The 15 Best French Fries in America

05/27/2014 at 06:00 AM ET
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THE FRIES HAVE IT!

The search for the country’s best French fries is on!

When we hear the words “French Open,” the grand slam tennis tournament which began in Paris on Sunday, our brains automatically go to “French fries.” (And yes, we know about the Belgium versus France who-had-frites-first debate, but humor us a little, okay?)

In the spirit of the French Open, we teamed up with Tennis Channel to find the best fried spuds in the country. To tackle this huge task, we first asked some of the most famous French chefs in the world to weigh in: Le Bernadin’s Eric Ripert, Mr. Chocolate Jacques Torres, Cronut creator Dominique Ansel, cookbook author and TV chef Jacques Pépin, Daniel’s Daniel Boulud, pastry chef François Payard and many others were only too happy to help narrow the massive field. Then we got scientific.

We took their suggestions, added some of our own and sent a team of anonymous tasters to over 50 restaurants all across the country. Each reviewer scored the fries on five criteria: appearance (How did they look when they hit the table?), temperature (They better not have been sitting too long!), texture (Burnt-crispy? Limp? Just right?), flavor (Could you taste potato, or just oil and salt?) and what we call “overall french fry gratification,” which is a look at the big potato picture.

One warning: The following slideshow may cause fry cravings so intense you’ll want to hop on a plane just to go try them, so proceed with caution.


Elizabeth Ribuffo/PEOPLE.com
THE WINNER: BALTHAZAR, NEW YORK CITY

After tallying up the scores, N.Y.C’s Balthazar took home the top fry prize. The New York Times reported that some prep cooks at the restaurant can peel eight potatoes in a minute. Given that the pommes frites are one of the most-ordered dishes at Keith McNally’s see-and-be-seen Soho bistro, there’s a serious need for speed. “In my opinion, these are the best fries in New York City. They are freshly cut and cooked every time and no matter what I’m eating there, I always order some for the table,” said Ripert. And our tasters agreed: “I truly felt sad when I reached the bottom of the paper cone and ate that last little fry. They were that good.” Said PEOPLE senior food & lifestyle editor Sonal Dutt, “If I were given three wishes, a never-ending supply of Balthazar frites would be one of them.”

COURTESY NOLA
NOLA, NEW ORLEANS

The 22-year-old Nola, Emeril Lagasse’s festive-casual spot in New Orleans’ French Quarter, is known for creative takes on local favorites like boudin balls, shrimp and grits and po’boys. But Torres says the fries are a standout as well. “They are house-cut and they are just perfectly done … light and crunchy, and just the right size. I don’t know his secret, but they are just perfect.”

COURTESY AQUITAINE
AQUITAINE, SAN FRANCISCO

Forget silver cups or paper cones: An order of french fries at Aquitaine, a wine bar in San Francisco with a distinctly Parisian vibe, is served in an adorable wooden clog. But even without the funky footwear presentation, these spuds, which come with a generous dusting of paprika, have earned their rep as one of the city’s best plates of potatoes. “These are homemade fries with a twist. They’re topped with a spice that makes them so addictive,” said Ripert.

COURTESY L’ECOLE
L'ECOLE, NEW YORK CITY

As part of their studies at the International Culinary Center, students work at L’Ecole, the in-house restaurant, where they’re managed by chef-instructors and even get graded on their efforts by diners at the end of their meals. The addictive Russet Potato french fries, which can be customized with truffles, deserve an A-plus: They’re blanched in hot water first and then fried twice to assure that they are perfectly crispy. “Every single fry was cooked just right and seasoned just right,” said one taster. “Every single one. When’s the last time you got an order of fries like that?”

Courtesy Bnarasin/Foodspotting.com
LEFT BANK, MENLO PARK, CA

If you’re going to name your restaurant Left Bank, you’d better serve good pommes frites. Pépin assures us that it’s the case at this bustling brasserie. “The long and crunchy french fries are fried in duck fat. They’re just right.” he said. The tempting-looking hand-cut potatoes come out of the kitchen piping hot in a paper cone and pass the true test of French-fry fabulousness: They stay pleasantly firm, even after they’ve cooled down.

