Who’s got the best french fries? Eastside Decides


Art by: Karissa Murray

Eastside debates which restaurant has the best fries.

Featured in Eastside February 2020 issue

French fries, despite their name, may be the most iconic American fast food staple. The average American eats 30 pounds of french fries every year, which means the US as a whole consumes around 10 billion pounds of french fries. They’re available anywhere, anytime and at practically every restaurant, but which place can really boast that they are the best? Eastside investigates which fast food place has perfected the french fry.
Six Eastside editors, Remy Abrams (‘21), Harry Green (‘20), Giana Maccarella (‘20), Jakob Silvert (‘20), Lalitha Viswanathan (‘22) and Angelina Witting (‘22), put five favorites up to the test: Five Guys, Wendy’s, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s and Shake Shack. Each of the six editors judged the fries based on quality, flavor, texture and appearance. After, they rated each on a one-to-five scale, with one being the worst and five being the best, for all criteria.
Coming in last place overall were Wendy’s fries. The appearance was not the issue; “I like how these ones look,” Maccarella commented. But the taste immediately fell flat, with most feeling like there was no flavor at all.
“These have very obviously been frozen for a long period of time,” Silvert said. They lacked flavor, likened to soggy air or french fries out of a vending machine. Some judges even said they were repulsive or disgusting, so it was clear from the start no one was very fond of Wendy’s fries.
“The fries tasted like they were made by a chemist who got a C in chemistry,” said Silvert.
Shake Shack came in fourth place. The opinions on the appearance of these fries differed between judges; some enjoyed the unique crinkle-cut shape, while others disliked it and felt the potato was much too grainy.
“It tastes like cardboard,” Abrams said.
Many liked the outside texture, and for what it lacked in flavor it made up in crunch.
“It’s like they fool you, at first they’re good and then they trail off,” Silvert said.
McDonald’s fries came in third. Admittedly, the appearance scored low, as they looked pretty soggy. Despite the outside, the balance of McDonald’s perfect salt-to-potato-to-grease ratio pulled through.
The runner-up was Chick-fil-A. Everyone agreed that Chick-fil-A’s signature waffle shape was a solid leader for appearance.
“I like the shape of these, it’s more fun. And it’s easier to dip,” Maccarella said.
Some felt the texture was a little gritty, but the Chick-fil-A sauce helped enhance the perfect balance between the salt and potato.
“Wendy’s tasted like it was straight out of a lab, this one tastes like it was out of a lab, but a good lab, a higher quality lab,” Silvert said.
Green said that “[Chick-fil-A] is the lord’s restaurant,” and most judges agreed that Chick-fil-A fries were heavenly.
The winner was Five Guys. Some of the judges felt like they were too soggy or mushy for their taste, and could’ve used a little more crunch. It was also noted that the salt may have been overdone, and Viswanathan felt that they were “too potatoey.”
Abrams was underwhelmed by their performance, saying “I would eat them because I’m hungry, but I wouldn’t choose to eat them.”
However, most agreed that the freshness and quality of potatoes were unmatched. “These taste like they came straight from–where do potatoes come from? Idaho? Idaho,” Green said.
Although Five Guys’ fries are notoriously greasy, this brings the flavor that offered the most authentic french fry taste, which won over the majority of the judges, to some of their surprise.
“Oh, this is fire, can I get some sauce?” Silvert said after taking his first bite. “Oh my God, this is fire, this is [very] fire!”