After covering GW’s finances, administrators and academic offerings at The Hatchet for years, I decided to pivot to a far more high-stakes subject – writing about fries.
Four weeks, six orders of fries and many hours of deliberation later, I’ve come up with a highly strategic and calculated ranking of some of the best and worst fry offerings around campus. Ranging from the classic fries at Carvings to unexpected options at Bindaas, here’s a comprehensive list of where to get the best fries around campus:
5. Whole Foods
Sorry Jeff Bezos, but Whole Foods fries ended up dead last for me. I ordered both the plain fries ($4) and the truffle parmesan fries ($5). Of all the fries I tasted as part of this effort, these were the smallest, both in individual fry and overall portion. The plain fries weren’t particularly crispy and didn’t have much going for them in terms of seasoning. And in the face of my high expectations for the truffle parmesan fries, I was disappointed by this otherwise identically plain option, with a truffle taste as its only redeeming quality. A half-hearted sprinkle of parmesan and little to no salt undercut what little flavor these packed.
It’s worth noting that these were the only fries I tried with potato skins left on them, ostensibly to increase their crispiness, but this was not the case – the fries were either soft or dry, nothing in between. I was initially drawn to Whole Foods fries after hearing rave reviews from a friend, but while the fries are a half-decent option with a burger from the hot bar, they’re generally pretty hit or miss. 3.5/10 – this gets the job done, but I wouldn’t recommend.
4. True Burger
With my days of residence hall life behind me, I don’t often find myself frequenting campus dining options, but I took a trip to True Burger in District Hall to try out their fries. The touch screen ordering method caught me off guard in the wake of the long lines at True Burger’s ethically dubious predecessor Chick-fil-A, but in its place I found one of the most affordable fry options on this list. Coming in at $2.99, True Burger’s fries were clearly freshly made and burning hot. These fries were crispy and also slightly peppery, but to quote a friend of mine who joined in on this venture, “One word to describe it: salt.” The overwhelming saltiness also ensured that these fries didn’t age well – once they cooled down, they became soggy and unenjoyable. I’d still give these a 6/10, in a stark contrast to Whole Foods.
Carvings lies smack in the middle of this list because although they’re a decent fry option, maybe even a subpar one, consume them after 11 p.m. and your ranking shoots up to a 10/10. This classic late-night establishment frequented by Potomac House residents and predominantly underclassmen sells fries ($3.50) that are sufficiently crispy, a welcome contrast with the soft, almost mashed potato-like texture on the inside. Though they could have used more salt, these fries aged much better than those at True Burger. A cold Carvings fry was edible and enjoyable, too. After docking half a point for Carvings’ distinct lack of accessible seating (a post-COVID change) and adding a point for the startling and hilariously out of place giraffe mural on the wall that glared at me as I ordered my fries (also a post-COVID change), I give these a 7/10.
2. Falafel, Inc
Ever since its arrival to Western Market earlier this year, Falafel, Inc has been known for its affordable meal options with falafel sandwiches and bowls coming in at $4 and $5, respectively. But its za’atar fries ($4) are a not-so-hidden gem on the menu because of their quality and how well they pair with the diverse array of sauce options. These were the softest, and thinnest fries we tried by a long shot. They weren’t particularly crispy – though I’ve had notably crispy fries here before, so they could be hit or miss – but the seasoning was lightly nutty and added ever so slightly to the crunch on the fries. The sauces were the real star of the show. After trying each of the six options, the best sauces to pair with these fries were the garlic, habibi and green sauces. The garlic sauce was smooth and creamy and the habibi sauce had the perfect level of spice. But I especially loved the flavor of the jalapenos and cilantro – an herb I don’t often encounter nowadays living so far away from my mom’s Indian cooking – making it perhaps my favorite of the three. Pro tip: mix the garlic and habibi sauce for a spicy, garlicky flavor. Exercise caution if caucasian. 8.75/10.
While Bindaas’ desi street food offerings may not be the most authentic, their gunpowder fries ($6.15) were my absolute favorite on this list. The fries are seasoned with gunpowder, which is the English name for a classic South Indian seasoning made of ground sesame seeds, curry leaves, Kashmiri chillies and more. The fries came with a spicy ketchup that also had the distinct sweet-sour taste of tamarind, all of which paired exquisitely with the gunpowder and the fries. The fries themselves were perfectly crispy – which was elevated by the slight crunch from the gunpowder seasoning – and contrasted with the softness of the potato on the inside. Though these were the priciest fry option I tried, the cost is worth it. To leave room for 10/10 perfection, Bindaas gunpowder fries are a 9.5/10.