If there is a universally adored food, it’s probably french fries. Even those who claim to not like deep-fried potato straws will end up devouring half of yours after they order a salad for a side. Fries accompany so much, from sandwiches to steaks, milkshakes to mussels. Here are our 10 picks for the best spots for French fries in Portland.
Division & Clinton
Dots Cafe is the original place for loaded French fries, from a simple plate of cheese fries to the fully laden Kitchen Sink: a massive pile of fries with jalapeños, bacon, cheddar, Jack, serrano ranch, and tomato jam. Dots has managed to keep its prices pretty much the same for years now, so you get a massive plate of fries for a steal. The only thing you’ll regret in the morning is the calories you consumed the night before.
If you’re going to be one of the best burger joints in town, you better have some solid fries. Luckily, Foster Burger delivers on both. The poutine is good, the poutine with pork belly is better, but the best is the Black & White: golden french fries topped with parmesan and truffle oil, served with squid ink aioli. Because nothing says gourmet like squid ink, truffles, and a bacon cheeseburger. All that’s missing is foie gras.
Many of our city’s best fries are found at fine-dining establishments. While La Moule, the relatively new mussel and cocktail bar, is a more relaxed dining environment than Imperial or Ringside, Head Chef Aaron Barnett has no lack of pedigree, coming directly from the French inspired St. Jack. His fries are thin and salty, great for sopping up mussel broth. At the newly instated happy hour, grab a smaller bowl of mussels with the fries right on top.
Every other place on this list has great fries. Potato Champion is great fries, thick Belgian-style ones with toppings that range from poutine to a surprisingly delicious savory PB&J. While the cart is desirable at any hour, it’s best at 2am; after a night closing down your neighborhood dive bar, there’s nothing better to soak up that booze than a box of pulled pork fries.
Ladd’s Addition & Downtown
The Lardo Fries, thin and crispy, topped with Parmesan and fried herbs, are solid. But unless you’re vegetarian (and if you are, why are you at a place named for pork fat?), you’re going to be getting the Dirty Fries, the same as the Lardo Fries but also topped with Mama Lil’s peppers, and, what really make it, pork scraps. Get your daily (weekly) sodium requirements in one delicious serving!
Portland’s most classic steakhouse offers the option of a side of fries with the steaks, chops, and chicken entrees. While the fries are predictably good, it’s the spicy cheese Jojo’s with Parmesan and herbs during happy hour that steal the show. While you’re grabbing a plate of those, you might as well get a house ground cheeseburger for a ridiculous $2.95.
Though this Portland chain of quality "fast-food" burgers sold last year to the company that also own Hooters, the food has, so far, remained unchanged. The herbed Parmesan truffle fries, which helped kick off the truffles fry obsession our city seems to be going through, are as great, and quick, as always.
You don’t have to work at a James Beard Award-winning restaurant, or compete as a finalist on Top Chef to make excellent French fries, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Chef de Cuisine Doug Adams won’t be at Vitaly Paley’s Imperial much longer, so be sure to get in there before he leaves. During happy hour, a "fry basket of fries" with secret sauce is only $3, and they’re cooked in their own personal frier to assure they’re gluten free. They’re a nice accompaniment to soak up some of those $5 Vieux Carrés on tap you’ll be getting.
Relatively new to the scene and helping Sellwood become a serious food destination, PDX Sliders serves up mini-burgers and sandwiches, along with hand-cut golden fries, topped with truffle salt and fresh parsley. They’re perfect for catching the incredible, oily combination of aoili and meat juices dripping from your sliders. We’ll just see how long it takes this food cart to turn into a brick & mortar spot.
The owners of Big-Ass Sandwiches, the food cart turned brick & mortar (aka the Portland Fairytale), know that you’re going to be piling your fries on your sandwich, so it loads up all of its sandwiches with thin, golden French fries to spare you the work. Sure, you can order any of the sandwiches without fries, but that’s defeating the purpose of a Big-Ass Sandwiches.
