Forty Years Later, Are These Philly Favorites Still the Best?

From Pat’s to Ponzios, we revisit some of the most notable Best of Philly winners from 1974.

Moore’s French Fries

1100 East Philadelphia Avenue, Gilbertsville | 484-256-5452

Then: Best French Fries: “Made right in front of your eyes. Thick and rich and crisp. Served in a cone with vinegar or mayonnaise. A super tasty bargain.”

Now: Moore’s has been around for more than 70 years, but I had never heard of it until I pulled out the 1974 issue. It’s located in the indoor portion of Zerns Farmers Market, a flea market way out in Montgomery County, at the intersection of Routes 73 and 100. Zerns vendors sell ugly silk flowers, Russian civilian surplus gas masks, 10-cent candies and novelty signs, among many, many, other things.

I wasn’t sure exactly where Moore’s was inside the mart—actually, I couldn’t even remember the name Moore’s (I had made a note on my phone, which was dead, naturally)—so I just started asking people where “the french-fry stand” was. The other vendors looked confused, since there are more than a few spots where you can get french fries at Zerns these days. But I wanted the french fry stand.

Finally, I tracked down Moore’s. It’s a tiny booth (spot #121, which will help you find it on your visit) with two stools. Behind the counter are boxes of potatoes, a steel french-fry slicer, and two vats of burbling liquefied lard. Yes, these fries are still notably ve­getarian-unfriendly.

The menu is pretty simple: french fries, large ($3.50) or small ($2.50). That’s it. And condiments are basic, including generic ketchup, which is unfortunate (you should have Heinz 57 on the counter), and cider vinegar in the kind of spray bottle you might store window cleaner in. Didn’t see any mayonnaise. But didn’t want any, either.

I ordered a large basket of fries (the cones of yesteryear have been replaced with traditional cardboard boats) with lemonades for my kids, and it’s worth noting that the lemonade here is fresh, like the fries: squeezed to order with a big crank juicer. The fries aren’t particularly crispy, but that’s okay: They taste like potatoes, which is refreshing in a world where so many fries don’t. “We’ve always done it the same way, year after year,” owner Cathy Moore says simply, in regard to Moore’s longevity. “You don’t fix what ain’t broken.”

I can’t help but agree. And hey, if I ever need a Russian gas mask for Halloween, now I know where to go.

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