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12 incredible Bay Area spots for French fries in Lafayette, Danville, San Jose and more

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Crinkle-cut. Shoestring. Belgian. Steak. Wedges, waffle and freakin’ carnival tornado potato. No matter how you slice them, French fries have universal appeal.

Fries are shoveled out all over the Bay, from the expense account-draining steakhouses of San Francisco to beloved little joints like Bob’s Giant Burgers in Pleasanton. And the love of fries knows no socio-economic distinction. Vice President (and Oakland native) Kamala Harris was spotted ordering In-N-Out’s famously mediocre fries during a 2021 visit, and Steph Curry’s been known to augment his workout routine by dribbling while juggling Chick-fil-A waffle fries.

But not all French fries are created equal. We’ve traveled far and wide to find some of the most delicious fries in the Bay Area, from classic burger joints to gastropubs, brasseries, taquerias and even a high-end ramen spot — with fries!

Here are 12 to try. (Did we miss your fave? Tell us about it via the submission form at the end.)

Mona’s Burgers and Shakes, Walnut Creek and Concord

Diablo burger with sautéed jalapeño, chipotle-aioli, melted pepper jack cheese and sautéed onions, and potato flats at Mona's Burgers and Shakes in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
Accompany that Diablo burger — topped with pepper jack, chipotle aioli and sautéed jalapeño and onions — with potato flats at Mona’s Burgers and Shakes in Walnut Creek. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

You might not think of building a romantic date night around a casual strip-mall restaurant that serves burgers, hot dogs and four kinds of fries. But Mona’s Burger and Shakes in Walnut Creek exudes a European brasserie feel, with its intimate dining room, cafe chairs and walls decorated with eclectic art and a logo inspired by the Mona Lisa — as envisioned by street artist Banksy.

Mona’s also offers a more sophisticated, though affordable wine list than you’d find in most burger joints. A well-curated classic rock playlist provides background music. And there’s an expansive outdoor patio.

Art pieces by Banksy are displayed inside Mona's Burgers and Shakes in Walnut Creek, Calif., on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
Photographs of Banksy artworks line the walls at Mona’s Burgers and Shakes in Walnut Creek. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

The real attraction, of course, is the food. Juicy, char-grilled Niman Ranch Angus chuck burgers are served on brioche buns and range from the Classic ($13) to the signature Diablo ($17) with sautéed jalapeños, chipotle aioli and melted pepper jack, to a more elegant Truffle burger ($19) topped with melted Truffle Tremor goat cheese and mushrooms. The shakes ($9), which include a Reese’s Peanut Butter flavor, are thick and creamy. And there there are the fries …

Fry to try: The fries – skinny cut, sweet potato and spicy curly ($5.75-$7.50) – don’t come with any extravagant toppings. They are just so simple, so good and crispy that they stand on their own as an appetizer, ready to dip in ranch, blue cheese, chipotle aioli or other housemade sauces. But Mona’s “potato flats” offer a new level of tastiness, with slices so wafer thin, they practically melt on your tongue.

Details: Open for lunch and dinner daily at 1574 Palos Verdes Mall in Walnut Creek. The Concord location at Oak Grove Place, 785 Oak Grove Road, has similar hours. https://www.monasburgers.com

Left Bank Brasserie, Menlo Park, San Jose, Oakland, Larkspur, Tiburon

The Left Bank restaurants in the Bay Area offer Moules Frites and Steak Frites and sides of Pommes Frites. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)
The Left Bank restaurants in the Bay Area offer Moules Frites, Steak Frites and sides of Pommes Frites. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal) 

Would you like a side of history with your fries?

The French and the Belgians have argued for centuries about who first thought to cut potatoes into long strips and then fry them. But the American obsession with this now-ubiquitous side is more clear-cut. It’s generally thought to have taken root during World War I, when U.S. soldiers stationed in a French-speaking part of Belgium made the delicious discovery and brought news of “French fries” back to the States.

Generations of fried-potato lovers since then owe them a debt of gratitude. And what better way to pay homage to pommes frites than to indulge at chef Roland Passot’s Left Bank Brasseries?

The acclaimed chef opened the fine-dining La Folie in San Francisco in the 1980s, then launched his bistro named after Paris’ free-spirited La Rive Gauche in 1994. In the decades since, the Left Banks (currently four of them, plus a Petite Left Bank in Tiburon) have served authentic brasserie fare, with Beef Bourguignon, Duck Confit, Salade Lyonnaise and Escargots starring as menu mainstays. Seasonal specials enhance the menu, particularly on Bastille Day (July 14), always a festive occasion here.

