The above photo is what I would consider the semi-final round in our quest for the best french fry dipping sauce in Philly. For you speculators in the crowd, it is 24 different sauces from 10 different restaurants, all collected this afternoon by the intrepid support staff at Foobooz World HQ and all eaten in one sitting by our panel of experts. Our original list consisted of 19 restaurants, which was cut down to 10 by various editors calling certain entries “stupid,” “gross,” or “totally not worth the drive to Manayunk,”
To keep things even and honest, we used the shoestring fries from Continental Midtown as our sauce delivery vehicles (the argument being that shoestrings lend as little of their own flavor as possible to the dipping sauce, and yet still bring some sense of potato starch, fryer oil and salt), and in order to make the list of the best, a sauce’s qualities of awesomeness had to be unanimously agreed upon by all three of our judges. After that, we decided final Top 5 rankings with parliamentary debate, some wheedling, a little horse-trading and, finally, monkey knife fights.
So who has the best dipping sauce in Philly?
Philadelphia’s Best French Fry Dipping Sauces
#5 Spicy Peanut Sauce from Underdogs
This stuff was basically the same sauce you get with your chicken satay when you go to Sampan. Only here, you get to dip french fries in it, which is just awesome. Of the several sauces we tried from Underdogs, this was our favorite, and Aubrey, our Head of Clandestine Services, would’ve quit on the spot if it wasn’t included in the top 5. And maybe stabbed someone. Since we like her (and prefer to remain un-stabbed with weekend approaching), it clocks in at a solid fifth place.
#4 Malt Vinegar Mayo from Underdogs
Malt vinegar on fries tastes great. The problem? Your fries get all fucking soggy and gross after like 30 seconds and turn into soup if you let them sit for more than a minute. Underdogs has solved this problem by making a malt vinegar mayo dipping sauce where the vinegar flavor is so strong that it almost completely overpowers the taste of the mayonnaise in a flood of tart, British-y excellence.
#3 Cheese Sauce from Village Whiskey
Half the time, the duck fat fries on their own are disappointing. The other half of the time they just plain suck. But Village Whiskey stands as proof that a great dipping sauce can totally save a half-good french fry. This stuff is so good, I kinda secretly wanted to drink it when no one was looking. Later, I boldly drank it in the middle of the office without anyone even betting me I couldn’t.
#2 Special Sauce from Hot Diggity
If you’re gonna chose one sauce to be your signature–your semi-liquid standard bearer and eponymous sigil of your South Street hot dog shack–then you’d better make damn sure that it is not just a good sauce, but a great one. Lucky for Hot Diggity, they made the right choice.
#1 Bourbon Mayonnaise at Monk’s
Seriously? When you start off with two of the best things in the world–bourbon and mayonnaise–how can you go wrong? That’s like someone combining good weed and brownies or grizzly bears and speedboats. There’s just no way it’s NOT GOING TO BE AWESOME. Here, the combination worked like magic (kinda like putting a grizzly in a speedboat), coming together in a perfect balance of that weirdly sweet/tart mayonnaise taste and the caramely goodness of bourbon.
Honestly, if you’re not running out the door right now to score yourself a plate of fries at Monk’s, there’s just something wrong with you. Stop reading and GO, nerds. We’ll see you there.