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The Best French Fries in America, According to Chefs

Culinary pros dish on the fry spots—from big chains to tiny food carts—that do fried potatoes justice.

Americans love their French fries. In fact, Reader's Digest recently ranked fries as the fifth most popular food in the country. And it makes sense, given that you'll find fries on the menu at a wide variety of restaurants, from fast-food chains to high-end steakhouses and everywhere in between. While your preferences may vary, whether you like them traditional, seasoned, or curly, we can all agree that nothing's worse than a soggy French fry. The best fries are golden brown and cooked to perfection. But where can you go to find the best fries in America?

We recently asked professional chefs and culinary experts to share their favorite fast-food fries, and ditto for burgers. So, this time, we asked the experts to tell us about their favorite spot for fries. Read on to see where the pros turn to get their French fry fix, from independent shops to regional chains and food trucks to mega fast-food giants.


mcdonald's food fries lights
Photo: Shutterstock
Nutrition: Per Medium Order:
Calories: 320
Fat: 15 g (Saturated Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 260 mg
Carbs: 43 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 5 g

Of course, this classic fast-food pick is a favorite, even among chefs with sophisticated palettes. Amanda Pacheco, a chef who has worked in hand-crafted fry kitchens in Massachusetts, says McDonald's fries are the best fast-food option in America. "They're good whether hot or cool, they're never over seasoned, and when they're hot, they're perfect," she says. Other chefs we polled previously seem to agree, with multiple pros choosing McDonald's as their go-to fry spot.

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Five Guys

five guys large fries
Photo: @FiveGuys / X
Nutrition: Per Regular Order:
Calories: 953
Fat: 41 g (Saturated Fat: 7 g, Trans Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 962 mg
Carbs: 131 g (Fiber: 15 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 15 g

As fast-food fries go, Nick DeCamp says Five Guys serves up the best. "They start with fresh potatoes, then pre-fry the fries to golden brown. Then, they use peanut oil for deep frying," says DeCamp, head chef of a non-profit recovery house in Rhode Island. The result is a very sturdy fry, perfect for topping in ketchup with a splash of malt vinegar. The boardwalk-style fries are cut fresh and cooked twice, resulting in a firm outside and mashed potato inside.

Giancarlo Borletti, executive chef of New York City's Bstro 38, says the same. "Five Guys fries are the best fry in America. They're cut fresh and cooked twice," he says. "The use of peanut oil in cooking the French fries gives them a unique flavor. In addition, the Cajun seasoning compliments the flavor."

Nathan's Famous

nathans famous fries
Photo: Courtesy of Nathan's Famous
Nutrition: Per Regular Serving:
Calories: 540
Fat: 39 g (Saturated Fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 500 mg
Carbs: 43 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 1 g)
Protein: 5 g

"My favorite is Nathan's fries from Nathan's [Famous] hot dogs," says Richard Beckel, executive chef of the Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville, Md. The fast-food chain specializes in hot dogs but also serves up excellent fries at its many locations across the country. "From the odd cut, the inconsistency of size, and the smell of the russet potato, I love them because you never know what comes next," Beckel says. "Each bite is different, plus the cut holds a lot of sauce on the fry."

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Friskie Fries

garlic olive oil and parm fries from Friskie Fries in Rhode Island
Photo: Friskie Fries/Facebook
Nutrition information unavailable

"Good fries are crispy without being overdone, just a little fluffy on the inside," says chef DeCamp. "Bad fries are burnt or soggy or too salty."

That's why he opts for Friskie Fries, a popular food truck and storefront in Rhode Island that serves up super-crispy fries with heaps of toppings, like chili cheese, pulled pork, or General Tso's chicken. "They are always crispy and fresh. I think that has something to do with the way they are fried, maybe a double-frying process or something similar," he says.

"Even the toppings don't affect how crispy they are, which is some kind of culinary magic," DeCamp says. "I'm sure everyone has had some soggy chili cheese fries before."

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A plate of steak frites at Balthazar restaurant in New York City
Photo: Balthazar/Facebook
Nutrition information unavailable

"The best French fries, hands down, are at Balthazar in NYC," says Sean Olnowich, culinary director at Ketchy Shuby in New York City. "What makes them so exquisite is the silky, creamy potato interior with the golden crunchy texture of the exterior," he says.

