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5 Places to Celebrate National Potato Day

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | August 18, 2015

5 Places to Celebrate National Potato Day

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

Potatoes were so Rodney Dangerfield for a number of years – they got no respect.  Originally believed to cause leprosy, potatoes were actually forbidden to grow in some European countries. Eventually, the world would come around and bestow a place of honor on this highly prized and respected tuber. Never moreso than today, National Potato Day. So in honor of everyone's favorite starch (the average American eats 142 pounds of potatoes a year), here are five of America’s favorite spud dishes.

French Fries

Despite being a staple of American fast food culture, this snack is decidely un-American. It seems that the Belgians have been preparing the dish as early as 1680. But after the GIs came back from WWI with a hankering for the taste they had gotten overseas, the rush was on to prepare fries for everyone, everywhere. 

The Daily Meal does a great job at compiling the best fries in America every year and this year the award went to The Breslin Bar and Dining Room in New York City.  Their Thrice Cooked Chips are actually cooked three times: boiled for five minutes, low temp deep-fried for eight more and then high temp deep-fried for another seven minutes to crisp them up.

Tater Tots

The Ore-Ida corporation holds the registered trademark for those little bites of golden love that you can find on many a menu across the United States. They were actually made as a way to use up the leftover bits of cut up potatoes that the factories had gathered, and Americans love them to the tune of 70 million pounds of them eaten each year.   

There is always a fight for the best tots in the country and you may plead your case in the comments below, but we are going with The Nook in Atlanta, Georgia. Their “Totchos” are exactly what they sound like: nachos with tater tots as the base instead of tortilla chips. They have seven over-the-top types on the menu, but the clear favorite is the the Mac Daddy Totchos – Tots smothered with mac and cheese, house made beef chili, and topped with shaved cheddar cheese. If you want, wash it down with their famous Bloody Mary, which features 32 ounces of vodka and bloody Mary mix topped with pepperoncinis, jalapeños, tater tots, a full steak, a slice of toast, lemon, lime, and a hard-boiled egg. And you get a beef straw to drink it from!

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes have a recipe history dating back to 1747 but they were made long before that. They have been, and are currently used, as a dish themselves or as an ingredient in other dishes such as dumplings, breads, gnocchi and more. There is one chef who is essentially known as much for his mashed potatoes as his amassing of Michelin Stars, and that is Chef Joel Robuchon.

The potato puree that he makes is so famous, it is on the menu at every one of his restaurants.  Not only are you not going to get any lumps in this version of grandma’s favorite, but you are also getting one pound of butter for every two pounds of potatoes!  How the man is still living at 70 is a secret to us all.

Hash Browns

Hash browns have been around since the late 1800s. Simply served as griddled shredded potatoes, or extravagantly served “loaded” with every topping known to man or woman, hash browns are a staple in the late night/early morning menus across the country. There are few places that are known for their hash browns more than Waffle House

Started in Avondale, Georgia in 1955, the chain has grown to more than 2,100 restaurants across 25 states.  Known for their variations of toppings, Waffle House offers diners the choice of getting their hash browns scattered on the grill, smothered with sautéed onions, covered with cheese, chunked with ham, diced with grilled tomatoes, peppered with jalapeño peppers, capped with mushrooms, topped with chili, or country with sausage gravy.

Sweet Potato Fries

OK, we know that the sweet potato is just a distant cousin of the potato, but all this talk about potatoes made us wax about our affinity for the sweet/salty taste of hot and fresh sweet potato fries. Don’t take our word for it, but the folks in Vardaman, Mississippi claim that the sweet potato is the world’s most perfect food. To be fair, they also consider themselves to be the sweet potato capital of the world. 

So if we go to the nearest place to Vardaman for an order of Sweet Potato Fries, you have to go to Fairpark Grill in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi. They may have a plethora of cuisine types on the menu, but this is the closest place to Vardaman that you are going to find the almighty sweet potato fry.

So, how else do you like your potatoes prepared?  Where do you like to get them?  Let me know in the comments below! 

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