Last updated: 03:23 PM ET, Thu July 14 2016

The Best Places in The World To Celebrate National French Fry Day

Features & Advice | Barry Kaufman | July 13, 2016

The Best Places in The World To Celebrate National French Fry Day

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Fries. Pommes. Frites. Chips.

No matter what you call them, these crispy golden sticks of wonder have long gone unheralded. Relegated to a side dish, they often languish in the shadows of the plate while some glory-hogging main dish takes the spotlight.

Well not today.

Today, we celebrate National French Fry day, in which we push aside that streaky steak or that greasy burger and applaud the true star of the plate.

As you join us in saluting these tantalizing tubers, we’d like to invite you to three places where you can celebrate the grandeur of the French Fry, and share a few of our own favorites.

Belgium: Birthplace of the French Fry

Despite their name, French fries are actually Belgian. And in Belgium, frites are serious business. You’ll find fritkots dotted throughout the countryside, each serving thick, delicious wedges of potato goodness fried to golden perfection and served in a paper cone. The most celebrated is Maison Antoine. Served with gooey sauce, the frites here are perfect for taking to go at one of the many bars nearby.

Hands down, the  best fries—or rather frites—are from Belgium. I became addicted to them on my first trip to the country and eat them as often as possible whenever I get back to Belgium. These thick cut fries are made from soft Belgian potatoes. They’re soft and fluffy on the inside with a non-greasy, crunchy crust on the outside. Their secret—well not really a secret as even I know about it—is that they’re double fried, meaning fried, dried, then fried again. Their, uh, “presentation” adds to the entire package; they’re served in a paper cone with mayo and ketchup. – Robin Amster

Brooklyn: Coney Island

Not content with simply having the best hot dogs on the planet, Nathan’s Famous at the corner of Surf and Stilwell on Coney Island is also pretty well known for its fries.

Growing up in Brooklyn, I’ve never had to travel very far to sample the best French fries. They are a subway ride away on Coney Island, where the original Nathan’s restaurant is located. The stand itself is worth the trip. It’s the historic descendant of what began in 1916 as a nickel hot dog stand, and has to be the biggest of its kind anywhere. Well in addition to serving the best hot dogs, Nathan’s has always offered magnificent French fries, cut at just the right thickness and ever-so-slightly crunchy on the outside. Be sure to try a few the next time you’re in Brooklyn. – Brian Major

Waterfront Wonders

The many piers and boardwalks of the northeast have made street food an art, and when it came time to pick our staff favorite, it became clear that a line had been drawn in the sand, as some of our staffer started campaigning to put their local boardwalk fries first.

This really isn’t even up for discussion, but I will indulge my colleagues nonetheless.

I was a Jersey Shore rat for many of my youthful years, and nothing screamed summer quite like a bucket of Curley’s Fries in Wildwood. With the Atlantic Ocean over your shoulder and the music of Bruce Springsteen, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, and Gary U.S. Bonds bouncing off the boardwalk, daily trips – sometimes multiple daily trips – to Curley’s were a must.

Lunch? A bucket of fries, of course. To this day they are still fresh-cut, with just the right amount of salt nestling into those little ridges on the outside. You could even ask them to make your batch ‘extra crispy’ if you wanted.

And no dipping.

The proper way to eat Curley’s Fries was to pour the cheese sauce and/or the ketchup into the bucket, getting your hands all sloppy. Made it better to lick them clean afterward. – Rich Thomaselli

Editor-in-Chief Tim Wood stayed on the East Coast waterfront but went a bit farther north for his lucious Russet delight.

Photo by Tim Wood

From the time I graduated from pureed green beans into solid food, I was spoiled by the Original Pier Fries in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I don't need 23 and Me or to tell me I'm 100 percent Irish and potato product was a staple in our household. And on the potato totem pole, the Original Pier Fries reigned supreme. 

