Did you know Friday is National French Fry Day? No? You're probably not alone.
Though it is not difficult to locate a Chicagoan in the dark on this somewhat obscure holiday dedicated to the crispy, deep-fried strips of potato, we'd venture to guess that we'd have a trickier time finding someone who -- with a straight face -- can tell us they're never tempted to choose fries over a side salad or fruit while dining out.
Face up to it, Chicago: We're addicted. And that's perfectly OK -- in moderation, of course.
Last year, HuffPost Chicago contributor Lauren Drell rounded up some of the city's finest french friers, ranging from those serving up the dish in its classic form to those who have treated the fried potato as a canvas for something even ambitious. If you're inspired to try your hand at a homemade variety, we also have you covered.
Did we miss your favorite local fry? Let us know in the comments.
Best Naked Fries
<a href="http://www.hackneys.net/locations/glenview-harms/" target="_hplink">Hackney's on Harms</a> famous Hackneyburger and the more famous Inside/Out Hackneyburger both have made their way onto Food Network's <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2lDF0XU3NI" target="_hplink">"Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives,"</a> but the sizzling plate of French fries that complements them are by no means the underdog. These golden fries have the perfect amount of crunch and are served so hot that you'll have to use a napkin to load them on to your plate. Cooked in canola oil (c'mon, tell yourself they're healthier), these fries are truly addicting. Bonus: If you're sharing a plate and you run out, your server will bring you another round on the house. <em>1241 Harms Rd., Glenview; 847-724-5577</em>
Best Sweet Potato Fries
The sweet potato fries are the standout among the many fry choices at <a href="http://www.dmkburgerbar.com/" target="_hplink">DMK Burger Bar</a>. These hand-cut potatoes, dressed with a healthy sprinkling of salt, pepper and parsley are fried perfectly, leaving them crisp on the outside and softer on the inside. Dip them by the forkful in the lemon Tabasco aioli that's served on the side because, after pairing the two, you'll see why these sweets made our list. And don't be embarrassed to place a second order; the atmosphere at this dimly-lit burger joint can serve as your perfect cover. Between the dark space and the loud vibe echoing throughout this small space, no one will even notice. <em>2954 N. Sheffield Ave.; 773-360-8686</em>
Best Duck Fat Fries
Don't get us wrong, there's a lot of stiff competition in the city when it comes to French fries fried in duck fat, but what won us over at <a href="http://www.thebristolchicago.com/" target="_hplink">The Bristol</a> are the flavors that chef/owner Chris Pandel marries: parsley, Grana Padano cheese, lemon zest, salt and pepper. The hand cut fries are delivered hot and perfectly crisp and come with house-made ketchup and garlic aioli for dipping. As Pandel explains, part of the reason these fries taste so good is that they're blanched, fried and then cooled overnight before they hit the fryer for a second time. It's hard enough to get into the Bristol as it is, but when word spreads about these duck fat fries, it could make snagging a table even harder. <em>2152 N. Damen Ave.; 773-862-5555</em>
Best Brown Paper Bag Fries
There's hardly any better remedy when you're struck with an insatiable craving for French fries than a grease-spotted brown paper bag full of fresh-cut ones from Gene and Jude's. Sure, it's a bit of a hike from the city, but it's worth it for the perfectly salt-kissed fries piled on top of their famous hot dogs. The line at Gene & Jude's moves quickly, and if you're lucky to score some counter space, you'll find a container of salt within arm's reach. Sorry, ketchup addicts, you won't find any here -- they just don't believe in it. One reason these fries taste so good is that they're old school (read: fried in lard). But a word of caution: If you're ordering these fries to go, get 'em double bagged to prevent grease seepage on your back seat. <em>2720 River Rd., River Grove; 708-452-7634</em>
Best Truffle Fries
While <a href="http://www.franksndawgs.com/" target="_hplink">Franks 'N' Dawgs</a> is best known for its house-made artisan sausages, the Triple Truffle Fries stand in a league of their own. Yukon gold fries are cut waffle-style (to help hold the seasonings) and then doused with truffle oil, truffle butter and truffle salt. A touch of parsley and basil finishes them off, just in the case the three layers of truffle weren't enough. <em>1863 N. Clybourn Ave.; 312-281-5187 </em>
Best German Fries
While many flock to this iconic Chicago restaurant for a hand-carved corned beef or turkey sandwich, one of the lesser known gems at the <a href="http://www.theberghoff.com/cafe/default.aspx" target="_hplink">Berghoff Café</a> is the German Fries. Somewhere between cottage fries and thick potato chips, the German fries at the Berghoff are well-done and crisp on the outside, with a slightly softer middle. Grab a side of them to complement your brat and wash it all down with Berghoff's Original Lager. <em>17 W. Adams St.; 312-427-7399</em>
Best Shoestring Fries
When patrons slip through the revolving door into dimly-lit <a href="http://www.mastrosrestaurants.com/" target="_hplink">Mastro's</a>, they likely have two things on their minds: which cosmo to order and which wet-aged steak to expense. Chances are, shoestring fries are probably one of the last things on their minds. That is, until a gargantuan pile of these perfectly trimmed frites, meticulously dressed with salt and parsley, appear at the next bar table. Mastro's shoestring fries are served in a large bowl that's kept under tight wraps until your server slowly folds back the black napkin, revealing why these skinny minis made our list. <em>520 N. Dearborn St.; 312-521-5100</em>
Best Cheese Fries
What better excuse to escape the city madness than the need for cheese fries done the right way--with a batch of sizzling Merkt's cheddar layered on thick? While <a href="http://www.hungryz.com/paradisepup.html" target="_hplink">Paradise Pup</a> has gotten famous for winning over fans of Food Network's <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW0bierLVfA" target="_hplink">"Diners, Drive-In's and Dives,"</a> the crinkle cut fries slathered with cheese will win you over, too. Yes, the line will be snaking out the door of this 800-square-foot hot dog shack, but when George or Tony Manos--the brothers who run the place--calls out your name and hands over your batch of fries doused in hot cheddar, you'll be ready to plan your next trip to the 'burbs. <em>1724 S. River Rd., Des Plaines; 847-699-8590</em>
Best Loaded Fries
Mention the name <a href="http://edzos.com/" target="_hplink">Edzo's Burger Shop</a> to a Northwestern University student or an Evanston resident, and chances are they will chat you up about the hand-cut fries. These spuds can be ordered ten different ways - including angry (spicy) fries and crazy fries with chili, onion and cheese - but you can't go wrong with the loaded fries. These fresh-cut darlings are anything but ordinary, and come loaded with with Merkt's cheddar, sour cream, green onions and bacon. The best bites come from the fries sitting directly under the hodgepodge of ingredients -- so be sure to grab those before your dining companions do. <em>1571 Sherman Ave., Evanston; 847-864-3396</em>
Best Controversial Fries
We all love a little drama in our lives, so why should it be any different when it comes to our favorite side dish? Rumor has it that Max's Italian Beef's Ghetto Fries were created by a former employee whose nickname was "Ghetto Girl," but, of course, that didn't stop some customers a from complaining that the name was offensive and garnering media attention for Max's back in 2005. Politically incorrect or not, we still love the fries that are drenched in gravy, Merkt's cheddar, house-made giardiniera, barbecue sauce and raw onion. <em>5754 N. Western Ave.; 773-989-8200</em>