Fry to try: Francophiles rave about the Left Bank’s thin, crispy, golden brown pommes frites. You can order a cone ($8) or get them as part of an entree like Steak Frites ($36), the traditional skirt steak and fries combo, or Moules Frites ($29), steamed mussels in a broth of white wine and Pernod garlic butter. They’re marvelous dipped in bordelaise sauce, which comes with the steak or can be ordered as a side.

Details: Open for lunch and dinner daily. Check www.leftbank.com for hours, addresses.

Bob’s Giant Burgers, Pleasanton

Philly Fries at Bob's Giant Burgers on Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Pleasanton, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
Philly Fries at Bob’s Giant Burgers in Pleasanton. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) 

It’s an old-school burger-and-shake joint, the kind that once drew hot rods filled with giggly high school and college kids back in the ’50s and ’60s. It’s still a popular spot were quick-bite aficionados can grab to-go orders or enjoy a sunny lunch inside or out on the patio.

This is the last Bay Area location of what was once a small Bob’s empire. Founded by longtime East Bay resident Robert Lamont Jacobs in Fremont in the early ’60s, the local burger chain included locations in Newark, Hayward and Pleasanton by the time Jacobs died in 2007. This Pleasanton location, which sits in a strip mall on First Street , is still run by the Jacobs family. (The Bob’s in Modesto is not affiliated with the family.)

It might not look like much from inside or out, but Bob’s is a sensational place for hamburgers (such as the bacon mushroom Swiss for $13), BLTs ($7), corn dogs ($4), Fruity Pebbles milkshakes ($6) and, of course, fries.

Fry to try: Bob’s offers regular fries ($4) to accompany those burgers, but order the incredible Philly Fries ($13) and you won’t need anything else. Piping hot fries are topped with a mix of chopped up burger and thinly sliced Philly-style steak, with melted Swiss to take the dish straight over the top. It’s a meal all on its own.

Details: Opens at 10:30 a.m. daily at 4223 First St., Pleasanton; www.facebook.com/bobsgiantburgerspleasanton/.

Momosan Ramen & Sake, San Jose

At 'Iron Chef' Masaharu Morimoto's restaurant Momosan at Santana Row, the fries are cooked in duck fat and served with a house-made truffle ketchup. (Linda Zavoral/Bay Area News Group)
At ‘Iron Chef’ Masaharu Morimoto’s restaurant Momosan at Santana Row, the fries are cooked in duck fat and served with a housemade truffle ketchup. (Linda Zavoral/Bay Area News Group) 

Duck fat fries, so popular a few years ago, have largely been replaced by truffle fries on many Bay Area restaurant and gastropub menus. But what’s a lineup of fabulous fries without these? So we searched the South Bay and Peninsula restaurant scenes until we found a decadent version to recommend — at a ramen restaurant.

Momosan isn’t just any ramen place, of course. This Santana Row hot spot is “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto’s first ramen restaurant in California, and it features nine types of ramen, including a limited-availability Gyukotsu ($30) with seven-hour braised beef rib, a brothless Spicy Dan-Dan ($18) and about 20 hot and cold appetizers.

And when you also offer a shareable, house-roasted Peking Duck platter ($43) with tortillas, hoisin and pico de gallo and Duck Tacos ($14), you’ve got some extra duck fat to work with.

What’s the appeal when it comes to fries? “Duck fat has a higher rendering temperature than other fats, so it crisps the fries beautifully,” chef Morimoto says. “The duck fat incorporates a rich, meaty flavor that you just can’t get from vegetable oil.”

Fry to try: Grab a couple of friends and, while you are pondering the menu, order a bowl ($15) of the umami-packed Duck Fat Fries, which are lightly dusted with truffle salt. They come with a housemade truffle ketchup for dipping; it’s a well-balanced condiment that’s not-too-truffley.

Details: Open for lunch and dinner daily (closed weekdays from 2 to 5 p.m. before evening service starts) at 378 Santana Row, near Olsen Drive. https://momosanramen.com

Batch and Brine, Lafayette

A variety of sauces are served with a Blue Burger with duck confit and cheese hand cut french fries served at the Batch & Brine restaurant in Lafayette, Calif., on Friday, March 22, 2024. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
A variety of sauces are served with a Blue Burger and a side of duck confit and cheese-topped, hand-cut French fries at Batch & Brine in Lafayette, Calif., on Friday, March 22, 2024. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 

The menu at this craft kitchen and bar goes about 20 different directions – from deep-fried burrata to borracho taquitos and a sushi burger – but rest assured you’re in capable hands.

