Food is an essential component to the narrative of the American Dream, and the classic mainstays of culinary Americana reflect both our agricultural and ethnic landscape. Our appreciation of our land has always been intricately tied with our appreciation of the crops it yields, from Yankee Doodle’s interesting interpretation of macaroni (really, a feather?) to “amber waves of grain… above the fruited plain.”
Another tenet of our national identity is the freedom of personal choice, and we gleefully apply that to our gastronomic selections. We like to “have it our way,” so to speak, and we enact this right most frequently on the dishes that have come to define classic American menus: pizza, burgers, and — of course — French fries.
The foundation of a good loaded fry dish is also a fundamental crop in the United States: the ubiquitous potato. Grown mostly in the western and northwestern flatlands (and in the upper Midwest and Maine) and shipped across the country, they’re used as vehicles to showcase the multicultural fabric of this nation, topped with cheese, chili, shellfish, organ meats, tofu, marshmallows, pickles, and much, much more.
In order to compile this list, we took a look back at our list of 15 best, then scoured the internet for crazy concoctions that had gained recognition from other publications and recommendations on public forums like Yelp. We judged them based on originality, as well as the number of toppings and whether they actually come together to create a cohesive dish. We were astounded by the culinary creativity and daring we found across the land, and are proud to present the 25 elaborations of French fries that we believe to be the most outrageous — in the best possible way, of course…
25. Urban Fries — Jack’s Urban Eats, Sacramento, Calif.
This laid-back mini-chain of restaurants in the Sacramento area offers a menu of elevated diner foods, and even features a salad bar. The signature dish here is the Urban Fries, which come topped with a pungent combination of blue cheese, spicy chile oil, and crushed red chile flakes. The result is earthy with a kick of heat.
24. Loaded Crack Fries — HopCat, Detroit, Mich.
“Don’t worry. We won’t tell your friends” promises HopCat on their menu. They’re referring to their Crack Fries, which are beer battered and sprinkled with a special cracked black pepper house seasoning. The way to go here, though, is the Loaded Crack Fries: their signature Crack Fries topped with cheese sauce, red onion, jalapeños, and cherry-smoked bacon. It’s a habit we think is well worth picking up.
This story was originally published on March 6, 2015.