20 Unique Tater Tot Dishes In The US

Like many a classic comfort food, from french fries to doughnuts, tater tots have gotten a culinary glow up as of late. Engrained in kitschy Americana and often relegated to cafeteria memories of yore, the humble tot is experiencing a crispy renaissance on menus across the country as chefs seek to elevate and evolve one of the most nostalgic snacks to ever hit the plate. Suffice things have come a long way since the tater tot's true origins as an invention to reduce food waste.

Nowadays, tater tots come in shapes, styles, and flavors. From potato to more lustrous fare like taro and from a simple side dish to super-sized snacks like "tater kegs," even sandwiches, burgers, and tacos are now using tots as crispy fillings. And much like other forms of the versatile potato, chefs are using distinct techniques while preparing tots — infusing them with smoke, stuffing them with Brie, and heaping them with everything from bonito flakes to duck poutine. This is a new golden age for the all-American tater tot.

1. Lo Bak Go Tots at Crispy Gai in Portland, Maine

One of the most exciting things about tater tots is that, in all their starchy glory, they can serve as a blank canvas for flavors big and bold. Such is the case at Crispy Gai, a contemporary and crafty Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant in Portland, Maine, where chef/co-owner Cyle Reynolds pulls from his time living in Bangkok to scratch that homesick itch. This not only means homage to Thai street food, as seen with curry-spiced chicken wings and a khao soi recipe but also Thai flavors infused into blank-canvas American items.

Available on the brunch menu, a prime example is the Lo Bak Go Tots — crispy, golden-brown cubes that sub in shredded daikon radish cake for potatoes, infused with bacon, and topped with a smattering of scallions. The dish, along with other burly morning fare like breakfast congee and green curry eggs Benedict, puts a vibrant, flavorful, and unique spin on a once-familiar side dish.

2. Tiki Tots at Tiki TNT in Washington, D.C.

There's something that pairs so well between tiki drinks and tater tots. As two genres rooted in playful flavors, eccentric presentation, and an innate sense of comfort. This might explain why some of America's best tiki bars employ quirky tater tot riffs as a go-to snack. Case in point: Tiki TNT, a soaring warehouse-style tiki bar on the Wharf in Washington, D.C., where the snack-centric menu is just as crafty as its cocktails.

In addition to a melange of bracing beverages, many of which utilize rum from Thrashers Rum Distillery next door, the edible offerings skew playful Polynesian, with teriyaki-splashed tiki wings, coconut shrimp, and fried calamari topped with furikake. Then there are the Tiki Tots, a bowl of crispy goodness layered with mango-studded "tiki de gallo," cilantro, smoked Gouda cheese, and TNT sauce, a kind of aïoli made with adobo spices, ketchup, and roasted garlic.

3. Okonomiyaki Tots at Palo Santo in Oklahoma City

At Oklahoma City's Palo Santo, a sultry and sexy watering hole in the rapidly up-and-coming Farmers Market District, both the cocktails and the plates take a well-traveled approach to snack and sipping. Drawing edible and potable inspiration from across the globe, the menu offers a transportive taste of ingenuity. And as one of the best restaurants in Oklahoma City, that's par for the course. The key appetizer that exemplifies this point is the Okonomiyaki Tots.

Inspired by an okonomiyaki recipe, a savory Japanese pancake, the tots take an Americana staple and lace it with international flair. A hearty bowl of delicate, crunchy tots are drizzled with huli huli mayo, a sweet-and-smoky sauce inspired by Hawaiian teriyaki (via Foodology Geek), along with okonomi sauce, sweeter kin to Worcestershire (via Otafuku Foods). Togarashi lends a bit of smoldering spice, scallions lend a fresh vegetal aspect, and dried bonito flakes add a fishy flavor as they shimmy and shake atop the tots for an altogether powerhouse dish packed with texture and flavor.

