What makes French fries so popular? Whether you’re into shoestring or steak fries, curly or waffle, spicy or savory, fries are the eternal most-wanted side of choice. And whether you want to embrace variants of French-Canadian mainstay poutine (at Badmaash in Los Angeles) or turn your fries into an upscale—or down and dirty—nacho (Celtic Crossing Irish Pub and Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee), there are endless directions to take this dish.
Here are 17 spots around America doing incredibly innovative things with French fries. You may want to bring extra napkins, some of these are going to get pretty messy…
Carne Fries at Calexico in New York and Detroit
At Calexico, the marriage of poutine and nachos comes together in a dream mashup inspired by co-owner Peter Oleyer’s own edible adventures: “I spent as many hours in my formative days eating late-night gravy fries at Nectars in Burlington, Vermont, as I did crushing nachos in the mission district of San Francisco,” says Oleyer. They start by frying Kennebec potatoes (their starch and water content make for an exceptionally crisp fry) and then add grilled hanger steak and caramelized onions. Next, is a generous amount of cheese sauce, guacamole, stewed black beans, pico de gallo, and a finishing dollop of sour cream. You’ll probably want a fork.
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