cottonball consistency. But would we buy it for our kids, just once? Totally, says music critic Kelly Dearmore.

8. Fernie's Orange You Glad We Fried It!?

Fernie's Orange You Glad We Fried it?! will be well-liked by anyone who loves orange. Which isn't great news for anyone who doesn't.

Fernie's Orange You Glad We Fried it?! will be well-liked by anyone who loves orange. Which isn't great news for anyone who doesn't.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? A chiffon orange cake with custard-like filling, fried
Price: 16 coupons, or $8
Score: 2.55 out of 5

Our opinion: If you eat with your eyes (and we all do, don't we?) this one's confusing. Take a bite, and inside an empanada-like pastry looks like ... squash? Pumpkin? No, it's orange cake and custard. Events editor Shannon Sutlief called it "off-putting." It was well-liked by anyone who enjoys orange-flavored desserts, but as it turned out, only three of our 11 tasters did. Burkes gave it a rare 0 score.

9. Sweet Bakin' Bacon

As you can imagine, eating 10 foods all in a few hours is a big task. GuideLive is up to the challenge.

As you can imagine, eating 10 foods all in a few hours is a big task. GuideLive is up to the challenge.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer
The Sweet Bakin' Bacon at the State Fair of Texas was fine.

The Sweet Bakin' Bacon at the State Fair of Texas was fine.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? A sponge cake laced with bacon, fried
Price: 14 coupons, or $7
Score: 2.1 out of 5

Our opinion: Sweet, Sweet Bakin' Bacon. The idea is there. This dish is like a fairifried breakfast of pancakes and bacon, making it the only Big Tex Choice Awards finalist that would make sense to eat in the morning. It was fine, most said. But fine does not buy any dish the street cred to sit at the top of this list. 

The worst: 10. Texas Twang-kie

Seriously, though. Why are there beans in this "Texas" chili, the Texas Twang-kie?

Seriously, though. Why are there beans in this "Texas" chili, the Texas Twang-kie?

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

What is it? Cornbread, hollowed out and filled with chicken and white bean chili
Price: 18 coupons, or $9
Score:  1.9 out of 5

Cornbread stuffed with white-bean chili sounds great, but the Texas Twang-kie underwhelmed.

Cornbread stuffed with white-bean chili sounds great, but the Texas Twang-kie underwhelmed.

Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer

Our opinion: The problem here is "too much," said many tasters: Too much cornbread. Too many beans in the chili. And that name? Too precious, Burkes says. The Texas Twang-kie is one of the heartier dishes at the State Fair this year -- good enough to feel like a full meal. But the beans in the chili make it mushy, and the cornbread fries on the side are just strange. Sorry, Texans.

Please clap for our GuideLive panel of tasters, who are probably napping right now: Chandler Boese, Sara Burgos, Dawn M. Burkes, Norma Cavazos, Kelly Dearmore, Brentney Hamilton, Britton Peele, Charlie Scudder, Shannon Sutlief and Tiney Ricciardi.

If you're going to the fair, let us help! Go to guidelive.com/statefair

And don't forget: You can use coupons you saved from past years. (I know, right?)

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