Once Bitten, Twice Fried: Best French Fries in Los Angeles, Part 2
Because we can't get too much of a good thing, here's the second installment of our quest for the city's most outstanding fries. This list (organized alphabetically) includes the pure, the gently garnished, and the heavily adorned in a world that's a vast, exciting terrain of Kennebec vs. Russet, peanut vs. canola oil, duck vs. beef fat. Please add your two cents in the comments, because as Michael Pollan advises, "if you made all the french fries you ate, you would eat them much less often, if only because they're so much work." So allow us to revise the lede; we've been eating too many fries out in order to assemble this follow-up guide to the first one. Now it's your turn.
Surprise! Thomas Keller makes a great French fry. While the opulent Beverly Hills Bouchon Bistro might take some of its oversized aesthetic cues from the Carmela Soprano decorating playbook, the French fries are an exercise in restraint. Which isn't to say they're not indulgent. Keller doesn't mess around or take any chances with the classic 1/4" cut russet potatoes fried in peanut oil.
Bouchon: 235 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills; (310) 271-9910.
Grilled Cheese Nights on Thursdays are a well-known Campanile tradition, but it's the fries that add the extra incentive to nab a table. Family-style bowls of always consistently firm spuds cooked with beef fat (sorry, grilled cheese loving vegetarians) and garnished with fresh thyme help generate that warm fuzzy -- yet elegant! -- vibe this L.A. mainstay does so well.
Campanile: 624 S. La Brea Ave., Mid-City; (323) 938-1447.
Frysmith Truck's fabulous fried fare.
The Frysmith Truck speaks to many Angelenos' current preoccupations: fried foods, pan-ethnicism, the environment (the truck itself is powered by leftover cooking oil), convenience, and Twitter addictions, to name a few. Owner Erik Cho found that Kennebecs "are among the only ones that crisp up really easily" when fried in canola oil, and Frysmith's double-fried method "works really well for standing up to our toppings." That way the roasted poblanos, tender steak and jack cheese, or kimchee with pork belly can equally shine along with the bed of fries that they're snugly resting upon.
Frysmith Truck: Various locations, follow on Twitter.
Gorbals' golden spuds.
Good Girl Dinette is nestled into a cool historic Highland Park building, possesses a serious dose of edgy DIY design street cred, and serves fries with attitude. You can request a serving plain for say, picky toddlers who don't want any surprises, but the thin garlic, chiles and cilantro fries, much like the unconventionally spiced chicken potpie, is a tweaked idiosyncratic treat that reveals the soul of GGD. And for Angelenos who already know and love the papas fritas provenzal at Carlito's Gardel's, you gotta try these.
Good Girl Dinette: 110 North Ave. 56, Highland Park; (323) 257-8980.
Ilan Hall's mashup of Jewish, Scottish and Middle Eastern cuisines at The Gorbals tackles fries like a great-grandmother from the old country would: asymmetrical as a mofo, rough cut, and cooked within one sixteenth of a millimeter of its life. Fortunately they're rescued from the brink of being downright burnt and have a marvelously airy center. The divine fried dill that comes with them might set off a different discussion, though, given that two new Downtown restaurants happen to both use the same wispy herb.
The Gorbals: 501 S. Spring St., Downtown; (213) 488-3408.