4. Taro Tots at Tiki Tatsu-ya in Austin

For a deeply immersive drinking experience, it doesn't get much more so than Tiki Tatsu-Ya in Austin. A nautical venture from the folks behind Ramen Tatsu-Ya next door, this kind of transportive, awe-inspiring tiki bar comes with billowing smoke, jungle sound effects, volcanic art installations, walls that look like sea caves, and mini waterfalls. As with the over-the-top tropical cocktails and ambiance, the "munchies" on the food menu are just as dazzling and fun.

Along with jackfruit kushikatsu, mango on the half shell, and mushroom musubi, this includes a colorful twist on tots in the form of Taro Tots. Using taro, a root vegetable stems native to Southeast Asia that's known for its purple hue, the tots achieve a vibrant color that looks more like a blueberry pie than your typical tots. Served in perfect cubes, they arrive with a fermented coconut ranch dipping sauce flecked with nori and togarashi for a condiment that delves deeper than ketchup.

5. Duck Poutine Tots at Sandpiper at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

As they're both traditionally made from potatoes, it makes sense that the line between tater tots and french fries can get blurred. Equally befitting the same condiments, seasonings, and toppings, the only thing keeping the two starchy sides apart is texture and shape, which is why a poutine dish that replaced standard fries with tots was a delicious inevitability. Plus, considering the added textural crunch and the crispy nooks and crannies, there's something extra appealing about a platter of tots slathered in gravy and cheese curds — precisely what they do at Sandpiper inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

Instead of french fries, the duck poutine tots feature a bowlful of golden tots, which get sauced with rich, meaty duck gravy, along with strips of succulent duck confit, molten cheddar cheese curds, a dusting of parmesan cheese, and pickled jalapeños for a bit of acidic contrast against all that richness.

6. All The Way Tots at Ogie's Trailer Park in Providence

When iconic comfort foods collide, foodie dreams are made. Like taco-inspired pizza, decadent fusions make some of the most exciting menu creations. And speaking of excitement, it doesn't get much more thrilling than a platter of hot dog-inspired tater tots. In Rhode Island, a state with its own underrated style of regional hot dog, you can find Ogie's Trailer Park doing just that — serving up tater tots alongside wieners that include mustard, meat sauce, and onions.

At this retro-inspired bar and restaurant, which sports funky trailer park decor and an on-site eatery called Granny Boo's Kitchen, folks can sample all kinds of hearty snacks equally as funky as the facade. This includes a variety of inventive tots, like the All The Way tots inspired by a recipe for Rhode Island-style wieners. Here, the tots come heaped with meaty chili, diced white onions, mustard, and cheese, for a dish that tastes equal parts chili cheese fries and hot dog.

7. Loaded Hawaiian Tots at Pike Taproom in Seattle

In the pantheon of classic comfort combinations, tater tots and beer deserve top billing alongside macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, and fish and chips. Especially when said tots involve a smattering of meat and cheese. Such is the standard at Pike Taproom, where loaded Hawaiian tots are the beer-friendly dream snack you've been looking for.

Available on the taproom's happy hour menu, along with other quirky and nostalgic fares like "adult happy meals" and "McPike Burgers," the loaded tots borrow a flavorful page from Hawaii for a distinct medley of sweet, smoky, and spicy flavors. Cubes of Spam lend a toothsome chew and a salty bite, while Swiss cheese melts overtop, crispy onions add some crunch, and a drizzle of teriyaki sauce combines notes of sweet and savory — all atop a bed of fluffy tots that are crunchy on the outside and downright creamy within, not to mention expertly matched with an IPA or a Pilsner.

8. Tuna & Tots at Cabra in Los Angeles

Not all surf and turf is lobster and steak. Or meat at all. At Cabra, a stunning Los Angeles rooftop restaurant from celebrated chef Stephanie Izard and Chicago-based Boka Restaurant Group, a particular tater tot dish is out to prove that potatoes make for tasty "turf" on all their own.

