Yay, Potato Week! As our starchy celebrations draw to a close, we have one more big list for you–the results of our research into the realm of that most American(ish) of potato presentations, the french fry.
We had 82 different restaurants under consideration for this list–everything from crowd favorites like Village Whiskey and Hot Diggity to lesser-known (but know less loved) contenders like the long-gone crab fries at Sidecar Bar, the lovely frites at Grace Tavern or those at Eulogy (which had a fiercely committed fan base). Putting our waistlines and cholesterol levels on the line for you, we waded through the possibilities and winnowed everything down to a final list of 10: The best french fries of any variety, in any form, that you’re going to find anywhere in Philadelphia.
Hey, someone’s got to do it, right? This stuff is important. And while we here at Foobooz World HQ are absolutely sure that there isn’t one of you out there who will agree with every inclusion on the list (hell, we don’t even completely agree), there is sure to be something on here for everyone.
Happy Potato Week everyone. And now, on to the list…
Best French Fries in Philadelphia
#10 Szechuan Shoestring Fries at Continental Midtown
First, a serving of these is the size of your head. Even if you have a really big head. Second, the “half-size” order on the lunch menu is exactly the same size as the full-size dinner version–it’s just cheaper. Third, slathering a giant haystack of fried potatoes in a sauce made primarily of the spicy mustard you get with your Chinese takeout is just plain awesome–and a bold thumb in the eye of those who insist that ketchup is the only appropriate french fry topping.
#9 Sweet Potato Fries at Good Dog
Did you read our essay on whether or not sweet potatoes ought to be considered alongside actual potatoes during Potato Week? Yeah, well it was for sweet potato fries as good as the ones served at Good Dog that we decided to not be all species-ist about it.
#8 Olive Oil Fries at Elevation Burger
No, we didn’t leave the suburbs out of this. Though the burgers at this indy fast food burger joint are pretty excellent, the real draw is the thin-cut (but not shoestring-y) potatoes fried in olive oil and hit with a generous handful of salt. The little burnt bits are almost better than the real fries, but all of them benefit from the lightness and silky texture of the olive oil.
#7 Hot Diggity‘s Fries
Yeah, the dipping sauces are good (and served in wild profusion). But since people look at you weird when you just drink them, you need a good transport vehicle to get all that goodness into you. That’s where these excellent, hand-cut fries come in.
#6 Foie gras poutine at Triumph Brewery
Steak fries. Foie gras gravy. Cheese curds. Boom.
#5 Plain ol’ fries at Royal Tavern
Yes, we like the malt vinegar mayo, too. But really, what earned these fries their spot is the way the coarse salt sticks to the perfectly crisped skins. That’s right, baby–it’s French Fries 101. If you can’t get the basics right, nothing else matters. And the crew at the Royal Tavern gets it right every time.
#4 Italian Poutine at Alla Spina
But once you do figure out the basics? Then almost anything is possible. Like doing Canadian-Italian fusion in a plate of poutine made with a Guinnea hen leg Bolognese and mozzarella curds. Yeah, the kitchen does some really good beef-fat french fries as well, but this is one of those situations where you just want to give the finger to your cardiologist and go all-or-nothing.
#3 Gravy Fries at Nick’s Roast Beef
We already knew that Nick’s served one of the best roast beef sandwiches anywhere. But taking heaping amounts of that same beef (plus some gravy) and slapping it down on top of a plate of fries makes them a meal in themselves–and one that we’re kind of dreaming about right now.
#2 Triple-Cooked Chips at Dandelion
Apparently, the standard double-dip method of the classic pomme frites is not enough for this crew. They add a third run through the Friolator and up the ante by doing their frying with beef fat for a little extra kick of meaty goodness. In one of the (very) rare examples of agreement among our testers, all of us had The Dandelion’s
fries chips at or near the top of our lists.
#1 Gimmick-free, salt-kissed fries at Monk’s Cafe
From 2012 Best of Philly:
We love fat-fried, foie-gras-slathered pommes frites just as much as the next gastropub enthusiast, but this beer bar’s gimmick-free, salt-kissed basket of fries (plus the divine inspiration that is the accompanying bourbon mayonnaise) is the tastiest, most dangerously easy to eat we’ve found.