America’s 50 Best French Fries for 2018 Gallery
America’s 50 Best French Fries
French fries can be found on restaurant menus all across America, from the smallest takeout shack to the grand bastions of fine dining; in fact, they might well be America’s most commonly-found menu item. But like all universal foods, quality can vary drastically, from mealy and soggy to super-crisp and perfectly golden. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to track down the best French fries in America for the fifth year running, and we’re proud to present a lineup of 50 fries that can be awarded our highest level of French fry praise: They’re so good, they don’t even need ketchup.
#49 Boise Fry Company, Boise, Idaho
It comes as no surprise that an Idaho fry shop would make some of the best fries in the country (Idahoans do love their potatoes, after all). The fries at the Boise Fry Company come with lots of options — first is the potato itself, organic and from M&M Heath Farms in Buhl, Idaho (the current selection is russet, purple, gold, sweet, Laura, or yam, but they change seasonally); next is the preparation (shoestring, regular, home-style, curly, or the famous po-balls, similar to a tater tot). They’re hand-cut, then twice-fried in GMO-free sunflower oil, and you can choose from a wide variety of homemade seasonings, “spritzers,” and sauces.
#48 Anchor Bar, Superior, Wis.
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives featured this Wisconsin eatery, which serves only burgers and fries. That’s it. No chicken, no fish, no problems. Its fries are straightforwardly awesome, and are described on the bar’s website as “fresh potatoes just minutes ago,” which we’re pretty sure is the best description in the history of French fries.
#47 Tasty Burger, Boston
Obviously, the location of the “Official Burger of the Red Sox” is going to offer up some tasty fries. Described as “thin crispy fries,” they are shockingly addictive: The more you have, the more you’ll want. Tasty Burger has multiple locations in Beantown, but there’s one right next to Fenway a location right next to Fenway Park where you can get your beer, burger, and fry fix before or after the game.
#46 Republic, Detroit
This swanky gastropub opened inside Detroit’s historic G.A.R. building three years ago, and locals know a must-order: the fries. They’re hand-cut and fried in beef tallow before being dusted with parsley and coarse salt, and after trying the red pepper aïoli, you just might never go back to ketchup.
#44 Lola, Cleveland
Chef Michael Symon’s Cleveland institution serves fries that have become nothing short of legendary. For $5, you’ll receive a heaping paper-lined metal cup overflowing with thin-cut fries that are blanched in 275-degree oil, then drained, rinsed, frozen, and re-fried to order in pure lard that’s been flavored with whole heads of garlic. As soon as they come out of the fryer, they’re seasoned with a sprinkle of sea salt and rosemary and delivered hot to your table. If you can’t get a table at Lola, don’t fret; they’re so popular that they’re now available at all of Symon’s area restaurants.
#43 Al’s French Frys, Burlington, Vt.
If you live in Burlington, 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 not to have changed (in either offerings or 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 and double-fried — and the result is the platonic ideal of the French fry. They’re crispy on the outside, 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.
#42 The Macintosh, Charleston, S.C.
Chef Jeremiah Bacon is a Charleston legend, the man behind institutions Oak Steakhouse and The Macintosh. The menu here changes on a near-daily basis, save for a handful of items like Bacon’s legendary burger and his pecorino truffle frites. These addictive fries are cut to the ideal fast-food thickness, are crisp on the outside while remaining light and pillowy on the inside, and certainly aren’t hurt by a finishing touch of truffle oil, herbs, and shredded pecorino.
#40 Red Knapp’s Dairy Bar, Rochester, Mich.
Going strong since 1950, this family-owned Rochester institution is still turning out spot-on Americana like burgers, onion rings, hot dogs, ice cream sundaes, and spectacular French fries. They’re simple and no-frills, just done the right way, every day, via a process that hasn’t changed in decades. Try them with some melted cheese and homemade chili on the side.
#39 Salt Tavern, Baltimore
The fries at this popular Baltimore restaurant are one of the most popular menu items, and they’re actually listed under the “Meat” category on the menu. Why? Because they’re fried in duck fat, that’s why. A side of truffled Old Bay malt vinegar aïoli gives it a perfect regionally-inspired twist.
