What qualities define the perfect pile of deep-fried potato sticks? Opinions differ. Thick cut or shoestring? Soft or crispy? A simple dusting of salt or something more exotic -- Cajun spices, lemon parmesan or fresh chunks of garlic? Some folks treat fries as bedding for cheese, chili, onions and the like. Others prefer the succulent orange flesh of a sweet potato, paired with a savory peanut sauce.
In this category's inaugural year, Journal readers award the golden-fried crown to Arcata Pizza and Deli. The key to its success may lie in the variety on offer: AP&D looks to please many a fry-lovin' palate with everything from towering haystacks of shoestrings (seasoned with "SPAG" -- salt, pepper and garlic) to mountains of garlic cheese fries (choose from cheddar sauce, parmesan, Swiss, provolone, Gouda or blue cheese). Add bacon to any order, if you want to hear your heart whimper.
Kitchen manager Christina Heilman said last week that the current special, a blue cheese, parm and garlic-topped concoction called "stinky fries," has been quite popular. On first-dates, no doubt. As for the core ingredient, Heilman said her crew submerges pre-cut quarter-inchers in hot corn oil -- "comparable to McDonald's but way better." Another selling point? The behemoth serving size. According to Heilman, a large order of cheese fries weighs in between three and four pounds.
Ignore your quivering arteries; your mouth will thank you.
The Breakdown: Arcata Pizza & Deli 12.8%, Stars Hamburgers 11.4%, The Alibi 8.1%, Lost Coast Brewery 6.3%, Mike’s Garlic Fries 5.8%. Category popularity: 17th.