Long before Five Guys fries, these crinkle cuts needed to breathe in the box to achieve the perfect level of post-fryolator crispiness. Add in a robust dash of sea salt and you have yourself a masterpiece. The only question growing up was whether my sisters and I convince Mom and Dad into Pier Fries both before and after our day of hanging out in the Atlantic Ocean and the Palace Playland arcade. 

I have been searching decades for a fry that comes close to matching Pier Fries and after coming up empty time and again, I decided to move back to New England so I could get me more of the original. I'm going to need to hit the gym more if we join their Frequent Fryer Program.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, says senior writer Patrick Clarke. The Maryland boy didn't venture far from home for his pick either. 

Stop searching. The world's best French fry can be found at three locations along the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland. Whether grabbing a small cup for a solo experience or sharing a bucket with the group, the smell of Thrasher's French fries is unmistakable and the taste is unrivaled. 

If you ask me they taste even better after being doused in apple cider vinegar. But you can't go wrong with ketchup either.

Despite the fact J.T. Thrasher's brilliant creation dates back to 1929, the original recipe remains to this day. That said, we can only hope this Maryland tradition sticks around for another 87-plus years. – Patrick Clarke

Beachfront Eats in Florida

Maybe it's the sunlight glistening off of the oil or the salty air mixing with the salt on the potatoes, but another one of our writers looks forward to French Fries on the water as well. 

The fries at Golden Lion in Flagler Beach, Florida are some of the only fries that I will not only order, but go to a restaurant specifically for. They’re seasoned well, and so ridiculously crunchy that it’s almost like they’re breaded. These—alongside some fish and the restaurants signature Key Lime Tartar Sauce—are some of the best beach eats in Florida. - Michael Schottey

The Canadian Question

Just as French fries aren’t necessarily French, sometimes they’re not even called French fries. Our neighbors to the north have embraced a curious national dish that take the classic fry and adds gravy and cheese curds, because why not. The result is poutine, and depending on who you ask, it’s amazing.

Indulge yourself in Poutine, French fries covered in gravy and topped with cheese curds. These are by far the best fries in the world and what I look forward to most when visiting Canada. You don’t have to go to Quebec, where poutine originated to sample these heavenly fries – they have become quite popular all over North America -- but the province is not going to disappoint when it comes to its varieties. There are so many different types of poutine that it is hard to pin down the “best” but I’ve been told that what really makes a good dish is its cheese curd, fresh from the plastic bag, steeped in whey and squeaky as a mouse.  – Janeen Christoff

Sounds… terrific. And yet when asked about her favorite French fries, TravelPulse Canada editor Monica Poling actually found her favorites in the state famed for its fried offerings, Ohio.

For the best French Fries in the world—and a respite from the Republican National Convention—head over to Happy Dog in Cleveland’s Gordon Square. The menu here is simple: hot dogs, veggie dogs, tater tots and French Fries, but where things get complicated are the toppings. For the fries alone, there are more than 30 toppings and dips. So if you want to top your fries with spaghetti-o’s and black truffle honey mustard, go ahead, the staff will never tell. Incidentally, the restaurant also happens to be one of the best places in Cleveland to catch live music. – Monica Poling

Berkeley, California

Ordinarily, one would not associate the state of California, and the city of Berkeley in particular, with junk food. To many Americans, the Golden Coast seems like the land of the organic, the farm-fresh, and the unrepentantly healthy.

But trust TravelPulse’s Gabe Zaldivar to pluck the tastiest of treats from the jaws of the capital of healthy food.

Tucked away on Durant just steps away from a quaint alley locals lovingly call the food ghetto lies IB's Hoagies. Inside are some very nice people that serve up some delightful cheesesteak sandwiches. However, if you ask them for their chili cheese fries and give them money they will give you a bucket of thick cut, piping hot French fries covered with molten hot cheese and immensely satisfying chili. I could regale you with how good they are but perhaps it's best if I don't because they're addicting.

You will lose your friends, house and job as you search for the next bucket of fries that isn’t all that unlike the warm embrace from your mother. I'm just glad I now live hundreds of miles from Berkeley. I may live longer. – Gabe Zaldivar


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