Traditional French fries have been a favorite side at fast-food and casual restaurants over the years, but recently we've seen different crispy fried things growing in popularity, including mozzarella sticks, cheese curds, waffle fries, and curly fries. And what's variety if not the spice of life!
Another menu item we've been seeing more of lately? Crunchy, briny fried pickles, which actually date back to the 1960s.
Of course, with fried pickles on more menus, the big dilemma is: which are better, chips or spears? While fried pickle chips are easily poppable, spears are more like French fries and seem easier to dip. Many sauce enthusiasts will say dipping is crucial, others feel the chips take to batter and frying more naturally.
Luckily, we've found the best-fried pickles of both styles on chain restaurant menus around the country. That means they're available almost anywhere, and you should probably make a plan to eat them.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Since opening its first location in Austin, back in 1997, this movie theater, bar, and restaurant has grown to almost 30 locations, the most recent one opening in Boston. The popular chain combines movie-going with a gastropub dining experience. One of the best appetizers Alamo offers is fried pickle spears, which resemble lightly green French fries. The thick-cut spears come with ranch sauce for dipping while you watch the latest movie.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Your favorite spot for every flavor of wings is also a solid choice for tasty, poppable appetizers. Don't skip the cheese curds either, but the sports bar's fried pickles are deeply craveable when you're in the mood for something tangy. Cut into circular chips, the dill pickles are deep fried and served with "B-dubs" southwestern ranch sauce, but if you ask nicely, your server will hook you up with any of the sauces on the menu.
We're not sure why sports bars with scantily clad waitstaff have such excellent appetizer menus, but if Hooters is your vibe, it's a strong stop for all the pub classics. That includes chip-style fried pickles, which are waffle cut, which makes the batter adhere better and adds crunch. It's all finished off with a side of creamy remoulade sauce.
Strewn across 15 southern and midwestern states, O'Charley's is a casual chain with nearly 100 locations. It serves primarily comfort food, including a crispy pickle chip appetizer with thin-cut pickle slices. The portion is just the right size for the table, and the chips come in a bowl with a ranch dressing for dipping.
We'd call this fast-food restaurant underrated, but with over 3,500 locations across the United States, it's clear everyone knows Sonic is the spot for unique, well-prepared fast food. That includes the chain's Pickle Fries, which are spear-cut and served as a side, fried to perfection. You'll get a side of ranch to dip the crunchy treats into.
Is there anything Texas Roadhouse can't do? Besides well-priced steaks that are aged to perfection, the popular steakhouse chain offers a big, shareable appetizer basket of chip-style fried pickles. You'll get more than enough of these chips for the table and can choose between ranch and cajun ranch for dipping.
Nutrition information unavailable.
Beyond waitstaff in tiny plaid skirts and revealing tops, the Tilted Kilt is a winner when it comes to tasty fried appetizers, even if they're a little off the mark for traditional Scottish fare. Their take on fried pickles, called Frickles, is crispy fried pickle coins with cayenne ranch dressing for dipping.
Operating primarily in the southern states, Zaxby's has about 900 locations serving the kind of chicken wings and sandwiches you dream about if you live elsewhere. If you're lucky enough to have one of these restaurants nearby, you probably already know their fried pickles are truly top-notch. Something about the crunch of the cornmeal they fry the dill pickle slices in (until they're just the right shade of golden brown) just speaks to the soul. Served with ranch for dipping, of course.