Revisiting the french fry, which we have already exhaustively sampled in the past, is a particular beast. The ongoing casualization of restaurants means straightforward, beloved classics are the order of the day in a greater number of places than was the case just a couple years ago. So on top of fewer starched table linens, what do we have now? More burgers. More locally produced foods. More earnestly presented produce. More reinterpretations of familiar favorites. And definitely more french fries.
The different ways in which starch is coaxed out of slivered potatoes using vats of high-temperature fat reflect the variety of our city itself, and tastes and preferences are entirely subjective. We could compile individual lists for style and girth of fries, or potato or frying substance, and so on. Potato, potahto. But this list deals with fries that generally aren't tossed with anything more than salt, pepper and maybe an herb or two; not deconstructed, heavily modified or potatoes-with-other-stuff-on-them fries. Turn the page for our 10 Best French Fries in Los Angeles.
10. The Oinkster:
Laid-back neighborhood vibe, high-quality fast-ish food and crackling fries served with aioli and ketchup. Plus a late-afternoon happy hour with fries available for $1 per order. The Oinkster sounds too good to be true — and don't forget, it's currently Burger Week there — but thankfully it's this no-nonsense approach that keeps the locals and folks who don't mind a trip on the 2 or 134 coming back to the updated classic A-frame building on Colorado. Beef shortening is standard for Belgian-style batches, but the Oinkster is cool with using only rice oil for those who prefer. And if you go overboard with the happy-hour fry deal, they'll still be pretty darn near as delicious when it's time for a late-night snack. 2005 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (323) 255-6465.
9. Plan Check:
Stubby Kennebecs at Plan Check on Sawtelle, laid out in a cast iron dish, have a yellowish hue, finished with a subtle sprinkle of smoked salt. Not terribly distinctive on the surface. But why is that deeper, lingering flavor emanating from the fluffy fry interior so addictive? That might have something to do with the beef tallow — you know, the animal fat that McDonald's had to stop using? So yeah, Plan Check's fries are an upscale way to re-experience a version of the Golden Arches treats we grew up eating, and with miso ketchup on the side. The degree of shame or unfettered nostalgia is up to you. 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., West Los Angeles; (310) 288-6500.
8. Beer Belly:
Competition for seats within Beer Belly's expressively painted, modestly sized building is fierce on weekends, or when there's an important local sporting event that requires the company of anxious fellow fans. When you taste the fries after settling in with a craft
beer — or four, thanks to the beer flight tasting option — the popularity of this Koreatown spot is quickly explained. For a couple bucks more, the duck fat fries involve duck skin cracklins, smoked salt and sweet onion sugar. Otherwise the $4 standard slim fries deliver their own punch with a generous coating of black pepper and deeply savory spicy ketchup on the side. 532 S. Western Ave., Koreatown; (213) 387-2337.
Turn the page for picks 7 through 5...
We're admittedly seduced by all the dipping sauce options that go with Wurstküche's fries. Focusing on a few select items and interpreting them well is always smart, so the sausage and beer emporium's (and de facto SCI-Arc commissary) french fry strategy makes perfect sense. Sometimes you might have a couple greasy clunkers in the bunch, but generally they fall on the spectrum from creamy to crispy. And it all feels right while sitting among the exposed rafters and weathered brick walls. 800 E. Third St.; Downtown; (213) 687-4444. 625 Lincoln Blvd., Venice.
Tavern is known for being elegantly casual with artfully placed flourishes. That sensibility includes the brilliant touch of mixing fried herbs into the fried hand-cut Russets. They're especially becoming in the natural light-flooded atrium, and are worth their starchy weight in light sprinkling of salt. After all, these have to be irresistible enough to tempt the Brentwood Ladies Who Lunch crowd. 11648 W. San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; (310) 806-6459.
Since french fry cravings tend to come on fast and hard, or are indulged on a whim, it's not surprising that quite a few food trucks are ready and willing to take care of that. While this city is spoiled with outstanding mobile french fry options, the Patty Wagon truck's version are delicately sliced into a flatter, elegant, just-shy-of-curling shape that distinguishes these organic fries from other thin spuds. Twitter: @pattywagonla.
Keep reading for number 4 on...
Food trends change so quickly that it's crazy to think of Sang Yoon's Father's Office as being the relatively old pioneer who's still got game. But in the scheme of things, it is, and that goes for the super skinny fries. If Manhattan Beach Post's fries are to be tackled one at a time, there's something very satisfying about grabbing a cluster of Father's Office's goods to dip into aioli or, if you prefer, take your time to while making your way through the heap. May as well, since you probably waited long enough to get a seat. 3229 Helms Ave., Culver City; (310) 736-2224. 1018 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; (310) 736-2224.
3. Hungry Cat:
It's nice and neat to have a compact serving of fries all to yourself, but a full round plate holding a mound of honey-toned Russets or Kennebec-based fries sitting in the center of the table can be nearly as effective a social lubricant as the stellar cocktails served at the Hungry Cat. No need to get a Pug burger to justify ordering fries, since those little crunchy rods pair well with whatever is coming from David Lentz's kitchen and raw bar. After years of eating these, we can confidently vouch for their consistency, which can be experienced as far away as the Hungry Cat in Santa Barbara. 1535 Vine St., Hollywood; (323) 462-2155. 100 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica; (310) 459-3337.
Steak fries at M.B. Post are menacing. They might be mistaken for artifacts uncovered during an archaeological dig, or tools essential to construction of the Pacific Railroad. Buffy might have mistaken one for her weapon of choice. David LeFevre takes them seriously, as evidenced by the instructions documented here. And while you can make them at home, rare is the eager nonprofessional cook willing to fry long potato spears four — you read that right, four — times at different precise temperatures and cooking times. For those who take on this challenge, godspeed, and may you wind up with a fry that contains silky potatoes within a thick amber skin that's yielding in the correct places and nearly shellacked in others, and without any starchy aftertaste. Plus with LeFevre's mayo-based aromatic and herb-forward dipping sauce, you're truly golden. 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-5405.
And for our top pick...
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We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Fries at Church & State are the tops. Chef Walter Manzke might have stepped away from the stoves, but the bistro's french fries, made of frozen quarter-inch Russets and fried in a mixture that includes lard (sorry, vegetarians), carry on his legacy at the corner of Mateo and Industrial streets. They remain crisp and light as a feather, thanks to the animal fat, actually, and the subtle aioli serves them damn well, too. Only drawback? Eight bucks is one of the steeper price tags you'll pay for a side of fries, and even exceeds what we've shelled out many miles west. 1850 Industrial St., Downtown; (213) 405-1434.
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