Anyone who thinks of French fries as just a side order clearly isn't going to the right places. But don't worry, our love of fries compelled us to put together a list of all the best places to have a gourmet fry experience. We went outside the box on this one -- meaning sauces and toppings are encouraged and the fries don't have to just be potatoes -- but we also included the best of the best of more standard fries in town, too.
Prepare your taste buds for the ultimate fry excursion.
Cheese Fries from Portillo's We've already gushed about the newly opened Portillo's a lot, but what's a little more going to hurt? The Chicago-area staple is a master of hot dog arts, but what some people don't know is the glory of Portillo's cheese fries ($2.29 for a small and $2.59 for a large). Since the creamy, hot cheese sauce comes on the side of the crinkle-cut and crispy fries, you don't end up with a soggy mess a minute into eating them. Instead you get a perfect cheesy, potato-y bite every time.
Golden Polenta Fries from theHouse at Secret Garden There ain't a lot out in SoPho, but there is the House at Secret Garden, and that's enough for us. Its polenta fries ($5) are crispy and beautifully fried until golden brown on the outside. On the inside, your mouth is met with creamy, delicious polenta, which is absolutely addicting when dipped in its spicy aioli. Not your average potato fry, but so good that we had to add it to the list -- just trust us on this one.
Patatine Fritte from Andreoli Italian Grocer Chow bella with the classic Italiano appetizer at Andreoli known as the patatine fritte. The potatoes and leeks are fried lightly to preserve their earthy flavors, which go perfectly with the Giovanni-style tartar dipping sauce, a creamy, tangy pinkish sauce unlike any fry sauce you've had before. Grab your own plate at the North Scottsdale (by way of Italy) joint for $6.95.
Poutines from Rose & Crown Pub We're not quite sure why this little downtown Phoenix pub insists on pluralizing the word poutine, but its combination of chips and gravy is so good that we DGAF. Poutine, the original hot mess of foodstuffs, is common in Canada but harder to come by stateside. The seasoned chips are thick and potato-y in every bite and are not overpowered by the spiced brown gravy ($7.99). Our only qualm? R&C uses shredded cheddar instead of cheese curds. Nobody's perfect.
House Frites from Zinc Bistro Grab a seat at Zinc Bistro's chic French art deco bar and be transported to a land with condescending service and high-brow customers. If you're into that sort of thing (or can ignore it, like we can for great fries), you're in for a treat! Zinc's thinly sliced seasoned fries ($5) are tossed in marjoram and paprika for an exotic twist. The fries have a mayo-based aioli and ketchup on the side for dipping, but we don't think they need them.
Baked Potato Fries from Joe's Farm Grill As if Joe's Farm Grill's perfectly crispy and evenly salted fries weren't the ideal fry on their own, they have to go and leave the skin on, adding another level of earthy flavor. But that's not all -- the Gilbert farm fresh restaurant crew then piles on sharp cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, organic sour cream, and chives ($4.99). If your mouth isn't watering by now, you're simply not human.
Trio of Duck Fat Fries from Bourbon Steak We thought we were in love with Joe's fries. Then we went to Bourbon Steak. The über-classy bar and restaurant inside the Fairmont resort in Scottsdale can be intimidating if you haven't properly attired yourself. However, throw on some nice clothes and eat quite possibly the best fries Phoenix has to offer ($5). The duck fat frying adds a level of decadence that you just have to try to believe. Plus, Bourbon has elevated fry-making to a science, with three different seasoning options each accompanied by their own customized dipping sauces.
Truffled Frites from Christopher's Restaurant After a long day of Biltmore shopping and self-loathing at the small sizes with high price tags, it's nice to get away from it all and stuff your face with a bowl full of fries tossed in truffle oil and topped with shredded Parmesan. Thanks to Christopher's, you can do just that. Fork over $9 more after your shopping spree and apologize to your credit card and waistline later.
Sweet Potato Fries from Zulu Caffe Unless you own a private plane, there really isn't much reason to go to the Scottsdale Airport -- that is, until Zulu Caffe opened. The little gourmet spot specializes in a grip of healthy choices, but it also makes a killer side of sweet potato fries. The earthiness and saltiness of a freshly made potato fry is elevated by the added sweetness in this variety. An added bonus -- they're about half as greasy, too!
French Fries from Cafe Bink (and Bink's Midtown) If you haven't had Kevin Binkley's French fries yet, you don't have to trudge out to Carefree anymore. These award-winning fries, which come with sauce vert, truffle ketchup, and aioli for dipping, are now available at the new Bink's Midtown location, too. Real fry aficionados rejoice because these fries ($4) are made Belgian-style, which means they're blanched and twice-fried, leaving the fry crispy and crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.