French fries have always been a guilty pleasure. That warm, salty goodness can bring a smile to anybody’s face.
How do you improve on that? You pile it on, literally.
These days, french fries are being topped with everything from pork belly to kimchi. The trend seems to be, the more you add to it, the better it will be. Even tater tots and roasted potatoes are getting loaded.
So, to get you started on your french-fried adventure, we picked seven places in the Valley that are putting their own spin on the concept.
1. Flying Pig food truck, Gazebo Gardens, 3204 N. Van Ness Blvd., Fresno. Truck owner Ayla Cabrera wanted to jump in on the loaded fries trend, but wanted to do something different. So, rather than use fries, her mother suggested tater tots. Mom couldn’t have been more right. Cabrera came up with Deviled Pig Taters, deep-fried tater tots topped with marinated grilled chicken breast, cheddar and jack cheese and bacon. The tots are slathered with a garlic, ginger and cilantro aioli. Each bite is delicious combination of salty bacon, tender chicken, creamy sauce and crunchy tots.
2. Little Leaf Tea, 6011 N. Palm Ave., Fresno. Restaurant owner George Widjaja infuses an Asian influence into his loaded fries by combining the tangy flavor of kimchi with the sweet spiciness of gochujang sauce. Add some chopped dry seaweed and sesame seeds and you have a plate of fries you won’t soon forget. And don’t worry if you are not a fan of kimchi – spicy pickled cabbage – Widjaja grills it first to mellow out the flavor.
3. Pita Kabob, locations, Downtown Gastropub, 227 N. Court St., Visalia and Pita Kabob Mediterranean Fusion Grill, 5101 W. Walnut Ave. Visalia. Pita Kabob has made a name for itself with its classic Mediterranean plates. And in keeping with what they know best, the restaurant created a plate of shawarma fries. The dish starts out with house fries topped with your choice of beef or chicken shawarma, mozzarella, feta cheese, garlic sauce, pepperoncinis, jalapeño peppers and spicy tahini.
4. Robertito’s Taco Shop, (multiple locations, including 333 N. Abby St., Fresno). There is much debate on who makes the best carne asada fries in Fresno, but Robertito’s is always in the conversation. Regulars like the tender, succulent meat, the thin fries and the layers of toppings that include, cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo. The dish is a meal in itself. Others asada fries worth mentioning, include: Arsenio’s Mexican Food, Taqueria Johnny and Where’s the Food Truck.
5. Jack’s Urban Eats. One of Jack’s signature items is its Urban Fries. A little less loaded than some other fry dishes, but no less delicious and savory. Crispy fries are drizzled with spicy chili oil, creamy blue cheese dressing, chili flakes and a few dashes of parsley. Jack’s is also good place for garlic fries, if you have that craving.
6. Popolo’s Pizza, 7835 N. Palm Ave. Fresno (new location is expected to open soon). Popolo’s used to be known for a secret menu item called pizza fries. And while the dish was popular, they have stopped offering it in favor of a new loaded fry plate: Buffalo fries. This new concoction is a cross between hot wings and seasoned fries, said Tyler Greene owner of Popolo’s. The fries are layered with melted cheddar, mozzarella and pepper jack cheese, then topped with spicy boneless Buffalo chicken. They’re finished off with a drizzle of ranch dressing and green onions.
7. Bulldog Burger Bistro, 1782 E. Barstow Ave., Fresno. This small restaurant has become a haven for people looking for good old-fashioned burgers, wraps and sandwiches. Located near Fresno State, it has also gained a following among students and others who crave their Doggy Style Fries, thin cut fries drenched in its house-made jalapeño popper dip. It’s rich, creamy and spicy. The dip consists of cream cheese, pepper jack cheese, Parmesan and cheddar cheese, along with chunks of bacon, jalapeños and a sprinkle of parsley. It’s then poured on the piping hot fries or onion rings, or both.