Cafe Presse: Frites
In a world of festively topped fries, 12th Avenue’s linger-worthy haunt for croquet monsieurs, vin rouge, and good periodicals takes a very French approach to making its frites: Use the best ingredients (in this case russet potatoes), precise technique, a little salt, and not much else. This yields a white ceramic bowl of platonically perfect frites, skins still clinging to each fry, with a lasting crisp.
Mean Sandwich: Taco-Style Skins and Ins
We’re not saying this is how it happened, but if a bunch of cooks were sitting around late at night in need of drinking food, the results would look an awful lot like this French fry variation at Ballard’s excellent new sandwich shop. Chunks of baked potato (the skins and the innards, get it?) are fried crunchy and dark brown. You can order them simply tossed with salt and pepper, or go big and pile on the taco fixings: ground beef, cheddar cheese, shreds of iceberg lettuce, and sour cream.
BRGR Bar: IPA-Battered Fries
This shoebox of a burger bar in Pioneer Square is an undersung hero of the neighborhood’s food scene. Not only are the burgers great, but the sides menu includes four types of fries (including waffle and sweet potato), plus onion rings. Waffle fries are criminally rare in this town, but the version in a crispy cloak of batter made with IPA is even better.
Phorale: Phorale Fries
This kitchen in the corner of a South Park bodega serves crisp and seasoned curly fries in boat-shaped bowls, dressed with a riot of avocado crema, salsa verde, and a fat handful of fresh, chopped cilantro. Add your choice of steak or spicy pork to keep this production from being overly minimalist. Thank goodness this tangle of fries comes with a fork; you almost need a knife, too.
Katsu Burger: Nori Fries
Our homegrown, Japan-inspired burger chainlet made its name off its panko-fried patties. But Katsu’s slender, pale gold fries have a following of their own, mostly because they’re sprinkled with flecks of nori, uniting salty French fry goodness and Asian umami, even before the wasabi mayo dipping sauce gets involved. Ordering these fries without a black sesame shake just feels wrong.
8oz. Burger and Co.: Short Rib Poutine
A lot of care goes into the fries at this duo of burger shops in Ballard and on Capitol Hill: Kennebec potatoes get soaked, blanched, and double fried until the innards are soft and yielding as mashed potatoes, the exterior golden with a businesslike crunch. So, does adding a thick short rib gravy and mozzarella curds (and optional fried egg) feel like overkill? Hell no. Though it is rather ironic this behemoth in a cast iron skillet is listed on the “Small Snacks” section of the menu.
The Swinery: Danger Fries
As the name implies, smothering hand cut fries (cooked in rendered pork fat) in a mornay sauce amped up with bacon and blue cheese does connote a certain level of peril—to your arteries, to your heretofore-unstained clothing, to the chance of doing anything productive after eating these.
These guys can’t do anything halfway, can they? The city’s finest of fine dining also harbors some of the best fries in town, McDonald’s–size sticks of potato rendered memorable not by crazy sauces, but cuisine–level precision: a rinse to eliminate as much starch as possible, two rounds of frying and cooling, and a parting shot of chopped herbs, kosher salt, and just enough white truffle oil. They’re on the lounge menu.
White Swan Public House: Poutine o’the Sea
It’s tempting to order this poutine riff based on the name along (kinda like choosing a wine based on the label). But the reality is as clever as the conceit: Fries that have met up with New England–style chowder, via a light gravy, finely diced bacon, and chunks of scallion, plus steamed littleneck clams.
Super Six and Marination Ma Kai: Aloha Fries
Marination’s West Seattle outpost and its restaurant sibling in Columbia City both serve this unholy delicious triad of kalua pork, kimchi mayo, atop salty-crisp fries that would be showstoppers even without all the flair.