When most people think of French fries, they imagine a thicket of golden potatoes with a side of Heinz for dunking. However, frites don’t have to be sculpted from spuds, and ketchup isn’t the only condiment out there. Chefs are using a variety of vegetables and diverse dips to rethink their fry game. Here are 9 superlative substitutions for your standard super-size routine.
Chickpea Fries at All Set Restaurant & Bar, Silver Spring, Maryland
Chickpeas form the backbone of these ochered rods. Shredded zucchini gives them body, while roasted garlic adds a savory sensibility. There’s a pale green avocado lime ranch dressing on the side for dipping. Make a reservation at All Set Restaurant & Bar.
Risotto Fries at Proof, Washington, D.C.
Crunch into these tawny wands to uncover toothsome rice inside. Smothered in bone marrow hollandaise sauce, the carb bombs are topped with parmesan, chives, and truffle oil. Available only at brunch, they are decadence incarnate. Make a reservation at Proof.
Polenta Fries at Torali, Chicago, Illinois
Polenta, now in fry form. To make the sturdy sticks even more appealing, they are drizzled with a thick taleggio fonduta sauce. Consider them nonna’s take on cheesy fries. Make a reservation at Torali.
Portobello Fries at Echo & Rig, Las Vegas, Nevada
Wanna shroom? Just eat a few of these slender strips made with umami-rich portobello caps. If you want to take these trippy treats to the next level, try dipping them in the herb aioli. Make a reservation at Echo & Rig.
Chickpea Fries at New Heights, Washington, D.C.
These fries are healthy, right? That’s because they’re made with chickpeas, curry, and yogurt. A zingy mint-green-chili dipping sauce comes on the side. Make a reservation at New Heights.
Farro Fries at Upland-Miami Beach, Miami, Florida
The ancient grain gets transformed into a modern-day comfort food. The edible Jenga blocks are heartier than your average steak fries with a complex nutty undertone. Drag them through a mound of pimento cheese for the best results. Make a reservation at Upland-Miami Beach.
Yuca Frites at Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago, Illinois
The Dirty Dick inspired these starchy fries. Get your mind out of the gutter; we’re talking about the bar with that name in Paris. Spicy tofu dipping sauce comes on the side for the dunking. Make a reservation at Three Dots and a Dash.
Panisse at Sandbar, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
A Provencal classic reborn. With a smooth texture on the inside and a crispy exterior, these chickpea fries are a delicious study in contrasts. They arrive with sriracha aioli sporting just the right amount of spice. Make a reservation at Sandbar.
Fried Zucchini at Carmine’s, Las Vegas, Nevada
Thin matchsticks of zucchini are frizzled to golden perfection. Diners squeeze on fresh lemon juice for a hit of acid, so to speak. Baptize the veg frites in marinara sauce for a bite evoking eggplant parm. Make a reservation at Carmine’s.
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Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Kailley Lindman (Torali); Laurie Satran (Upland); Jeff Marini (Three Dots and a Dash).