"They use a reverse blanch/fry process compared to the majority of restaurants making fresh fries, and it shows in the quality of their technique," Olnowich says of the Balthazar fries, which are cooked in peanut oil. "There's a good reason that they go through 600 pounds of potatoes per day," Olnowich says. "Their fries are perfect."

Olnowich isn't the only chef to love these fries—celebrity chef Bobby Flay once called Balthazar fries "unbelievably perfect."

DNB Craft Kitchen

A pile of golden french fries on a platter next to a burger from DNB Craft Kitchen
Photo: DNB Craft Kitchen/Facebook
Nutrition information unavailable

Chef Pacheco's top indie French fry pick has to be DNB Craft Kitchen in New Bedford, Mass. She worked there for nearly three years, hand-cutting 350 pounds of French fries daily. "We used a fry punch and would soak them in cold water to remove the excess starch. We'd deep fry them in beef fat, drain them of the grease, and refrigerate until service, and we'd then fry them again to order," she says of the process.

"What I love about hand-cut fries is you can really taste the potato, and [being] fried in beef fat gives it an extra flavor and a hint of umami," Pacheco says. As kitchen manager, she learned the importance of sourcing the right potato for an excellent French fry. "The season affects the sugar content in a potato; the higher the sugar would cause the fries to come out darker, [and] the inside wouldn't be as smooth," she says. "It was a challenge, but a very interesting one."

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The Backyard Public House

backyard public house fries on a plate.
Photo: Backyard Public House / Facebook
Nutrition information unavailable

Derek Duncan used to cook at The Backyard Public House in Spokane, Wash., and he counts its fries among his favorites. "I don't really like fries from a lot of places because they tend to sit too long," he says. "Most places have bland fries." But not this place; the upscale dive bar serves thick-cut French fries crisped to perfection and well-seasoned.

"They throw a twist on specials, like if it's garlic fries, it won't be garlic powder or garlic salt, it'll be the real thing," Duncan says. "And they're the first place that taught me how to do poutine—they have amazing gravy and use actual big cheese curds."

Pommes Frites NYC

A conical shaped container of french fries surrounded by various dipping sauces at Pommes Frites NYC
Photo: Pommes Frites NYC/Facebook
Nutrition information unavailable

Want authentic Belgian fries without having to hop the pond? Chef Brian Ross of suggests Pommes Frites in New York City, a specialty shop serving Belgian-style fries (aka pommes frites). They're "perfectly double-cooked frites, topped with a variety of extraordinary sauces," Ross says. "It creates a fry that is marvelously soft and not greasy on the inside, crisp and wonderful on the outside.

The cozy New York spot cooks up premium double-fried potatoes that are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The shop also encourages Americans to branch out beyond ketchup, offering other dips like exotic mustards, mayonnaise, curry sauce, and peanut satay sauce.

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Wood Ranch

A closeup of french fries at Wood Ranch
Photo: Wood Ranch/Facebook
Skin-On Fries (Per 8 oz.-Serving)
Calories: 724
Fat: 39 g
Sodium: 556 mg
Carbs: 85 g (Fiber: 8 g)
Protein: 8.5 g

"In the world of French fries, I guess it's safe to say I have a type," says Jason Triail, executive chef of the Habit Burger Grill. "For me, it's shoestring all the way. And Wood Ranch is where it's at." With 12 locations throughout California, the West Coast chain has mastered wood-fired American-style cooking, and their fries are top-notch, Triail says. "Absolute perfection. Always crispy on the outside, with that fluffy potato goodness on the inside," he says. "Pro tip for fellow fry enthusiasts: dip them in Wood Ranch's tangy original barbecue sauce. Boom."

Zinc Cafe & Market

A closeup of french fries from the Zinc Cafe
Photo: Zinc Cafe & Market/Facebook
Nutrition information unavailable

If you're in Southern California, Chef Triail recommends trying out the fries at Zinc Cafe. With five locations throughout Orange County and Los Angeles, Zinc Cafe serves up "seriously crispy fries," Triail says. "Shoestring-thin fries expertly coated to stay crispy for a solid 30 minutes—it's like they've cracked the code," he says. "They take the time to double fry and toss them with your choice of spicy za'atar, truffle salt, or fresh thyme. While I've never met a fry I didn't like, Zinc Cafe takes potato-ing to the next level."

Emily Latimer
Emily Latimer is a freelance journalist with a passion for food and restaurants. Read more about Emily