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.
Edzo’s Burger Shop
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.
These thick-cut steak fries from Jonesy's EatBar are crisp and crunchy on their own, but for those looking for something extra, they also come with truffle aioli and Parmesan cheese, Frank’s hot sauce and blue cheese, or sausage gravy and Cheddar cheese.
Absinthe Brasserie and Bar
Although Absinthe is known for being a high-end French brasserie in San Francisco, the most well-known item on the menu is the burger and fries. The crispy fries are thin-cut and come with smoky tomato ketchup and sweet onion aioli on the side.
This Belgian brew pub specializes in suds (no surprise there), but they also serve a menu of delightful pub fare. Hand-cut Yukon Gold potatoes are fried until golden brown, then dusted with sea salt, and when they're not accompanying a burger, they're served in a traditional Belgian paper cone with a choice of two dipping sauces, such as McChouffe roasted garlic-asiago mayo and creamy Wostyntje beer mustard.
Boise Fry Company
It comes as no surprise that an Idaho fry shop would make some of the best fries in the country, given the integral connection that Idahoans have to their potatoes. The fries at the Boise Fry Company come with lots of options — first is the potato itself (choose between russet, purple, gold, sweet, Okinawa, and yam), next is the preparation (shoestring, regular, home-style, curly, or the famous po-balls). From there, all that’s left to do is fry them up and devour the whole serving.
Blind Tiger Pub
A step inside The Blind Tiger Pub may reveal a typical dive restaurant, but if you’re lucky enough to get a table in the backyard patio, you’ll get to enjoy a much more pleasant garden atmosphere. The fries here are offered as an accompanying side to the many burger and sandwich options, and are also on the sides menu. They’re thick-cut, crispy, and golden-brown.
Trendy French brasserie Comme Ça serves up pommes frites alongside many of their signature dishes, including their burger, moules frites, and steak frites. However, the fries here are not crafted in the typical shoestring style often offered at brasseries. Instead, they’re hand-cut and slightly thicker, resulting in a crisp golden exterior and fluffy interior — the perfect combination.
Hyde Park Bar & Grill
Consistently voted as the best in Austin by the public and food experts alike, the fries at Hyde Park Bar & Grill are hand-cut from Idaho potatoes, dipped in buttermilk, then battered with seasoned flour and fried to crispy perfection. Get them served straight up with the restaurant’s special sauce or splurge for a side of homemade cheese sauce to dip the fries in.
Yelp/ Rachel B
This Northeast Philly beer bar makes all of their food from scratch, on-premises (besides the chicken fingers — “We examined numerous chickens, but we couldn't find fingers on any of them,” the website explains), and their French fries are fresh-cut by hand every morning and fried in canola oil. Rated Philly’s best by Philadelphia Magazine, the fries are available “red and yellow” (a combination of sweet potato and russet) or tossed with Cajun spice or truffle salt, but the care put into slicing and frying these bad boys does away with the need for any accompaniment, even ketchup.
If you live in Burlington, Vt., you’ve heard of Al’s French Frys. The sprawling burger joint, located just south of downtown, started as a French fry stand run by Al and Genevieve Rusterholz in the late 1940s, and over the years it just kept growing. The latest incarnation still has a distinctly 1950s vibe, and a menu that appears to not have changed (in both offerings and price) in years. Burgers are still just $1.60, and fries (or frys) cost even less than that. The potatoes are scrubbed and hand-cut on a daily basis, double-fried, and are the Platonic ideal of the French fry. They’re crispy, the inside is pillowy soft, and no ketchup is necessary. But if you choose to pour some nacho cheese and chili on top, you certainly won’t regret it.
Pike Street Fish Fry
Pike Street Fish Fry is like a cross between a Pacific surf shack and an authentic British fish and chips shop. The French fries are extra-crispy and medium-cut, and the golden-brown hue is so pronounced that it rivals the color of the expertly fried fish they’re often paired with. Plus, every Friday is free fry night.
The fries are the specialty at Frjtz — they’re available in original, white truffle oil, spicy, and garlic. They also come with the option of more than 22 varieties of dipping sauces, available in flavors like Kalamata ketchup, ginger orange mayo, and Parmesan peppercorn ranch. They’re fried up golden brown and delicious, just like they’re done in Belgium, and don’t even need any of the outstanding toppings.
The fries at Suzanne Goin’s restaurant, Tavern, are fresh-cut, double-fried, and tossed with delicate fresh herbs. Does it get any better than that? Simple and straightforward, the fries are a perfect reflection of Goin's culinary philosophy.
Michael Kornick rose to fame in the Chicago dining scene thanks to his elegantly executed fare and upscale atmosphere at his restaurant MK in the city’s Near North Side neighborhood. So when Kornick decided to open up a burger-and-fries joint a few years ago, the venture seemed like quite a departure — but not so surprisingly, he created another success. The fries at DMK come in a variety of flavors and combinations, but the standard sea salt and black pepper hand-cut ones, made from russet potatoes, are the claim to fame.
Yelp/ Donald T
GQ once named the burger at Le Tub as the best in the country, but for the purposes of this list, the focus remains on the patty’s famed side dish. The fries at Le Tub are of the steak variety, meaning they’re thick-cut and full of soft potato inside the crispy exterior. They deep-fry the spuds in peanut oil and serve them up piping hot — no frills necessary.
This little restaurant in the nation’s capital serves up authentic Irish chips (which are the equivalent of fries in the States for those who don’t know). They come in two sizes — "single" and "large" and are hand-cut and double-fried to achieve the perfect level of crispness.