On the sharable menu, where small plates come loaded with big and bold flavors, the Tuna & Tots are a combo that exemplifies Cabra's ethos of playful Peruvian fare. The Tuna & Tots pairing showcases sushi-grade Pacific yellowfin tuna as the star, seasoned with the likes of sesame, kewpie, aji panca (a kind of fruity Peruvian chile), scallions, and tamari, before getting topped with shio kombu crunch, a medley of plantain chips, fried quinoa, fried garlic, lime powder, and aji amarillo powder. Oh, and an array of golden-brown housemade tater tots for an earthy contrast. The perfect salty counterpoint to the spicy tuna is finished with a garnish of pickled red onions, scallions, cilantro, and sweet and salty This Little Goat Went to Tokyo sauce.

9. Smoked Tater Tots at LUCIE drink + dine in Boston

Like any other form of potato, from mashed to latkes to gnocchi, tots can also serve as a launching pad for a whole world of adventurous flavor and technique. That's the approach at LUCIE drink + dine, the globally inspired restaurant in Boston's bustling Back Bay, where food and beverage director Nicholas Calias mans a menu filled with twists and turns.

Along with other shareable standouts, smoked tater tots are a bold example of LUCIE's ingenuity. Here, the tots are made by mashing Yukon potatoes with smoked butter and cream before getting rolled into tot-sized morsels and most coated in kataifi, a nutty and sweet pastry traditionally used for Greek desserts (via My Greek Dish). Then, the tots are fried until crispy and served with sweet and smoky tomato-bacon jam and buttermilk aïoli, resulting in a singular dish of unexpected depth, crunch, and more textural layers than baklava.

10. RPM Hash Browns at RPM Steak in Chicago

If there's one genre of restaurant that knows how to perfect potatoes, it's a steakhouse. Almost as well known for the spuds as the beef, steakhouses are hallowed ground for all things mashed, twice-baked, and au gratin. You can't overlook the humble tot, a once-casual snack that's getting a huge upgrade at places like RPM Steak. No wonder one of the best steakhouses in Chicago is well-versed in tater-tot artistry.

Applying the same dutiful diligence to its sides and starches as it does its superlative steaks, sourced from the most reputable purveyors, ranches, and farms on Earth, the signature RPM Hash Browns are a thing of glory. Don't expect the type of hash browns found in most diners; this stunning side is prepared and presented like tater tots. It's the same texture as a hash brown, wherein shredded potatoes are cooked until crispy and crunchy, but they're formed into cubes and fried until golden, served with a side of horseradish cream for a high-end, steakhouse-caliber riff.

11. Kaluga Caviar and Tots at Ernest in San Francisco

At Ernest in San Francisco's Mission District, chef Brandon Rice draws from his extensive travel experiences and his seasoned pedigree to execute a menu rooted in familiar flavors with internationally inspired ingredients. All are served in an atmosphere that's at once warm, inviting, and upbeat; it's the perfect breeding ground for a one-of-a-kind tater tot.

Rice's rendition skews decidedly high-end, proving that tater tots are a far cry from the cafeteria trays and freezer aisles and showcasing a glam new side. The ultimate in high-low presentation, tots are served alongside a generous portion of pristine Kaluga caviar (a type of sustainable caviar sourced from Kaluga sturgeon, according to Caviar Lover) dolloped across a bed of crème fraîche and lemon zest. Paired with the tender, fluffy housemade taters, which are meant to serve as a scooping vessel for caviar and crème fraîche, the presentation is an updated spin on the classic high-low combination of caviar and potato chips.

12. Cheese Curd Tots at Tots on the Street in Milwaukee

From its iconic supper clubs, beer culture, and abundant cheeses, Wisconsin is loaded with foodie lore and comfort food at every turn. This is particularly evident in the food and drinks of Milwaukee, where one can find a melting pot of crave-worthy sensations. One local innovator putting its stamp on Wisco tradition is a food truck called Tots on the Street, where the resident specialty is all manner of stuffed oversized tots.

