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best french fried potatoes in san francisco?

zuni's string fries get my vote. thin, perfectly fried, perfectly seasoned. can't routinely pick 'em up with a fork so prepare to get your fingers a little messy.

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  1. Ah, the great French fry question. Not only is "best" subjective, but people have different personal preferences when it comes to french fries. Although like you (and my brother in law), many people swear by the fries at Zuni, I like French fries that actually have a potato center -- my ideal French fry is about 3/8 of an inch in diameter.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      bigger can be better. where do you recommend i go for these 3/8 inch masterpieces you refer to?

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        I'm with you. I want a potato center in my fries.

        I'm a big fan of Nopa's fries.

        1. re: Pistou

          hard to find good fries. thanks for the tip.

          1. re: Pistou

            I also liked the fries at Nopa. I had them for the first time recently, and they were the best fries I had had in a while.

          2. re: Ruth Lafler

            I'm with you Ruth, and my favorite are the steak fries at Stavin' Marvins on the south side of Geneva just east of Mission.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Just curious . . . do you measure your fries?

            2. I think that the "shoe strings" at Zuni are just too thin and really prefer a classic French
              pomme fritte. They are sliced no greater than 1/2" wide and DOUBLE fried. That is they are fried normally, then oil is drained and after setting a bit, they are fried again. A dash of salt and you're in heaven....

              Le Central makes them and they are divine.

              1 Reply
              1. re: doxxie lover

                > DOUBLE fried. That is they are fried normally, then oil is drained and after
                > setting a bit, they are fried again.

                FYI, this is the standard technique for making french fries. One pass at a relatively low temp (~325) to cook the potato and boil off some moisture, a second pass at high temp (~375) to crisp the outside.

                Nearly everybody that makes fries does this, otherwise they're pretty soggy. Even the mass-produced frozen fries are typically parcooked in oil before freezing.

              2. Oola has ones with just the right amount of parmesan and truffle oil. I think you can get them at happy hour at a real steal of a price.

                If you are ever in the East Bay and looking, Cesar's has fried potatoes with sea salt and herbs (like sage). Comes with a delicious garlic aioli. The strips of potato are mind bogglingly flat. Makes me wonder how they cut them.

                Oola Restaurant & Bar
                860 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                Bar C├ęsar
                1515 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                2 Replies
                1. re: emery_jc

                  Yeah, Cesar's are in the same vein as Zuni's. By the time you add in the salt and herbs, you really can't taste any potato at all!

                  Anyway, I don't know where to get really great french fries, so I'm happy to read any suggestions.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Ya know, don't make this stop till I try them again, but for a good classic, uh, American ... French fry, I was surprised by the fries and the Ground Round near Pinole. Frying is their thing at this lone West Coast outpost of the troubled chain. The potatoes had a nice soft center and crisp exterior ... served with Heinz catsup as required.

                2. I'm a huge fan of Luka's in Oakland, and the ones at Absinthe.

                  1. I like the fries at Hayes Street Grill.

                    I also like the feta garlic fries at Lakeside Cafe on Ocean Ave. near Junipero Serra in SF.

                    Hayes Street Grill
                    324 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Nancy Berry

                      Link: Lakeside Cafe

                      Lakeside Cafe
                      2529 Ocean Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132

                    2. Coming in a bit late here I know, but the pomme fritte with my ribeye at Clementine were fantastic last night. I have always been a gravy & chips guy (it's a Canadian thing), and those crispy fries blended perfectly with the green peppercorn sauce. Outstanding!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Civil Bear

                        As are the fries with the ribeye at Jeanty @ Jack's.

                      2. It's been a long time since I was there -- but I always liked the fries at Absinthe.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: plambert

                          When they are done just right, I don't think Gregoire's can be beat. The last 2 times they came out a bit underdone.

                          1. re: lmnopm

                            What is going on with Gregoire's fries? I hadn't been since prior to the last post, and today, I ate them "hot and fresh" and they were mostly limp, greasy, and in many clumps - the largest clump was no less than 7 stuck together. If I wasn't eating them in the car, I'd likely have complained/sent them back. I don't know if they aren't getting cooked enough the 1st time, the 2nd time, or different potatoes, or different soaking, or whatever - but something isn't the same. Today was the worst.

