They can be curly, crinkled, thick-cut or matchstick.
They can be mushy, crispy, skin-on or skin-off.
They can be truffle flavored, hot and spicy, chili-covered, cheese-covered or chili cheese-covered.
French fries are many things to many people, but most people have just one favorite – and they feel their favoritism passionately.
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Earlier this month, on July 13, french-fry lovers across the nation celebrated National French Fry Day, and I thought it was the perfect time for an informal poll.
I asked readers to nominate their favorite Wichita french fries both on my Dining with Denise Facebook page and on the Wichita Eagle’s Facebook page. More than 200 people made nominations, and I tallied them up to come up with this unscientific list of our city’s best deep fried taters.
Don’t see your favorite on this list? You probably won’t be the only one. French fries are deeply personal, it appears.
1. Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers: The Wichita-based chain founded by Bill and Randy Simon and Scott Redler got four times more mentions than the next closest nominee. People praised the thin-and-crispiness of the chain’s matchstick-cut, perfectly seasoned fries, though many said they were better dipped in “Freddy’s sauce,” a mayonnaise-based sauce seasoned with Freddy’s fry seasoning. One reader said she even likes them dipped in Freddy’s custard. “Gotta go with Freddy’s,” said Sam Graham, naming his fry favorite. “Best fries anywhere. I’ll be sitting there shoving them in my mouth, staring at my burger thinking “Gee, I should really save room for that.”
2. Bionic Burger: People also praised the fries from this local burger chain, which has been around since 1949. The fries are fresh-cut, and according to the Bionic Burger website, they have “a little bit of peeling left on, just for the health of it.” Reader Richard Swisher has perfected the science of enjoying Bionic Burger fries. “Eat them in-house, as when you get them to go, they are so hot and fresh that they steam themselves in the bag and are not as crispy when you get home. They are still good, but they are better in the tray in-house.”
3. Flying Stove: Wichita’s original food truck is only four years old, but in that relatively short amount of time, brothers Jeff and Rob Schauf have earned a devoted following with their truffle fries, one of the only constants on the always-changing menu. Their fries are flavored with a dousing of truffle oil then tossed with fresh Parmesan cheese and herbs. “The Flying Stove has the best fries in town,” wrote Sarah Austin. “They have ruined all other fries for me.”
4. Fizz Burgers & Bottles, 7718 E. 37th St. North: Fizz definitely has a following, and that following is fanatical about its fries. The locally-owned restaurant, which opened in 2010, cooks its fries in peanut oil and serves them in regular or sweet potato flavors with choice of seven flavors of dipping sauces.
5. Spangles: This home-owned fast food chain also made the list. Shelly Wolf said Spangles won her over when it started offering its fries in a variety of flavors, including buffalo and Ranch. “Since Spangles started their seasoned fries, I vote theirs in the top,” she said. “Salt and vinegar, please.”
6. Ty’s Diner, 928 W. Second St.: If you forget that Ty’s fries are good, just sniff the clothes you wore there a few days ago and you’ll be reminded. Many readers say the eau de fry grill you leave Ty’s with is more than worth it for a taste of its fries. “They don’t need anything,” said Carol Smith, who described Ty’s fries as crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. “They’re delish on their own merit.” (FYI: Ty’s is closed for vacation until Wednesday).
7. Five Guys Burgers and Fries: This chain, franchised locally by brothers Jeff and Jay Miller, is proud of its fresh-cut , skin-on fries. So proud that it fills its dining rooms with bags and bags of potatoes ready for frying. The fries here are served as fries should be – in brown paper bags that show evidence of the hot, fresh grease seeping through. Tip: Five Guys fries can be kind of mushy, so if that’s not the way you like them, just ask the kitchen to make them extra crispy.
8. Barn’rds, 2037 N. Woodlawn: The east-side restaurant makes fries that are crispy on the outside while still soft on the inside, said fan Kathy Logback. “They obviously change the fryer grease often,” she said. “They are bigger than Freddy’s but smaller than Red Robin’s.” Try the fries with a side of cheese dip, Logback says, which makes them even better.
9. Dempsey’s, 3700 E. Douglas: This Lawrence-based burger chain has been open less than a year in Wichita, but already, its fries have followers. They’re served skin-on and come in a variety of flavors, including regular, truffle, fire, sweet potato and duck fat. The restaurant also has a long list of dipping sauces to choose from. “I could eat my weight in Dempsey’s fries,” said Ryane Fears.
10. Red Robin, 9990 E. 13th St.: Several people claimed an affinity for this chain’s thick-cut steak fries and say they don’t just like them because they’re “bottomless.” (The wait staff will bring you more until you can’t eat any more.) Red Robin fries beat Freddy’s any day, insisted Kristeen Costa. “I am a fan of the large cut fries,” she said. “Those shoestring fries just make me mad. I have to eat a bunch of them at once to even begin to taste the fry. Give me a steak fry any day of the week.”
Other fries that got multiple mentions
Dog-n-Shake, several Wichita locations
Walt’s, 7732 E. Central
The Anchor, 1109 E. Douglas
Bricktown Brewery, 2142 N. Tyler
Let’m Eat Brats, food truck
Yolo Grill, 803 N. West St.
Bomber Burger, 4860 S. Clifton
Harry’s Uptown Bar & Grill, 3023 E. Douglas
Delano Barbecue Co., 710 W. Douglas
McDonald’s, several Wichita locations
Arby’s, several Wichita locations