French fries can be found on restaurant menus all over America, from the smallest take-away shack to the grand bastions of fine dining. Although the origin of the fry is somewhat of a sore spot for our European friends (the French and the Belgians still can't agree about which country invented them), they have become a fine example of classic American fare. Everyone has a preferred consistency — satisfyingly crunchy, delightfully crispy, or soft and soggy — and great debates have sprouted over the superior way to cut them. Crinkle, curly, shoestring, steak, or waffle: just about everyone has a passionate opinion.
We’ve tackled the task of determining the country’s best French fries twice before, and there are 14 fry dishes on this year’s list of 50 that have now made the cut two years running. Twenty states are represented this time around. The three states with the most places on this list are California, New York, and Texas, and although you won’t see any from Alaska or Hawaii as you click through, we’ve got fries from all four corners of the continental United States covered, from York, Maine to Miami, Phoenix, and Seattle.
For 2015’s ranking, we first set out to define exactly what we would be considering; loaded fry dishes weren’t included, as we already covered them with America’s Most Outrageous French Fries. Some of our selections are fried in duck fat or dusted with an herbed seasoning, but every honoree made the list because their fries are outstanding on their own. Avocado, sweet, and yucca fries were also out, as the flavors inherent to these spuds vary too greatly from traditional fries to make it a fair fight.
The editorial staff here at The Daily Meal first nominated our own favorite French fries, and then we asked our knowledgeable City Editors to let us know which fries are considered the best in the 24 American cities we currently cover. We also added the potato batons from all of the restaurants that made last year’s list of the 101 Best Burgers in America, as we figured that if a restaurant knows about good burgers, they most likely know how to churn out delicious fries as well. We then built a survey and opened it up to you, our Daily Meal readers, asking you to tell us who you think serves the best. You answered the call, and when the dust settled, we had a clear winner.
Or so we thought.
On Thursday, March 26, just three days after closing our survey, a 7-alarm fire broke out on New York’s Lower East Side, on 2nd Avenue between 7th and 8th Streets, following a gas explosion. Although our offices are situated a mile away in the Flatiron District, we heard the sirens and smelled the smoke while hundreds of fire fighters raced to save four buildings that had gone up in flames, with the tragic loss of two lives. One of these buildings had housed Pommes Frites, the restaurant poised to be named the home of America’s best French fries this year.
These beloved purveyors of Belgian fries are currently running a fundraising campaign to help finance a new home for their late-night munchie institution, but at the time of publication, Pommes Frites is not serving their delicious fries. So, we went on to the runner-up and kept on going.
Here, then, are the 50 best French fries in America:
50) Hodad's (San Diego)
While much has been made of Hodad’s burgers, their fries are standouts, too. The fries are wedge-cut, seasoned, served piping hot, and are crispy, golden, and perfectly cooked.
49) Poe's Tavern (Sullivan's Island, S.C.; Atlantic Beach, Fla.)
Both locations of this restaurant serve classic casual dishes that are best accompanied by French fries: gourmet burgers, chicken sliders, fish tacos, and seafood sandwiches. However, their hand cut fries are good enough to stand on their own. If you’re near the South Carolina outpost, be sure to pop in and try them with Poe’s Original Fry Sauce, which is primarily a mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise, and vinegar.
Additional reporting by Rosemary Pantaleo.