Larger than your typical tot to be filled with everything from sausage and egg to gyro meat and chicken parmesan, these tots are a meal unto themselves. As the truck roves, bringing crispy munchies to the masses, it's an apt way to experience a new twist on tater traditions. This being Wisconsin, where cheese curds are a rite of passage, one of the standout menu staples are the cheese curd tots, which feature ooey-gooey locally sourced cheese curds enrobed in fried spuds so crunchy and crisp that the texture is more akin to latkes.

13. Totchos at Woody's Lunch Box in Disney World

Like cheese fries and poutine, nachos are an apt way to marry a salty starch with even more saltiness, cheese, and meat. And considering the rise in tater-tot-based innovations, like tater tot poutine, it was only a matter of time before tater, not nachos, became ubiquitous. Nowadays, the aptly dubbed totchos are becoming a snack sensation in their own right — so much so that they've risen the ranks to become one of the foremost snacks in all of Walt Disney World, found at Woody's Lunch Box in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

More like a mashup of totchos with Frito pie, the totchos at Woody's Lunch Box are an epic indulgence that features a base of "potato barrels" coated with beef and bean chili, shredded cheese, queso, tomatoes, corn chips, sour cream, and green onions. The whole dish combines elements of varying textures and flavors, from creamy and crunchy to gooey and spicy, all over a pile of jumbo tots.

14. Extraordinary Tots at Nowon in New York City

Gastropubs, in all their meaty inventions and beer-friendly noshing, are prime turf for new takes on tater tots — especially if said gastropub is a contemporary Korean-American version combining unexpected flavors and ingredients across a menu of reinvented comforts. Such is par for the course at Nowon, where craft soju and Korean beers are perfectly matched with snacks like charred lamb skewers, truffle rice cakes, and gochujang-spiced fried chicken. Then there are the tots, which are so irresistible and sensational that they earn the menu moniker "Extraordinary Tots."

Exhibiting potato's natural penchant for sweet and savory, the tots come in two varieties: honey butter and curry-spiced. The former is a singular standout, presented more like an ice cream sundae than your typical tots, as the honey-kissed spuds are topped with warm honey butter melting down into each nook and cranny. For something a little lighter, the curried version swaps out the butter for a punch of fragrant spice, but both are tots that more than live up to their "extraordinary" name.

15. Bulgogi Beef Tater Tots at Umbrella Bar in Atlanta

In addition to serving one of the best frozen cocktails in America, Umbrella Bar at Atlanta's Ponce City Market is also a snacker's paradise. Like its drink list, the casual bar and eatery specializes in menu items with an inventive Korean focus, served in a tropical space loaded with vibrant colors and, of course, a kaleidoscope of umbrellas.

Along with heftier drinking fare, like Korean corn dogs, fried chicken sandwiches, and bibimbap, snacks include tater tots that draw directly from the upper echelons of quintessential Korean munching. The bulgogi beef tater tots spotlight the namesake ingredient, Korean bulgogi beef, which is an especially succulent, smoky, and mildly sweet type of beef preparation that, when sliced thin and strewn overtop, pairs perfectly with the salty crunch of the tots. It's all accented with garlicky aïoli, green onions, and sesame seeds for a bit of toasty nuttiness.

16. Tater Tot Tacos at Redheaded Stranger in Nashville

It's a taste of the Southwest in the heart of East Nashville at Redheaded Stranger, a neoteric and funky taqueria specializing in all things green chile, brisket, and breakfast tacos. With a menu that includes tacos, burritos, green chile cheeseburgers, and quesadillas, it's also an easy vibe for tater tots to blend in and lend some crunch. Indeed, the menu from chef Bryan Lee Weaver features tater tots in many forms.

