Some may think of French fries as just a side to burgers and steaks, but smart people know that the perfect French fry can stand on its own (and, you know, it doesn't hurt when there's some cheese on top). Whether you like them crispy and plain, covered in cheese curds and gravy, or fried three times, these are the absolute best fries in NYC.
Best poutine: Mile End
Boerum Hill and Noho
This glorious, gravy-smothered dish already nabs the title as the greatest Canadian export known to mankind (sorry, maple syrup), but Montreal native Noah Bernamoff takes the dish up an extra notch by adding cheddar cheese curds from Maine’s Silvery Moon Creamery and Mile End’s signature smoked meat.
Best shoestring fries: Lafayette
Andrew Carmellini knows his way around bistro fare, so it’s no surprise that these are the poster child for shoestring frites done right. Fried twice in canola oil, then seasoned with salt, the sticks manage to stay insanely crisp as you eat them by the handful.
Best steak frites: Balthazar
A lot of work goes into these golden potato wands and it shows. Russets are peeled, cut, soaked in water overnight, then fried twice and showered with fine sea salt before they end up on your plate.
Best loaded fries: Joju
We love banh mi. We love French fries. And this Queens hangout ingeniously COMBINES THE TWO by garnishing crunchy potatoes with classic Vietnamese sandwich fixin's (pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, and jalapeños), spicy mayo, and a zingy house-made green sauce. Oh, and you can can top it all off with an optional (only in name) fried egg.
Best cheese fries: King Noodle
Leave it to the crew that gave us Dorito kimchee carbonara to come up with mapo tofu chili cheese fries, which feature mouth-tingling Szechuan peppercorns, tofu, scallions, and good ol’ American cheese.
Best crinkle cut: Shake Shack
There’s a reason Shake Shack’s fresh, hand-cut fries were booted in favor of these crinkle cut originals. The ridged taters are never limp and actually hold up under their gooey cheese sauce.
Best thrice-cooked fries: The Breslin
The standard two cooks are not enough for April Bloomfield, who first boils her potatoes then fries the chips -- twice. The extra step results in a superb crackly crust, while the thick-cut shape allows the creamy center to remain intact. There’s cumin mayo for dipping, but the sea salt-dusted fries are pretty spectacular on their own.
Best sweet potato fries: Grey Dog
A meal at this brunch-time favorite would not be complete without an overflowing platter of the sweet potato fries. Some are long and some are stubby, but all are equally crisp and well-seasoned.
Best non-potato fries: Narcissa
What’s that you say? You can’t put non-potato fries on a best fries list? Well we did ANYWAY, and you’ll thank us later. These aren’t your average carrot sticks, built to deliver tubs of hummus to your face. Here, John Fraser worked his magic to turn the Bugs Bunny snacker into tempura-battered beauties that are snappy and tender all at once. The jalapeño-infused “mayo” also fools you into eating more healthy stuff -- it’s actually made from tofu, sucker.
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Patty Lee is a reporter and editor who has written for Zagat, Time Out New York, New York Daily News, and Cooking Channel. At all other times: an eater of desserts, aspiring world traveler, and proud Brooklynite. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
1. Balthazar80 Spring St, New York
2. JoJu83-25 Broadway, Elmhurst
3. King Noodle1045 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn
4. Shake Shack152 E 86th St, New York
5. The Breslin Bar & Dining Room16 W 29th St, New York
6. The Grey Dog244 Mulberry St, New York
7. Narcissa21 Cooper Sq, New York
8. Lafayette380 Lafayette St, New York
Keith McNally’s bustling Balthazar embodies the image of a French brasserie ripped from a francophile fantasy, drawing brunching celebrities, steak frites fanatics, and throngs of tourists willing to pay top dollar for poached eggs. The people-watching is a chief lure -- and how could it not be when so many people are packed into the high-ceilinged space? The menu features the kind of dishes you'd find at Brasserie Lipp or Les Deux Magots, and though the twice-fried, sea salt-dusted fries are a must-order, the onion soup gratinée and duck confit are not to be missed. If you aren't looking to wine and dine at one of the red leather banquettes, stop by the adjacent bakery for baguettes, brioche buns, and pastries to-go.
This Queens spot takes Vietnamese cuisine up a notch by adding fries, creating favorites like Banh Mi fries and Kimchi fries. Try the loaded fries: We love banh mi. We love French fries. And this Queens hangout ingeniously COMBINES THE TWO by garnishing crunchy potatoes with classic Vietnamese sandwich fixin's (pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, and jalapeños), spicy mayo, and a zingy house-made green sauce. Oh, and you can can top it all off with an optional (only in name) fried egg.
King Noodle's MO is all about hyper-Americanized Chinese food, while combining unique ingredients to develop delicious and slightly avant-garde eats. Leave it to the crew that gave us Dorito kimchee carbonara to come up with mapo tofu chili cheese fries, which feature mouth-tingling Szechuan peppercorns, tofu, scallions, and good ol’ American cheese.
Easy access to Central Park and the Pineapple Upper East Side Cake means that if you've been to one Shake Shack you actually haven't been to them all. Of course you'll still be able to snag your french fries dipped in salted carmel house-named burger at this join. There’s a reason Shake Shack’s fresh, hand-cut fries were booted in favor of these crinkle cut originals. The ridged taters are never limp and actually hold up under their gooey cheese sauce.
April Bloomfield's all-day restaurant inside the Ace Hotel is an upscale British gastropub in the heart of NoMad. The Michelin-starred spot serves an indulgent meat-centric menu whose greatest hits include a lamb burger with thrice-cooked fries and fried sweetbreads. Aside from the à la carte menu, prix-fixe group dinners with your choice of meat (roasted duck, fried chicken, whole-roasted suckling pig) are available for advance booking. And if you have a sweet tooth, make sure to get something from the pudding menu.
Started by two brothers and named after their dogs, The Grey Dog is a diner-meets-coffeehouse known as much for its breakfast quesadillas as it is for its welcoming, neighborhood vibe. The first location opened in Greenwich Village in 1996, and the mini-chain has expanded across Lower Manhattan in the years since, with each outpost as cozy and reliable as the next. The all-day menu consistently delivers -- no matter if you're on the soup and salad train or the burger and (sweet potato) fries one. The Mulberry Street location often gets crowded for lunch on weekdays, and given the hangover-curing allure of the aforementioned breakfast quesadilla, for brunch on weekends.
Inside The Standard East Village, Narcissa crafts a seasonal menu based around farm-fresh Hudson Valley ingredients that are both light and filling. Two dining rooms and an outdoor space with a private garden view give off a cozy, upscale vibe complemented by a crowd of downtown regulars and hotel guests. The menu gives equal play to meat, fish, and vegetables, with an emphasis on roasted dishes. Be sure to order a side of the carrot fries -- they give their fried potato counterparts a run for their money.
Chef Andrew Carmellini's upscale bakery and cafe serves traditional French fare like Croque Madame and escargot in a bright, airy and elegant dining setting. The wine list offers a varied collection of French bottles, and the servers are extremely knowledgeable, so ask for a recommendation if you're unsure of what to order. Lafayette is also one of the greatest spots for people-watching, especially if you opt for al fresco seating.