#38 Burger Bar, Las Vegas
Hubert Keller’s Vegas Burger Bar serves two different cuts of plain fries — skinny and fat — and both are a huge hit with fry connoisseurs. They carry just the right amount of grease (in the way that all fries should). The crispy skinny fries, in particular, earn rave reviews.
#37 Thrasher’s French Fries, Ocean City, Md.
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.
#36 Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Miami
The title of owner Michael Schwartz’s cookbook, Michael’s Genuine Food: Down-to-Earth Cooking for People Who Love to Eat, is a pretty great description of the food he serves at his restaurant. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink sticks to this comfort food theme with homemade fries, which are thin, crisp, and nicely golden.
#35 The Original Hot Dog Shop, Pittsburgh
If your vision of the perfect order of fries involves a giant mound of spuds 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, then 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 premade 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.
#34 Dick’s Drive-In, Seattle
With six locations, Dick’s is a Seattle institution. Since 1954, it has served fries that are made with, as the website explains, “Real potatoes… That's what makes our fries irresistible!... Cut fresh daily by hand.” Diners can feel good about patronizing this family-owned business: It treats employees like family, offering full benefits, scholarships, childcare assistance, paid community service, and a starting hourly wage of $10.
#33 Pie ‘n Burger, Pasadena, Calif.
Pasadena’s Pie ‘n Burger cranks out thick-cut fries like nobody’s business. Its huge portions take up at least half the plate when they’re paired with a burger, which is the ideal ratio as far as we’re concerned. They are classically basic, seasoned with salt, and hit the spot every time. Well done, guys.
#32 Green Dot Stables, Detroit
The menu at this Detroit staple features more than 20 types of sliders, which of course beg to be paired with some fries. Thankfully, there are five different fry preparations here: truffle and herb, venison chili cheese, poutine, Cajun, and regular. We suggest you opt for the truffle and herb variety; a dusting of herbs and a sprinkle of truffle oil kicks these light and fluffy fries into the stratosphere.
#31 Kill Devil’s Frozen Custard and Beach Fries, Kill Devil Hills, N.C.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina are famous for a lot of things — the views, the beach, the scene of the first airplane flight — but they’re increasingly becoming famous for the frozen custard and “beach fries” at Kill Devil’s. Both are made fresh throughout the day from the highest quality ingredients, and the fries are thick-cut, golden brown, and delicious, with not a trace of grease or sog. You should probably just go ahead and get your fries in a bucket, because you’ll never want to stop eating these.
#30 The Apple Pan, Los Angeles
This lively little diner has been serving up classic fare like burgers, fries, and pie since 1947. Their heaping portions of fries are prepared thick-cut and served extra hot, and if you want ketchup, it is served on a separate plate. Classically plain with salt, they’re crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and a great accompaniment to your meal or delicious all by themselves.
#29 Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, San Francisco
#28 Tattooed Moose, Charleston, S.C.
This laid-back Charleston dive bar is one funky joint (so much so that it inspired a visit from Guy Fieri for an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives), and sandwiches like the duck club and Lowcountry Cuban keep locals coming back for more. But no visit is complete without a big, overflowing basket of the signature duck fat fries. Thin-cut for maximum crispiness and fried in a bubbling cauldron of duck fat, these really are a thing of beauty.
#27 Home Frite, Brooklyn
This Bed-Stuy newcomer (with additional locations at Smorgasburg and in the DeKalb Market Hall) has gone to great lengths to perfect the art of the French fry. They start with thick-cut Idaho russet potatoes, which are fried a grand total of three times for maximum crunchiness, interior fluffiness, and golden-brown perfection. They’re skin-on, and served in a cone for maximum portability.
#26 Chickie’s and Pete’s, Philadelphia
In Philly, the Crabfries® are nothing short of legendary. Notice the capitalization and the registered 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 in the city, 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.
#25 Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, DC
These are about the thickest fries you’re likely to ever see, but they’re no gimmick. Blue Duck’s 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. A great fry lets the potato shine, and these do just that.
#24 Imperial, Portland, Ore.
Pigs Out S./Yelp
James Beard Award-winning chef Vitaly Paley is one of Portland’s most lauded chefs (best known for his 23-year-old Paley’s Place), so when he turned his attention to fries, locals took notice. And as expected, he delivered on all fronts. At his wood-fire-centric Imperial, the fries are slightly thicker than their fast-food counterparts, prepared skin-on, and served in their own wax paper-lined basket alongside a secret sauce. They’re light and crisp, without a trace of greasiness.
