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.
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.
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.
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.