COURTESY Donkey Kong/Foodspotting.com
FATHER'S OFFICE, SANTA MONICA, CA

Visitors to the Santa Monica outpost of Father’s Office, Top Chef judge Sang Yoon’s cultishly popular gastropub must put up with a few particulars: No table service, no substitutions, no ketchup. (Relax! The fries come with garlic aioli.) But judging from the crowds, they’re happy to order the mini metal shopping carts filled with delightfully crispy matchstick fries. “The sprinkling of fresh parsley after they’re fried adds a nice fresh flavor and goes nicely with the aioli,” said one taster. They’re the ideal companion to the Office Burger, which comes with Maytag blue cheese, gruyere, caramelized onions, and bacon, and is consistently ranked as one of the city’s best.

COURTESY AU CHEVAL
AU CHEVAL, CHICAGO

Though “cheval” might mean “horse” in French, in the culinary world, the term Au Cheval means to top a dish with an egg. And that’s exactly how the french fries are served at this West Randolph Street bar-meets-diner. The fried orb is layered on top and you’ll also get two accompanying dipping sauces: Mornay (bechamel with cheese) and garlic aioli.  Things are going to get messy (and “magical” according to one taster) once that yolk starts to run, but it’s a worthy sacrifice.

COURTESY PIKE STREET FISH FRY
PIKE STREET FISH FRY, SEATTLE

Pike Street Fish Fry is a tiny, seafood spot known for its late-night hours and satisfying fish-and-chips. Before the fries reach diners, the spuds are put through an elaborate, multi-step process: They’re soaked, sliced by hand, blanched and, finally, fried until they’re crispy. Along with basic ketchup there are several other sauces on offer such as curry ketchup, harissa, lemon aioli, and chili mayonnaise.

COURTESY NORTHERN SPY FOOD COMPANY
NORTHERN SPY FOOD COMPANY, NEW YORK CITY

Duck fat, that ever popular potato-frying tool, makes an appearance at Northern Spy Food Company, a popular locavore spot in Manhattan that’s named for one of the state’s most famous apples. Less like fries and more like chubby potato wedges, these crispy morsels are fried twice in the fat and then seasoned with it for an utterly rich flavor. “The sweetness of the duck fat almost lingers when you exhale,” said Ansel. They’re paired with a malted spiced yogurt that’s the perfect blend of creamy and zesty and might inspire you to break up with ketchup forever.

COURTESY SAUS
SAUS, BOSTON

At Saus, fries aren’t just another thing on the menu. Instead, there is an entire menu devoted to fries. These hand-cut beauties are made from double-fried Russet potatoes that have been allowed to age for about a month so the water content decreases (which means fewer soggy spuds on your plate). They can be customized with toppings like poutine, truffled mushrooms or pork belly and for dipping, there’s an an impressive array of 16 different sauces made with ingredients like peanut butter, Duvel ale and white truffle oil. Part of the fun is experimenting to find your happy-place fry combination, which means there’s always a reason to come back.

COURTESY BOISE FRY COMPANY
BOISE FRY COMPANY, BOISE, ID

The staff of Boise Fry Company has some thoughts about fried potatoes. As their web site says, ‘Fries should be cooked with natural and healthy peanut oil, fries should not share fryers with other foods, and fries are indeed entrée worthy.” (It’s also worth adding that the restaurant’s motto is “We love fries with burgers on the side.”) This restaurant takes spuds so seriously, they’ll first ask you to choose their potato type from the six on offer. Next you select a slicing style such as shoestring, curly or po’ball (picture a sqiushed tater tot). Finally you’ll get to play around with the numerous salts (cinnamon-ginger!) and dipping sauces (blueberry ketchup!) which means that there’s a seemingly limitless number of possible combinations. We think the purple fries done curly are lovely to look at, packed with flavor and as much of a conversation piece as any statement burger.

COURTESY DUCKFAT
DUCKFAT, PORTLAND, ME

When a restaurant is named Duckfat, like this small sandwich shop is, it shouldn’t surprise you that they serve Belgian-style spuds that have been fried in the stuff. Eating these local Maine frites is a downright sensory experience: “Duck fat gives the fries a deeper, richer flavor that keeps you going back for more and more,” said one taster. “I had to exert some strong self control not to order a second round.”

