Here in San Francisco, french fries aren’t merely a forgotten side dish—they’re the main course. Stand-out spuds come in all shapes, sizes and flavors; whether smothered in curry, tossed with herbs, twice-fried or dunked in caviar, these are the city’s best french fries.
SF’s best french fries
This Tenderloin beer hall has perfected the Belgian frite. The secret? They’re double-fried in rice bran oil, creating a crispy exterior even at the bottom of the pile. The portion is generous, overflowing a sizable wire basket. Best of all, these fries are served with malt vinegar mayonnaise for a hint of acidity that cuts through the richness—and, of course, pairs great with beer.
These crispy, flavorful wedges earn many critics’ pick for the best fries in the city, and we’re pretty sure it’s because they’re cooked in duck fat. More specifically, they’re deep fried in it, creating a satisfyingly crunchy exterior and a dark, golden-brown hue. Though crisp around the edges, these fries are moist in the middle, striking a tasty salty-sweet balance. They're paired with a ramekin of creamy remoulade sauce for dipping.
The vibe here is industrial-cool—concrete columns, exposed brick, high ceilings—and the fare is elevated American. That includes an impeccable version of the classic french fry. Though this Dogpatch eatery is justifiably renowned for its Prather Ranch burger, its skinny fries are the unsung hero. They're served hot from the fryer, dusted with herbs and heaped alongside ramekins of house-made ketchup and aioli. Make like a regular: Grab a seat at the bar and order fresh-shucked oysters, a glass of wine and a mountain of fries.
These are French fries for foodies with upscale palates. During Friday lunch (11:30am to 2:30pm) at this upscale North Beach spot—a week-capping tradition for a certain segment of the downtown tech set—the scent of truffle wafts across the dining room. The PT Fries are Instagram-famous, piled high in a brown paper cone. They're seasoned with herbs and Himalayan sea salt and served alongside a soft-boiled egg topped with caviar—just the right consistency for dipping—as well as truffle-infused aioli. It's the ideal high-low dish, especially when paired with a dry glass of wine, and is only available three hours each week, so plan ahead.
Traditional, this isn't. But who needs tradition when you can have sexy? Curry Up Now, an Indian street food spot, is the creator of so-called Sexy Fries: a Far East spin on poutine. Sweet potato fries make a tasty counterpoint to the spicy curries, as the potatoes are criss-cut and smothered in cheese, then topped with your choice of chicken tikka masala; paneer tikka masala; chana masala, pico de gallo and chutney; or ground beef, peas and potatoes. Though the price is comparatively steep at $9, this flavor-packed, messy dish is a meal in itself.
This indoor-outdoor Mission bar serves a rotating line-up of house beers—from Pale Ale to porter—for just $3 to $5 a pint. And while the brewery offers a full menu of bar food, from burgers to oddball NorCal mash-ups like bacon churros and yam- and balsamic-topped pizza, the best complement is inevitably the first item listed: the sage fries. The fragrant spuds are tossed with a copious amount of garlic and sage, served hot alongside ketchup, aoli and an aleppo-mayo sauce. The $5 basket is large enough to stuff two people.
These french fries achieve the seemingly impossible: Drawing locals to the tourist trap of Fisherman's Wharf. It all starts with organic wedge- or crinkle-cut potatoes; you can choose between russet, sweet potato and redskin varieties. The fries here are baked, not fried, resulting in a moist interior and crackly, dark brown edges. (Bonus: Marginally less guilt for the health-conscious.) The 15+ sauces are all made in-house, from curry ketchup and pineapple jalapeno BBQ to raspberry chipotle and spicy honey mustard. The fries come in three portion sizes and are served in a paper cone. If you're feeling decadent, top it all off with a sprinkling of vegan bacon bits.
Come for lunch (Wednesday through Friday) or weekend brunch and order the Gamja Fries, an experiment in Korean-American fusion that works. The saucy dish may not be pretty, but it's delicious. The hand-cut fries are laden with kimchee relish, gochujang (a pungent Korean hot sauce), Kewpie mayonnaise from Japan and bulgogi beef, a Korean dish steeped in a soy sauce-based marinade. The resulting concoction is a shock to one’s taste buds: garlicky, gingery, spicy, sweet and bitter. It's best eaten immediately—and quickly—before the potatoes lose their crunch.
This outdoor barbecue joint prepares its fries like it does its meat: saucy, spicy and flavorful. The brisket fries are a meaty spin on cheesy fries, topped with brisket and cheese, while the famed spicy fries are liberally drizzled with chimichurri sauce, a house-made lemon parsley aioli and an herb seasoning. Top the dish with a squirt of Crystal hot sauce and vinegar sauce for extra kick.
Nopa is a 10-year neighborhood favorite—scene-y, but not pretentious; locally-driven, but not precious—with a universally revered burger. Needless to say, they've put some time into perfecting their fries. They're hand-cut from Kennebec potatoes, preserving some of the skin for flavor and color, and topped with a sprinkling of course salt. The dish is served with house ketchup and a rotating array of dips, from harissa aioli to a chili cheese to basil aioli to peanut sauce.