DCist by Rachel Sadon
Sorry other side dishes, try as you might to compete with artisanal Doritos or "healthy" zucchini, there's just no taking the place of the deceptively humble french fry. We named our 10 favorites a few years ago, but we're back for more ... as we always are with fries.
THE ROYAL: Strictly speaking, the only seasoning you need on a good french fry is salt. However, you will very much want whatever it is they put on the seasoned fries ($4) at this Shaw spot. The Cajun-esque spices are plentiful on the thicker cut slices, elevating them above your average everyday fry.—Rachel Sadon
The Royal is located at 501 Florida Avenue NW
GARLIC FRIES AT LOOKING GLASS LOUNGE: Looking Glass offers you a few options for potatoes, including the always-delicious curly fries. But if you're not on a date, and don't plan on smooching anyone for at least three days, then I implore you to give the garlic fries a shot. This isn't your run-of-the-mill, two-shakes-of-garlic-powder kind of half-assed garlic fries. This is some intense, chopped-up-cloves, full-ass garlic fries. The result is delicious and evenly distributed goodness that hardly needs condiments (though, of course, a little mayo never hurt anyone). But the bountiful health benefits of garlic come with one distinct downside: your pores will ooze a garlic scent for days to come.—Rachel Kurzius
Looking Glass Lounge is located at 3634 Georgia Ave NW.
AMSTERDAM FALAFEL: When the only two food items on your menu are falafel and fries, they both better be damn good. Amsterdam Falafel doesn't disappoint on either front. For the days when you aren't feeling falafel, you can still practically make a meal out of the heaping pile of piping hot potatoes otherwise known as "regular" size fries for $4.35 (honestly, probably even the "small," at $3.25, too). And unlike fancier joints, where a tiny tub of sauce will run you $1 or more, accouterments enthusiasts can take as many fancy mayos and ketchups as they want.—Rachel Sadon
Amsterdam Falafel is located at 2425 18th Street NW and 1830 14th Street NW.
B TOO: Any self respecting Belgian restaurant worth its salt should have well-made fries, and this 14th Street spot doesn't disappoint. The fries are so nice because, as is traditional in the country, they fried them twice (I know this because I visited the
french fry museum Frietmuseum in Bruges, which I have no regrets about ... AMA). They are accompanied with three mayonnaise sauces that transcend their main ingredient.—Rachel Sadon
B Too is located at 1324 14th Street NW
SPIKE VILLAGE FRIES AT GOOD STUFF: Chef Spike Mendelsohn doesn’t spare the fresh rosemary and thyme on this signature side item, and it’s much appreciated. The herbs and sea salt on top of the crisp, hand cut potatoes keep me coming back to the burger joint, sometimes not even for the sandwiches. The seasoned fries, alone, are enough to keep my mouth watering. But Good Stuff’s dipping options take the fast casual experience to the next level. As a self-proclaimed condiment connoisseur, I can’t thank the eatery enough for letting me help myself to sauces like chipotle, Sriracha, and my favorite, mango mayonnaise, among nearly a dozen other options. I usually get the “snack” size for myself. If you’re thinking about ordering them to share, upgrade to a regular—or better yet, don’t share them at all.—Christina Sturdivant
Good Stuff Eatery has multiple locations in D.C. and Virginia.
FRIES WITH FRANKENBUTTER AT BLUEJACKET: It took a little time for the Southeast brewery-restaurant to embrace the baseball fans who stumble in looking for a Bud Light, but even if the bro-dudes can’t always appreciate expertly crafted beer, everyone likes the frankenbutter, a delectable hot sauce-spiked butter which is usually found coating their classic hot wings. However, there is nothing like taking that same frankenbutter and slathering it all over Bluejacket’s crispy fries, then topping them off with crumbled blue cheese. It’s not on the menu, you’ll just have to ask your server nicely—or try them smothered with cheddar and tasso ham gravy or D.C.’s own mumbo sauce.—Kristen Hartke
Bluejacket is located at 300 Tingey Street SE.
SWEET POTATO FRIES AT BUSBOYS AND POETS: Not too thick, the perfectly cut sweet potato fries at Busboys and Poets should accompany everything on the menu. Some of my favorite dishes at Andy's house are the steak and asparagus salad and the shrimp and grits. Do they come with fries? No. Do I order them anyway? Of course, I can't help it. Lightly seasoned with salt, the natural sweetness of the crisp potatoes comes through every time. Dip them in sour cream, and you've got the best side dish that the place has to offer.—Christina Sturdivant
Busboys and Poets has multiple locations in the D.C. Metropolitan area.
CATALAN FRIES AT BAR CHARLEY: In addition to an excellent all-day Monday happy hour and one of our favorite burgers around, Bar Charley doesn't hold back on their Catalan fries—which come with chimichurri, romesco, cheese, and a fried egg on top— either. Aside from the awkwardness of trying to split a fried egg, it makes for a good sharing dish ... or, you know, or not.—Rachel Sadon
Bar Charley is located at 1825 18th Street NW.
CHEESE FRIES AT SHAKE SHACK: Normally, the great joy of french fries is using your hands to eat them. Grip, dip, sip on repeat. So imagine my surprise when I found myself spearing the Shake Shack cheese fries with a wooden pick, and loving the whole thing. The crinkle fries (which Shake Shack briefly replaced with fresh-cut fries before customers went apoplectic, and SS brought back the frozen variety) get a big drizzle of blended American and cheddar cheese. You could still use your hands to munch on these, only you'd get fingers full of liquid cheese. Actually, that doesn't sound half bad.—Rachel Kurzius
Shake Shack has multiple locations.
PAPAS FRITAS AT EL CAMINO: Rick Bayless meets Guy Fieri with the fries at Bloomingdale’s El Camino. These crispy morsels are the perfect vessels for shoveling the works (chipotle sauce, salsa verde, queso fresco, toasted sesame and pepita seeds) into your mouth. The toppings are delicious, but the fries will make you question how any fryer could produce so much crisp. Eat ‘em solo or have them as a side with your burrito to make a feast. Wash it all down with a frozen margarita. — Mark Gyorfy
El Camino is located at 108 Rhode Island Ave NW