Inspired by breakfast tacos found throughout the Southwest, the menu here features breakfast tacos that use tater tots instead of standard spuds. Like the bacon taco with tater tots, scrambled egg, and cheddar, or the meat-free tater tot taco with jalapeño crema, red hatch chiles, and American cheese. The breakfast burrito follows suit with scrambled eggs, chorizo, pork, hatch green chile sauce, and tater tots. Or, if you'd rather skip the tortillas, consider totchos with queso, black beans, jalapeño, pickled red onion, and sour cream.

17. Spicy Fish Sauce Tots at Bottle Rocket in Portland, Oregon

Thai food is a popular pastime in Oregon, from traditional spots to uniquely strange Portland restaurants peddling "deep fried funk" and different styles of Southeast Asian-inspired food and drink. While this is certainly evident in the sheer variety of Thai restaurants and bars across the city, it also pops up in unexpected places, including quirky burger joints like Bottle Rocket which specializes in cheese-slathered Americana.

Burgers take top billing at this funky, casual eatery, but the tater tots may very well steal the show. Some of the most distinctive tater tots in town (per Portland Monthly), these pungent beauties are spicy fish sauce tots that find the crispy tubers glazed in fish sauce, which lends a salty-sour flavor as well as a pleasant stickiness that adheres well to sprinkles of crushed pistachios and fresh mint. One bite of these, and you'll never dunk a tot in ketchup again.

18. Adult Tater Tots at Stack Restaurant & Bar in Las Vegas

Vices come in all forms in Las Vegas — even the tater tots. A world-famous adult playground teeming with neon-lit casinos, larger-than-life resorts, and over-the-top restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, seemingly everything is decadent and indulgent in Sin City. It's a sentiment that also applies to tater tots, as at Stack Restaurant and Bar inside The Mirage, where the famed side dish is just as "adult" as everything else in this debaucherous entertainment mecca.

While many tater tots peddle some childhood nostalgia, these take a decidedly grown-up approach. Offered as a side dish, along with meaty menu heavy-hitters like porterhouse steak and double-cut pork chops, the Adult Tots are super-sized versions that come stuffed with Brie and bacon. Looking more like fancy mozzarella sticks, the fried potato morsels serve closer to arancini, oozing with melted, smoky bits of pork and cheese in each sinful bite.

19. Tater Tots at Union Square Cafe in New York City

Sometimes, you can't beat a classic. That's the case at Union Square Cafe, a New York City icon and the restaurant that started it all for Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group. The idyllic combination of classic and contemporary, combining local and seasonal ingredients with a proven knack for stylish innovation, the menu at Union Square Cafe is a timeless treasure filled with elevated comfort foods — including an off-the-menu tater tot option — for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Courtesy of chef Lena Ciardullo, the off-menu tots have become a sleeper hit and a year-round mainstay for brunch or midday snacks. The reason? These upscale tots are a far cry from standard spuds. The potatoes are sliced, then layered like mille-feuille, fried in duck fat, and topped with an ounce of Ossetra caviar. At once delicious, extravagant, crispy, and glamorous, they're some of the snazziest tots in the nation — and they're lurking in plain sight.

20. Garlic & Dill Tots at Yangban Society in Los Angeles

Aside from the obvious french fry, if there's one crispy potato snack worthy of icon status alongside tater tots, it's the almighty latke. Equally crunchy, golden-brown, and well matched with all manner of sauces and seasonings, the Jewish potato pancake only makes perfect sense for the tot treatment, and it was only a matter of time before the two combined into one superstar snack. That's exactly what happens at Yangban Society, a modern Korean-American restaurant and bodega-style super — the vibrant vision of chefs Katianna and John Hong.

Here, the chefs pay homage to Katianna's Jewish upbringing in upstate New York by serving a latke-inspired spin on tots. They're twice-fried and tossed in housemade roasted garlic butter, then finished with a dusting of chopped dill and scallions. In true latke form, the extra-crispy tots are presented with applesauce and whipped crème fraîche with dill oil for dipping.