Even though the name may sound foreign-inspired, French fries are about as American as any food can be — they're deep-fried, they're the quintessential vehicle for ketchup (America's favorite condiment, hands down), and they're made from one of the country's most bountiful crops, potatoes. However, while French fries are so popular in the U.S. that they can be found on most menus, those who know fries know that an outstanding example of a fry is easily distinguishable from the mediocre. From a Burlington, Vt. fast-food institution to a Chicago sausage mecca, we’ve tracked down the 30 best fries in America.
So what makes a perfect fry? There's the crunchiness element for sure — that crisp exterior texture that holds up against the impending threat of sogginess. Then, the soft, fluffy interior, filled with potato that's cooked through but not dried out or raw-tasting. The color also comes into play — the best fries have that undeniable golden-brown hue. When all of these elements come together, they create the perfect fry, no condiments necessary.
Creating this list was no easy feat, as fries are so prevalent in the U.S. and there are so many varieties to consider. To start things off, we compiled the "best of" fries lists from publications across the country and noted fries that have won awards for their excellence in the past. Then, we consulted The Daily Meal’s knowledgeable editorial staff and network of acclaimed experts and contributors (including our Culinary Content Network) to get their take on the nominations and help to narrow down the choices. From there, the 30 best fries in America emerged.
For the purposes of this list, only standard potato fries are being considered. While sweet potato, yucca, avocado, and other alterna-fries are certainly delectable, this list accounts only for the classic spud-derived variety. By the same token, some fries on this list may come doused in white truffle oil and accompanied by the likes of smoky tomato ketchup, but they made the list because the fries are outstanding on their own.
So read on to learn which 30 French fries are America’s best.
30) Palena Café, Washington, D.C.
The more casual half of Palena in D.C.’s Cleveland Park neighborhood offers a menu brimming with Italian- and American-inspired dishes that change according to the season. And while the more formal dining room is renowned in its own right, the café is the part of Palena that made The Daily Meal’s list of the 101 best restaurants in America for 2012. One of the most notable standbys on the menu is the fry plate, a serving fit for a crowd filled with fried white and dauphine potatoes, onions, and lemons with a side of Sriracha mayonnaise.
29) Edzo’s Burger Shop, Evanston, Ill.
Eddie Lakin, the owner of Edzo’s, has had a long, notable career in the fine dining world of Chicago, but Edzo’s is his first and only solo space. Never mind the fact that college students like those of Evanston’s Northwestern University happen to be the perfect consumers for a burger-and-fries place, the offerings at Edzo’s are truly outstanding. The fries here are cut thin and fried until extra crispy.
Originally published on April 15, 2014.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers. Additional reporting by Molly Aronica.