Fries: when they're good, they're addictive. When they're bad... you're still eating them anyway. When they're pizza crust? Honestly that's kind of off topic.
But when they're truly great? That's when you start giving fellow tablemates death stares for trying to sneak one and wondering if it's socially acceptable to order fries as both an appetizer and a main course. These are Austin's distinguished dozen examples of the highest level of achievement in the art of fried spuds.
At Jack Allen’s, they spike their Idaho-potato french fries with red chile, scallions, lime juice, cotija cheese, cilantro, and garlic aioli. You may have trouble with the "shareable" aspect of this appetizer.
An Austin favorite for over 30 years, these babies are hand cut, dipped in creamy buttermilk and rolled in flour before being fried to perfection. Actually, perfection comes in when you dip them in their tangy, super-secret sauce.
If you find yourself at Salty Sow for their killer Happy Hour or dinner, look around at the other tables and you’ll notice a common thread. Absolutely everyone is eating the triple-fried duck fat fries. They come served with a 110-minute egg and a side of Béarnaise, accompaniments you will soon wish were available on all fries, everywhere.
So, Banger's hand-cut fries are outstanding and eye roll-inducingly delicious on their own... but when you upgrade to the chili cheese fries (with diced red onion and house-pickled jalapeño, so it's kind of like a salad, right?), you're tasting a Rainey St institution.
The Original Kimchi Fries are probably Chi'Lantro's most popular menu item, and if you’ve had the pleasure of eating them, you get it. Perfect, golden fries topped with your choice of ribeye bulgogi, spicy pork, spicy chicken, soy-glazed chicken, or marinated tofu -- plus caramelized kimchi, cheddar & monterrey jack, onions, cilantro, magic sauce, sesame seeds, and Sriracha. Phew. Yes, order this ASAP at their new brick-and-mortar location on South Lamar.
Perfectly crisp, thick-cut frites and a respectably-sized portion puts Second Bar’s black truffle pomme frites at the top of our list of snazzy bar snacks. The truffle-tinged aioli is a perfect complement. Feeling indulgent? Add seared foie gras for a measly... $14.
The seasoned waffle fries they serve at your local punk-rock bar are fried to crispy perfection, juuuust past golden. The huge basket is enough for two buddies to make a meal out of. Try the waffle fry nachos -- they’re "smothered in chili, cheddar, onion and jalapeños."
Cozy and inviting, Hopfields is also home to some killer pomme frites — made from Kennebec potatoes, tossed with salt & fines herbs, and served with a little jar of house-made aioli. A suggestion for those craving fries at brunch: try the Maya: poached eggs, jambon de Paris (aka ham!), and hollandaise served on... a huge bed of frites!
Chili cheese waffle fries, Canadian waffle poutine, queso fries... even the very unique Rueben waffle fries (corned beef hash, Swiss, Thousand Island dressing) -- whatever your thing, Frank's consistently kick-ass fries are a solid foundation for whatever unhealthy-toppings-schematic you want to pursue.
The English-style seasoned chips at Black Star are known by patrons for being highly addictive, thanks to the intense, garlicky flavor and the amazing texture -- you know... soft inside, crispy edges. Go get them!
Made in-house, the Parmesan Truffle Fries are worthy of your love. In addition to being served in a super-fun cone, and being a huge portion you won’t mind splitting, the truffle sauce that accompanies them is highly recommended. Top that off with a Caramel Sea Salt shake. Mmmm, salt.
Casino’s verde fries are a damn good reason to brave "Dirty Sixth, the Theme Park." You get a whole basket of crispy fries covered with tangy tomatillo sauce that does not skimp on the garlic and gooey, melted white cheese.
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1. Jack Allen's Kitchen7720 W Hwy 71, Austin
2. The Salty Sow1917 Manor Rd, Austin
3. Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden79 Rainey St, Austin
4. Second Bar + Kitchen200 Congress Ave, Austin
5. The Jackalope404 E 6th St, Austin
6. Hopfields3110 Guadalupe St, Austin
7. Frank407 Colorado St, Austin
8. Black Star Co-Op7020 Easy Wind Dr, Austin
Jack Allen's has nightly rotating specials of locally sourced additions to their usual menu, but also make sure you stop by for their brunch, or even just to try a cocktail, like the Cucumber Jalapeño Rita, with Tequila, St. Germain, muddled cucumber, fresh jalapeños, simple syrup, and fresh lime.
The whole hog resto from the Hopdoddy dudes -- who brought in a pair of veteran chefs from ATL and FLA -- is in the former Red House, with a more polished but still inviting vibe marked by an open kitchen, paintings of gigantic porkers, and light fixtures made of cutlery, which has graduated from tongue to tungsten.
Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden not only provides over a 100 beers on tap, but it's also home to one of the district's largest biergartens. Enjoy live music and all the sausage that you can eat.
Second Bar + Kitchen prides themselves on creating a true farm-to-table experience, offering small plates, pizzas, and various entrees. Our personal favorite is the Congress Burger, which is essentially the Rolls Royce of Austin burgers; ground brisket & chuck, gruyére cheese, shallot confit, and horseradish pickles, with the option to double the meat and cheese, add pork belly, avocado, fried egg, and seared foie gras. There are also a wide variety of wines, beers, and craft cocktails. Stop by Second for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
Many dive bars have burgers, but few have burgers this epic: flame grilled and piled high on a toasted bun with premium toppings like smoked bacon, brie cheese, and carmelized onions, they're plenty sizable and a good bang for your buck ($10). Cheap signature shots, tunes from the house DJ, and a giant jackalope that you can mount merely sweeten the deal.
A cathedral-inspired gastropub, Hopfields creates an upscale atmosphere where locals can enjoy craft beer, French wine, and a menu filled with French cuisine (or, at least, French-inspired takes on American classics). You can opt of a low key night of cheese plates and Pinot Grigio, or chow down on the colossal Pascal Burger and a nice craft beer.
Although Frank is known for its creative hot dogs and sausage sandwiches made with nontraditional meats like antelope, venison, and kangaroo, it also boasts an extensive selection of fries, including chili cheese and Reuben waffle fries. Its cold beer menu includes gluten-free ales, rare craft beers, and ciders.
Black Star Co-Op is a not-for-profit neighborhood brew-pub and eatery entirely owned and run by its members. Beyond house-brewed beers, bar food, and a pet-friendly patio, Black Star employs power-to-the-people policies and promotes a democratic workplace through end-of-year profit redistribution and living wages for all members. You don't have to be a member to enjoy Black Star's bounty, but you're encouraged to go to show support for the small, local businesses of Austin by drinking a beer or several.