                            1. re: lmnopm

                              The past few times that I've had Gregoire's fries, I haven't like them at all, and was irritated that I spent the money on them. I don't know what the problem is, but it tastes like the oil is a little off, or something, and the flavor of the fries really suffers.

                        2. Keep asking me the same question, and I'll keep giving the same answer:

                          Hayes Street Grill

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                            I favor both Hayes Street Gill and Zuni and they are both walking distance from each other.

                            1. re: Lori SF

                              "both walking distance from each other."
                              Is this redundant?

                              1. re: wolfe

                                ok within walking distance.. as usual thanks for correcting me, LOL.

                          2. Wow, my second favorite food topic -- fries! Unfortunately, I think I've tried them everywhere in the City, except perhaps Hayes St. Grill. So I can't comment on those. But I've done a lot of "research" on fries, which may explain why I've had to increase my gym visits to 3x per week...but that's another topic.

                            Zuni's are delicious if you like that match-stick style. I do. But I always ask them to be careful not to overcook them. I like them to be a little flexible and soft and not like hard, brown sticks. (And I like their ketchup, too, which I recently found out is organic and can be purchased in Bernal's Good Life Grocery!).

                            But for "standard" size fries, I think Universal's are hard to beat. They are double-fried with fresh herbs, then salted, and served piping hot with a housemade aoili. You can get them as an appetizer for $5 or they are often served with their bavette/hanger steak entree. But beware -- they are made to order, sizzling hot, full of salty-herby deliciousness, and very addictive.

                            And sure to be a most controversial choice...Houston's. I know many folks who won't step foot into a chain restaurant, but the fact is that Houston's uses high-quality ingredients and serves up consistently good food. And their fries are delicious! (Their ketchup is also good -- but it's a housemade blend).

                            One other good option -- the bar at Campton Place Hotel in Union Square. Next time you're shopping in the area, walk over to Campton Place and have a seat in their comfy, quiet bar. They serve a delicious bar burger and their fries are noteworthy, too. They are served in a cone-shaped coronet and are served with your own personal mini-bottle of Heinz ketchup. One order is enough for two people, in my opinion.

                            A final caveat -- in my opinion good fries are always double-fried and the truly best fries are fried in duck fat. That's a classic "French" fry. If you put them side-by-side, a duck-fat fried fry is light years better than a peanut or other oil-fried version. I've yet to find a place that makes duck-fat fried fries here in SF, though I'm sure such a place exists. Maybe someone else can chime and help us all out with that recommendation because that will almost certainly be the "best" fry in SF.

                            Universal Cafe - duplicate
                            2814 19th St, Lubbock, TX 79409

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: foodiesf

                              Not in SF, but Boca in Novato offers duck fat fries. Pretty darn good too!

                              Boca Steak
                              340 Ignacio Blvd, Novato, CA 94949

                              1. re: foodiesf

                                I had the duck-fat fries at Spruce -- all the sides are $9. I thought they were ok, others at my table loved them. I think the place is too expensive for me.

                                1. re: foodiesf

                                  I also love Houston's fries (ask for some homemade honey mustard on the side!). They have a great texture and just the right amount of saltiness. Also, Hotel Utah make a mean and slightly spicy fry. Zebulon makes amazing sweet potato fries, which are accompanied by a spicy pepper mayo.

                                  Houston's Restaurant
                                  1800 Montgomery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                  Hotel Utah Saloon
                                  500 4th St, San Francisco, CA

                                  83 Natoma St, San Francisco, CA 94105

                                2. the la trappe thread is fueling my curiosity. a belgian joint ought to produce some good frites, although frjtz doesn't really deliver.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: augustiner

                                    Frites and "Freedom fries" aren't necessarily the same thing, though. I personally like fries that are a bit thicker than frites.

                                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                                      but not as big as chips? which, with good fried fish is also kind of elusive in SF.

                                      1. re: augustiner

                                        Right. Bigger than frites, smaller than "chips." The was the default when I was growing up, before McDonald's came along and distorted everybody's notion of what french fries were supposed to be.