Food

The 10 Best French Fries in New York City, 2013 Edition

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Chicken, Oreos, and even butter, are all fried standards by now, but what beats classic French fries? Crisp, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and dunked in ketchup (or mayonnaise), fries are irresistible, cheap and perfect for sharing, and can be topped with just about anything. Our 10 best picks highlight old favorites, newcomers, and a few surprises.

Shake Shack Cheese Fries
The cult of Shake Shack has expanded to Philadelphia, Miami, Washington D.C., and a slew of other cities. But no matter how big the Shack gets, its ooey-gooey cheese fries are a must-order worth standing in line for an hour. The crinkle-cut fries may look like they came out of a freezer, but when topped with piping-hot cheesy sauce and not much else, they become a perfect vehicle for inhaling the melty mess. Some Shack-obsessed folk have been known to stuff some cheese fries into a burger or two, and we don’t blame ’em. Various Locations

Smoked-Meat Poutine Fries
Poutine, the Canadian late-night snack of fries, cheese curds, and gravy, can sound strange to the uninitiated, but Noah and Rae Bernamoff’s smoked-meat poutine ($14) at Mile End is convincingly exquisite. Some of the thin crispy fries soak up the delicious meat drippings, others hide pieces of Montreal-style smoked beef. You’ll find melted cheese curds dotting every other bite and a thick gravy that might be best served on the side for proper rationing. 97A Hoyt St., Brooklyn; 718-852-7510

Duck Fat Fries at Northern Spy Food Co.
Potato wedges are divisive. Some fry connoisseurs stick up their noses at the fat slices of starch, with almost mashed insides and a fried exterior. But the duck-fat fries ($6) at Northern Spy Food Co. will have even wedge-haters intrigued. The menu here focuses on seasonal ingredients, but the potato sticks here are always on the menu, served with malted-spiced yogurt. Fried in duck fat and seasoned with parsley, the thick chunks of potato are perfectly crisped on the outside. Dunk them in the sauce, which gives off a kick of heat. 511 E. 12th St., 212-228-5100

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Pommes Frites, the late-night favorite on Second Avenue, is an obvious, maybe even cliché, choice when crowning best fries, but it’s still one of the greats. Served in a gingham paper cone, the potatoes retain a crisp outer crunch with smashed insides. It’s easy to understand why the fries here inspire lines that curl all the way around to East 7th Street at 2 a.m. The fries are fried twice, Belgian style, and add-ons like peanut satay, Vietnamese pineapple mayo, or “especial” sauce (mayo, ketchup, and raw onions) make a regular-sized order ($4.50) of these guys hard to pass up. 123 Second Ave.; 212-674-1234

Fried Zucchini Chips at Jack’s Wife Freda
A staple of suburban diners, zucchini fries, when done right, can be even better than their potato counterparts. Warm liquid-y insides pour from a crisp outer shell — and must be washed down with a swig of beer. The round chips ($6) at Jack’s Wife Freda meet this standard. They’re served with a few welcome spoonfuls of of paprika aioli and not fried all the way through, so some green peeks out. Newbies might burn their mouth on these extra-hot fries, but even a scorched tongue will be pleased.224 Lafayette St.; 212-510-8550

Three Letters’ Moules “Poutine”
The moules frites at Clinton Hill bistro Three Letters does not look like the sidewalk cartons of poutine in Montreal, nor does it resemble the classic French pairing of moules frites. Instead, a pile of lightly browned fries are doused in white-wine gravy and graced with a few de-shelled mussels. There’s no cheese in sight, the rich potato filling is creamy. Sandwich a mussel in between two fries for a perfect bite. 930 Fulton St., Brooklyn; 718-622-4679

Cole’s Greenwich Village
Cole’s, the West Village newcomer, is filled with leather booths, dark wood benches, and high-priced entrees. But above all is a silver cone of crisp French fries ($9). Served with mayo and ketchup, the classic potato slivers are browned on the edges, free of grease, and mushy on the inside. Dip them into whatever other dishes you happen to be nibbling, and admire the potatoes’ ideal contours. 118 Greenwich Ave., 212-242-5966

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French Fries at Bareburger
Fried pickles are a novelty at Bareburger, but when it comes to down-home fries seasoned with salt and pepper, the organic burger chain has just about everything right. Served in a big basket next to a bucket of sauces (all squirted out of bear-shaped bottles), the fries are usually browned on one side, and end in delicate crispy points. Various Locations

Sweet Potato Fries from Grey Dog Coffee
The lines at Grey Dog‘s three locations are painfully long during weekend brunch. But an evening trip to the cozy cafe can result in quiet conversation and a generous plate of sweet potato fries ($3.50). Served on an enormous platter, almost all the fries are imperfect, with some coming out as tiny crunchy nuggets, and other as fat wedges. Pick out one of each and take a big bite to get the crackle of fully-cooked potato skins and smooth sweet potato mash. Seasoned lightly, with visible bits of embedded salt, they’re a highlight of Grey Dog’s expansive menu.Various Locations

Huajio Fried Potatoes at Little Pepper
Robert Sietsema crowned Little Pepper his number 1 in 10 Best Sichuan Restaurants in NYC and these hot fries were dubbed Best Freaky Fries in 2006. Seven years later, the sliced potatoes covered in a spicy mixture of cumin and Sichuan peppercorns are still some of the most exciting and, yes, freaky fries out there. They may leave you breathing fire and grabbing for the nearest glass of water, but for those with strong stomachs, a trip to Flushing is not complete without an order of Huajio fries. 18-24 College Point Blvd, Queens; 718-939-7788

@jessgood

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