Battle of the Sweet Potato Fries

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Stax Burger Bistro vs. Indulge Burgers & More

Good sweet potato fries are not easy to find. Making them well is like successfully solving a complex equation whose variables include salt, oven temperature, fry grease and potato thickness. This week we check out two Scottsdale burger joints where sweet potato fries are prominently featured on the menus.

In One Corner: Stax Burger Bistro
4400 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

Stax Burger Bistro was nearly empty Tuesday night when we walked in to test drive their sweet potato fries. A flat-screen TV behind the bar was airing the US Open and innocuous disco music bleated overhead. We were seated along a wall at a booth so tall we had to climb into it. Ikea-esque light fixtures hung above every table.

Stax calls their sweet potato fries "Sweet Pots" and they're served with ketchup and, for an extra quarter, any of five flavors of aioli: jalapeno, spicy, chipotle, honey mustard and red pepper. We asked for spicy and honey mustard.

"What do you smell?" our dining companion asked as he leaned into the metal basket of fries after they were delivered to our table.

"It smells sweet and earthy?" I replied, not exactly understanding the question.

"No, it smells fried!" he said, grabbing a fry and popping it in his mouth.

At first bite, the fries were burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth hot. They were also very thinly cut which provided a lovely crunch but negated the taste of the actual sweet potato. It was all crust and no content.

Once they'd cooled down, we were able to enjoy them more and dig into the scrumptious ailois. By themselves, the sweet potato fries were pretty good, but the aioli made the fries totally addictive and we polished off the basket in two blinks.In the Other Corner: Indulge Burgers & More
10392 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

Indulge Burgers & More was also airing the US Open on a flat screen TV at the bar. The restaurant was slightly more full than at Stax but it was by no means crowded.

As we were seated, the waiter handed us a #2 pencil and a menu, which was a sheet of paper with bubbles to fill in next to each food item.

"I feel like I'm taking the SAT," our friend said as he pored over the options.

When we ordered, we were told we'd receive half off the sweet potato fries because it was "Ladies Night." Did they really just say "Ladies Night"? we wondered. Yes, they did. That got us humming that Flight of the Conchords song "Ladies of the World."

Back to the fries. They came out warm but not quite as hot as the fries at Stax, which was a plus. Immediately we noticed they were thick and substantial so that you actually got a clean taste of the vegetable in every bite.

"These are clearly sweet potatoes," our dining companion said. "But I don't know if I like the ranch with it."

It's true, the ranch dressing was a disappointment. And they could have been salted a bit more. The fries themselves were hearty and sweet but eaten plain, they were not nearly as habit-forming as the fries at Stax.

The Verdict: A Draw

This is our first draw on Battle of the Dishes. We love, love, love the fries at Stax, but mainly because the fries are a conduit for their scrumptious aioli dips. Otherwise, they're too skinny and don't resemble sweet potatoes. On the other hand, the sweet potato fries at Indulge are better fries, but without any decent dip, the experience is bland and dull. Why, oh why can't we have Indulge's fries with the dips from Stax?

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