TNT Diner

Potato perfection: 10 fries from Tacoma to Gig Harbor

Pick-Quick Drive In in Fife hand cuts its fries, then soaks them to leach out all the starch. Hot out of the fryer, they’re fantastic. The texture turns less crispy after the fries sit for a bit, but the flavor is pure potato. $2.35
Pick-Quick Drive In in Fife hand cuts its fries, then soaks them to leach out all the starch. Hot out of the fryer, they’re fantastic. The texture turns less crispy after the fries sit for a bit, but the flavor is pure potato. $2.35 Staff writer

Call this My Summer of the Cheeseburger. Since June, I’ve dined at 27 locally owned fast-food burger joints in Pierce County to come up with my ultimate top-10 cheeseburger list, which I’m revealing Friday. Today, I’m taking a look at fries. I ate 27 orders of fries for this series, people, which means I know my way around a tater in Pierce County and I really should be exercising on a treadmill while writing this fry manifesto.

French fries come in a broad range of textures, cuts and seasonings and I’m of the mind that the ones that are fresh-cut are usually the best.

Here, I’m looking at four different categories of fries. Those little thin ones, the thicker-cut ones, the mondo steak fries and the good ol’ crinkle cut. I’ve got every fry covered.

THIN-CUT FRIES

GOURMET BURGER SHOP: At this Gig Harbor burger joint, shoestring fries came extra thin, and loaded with flavor from garlic and fresh herbs ($4). Another must try side item was the terrific paper-thin fried beet chips. 4120 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor; 253-858-5205 or facebook.com/GourmetBurgerShop.

SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE: Another restaurant with thinner-cut fries, Shake Shake Shake’s small order of fries ($2.79) held heat longer than I suspected they would, despite being so thinly cut. I happily dunked mine into the house secret sauce, made with a trio of fresh herbs: thyme, Italian parsley and cilantro. 124 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma; 253-507-4060 or shakeshakeshake.me.

FRUGALS: These might be a tad too big to be considered shoestring, but just slightly so. Fries here were exceptionally well priced at $1.39 and were hot out of the fryer and well salted as the Fry Gods intended. 10727 Pacific Ave. S., Tacoma; 253-535-9775.

FRESH-CUT FRIES

PICK QUICK: The best fries on this tour, fresh cut and leached of their starch before being fried to an ideal intersection of crispy-creamy ($2.35). I jammed these fries into my mouth by the fistful, and I’m not ashamed of that. 4306 Pacific Highway E., Fife; 253-922-5599 or pick-quick.com.

BURGER BROILER: Fresh-cut fries were thinner and well handled, and obviously cut in house. A few of the well-seasoned fries still wore their skins ($1.99). 3801 E. McKinley Ave., Tacoma; 253-302-3587 or burgerbroiler.com.

FLIPPING OUT: Fresh-cut fries here were thicker and the skins were left on ($2.99). Lots of surface area meant a lot of potato flavor, but the shape also meant the texture was floppy. A few random fries with a greenish hue looked unappealing. 4008 S. 12th St., Tacoma; 253-267-7002.

MIKIE BURGER: Thicker, fresh-cut fries were a bargain at $1.49. Be sure to specify “fresh” fries because they also serve another kind of fry that is frozen (skip! those!). 4915 Center St., Tacoma; 253-564-8661.

STEAK FRIES

FRIESENBURGERS: Thick-cut steak fries carried the most surface area of any tried on this tour and they had a lovely creaminess inside. This is the place to go if you like big, fat fries ($1.95). 308 E. 26th St., Tacoma; 253-203-6753 or friesenburgers.com.

WALLY’S WHITE RIVER DRIVE-IN: These fries might be too thin to be considered steak fries, but an order of fries here carried more surface area than most ($1.99). That made them ideal to dip into the excellent house tartar sauce. I liked the shape of these – a bit more square, with a feathery soft interior. 282 State Route 410, Buckley; 360-829-0871.

CRINKLE CUT FRIES

LEFTY’S BURGER SHACK: Hot, crinkle cut and a huge serving? I found a lot to like about these crinkle fries ($2.55), which stayed hot longer than it took to eat my burger and shake. 8317 27th St. W., University Place; 253-565-0887.

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