College basketball fans are deep into thoughts of March Madness right now, dreaming about buzzer beaters and winning brackets.
Here in The Salt Lake Tribune food department, we also got caught up in the frenzy. But instead of round ball, we chose an even more competitive arena — indulging and critiquing hot, crispy French fries.
Our expert food analysts — Tribune restaurant reviewers and willing staff eaters — served as the selection committee. After much dipping and munching, we officially announce our Salty 16 division winners.
BEST EUROPEAN VERSION
Bruge’s Waffles and Frites • Crispy Belgium-style “frites” that have been deep-fried twice and served with a choice of 10 different mayonnaise-based dipping sauces. The tomato-based Andalouse puts Utah fry sauce to shame. 336 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City; 801-363-4444.
BEST FROM A BURGER JOINT
Salt City Burger • Made from fresh, thinly-cut fries with the skins on and fried a dark golden brown. Crispy outside, tender inside, and always seasoned just right. 9176 S. Village Shop Dr., Sandy; and 401 W. 500 South, Bountiful.
BEST INSIDE A BAR
Syn’s Grill inside Barbary Coast Saloon • Owner Syndie Finnas makes sinfully delicious hand-cut fries served hot with a sprinkling of salt. Don’t miss the house-made fry sauce with ketchup, mayonnaise and hickory-barbecue sauce. 4242 South State Street Murray, 801-265-9889.
BEST MIDDLE EASTERN
Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine • In addition to the delicious falafel, shawarma and kebabs, Mazza’s hand-cut and twice-fried fries are an exotic delight, especially with the a dab of secret garlic dipping sauce. 912 E. 900 South, 801-521-4572; and 1515 S. 1500 East, 801-484-9259.
Moochie’s Meatballs and More • With a coating so light you almost don’t know its there, these spuds are the perfect accompaniment to the signature Philly cheesesteak. Eat with the house-made “Freaking Fabulous Fry Sauce.” 232 East 800 South, Salt Lake City; 801-596-1350.
Guzzi’s Vintage Burgers & Fries • If you linger at the counter, you can watch as the cooks turn skin-on potatoes into crunchy, seasoned French fries. Dip into Guzzi’s own fry sauce or sprinkle with malt vinegar. Or do as the staff suggests and mix Liquid Smoke with ketchup — you’ll never turn back. 180 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City; 801-364-4541.
BEST DRIVE IN
Hires Big H • Munching on these fresh-cut fries is as much on the Hires canon as ordering a signature root beer in a frosted glass. Fried just right and tasty to the last greasy bite. 425 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City; 801-364-4582.
BEST MARRIAGE WITH A SWEET POTATO
The Bayou • French-fry lovers can get a two-for-one at this bar, best known for its massive beer selection. An order includes a colorful mix of regular and sweet potato fries, which are a perfect marriage with the house-made chipotle aioli. 645 S. State Street; 801-961-8400.
Zy Restaurant • When a French fry has a party with a potato chip, you get the wide, super-thin herb fries served at this downtown eatery. Seasoned with sea salt and fresh herbs, they’re perfect for anyone who can’t resist a hot potato. 268 South State St. Salt Lake City; 801-779-4730.
BEST WITH A CURL
Spin Cafe • A new spin on curly French fries. Potatoes are cut fresh each day with a special hand-cranked machine, and then seasoned with a homemade mix of sea salt, Hungarian paprika, cayenne and a dozen other spices. 220 N. Main St., Heber City; 435-654-0251.
BEST IN A DRUGSTORE
Hi Mountain Drug • One of the country’s last old-fashioned drug stores with a grill inside. On the weekends, there’s usually a wait at this family-owned restaurant for a taste of the flavorful hamburgers and the crispy hand-cut fries. 40 North Main St., Kamas; 435- 783-4466.
Vertical Diner • Chef Ian Brandt takes locally grown organic potatoes and uses a two-step French technique to cook them. Order them topped with cheese or chili. 2280 S. West Temple; South Salt Lake; 801-585-8378.
BEST SALUTE TO CANADA
Legends Sports Pub • The downtown pub puts an American twist on poutine (poo-teen), the ultimate in French-Canadian junk food. Beer-battered fries are covered in melted cheese and then smothered in brown gravy. 677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City; 801-355-3598.
Stein Eriksen Lodge • The garlic cheese fries at this Park City lodge start with meaty Yukon gold wedges, tossed with loads of garlic, seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Chef Zane Holmquist’s kicked up fry sauce is served on the side. 7700 Stein Way Park City; 435-649-3700.
BEST IN A BUCKET
Alf’s at Alta Ski Resort • The restaurant’s massive 64-ounce bucket of fries — which hold 1 3/4 pound of spuds — satisfies an entire family after a day of skiing. Little Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City; 801-799-2295.
BEST ROSEMARY GARLIC
Lucky 13 Bar and Grill • No need to worry about vampires after eating these super crispy fries bathed in tons of chopped garlic and rosemary. 135 West 1300 South Salt Lake City; 801-487-4418.
Hot or soggy?
What do you think about our French fry picks? Let us know if we’ve selected a winning bracket or need to head back to the gym for another round of fry-eating practice. Email comments — with the subject line “Starch Madness” — to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more fry recommendations, check our list of reader suggestions at bit.ly/x72Iak.