#22 Frietkoten Belgian Fries & Beer, Chicago
Some of the best fries in Chicago can be found at — where else — a Belgian fry shop, located inside the French Market. The frites at Frietkoten are cut by hand and fried to order, resulting in a fry that’s at the peak of freshness and super-crisp. They’re served in a traditional paper cone, with more than a dozen sauce options; we suggest the truffle aïoli.
#21 The Varsity, Atlanta
The Varsity has eight locations in and around Atlanta, and the one downtown serves an average of 2,500 pounds of fries daily. Its potatoes are grown just for the chain by Eagle Eye Produce in Idaho, cut fresh every morning, and soaked for a short time in water before being fried in rice bran oil and lightly salted.
#20 Tilt, Portland, Ore.
Order any of Tilt’s huge sandwiches or well-crafted burgers and you’ll also get a massive portion of its signature fries. They’re super-crispy thanks to a pre-fryer coating of beer batter, and the end result is crispy, crunchy, perfectly golden brown, and astoundingly delicious.
#19 P.J. Clarke's, New York City
The oldest joint on our list, P.J. Clarke’s opened in 1887 and has been delighting diners ever since. This celebrity haunt (the “owner” of table No. 20 was Frank Sinatra, and his picture still hangs there) serves shoestring-style, fresh-cut French fries that are cooked to golden perfection and simply seasoned with salt. There are a handful of locations (and they all serve spectacular fries), but the original on Third Avenue is the one to visit.
#18 A Salt & Battery, New York City
This traditional chippy looks to have been transported lock, stock, and barrel from England, and it serves the best fish and chips in America. Its fried fish is nothing short of flawless, and the same could be said for the fries (or “chips”) that accompany it. These are what proper British chips look like: chunky, thick-cut, slightly mismatched, craggy, golden brown, and perfectly crisp. Please resist the urge to dump ketchup on these; a sprinkle of salt and malt vinegar is all they need.
#17 Hubcap Grill, Houston
Fresh-cut fries: check. Crispy on the outside: check. Soft on the inside: check. Hubcap Grill’s specialty burgers and fries have been raved about by customers online and by the press (think Travel + Leisure magazine, Zagat, and Lonely Planet). They have cheese fries and chili cheese fries, too, but the classics are always the best.
#16 Meritage, St. Paul, Minn.
One of the finest French restaurants in the Twin Cities also happens to serve some of the best fries you’ll ever eat. Served slightly well-done for maximum crispiness, these are still fluffy on the inside and benefit from an ample sprinkling of salt as well as a side of béarnaise sauce for dipping. If you’ve never dipped fries into buttery béarnaise before, we apologize in advance for the extra calories.
#15 The Delachaise, New Orleans
This St. Charles Avenue wine bar and gastropub is beloved for its fries, which are some of the only ones in the country fried in — wait for it — goose fat. This gives them a luxurious unctuousness that’s beyond compare (some would say that it’s actually superior to frying in duck fat). Try them unadulterated before dunking them in the house-made peanut satay sauce and malt vinegar aïoli they’re served with, and you’ll agree.
#14 Au Cheval, Chicago
#11 Minetta Tavern, New York City
The folks at New York’s Minetta Tavern don’t mess around when it comes to French fries (or anything else, for that matter). These deceptively simple spuds are put through quite a regimen: First they’re cut the day before and soaked in water overnight to extract a good deal of starch, which in turn decreases the likelihood that they’ll become glued together in the cooking process. Next, the raw fries are dried and blanched in peanut oil over low heat until they’re fully cooked but not yet golden brown. After resting, right before they leave the kitchen, they’re fried for just a few moments in screaming hot oil to achieve that lovely and familiar golden hue before being generously salted and served to a lucky guest.
#10 Petit Trois, Los Angeles
The French fries at rock star chef Ludo Lefebvre’s casual Petit Trois take three days to prepare, and are the result of a fair amount of trial and error. Skin-on Kennebec potatoes are cut and soaked in cold water overnight, blanched the following day, and fried again to order. Though Petit Trois prepared fries in beef tallow upon the restaurant’s opening, Lefebvre now fries them in clarified butter, making Petit Trois one of the only restaurants in the country to do so. The results, if it’s not already obvious, are spectacular. Eschew the ketchup and aïoli and instead dunk them in cheesy house-made Mornay sauce.
