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Greensboro’s Ten Best fries (not necessarily French)

by Brian Clarey

Fincastle’s Diner Downtown

215 S. Elm St.; 336.272.8968

At Fincastle’s, the newest hot spot on Elm Street, owners Emmett and Jody Morphis know that the secret to good fries is deceptively simple: use real, fresh potatoes and soak them in water until it’s time to drop them in the fryer. And don’t undercook them. Fincastle’s fries are at once crispy and mushy, great with chili and/or cheese, and make a great companion to a Coke with peanuts.

Beef Burger

1040 W. Lee St.; 336.272.7505

Beef Burger is awesome, with a unique burger-cooking methodology and fries that are just as they should be: hot, crispy and christened with plenty of salt. Also, an order of fries here is still under a buck, 99 cents to be exact, and if you can’t get behind that then there’s no point in further discussion.

Hugo’s

3724 Lawndale Drive; 336.282.4846

3011 Spring Garden St.; 336.852.9421

You can get regular fries at Hugo’s, but my kids prefer the big smiley-faced ones ‘— batter-dipped circles of mushy potato that compel you to have a nice day no matter what attitude you bring into the place. But beware: these come out of the kitchen hot as hell.

Amigo’s

435-J Dolley Madison Rd.; 336.855.1276

At this Mexican joint off Friendly Avenue they serve the Latin equivalent of the French fry: yucca fries. Yucca is a starchy tuber native to North and Central America, a bit more dense and sweeter than the potato, and is used as the basis for tapioca. At Amigo’s they serve yucca fries as a side with a mojito sauce (based on olive oil, garlic and lemon) or boiled whole.

Montego Bay

4536 W Market St.; 336.294.4470

Mo’ Bay, the Caribbean restaurant on Market, has sweet potato fries as an optional side item and their sweetness cuts some of the heavy island spices they use here. They also go great a la carte, dipped in a little honey mustard sauce.

Bistro Sofia

616 Dolley Madison Road; 336.855.1313

Bistro Sofia is known more for fine, romantic dinners than something as mundane as a French fry, but when they do fries they do it right, bringing the dish back to its Gaelic roots. The truffled pommes frites appetizer sees thin-cut potato sticks deep-fried to crispy perfection and then drizzled with white truffle oil. They also come without the aromatic dressing as a side on the traditional bistro steak entrée.

Café Europa

200 N. Davie St.; 336.389.1010

What would a Ten Best list be without a mention of Café Europa, everybody’s favorite spot to schmooze and drink half-price wine. Europa’s got traditional French fries that they plate up with burgers and sandwiches, but they also make fried plantains here. The plantain, a more savory cousin to the banana, fries up nicely especially when sliced thin and it makes a perfect starchy accompaniment to Chef Freddy’s ceviche.

Cook Out

1041 Summit Ave.; 336.379.0032

2411 Battleground Ave.; 336.288.8643

2601 Randleman Road; 336.272.1922

The Cook Out fries with cheese at this locally owned drive-thru burger chain are the perfect food to eat when you’re trying to help your body metabolize alcohol. The crisp, skin-on fries, dusted with seasoned salt and baptized in gluey yellow cheese sauce, have enough starch and grease to absorb anything in the stomach and then stimulate the pyloric valve which releases the whole mess into the duodenum. Seriously.

Bert’s Seafood Grille

4608 W. Market St.; 336.297.4881

At Bert’s, Chef Mary Lacklen makes a side dish she’s dubbed, ‘corn fries.’ Think of polenta spread thin on a sheet, cut into fries and then dropped in the fryer. They taste kind of like a mix between Fritos and hush puppies, and they jibe well with a squeeze of lime and the house-made jalapeño ketchup you get on the side.

Green Valley Grill

624 Green Valley Road; 336.854.2015

Chef Leigh Hesling says that the rosemary fries they serve on the first floor of the O. Henry Hotel are made from hand-cut Yukon gold potatoes with a sprig of rosemary thrown in the basket while they sizzle in soybean oil (‘“Free of trans-fatty acids and yada yada yada,’” Chef says). The rosemary gets crispy in the fryer and the leaves fall off when the fries are tossed with salt, pepper and powdered rosemary.

Honorable mention:

Ritchy’s

106 E. McGee St.; 336.275.8113

I’d walk up two flights of stairs for Ritchy’s Uptown chips ‘— real potatoes sliced into thick slabs which are then fried until golden brown. They get a generous taste of seasoned salt and are served with ranch dressing.

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