Given the matchbox size of the restaurant (in fact, there are no seats available, just a countertop and a window out front for walk-up ordering) and the constant stream of East Villagers in a fry-eating mood, expect to wait when you’re visiting Pommes Frites. The fries are crafted in the traditional Belgian style, which means they're thick-cut and of the steak variety. There are only two items on the menu, fries and sauces, but the sauce options are wide and varied — think pomegranate teriyaki mayo and curry ketchup especial (a combination of frite sauce, curry ketchup, and diced fresh onion).
Chickie’s and Pete’s
In Philly, the Crabfries® are nothing short of legendary. Notice the capitalization and the trademark symbol? That’s how legendary they are. Sold at the various Chickie’s and Pete’s locations as well as out of a food truck, at the airport, and at just about every major sporting venue, these crinkle-cut fries are thinner than your standard Nathan’s-style crinkle-cuts, super-crispy, and dusted with a magical spice mixture that’s the icing on the cake.
A meal in itself, the heaping serving of fries served at Lydia Shire’s famous Scampo hit all the right notes. Fresh-cut potatoes cut to about the same size as fast-food fries are fried in duck fat before getting tossed in truffle oil and served with a sprinkling of fried herbs and a drizzle of truffle aioli. For those who say that truffles and duck fat are the best things to ever happen to potatoes (and let’s face it, they are), you need to try these.
There are a couple of fries options on the menu at Father’s Office, but the classic matchstick fries are the way to go. One of the cardinal rules at Father’s Office is that they don’t offer ketchup, so their fries are accompanied by a small pot of homemade garlic aioli for dipping.
In a city known for its beachside fries, the ones at Thrasher’s stand head and shoulders above the rest. If you’re visiting Ocean City in the height of the season, expect to wait quite a while for your fries, and don’t be concerned when you notice a sign telling you that they don’t serve ketchup (just go with it, the apple cider vinegar they offer instead will work wonders). Order up a bucket of freshly fried potatoes, sprinkle with salt and vinegar, and then chow down while you make your way down the boardwalk.
The Hungry Cat
This is ostensibly a seafood restaurant, but hiding on the menu are an outstanding burger and even better fries. Kennebec potatoes are soaked overnight and twice-fried, then tossed with salt and chopped parsley. Full of flavor and super-crispy, you’ll devour the whole serving without even realizing it.
If your vision of the perfect order of fries involves a giant mound of fries spilling out of the sides of a paper boat, surrounded by cups of gravy, cheese, sauce, and ketchup, all served on a cafeteria-style tray, than The Original Hot Dog Shop, located on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus, is for you. These would still get fry lovers’ mouths watering even if they were pre-made and frozen, but the fact that these fries are hand-cut fresh daily and twice fried in peanut oil really puts them over the top.
The gastropub was still a foreign concept when chef April Bloomfield and restaurateur Ken Friedman opened The Spotted Pig more than 10 years ago, and now their style of cooking — classic and refined but casual and fun — is the norm. The restaurant’s burger is one of the best that you’ll ever have, and so are the shoestring fries that are served alongside it. A mound so heaping that it seems to defy gravity, these are sliced thin for max surface area, and tossed with fried rosemary and garlic that kicks it up about another 30 notches. They’re a meal in themselves, but seriously, order that burger too.
It wasn’t so long ago that world-class chefs wouldn’t spend time perfecting a recipe for burgers or fries, but all that’s changed, and now chef Michael Mina has come close to creating the perfect French fry. These hand-sliced, skinless fries are slightly thicker than your average fast food version, and a quick fry in duck fat adds an extra level of crispiness and richness. One order will win you three different iterations of the same fry: rosemary-herb fries with spicy ketchup, onion-dusted fries with sour cream sauce, and smoked paprika-dusted fries with smoked barbecue sauce.
Blue Duck Tavern
These are about the thickest fries you’re likely to ever see, but it’s no gimmick. Their hand-cut signature BDT Triple fries are first boiled, then fried in oil, then finally fried one more time in duck fat before being tossed with salt and herbs and served upright in a measuring cup. A great fry lets the potato shine, and these do just that.
One of the Windy City’s most renowned restaurants, famed for its wide selection of stellar sausages, also turns out what very well might be its best fries. Served in a paper tub with no frills, the plain fries will definitely have you compulsively reaching for more until they’re all gone, especially if you get them doused in cheese. If you should decide to brave the lines on a Friday or Saturday, though, reward yourself with the duck fat fries, which are only available on those days. You’ll be glad you did.
A restaurant that maintains its status as a place to "see and be seen" despite having been around for so many years, Balthazar is known for serving French bistro classics. One of the signature items, on a menu filled with quite a few, is the pommes frites. The constant line of people waiting to score a table may appear to be due to the chic clientele, but really, it’s all about the fries.
This funky gastropub from chef April Bloomfield and restaurateur Ken Friedman has perfected the classic British-style chip, and in the process they’ve also perfected the French fry. The fries here (identified on the menu as “thrice-cooked chips”) are in fact fried three times, resulting not in an overcooked fry but one that has about twice the “crust” of other fries, encasing a perfectly-cooked, creamy potato center. Thick-cut and addictive, they pair well with the cumin mayo that they’re served alongside, but these are good enough to eat on their own. These fries are unlike any other while still maintaining its basic DNA, doesn’t need duck fat or truffles to stand out, keeps the potato at the center of the action, and are the best in America.