#8 Searsucker, Various Locations
Chef Brian Malarkey’s popular Searsucker has two locations in California (San Diego and Del Mar), one in Austin, and another in Las Vegas, and all of them have one thing in common: You’ll find a cone of duck fat fries on just about every table. These super-crispy, savory flavorbombs get an extra umami boost from a sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a hit of prosciutto dust (which is just as potent as it sounds). Chipotle ketchup on the side is a perfect counterpoint.
#7 The Spotted Pig, New York City
When you order a burger at chef April Bloomfield’s trailblazing West Village gastropub, you don’t just get one of the best burgers in the city, you also get some of the best fries you’ll ever try. An enormous haystack of them surrounds the burger, and they’re thin, crispy but not overly so, and laced with fried rosemary and garlic, which join them in the deep-fryer. You could order a side of them on their own, but trust us: You’ll want to try the burger.
#6 Pommes Frites, New York City
When the nearly 20-year-old East Village Belgian frites utopia Pommes Frites was destroyed in an explosion and subsequent fire in March 2015, the owners vowed to come back stronger than ever. And that they did: A little over one year later, the shop reopened on MacDougal Street, a handful of blocks west, and there was much rejoicing. The frites here, after all, are perfect: thick-cut in the Belgian fashion, fried twice in vegetable oil (once to blanch, another before serving), and served in a cone with your choice of more than 30 sauces, from European mayo to peanut satay, Mexican ketchup, Vietnamese pineapple mayo, sambal oelek, and Irish curry sauce. And the poutine is exactly as earth-shatteringly delicious as you’d expect.
#5 Father’s Office, Los Angeles
There are a couple of fry 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 ketchup is not an option. Instead, its fries are accompanied by a small pot of homemade garlic aïoli for dipping. You won’t miss the ketchup.
#4 The Breslin Bar & Dining Room, New York City
This funky gastropub from chef April Bloomfield (who clearly knows her fries) has perfected the classic British-style chip, and in the process has also perfected the French fry. The fries here, identified on the menu as “thrice-cooked chips,” are fried, as indicated, 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 they’re good enough to eat on their own. These fries are unlike any others: While still maintaining their basic DNA, they don’t need duck fat or truffles to stand out, and they keep the potato at the center of the action.
#3 Duckfat, Portland, Maine
When a restaurant is called Duckfat, you can get a hunch right off the bat that its fries are going to be pretty good. And at this 12-year-old Portland sandwich shop, the fries are hand-cut throughout the day from local Maine potatoes and fried in — yes — duck fat. Tossed in seasoning salt and served in a cone with your choice of eight homemade dipping sauces, these fries are what dreams are made of. If you’re wondering what sort of sorcery created these fries, it’s worth knowing that Duckfat is actually an offshoot of Portland’s legendary Hugo’s, and chef–owner Rob Evans has won the Food & Wine Award for Best New Chef and the coveted James Beard Award for Best Chef: Northeast.
#2 Village Whiskey, Philadelphia
We have three words for you: duck fat fries. That’s right, at Village Whiskey in Philly, that’s the only kind of fries served, and they’re available on all three of the restaurant’s menus: All Day, Late Night, and Brunch. For an extra $2, you can get them topped with Sly Fox Cheddar sauce, and for an extra $7, you can add not only Cheddar but also short rib. We suggest you start with the ordinary version first, though, as you’ll most likely find there’s very little that’s ordinary about them.
#1 Balthazar, New York City
A restaurant that maintains its status as a place to see and be seen despite having been around for 21 years, Balthazar is known for serving French bistro classics. One of the signature items, on a menu filled with quite a few, is the steak frites, a perfectly-cooked steak served alongside a heaping tangle of supremely crisp fries. Thin-cut and fried to an otherworldly shade of golden brown, these are irresistible, not greasy at all, and are far easier to work your way through than you may think. The constant line of people waiting to score a table may appear to be due to the chic clientele, but it’s also all about the fries, which we’ve deemed the very best in America (and just FYI, Balthazar also serves the best brunch in New York).