10. The Oinkster – 2005 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock
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.
9. Plan Check – 1800 Sawtelle Blvd., West Los Angeles
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?
8. Beer Belly – 532 S. Western Ave., Koreatown
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.
7. Wurstküche – 800 E. Third St.; Downtown
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.
6. Tavern – 11648 W. San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood
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.
5. The Patty Wagon
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.
4. Father’s Office – 3229 Helms Ave., Culver City
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.
3. Hungry Cat – 1535 Vine St., Hollywood
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.
2. Manhattan Beach Post – 1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach
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.
1. Church & State – 1850 Industrial St., Downtown
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.