Batch and Brine on Lafayette’s restaurant row is a stylish place to watch the game with some smoky, juicy Memphis wings in hand, or bring your kids for a night out with chicken tendies and peanut-butter milkshakes. The place is spacious, with comfy booths for groups and a wrap-around patio. The friendly staff are quick to recommend a flight of beer to fit your tastes, or stir up a tasty cocktail, like a spicy-tequila Serrano Mi Hermano or a pineapple-rum Pirates Poison.

The sandwich portion of the menu ranges from a burger with whipped blue cheese and fig jam ($20) to duck banh mi ($21), and a fried-chicken sando ($18) with pickle-brined meat and Calabrian aioli. Everything is executed with confidence, highlighting local produce and farm-raised meats – and everything is served in big portions, so be sure to wear your stretchy pants.

Fry to try: These fries are served hot and crispy, with the mineraly potato skin left on, similar to the winning formula at Five Guys. Order them gussied up with garlic-Parmesan ($8) or with exceedingly decadent duck confit and melting beer-cheese sauce ($16). Or get them naked ($6) and take advantage of the restaurant’s dozen-or-so house sauces, ranging from Alabama White and Kansas City red barbecue to wasabi aioli or apricot mustard.

Details: Open for lunch and dinner daily at 3602 Mount Diablo Blvd., Lafayette; batchandbrine.com

Brew City Grill, Campbell

In Campbell, Brew City Grill's potato lineup includes Nashville Fries, front, Tater Tots and Gilroy Garlic Fries with feta cheese. (Linda Zavoral/Bay Area News Group)
In Campbell, Brew City Grill’s potato lineup includes Nashville Fries, front, Tater Tots and Gilroy Garlic Fries with feta cheese. (Linda Zavoral/Bay Area News Group) 

You know a restaurant is serious about French fries when it devotes an entire section of the menu to them.

Check out the Brew City Grill menu and you’ll find “Craft Burgers” and “Artisan Pizzas” … and “Potatoes & Salt.” The latter include “long cut, crispy and salty” Naked Fries, Gilroy Garlic Fries, Truffle Fries and Nashville Fries plus Tater Tots embedded with sea salt and the real interloper, beer-battered Onion Rings.

Co-owners Matt Westley and Glenn Thompson keep things interesting with about 24 rotating beer taps and seasonal menu specials to supplement the lineup of Pliny mussels, crispy calamari, burgers, wings, pizzas and salads. Fries come with most burgers and sandwiches, and you can upgrade to a specialty fry for just a bit more.

Fry to try: If you’re a heat-seeker, go for the Nashville Fries, which are tossed with a spicy dry rub and served with cooling ranch dip. We loved their version of Garlic Fries, which adds feta to the Christopher Ranch garlic.

Details: Open for lunch and dinner daily at 651 W. Hamilton Ave., Campbell; https://brewcitygrill.com.

Santa Fe Taqueria, San Jose, Newark

Cook Antonio Cristobal Marquez Bonilla prepares the carne asada fries made of French fries on the bottom, layers of Monterrey cheese, sour cream, guacamole and carne asada toped with salsa pico de gallo served at Taqueria Santa Fe in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Cook Antonio Cristobal Marquez Bonilla prepares carne asada fries starting with French fries topped by layers of cheese, sour cream, guacamole and carne asada and salsa pico de gallo at Taqueria Santa Fe in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

There’s no shortage of great taquerias in East San Jose, but if you’re thinking about carne asada fries — which we do quite frequently — make a beeline for a Santa Fe Taqueria.

They’ve got most of the taqueria bases covered here, including big burritos ($9-$10) stuffed with your choice of al pastor, barbacoa, carnitas, chile verde and more, as well as fish tacos ($5.49), tamales ($5.49) and chile relleno ($6).

These taquerias are part of the Santa Fe Foods company, which also operates several mercados and carnicerias in the area. The White Road and Newark taquerias are right next to these markets, so you can combine lunch with a quick shopping trip — or take a detour from your grocery shopping to sate your taco cravings.

Fry to try: Those carne asada fries ($16) are why we came, and it won’t take many mouthfuls for you to figure out why. Crispy fries are topped with melted shredded cheese, piles of flavorful carne asada, sour cream, avocado sauce, pico de galo — and more cheese. It’s as decadent as it is delicious.