1. Dots2521 SE Clinton St, Portland
2. Foster Burger5339 SE Foster, Portland
3. La Moule2500 SE Clinton St, Portland
4. Potato Champion1200 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland
5. Lardo1212 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland
6. RingSide Steakhouse2165 W Burnside St, Portland
7. Little Big Burger122 NW 10th Ave, Portland
8. Imperial410 SW Broadway, Portland
9. PDX Sliders8064 SE 17th ave, Portland
10. Big-Ass Sandwiches5663 NE Glisan St, Portland
Dots is a Portland mainstay, mostly because it fuses the concepts of diner, dive bar, and hangout so seamlessly. All the elements clash in the most beautiful ways: grizzly billiards boys (there's a pool table) mix with theatre geeks from the nearby Clinton Street Theater in a dark space with a faux-baroque charm that serves food fit for a highway diner crowd. The menu is an American eats encyclopedia, with burgers fries and grilled cheeses joined by a few Asian-inflected surprises like a pulled pork banh mi. The cocktails are good, but it's more about the atmosphere and the people... though we do love the daily slushy specials.
Foster Burger's menu is a la carte, starting with poutines that begin with the basic (gravy and Beecher's cheesecurds), then moving onto specials like the Arleta with roasted chicken and peas, the mushrooms/onions/garlic Woodstock, and the belly/bacon/pastrami Clinton, plus awesome happy house drink specials.
There's something sexy about muscles... um, mussels, and that fact is especially apparent at La Moule. Eccentric patterned wallpaper and black leather booths set a seductive, vaguely European mood for four takes on the specialty shellfish, from a creamy iteration with saffron and thyme to a Korean-influenced broth with miso, ginger and kimchi. That's not to say you should stop there: Belgian-inspired favorites like rabbit pie are broken up by specials, like a heaping lobster BLT on buttered Texas toast with thick-cut bacon and caper-mayo skewered by a knife. An impressive Belgian beer selection is notable, but complex cocktails offer just as much reason to drink.
Potato Champion is a food truck that's open until late, specializing in hand cut, twice fried Belgian-style french fries with multiple sauces and poutine. These fries aren't in the least bit ordinary, with menu options like Pulled Pork Fries or the Palak Paneer Fries that come topped with curried spinach, Paneer cheese, and cilantro chutney. Plus, everything is made using only the highest quality ingredients.
With a motto like "Bringing Fat Back," Lardo promises some of Portland's most indulgently carnivorous sandwiches. The term "lardo" actually refers to a specific cut of fatback pork salami that's typically cured with rosemary and other herbs. In the spirit of artisanal salami-curing, this narrow red sandwich joint is all about repurposing traditional meat cuts and charcuterie in more contemporary iterations, as evidenced by the double burger topped with pork pastrami or the spicy meatball banh mi. Even the fries here are loaded with crispy fat and Parmesan. And because no plate of fatback is complete without a beer, Lardo has a rotating selection of craft beers on tap.
RingSide is one of Portland’s most classic steakhouses, serving some of the best cuts of steak, chops, and chicken entrees in town. While the fries are predictably good, it’s the spicy cheese Jojo’s with Parmesan and herbs during happy hour that steal the show. This spot also boasts a serious stash of wine, featuring more than 700 labels.
Little Big Burger is a no-frills sustainably minded chain specializing in burgers that are made with 1/4 lb. of Cascade Natural beef, brioche buns, local cheeses, organic vegetables, and Camden's Catsup on top. The simple menu is small, consisting of beef burgers, veggie burgers, fries, and shakes- but it's the herbed Parmesan truffle fries that truly complete the meal here.
Imperial restaurant, located in the historic Hotel Lucia, is owned and operated by Chef extraordinaire Vitaly Paley. This spot has a modern bright interior, and all the food is dishes made with local ingredients. The menu's combination of new and traditional American cuisine can be paired with any of Imperial's fine wines, specialty cocktails or draft and bottled beers.
PDX Sliders in Sellwood uses only locally sourced ingredients and serves up mini-burgers and sandwiches, along with hand-cut golden french fries that are topped with truffle salt and fresh chopped parsley. These fries are perfect for catching the incredible, oily combination of aioli and meat juices dripping from your sliders.
The owners of Big-Ass Sandwiches, the food cart turned brick & mortar, know that you’re going to be piling your fries on your sandwich, so it loads up all of its sandwiches with thin, golden French fries to spare you the work. Sure, you can order any of the sandwiches without fries, but that’s defeating the purpose of a Big-Ass Sandwiches.