COURTESY BLUE DUCK TAVERN
BLUE DUCK TAVERN, WASHINGTON, DC

Why does Blue Duck Tavern call their thick-cut potatoes “Triple Fries?” They’re referring to the three-part cooking process that involves boiling in water followed by two rounds of frying, the final time in duck fat. A single order takes about 24 hours to make from start to finish, and you can taste the loving labor in every bite. “It was like eating the crispy, fleshy, salty potato wedge of your dreams,” said a taster.

COURTESY HYDE PARK
HYDE PARK BAR & GRILL, AUSTIN, TX

You could say that batter makes it better at Hyde Park, where the fries are first dipped in buttermilk and flour before being fried to a crispy finish. Black pepper and spices give the coating a kick that resembles fried chicken, and diners have the option to order a zesty cheese sauce if they’re craving even more heat.

COURTESY JONESY’S EATBAR
JONESY'S EATBAR, DENVER, CO

The staff at Jonesy’s EatBar, a gastropub known for their locally-sourced ingredients, isn’t afraid to get creative with their potatoes. Fries are given their own section of the menu, and customers can opt to turn an order into a meal by choosing one of five tempting-sounding preparations: Bacon macaroni and cheese, truffle aioli, buffalo sauce with blue cheese, vegan chili or Thai chili sauce. The potatoes are sliced thick and fried extra-crisp, so they’re sturdy enough to withstand their saucy accompaniments.

—Lexi Dwyer


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Belle on

Keba, Athens, GA. Best fry I have ever eaten. Skin on, crispy on the outside and smooth like mashed potatoes on the inside. I could eat them hot or cold and hate it when I finish my order.

Jody on

I am amazed they don’t include Pomme Frites in New York. The small little store near NYU has hands down the best fries in the city and the US!

rosiedd78 on

Reblogged this on Plan Y and commented:
…And I am ready for a one way ticket to French Fry paradise. I believe NYC will be my first stop.

Mary on

Who are we kidding?!? Everybody deep down inside knows McDonalds fries should be on this list!

Kenny on

I can’t believe that Thrashers in Ocean City, MD didn’t make the list.

Rania on

THRASHERS in Ocean City, Maryland!!!

The Los on

Unfortunately, the reviewers neglected to talk about Boise Fry Co.’s The Bourgeois- fried in duck fat, sprinkled with truffle salt.
Absolutely ridic.

MomC on

Duckfat’s fries blow Balthazar’s and L’ecole’s out of the water. They are both very good, but Duckfat’s are incredible. Plus, Duckfat has poutine. I rest my case.

Rico on

You have to check out this French fry food truck in San Jose, CA. Small Fry. Check out their menu! They have amazing fries! Eatsmallfry.com

Anonymous on

Youch! I’m getting REAL hungry right now…

neelsy31 on

you need life of Pi on Martha’s Vineyard… their truffle french fries are amazing!

Alain Robillard on

You should of titled the article: Best fries in the USA
Because America is NOT only the USA but Canada also. And i’m pretty sure that we have fires here that beat some that you had listed.

Charli on

Bathazar is a yummy place to dine in general

Charli on

Some many delicious fries to try and so little time!!!

OZ on

There is no debate. Fries are NOT french. Ask any French person, or any Belgian for that matter.

PromGal on

We were just at Balthazar on Sunday. The frites, as always, were perfectly done. Cooked to perfection, crisp, not at all greasy, and served smoking hot. My husband always has the Steak Frites; hr thinks they are twice cooked, which is the proper way to prepare. The freshest potatoes, cut by hand, and fried to order. How simple is that? And how delicious!

ozbayoglu on

Looks delicious and amazing.
Urgently I want one.

Anonymous on

Al’s French Fries in South Burlington, Vermont!! Love them and miss them!

Cheryl on

Al’s French Fries in South Burlington, Vermont!! Love them and miss them!

Arie on

Hyde Park Bar N Grill? That place is disgusting. How it even made a list for a top dish is beyond me. Someone clearly wasn’t doing their research.