Details: Opens at 8 a.m. daily with locations at 942 S. White Road and 2687 Story Road in San Jose, and at 7372 Thornton Ave. in Newark; santafefoods.org.

Clove and Hoof, Oakland

The hand-cut beef-tallow fries at Clove and Hoof on Tuesday, March, 26, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
The hand-cut beef-tallow fries at Clove and Hoof on Tuesday, March, 26, 2024, in Oakland, Calif. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) 

If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s famous New Yorker article, you’ve heard that beef tallow makes for some of the best fries around. But ever since McDonald’s stopped using tallow in the 1990s, bowing to a national health trend, they’ve been hard to find – until recently.

Uptown Oakland’s Clove and Hoof was originally a butcher shop selling Wagyu flank and housemade sausages – focusing on whole animals that are raised sustainably – with fridges overflowing with housemade sauces and rich stocks. A couple years ago, it refined its operations to become a full-time restaurant, while preserving its lovingly sourced meats for a decadent C&H Cheeseburger ($15) with double patties and pimento cheese and an Oakland’s Cheesesteak ($15) with onion confit and warm beer-cheese fondue.

Fry to try: The beef-tallow fries ($5) are hand-cut somewhere between steak-fry and McDonald’s size and are a testament to this cooking method – supremely crispy on the outside, soft and umami-loaded on the inside. You could eat them two days later, and they’d remain golden and crunchy. The fries come with ketchup and a creamy pickle-mayonnaise. Grab a Cheerwine ($3.95) or Hamm’s beer can ($2), and you’ve got yourself the ultimate snack to ruin any dinner.

Details: Open for lunch and dinner daily at 4001 Broadway, Oakland; cloveandhoofoakland.com.

The Corner Kitchen, Concord

Brothers John and A.J. Groppetti and their friend Sal Morales knew that March 2021 wasn’t the best time to open a new restaurant, but the Concord High alums had always dreamed of making food together. So they went ahead and launched Corner Kitchen in an undistinguished commercial strip within walking distance of their homes, starting as a brisk take-out business and then transitioning into a go-to place for locals.

With its vintage-style red vinyl booths, this dineresque eatery offers a twist on American classics, serving a mouth-watering range of sliders that customers can mix and match. There are mini-beef burgers ($5-$6) with bacon, blue cheese, roasted chiles or a brie and caramelized onion topping. Prefer something other than beef? They do sliders with chicken, pulled pork, salmon, oyster mushrooms or falafel patties too.

Fry to try: You can get your fries in classic fashion ($3), as twisty Sidewinders or topped with garlic, cheese sauce, chili, mushroom gravy and such. The popular Fully Loaded Fries ($7-$12) conjures up classic baked potato flavors: Sidewinder Fries topped with a Cheddar cheese sauce, bacon crumbles, scallions and ribbons of sour cream.

Details: Open for lunch and dinner Wednesday-Sunday at 3606 Willow Pass Road, Concord; thecorner-kitchen.com.

Lados, Sunnyvale

Located in a residential area far removed from Sunnyvale’s well-traversed dining areas, this Pakistani and Indian eatery is the type of hidden gem that you can drive by and not even notice. We did that — twice — even with GPS.

Start with an order of Punjabi samosas ($6.49), filled with creamy potatoes, onion and cilantro and served with tamarind and green chutneys, or perhaps a tikka salad ($12.49) topped with grilled chicken. Order the amazing Zinger ($15), a ginormous fried chicken sandwich described on the menu as the “King of Pakistani street food” and you won’t need any appetizers at all. That thing is lunch for two all on its own.

Fry to try: The Crazy Curry Fries ($8) tops piping hot masala fries with a rich tikka sauce, cheese, tamarind and a special sauce that pulls the whole combo together in solid fashion.

Details: Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday at 115 Plaza Drive, Sunnyvale; ladosfood.com.

Saltbreaker, Alameda

The shoestring potatoes with parmesan, parsley and garlic olive oil are served at Saltbreaker in Alameda, Calif., on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
The shoestring potatoes with parmesan, parsley and garlic olive oil are served at Saltbreaker in Alameda, Calif., on Wednesday, March 27, 2024. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

Anyone who’s ventured to Alameda Point knows there are gourmet treasures lurking on this wind-blasted former naval air base. That includes food trucks at the breweries of Spirits Alley – lobster grilled cheese, mala Sichuan pork jerky, California-style ube cheesecake, anyone? – as well as the Humble Sea taproom which opened last summer and Firebrand’s wholesale bread-and-pastry cafe.



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