Keith on

Best fries I have ever eaten were at First And South restaurant in Greenport, NY. http://www.firstandsouth.com

Steven on

Don’t forget about Illegal food’s okonomiyaki fries!!

Amanda on

Just Rite in Rushville, IN has the most amazing fries!

Belle on

Surprised to see blue duck tavern on this list. They are an amazing restaurant but my friends and I all agree that the fries are the absolute worst thing on their menu! Also, in total accord with the people who mentioned Thrashers, they are boardwalk fry heaven.

Chuck on

Thrashers in Rehoboth beach Delaware are the best fries.. No catsup only apple cider vinegar.. Hands down best in the country!!

Natalie Jarman on

Meh…Spruce in SF, has the best fries hands down… http://www.sprucesf.com/

amyinoaktown on

Leftbank fries…definitely delicious! Crispy with salt, and a Croque Monsieur…the best. May have to head there this weekend….

Cristin on

You forgot Potato Patch at Kennywood Park in Westmifflin (Pittsburgh), PA!

Dawn on

Crack Fries with Beer Cheese from Hop Cat in Grand Rapids, Mi. are hands down the best.

Jody Beal on

Thrasher’s in Ocean City,Maryland has the best fries on the planet (must eat with vinegar or you’re not doing it right)

Marie on

you missed the best! Howard’s Drive in!!! Brookfield, Mass. crunchy, yet soft and delicious!!!

Rachael on

A pile of fries at Blue Star Cafe in Seattle, WA is hands down my favorite!

LW on

@Alain Robillard You’re wrong. If they wanted to include Canada, they would have said NORTH America. Everybody with common sense knows that America is the USA.

Danni on

Thrasher’s in OC, MD has the best fries. Can’t believe they weren’t mentioned.

Jene Wilson on

You didn’t include Local Tavern in Willoughby, OH. THE best!!

ridinger on

Shame you didn’t hear about and go to Mt. Pleasant Burgers and Fries in Mt. Pleasant, TX. I’ve eaten at a couple of the places you mentioned, and Mt. Pleasant beats them hands down. They cook them for you after you order them.

Theresa on

Crack fries!! HopCat in Grand Rapids, MI. The BEST ever!!!

DdubsAR on

I used to live in Boise. I was NOT impressed with Boise Fry Company. The food was cold, stale, and overpriced. Don’t bother…it isn’t worth the trip.

Jen on

Nope. Thrasher’s fries in ocean city (maryland) has the world’s best fries. Fact.

Kat on

I had fries at Pomme Frites in NYC when I was 12 and have been thinking about them every day since. I am now 25..

Ben on

Another vote for Crack Fries at Hop Cat in Grand Rapids. They definitely live up to their name.

keith on

And what about 5 Guys. Are all of these other fries really that much better than theirs?

gerry steen on

None of these can beat Thrashers in OCean City, Md

Anonymous on

A little place here in Phoenix called D’lish has the most amazing garlic fries. OMG

Dave on

You got to try the baked fry shop on Market St. in San Francisco called 3 Potato 4. They don’t use any oil, the potatoes are organic, and they have some of the best sauces I have ever had. Its the only thing they do. Definitely worth the trip. If you like fries like I do, you have to check them out.

qstarf on

Thrashers In Ocean City Maryland for real do have the best ever fries. that is why you will see them mentioned so much and why people come from all over the world to get them.

AzKitten on

Best Steak fries that I have ever had at the Black Fig Bistro at the Talking Stick Resort and Casino in Scottsdale, AZ. I don’t even like steak fries at all and I wanted to eat an entire plate! OMG, what do they do to make them so good there? Best French fries is a personal choice though, of course. It’s kinda stupid to have these “Best Of Lists”, one guy likes McDonald’s another some swank restaurant, another likes their Grand ma’s fries the best…

Anonymous on

Boston

richard on

although not listed can’t beat Nathan’s krinkle cut fries only available in Brooklyn and Oceanside L.I. ( fresh Cut ) not frozen yuk

Fred on

Try the “Poutine” anywhere in the Quebec province, it will blow your mind!!!

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