14 Restaurant Chains With Fries Cut From Fresh Potatoes

Although you might not be able to taste the effort while biting into your ninth consecutive flawless McDonald's fry, fast-food fries actually require careful consideration to reach a perfect crisp. This essential ingredient forces many fast-food chains to struggle with the question: should we use fresh or frozen fries?

Fries made with fresh potatoes are (marginally) better for you. The freezing process can kill food's nutritional value and dehydrate its ingredients. Eating frozen food also often means ingesting more sodium, which is used to preserve that fresh taste for longer. Of course, frozen food also contains more unpronounceable ingredients.

However, frozen fries have a lot going for them — they last longer than fresh-cut potatoes, and their quality is generally more consistent. Frozen fries are also a lot easier to serve in bulk because they're much more efficient and cost-effective. Plus, many people prefer the taste of frozen fries; chains are likely hesitant to disrupt their fan base by swapping out frozen fries for fear of ending up like Shake Shack, where efforts to switch to fresh potatoes were met with social media outcry and petitions to return to its original frozen crinkle-cut fry.

Naturally, it can be difficult to find a large restaurant chain that makes the bold choice to cook fresh fries in-house. Read on to discover more about the places that pride themselves on fresh-cut fries — and judge for yourself whether they're making the right choice. 

1. Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Ever since the first Five Guys opened in 1986, founder Jerry Murrell has said the business plan included making perfect fries. This dedication to perfection means that Five Guys has always proudly made its fries in-house. The fries are billed as "boardwalk-style," inspired by Ocean City's French fry tradition of dressing their fries in Old Bay seasoning and malt vinegar — and the restaurant is very particular about how those boardwalk fries are made.

Five Guys fries are only made using potatoes that it usually sources from Idaho, except for a few months of the year when Idaho potatoes become too soft for its standards. The frying process involves double-frying the potatoes so that the outside is super crisp and the inside is fluffy, like mashed potatoes. Five Guys also go the extra mile by only frying in (expensive!) peanut oil because it is nonhydrogenated, which makes for a delicious, buttery aftertaste. With all that care, it's no surprise that Murrell's original concept for the perfect fry has become legendary. 

2. In-N-Out Burger

Unlike Five Guys' fries, In-N-Out Burger fries are pretty much universally hated. There are several theories as to why In-N-Out fries don't make the grade; some say it's because their cooking oil is too clean, while others contend that their recipe has too few ingredients, leaving the fries bland and forgettable.

Say what you will about these fries, but for what it's worth, they are made with fresh potatoes. This is actually the reason why chef David Chang thinks they suck, incidentally: at the 2019 Vulture festival, he complained that In-N-Out relies too much on serving fresh fries as a gimmick, saying that the best potatoes for french fry creation "only come out of the ground once a year," and concluding that using fresh potatoes year-round guarantees a subpar taste some of the time. 

A little-known fact that might change people's minds about this chain's fries is that you can actually specify how crispy you want them when you order. Since In-N-Out fries are made fresh to order, you can have agency over how much crunch you want. When ordering, say you want your fries "well-done" or "extra well-done" for a more intense crisp. It might not change the taste (sorry, David Chang), but at least you don't have to settle for soggy!

3. Wahlburgers

Unlike most fast food chains, Wahlburgers isn't best known for its food — instead, it's notable because of its owners. The Wahlberg siblings involved, Paul, Donnie, and Mark, all found fame for different reasons. Donnie helped found the boyband New Kids on the Block, Mark became a highly successful actor, and Paul was a chef looking to bring the family together. Under Paul's leadership, the first location of Wahlburgers opened in Hingham, Massachusetts in 2011, and soon after, the Wahlberg boys were franchising the brand and launching a reality TV show on A&E about owning and operating the chain.

Wahlburgers always makes its french fries from fresh Yukon potatoes. These fries are billed as ¼ inch-shoestring potato fries — this means they're skinnier than most fresh-cut fries, but not quite as thin as, say, your standard order from McDonald's. When ordering, make sure you grab some extra Wahl Sauce to squirt on top, since most eaters' main qualm with Wahlburgers fries is a lack of flavor. 

4. Bareburger

Bareburger is a smaller chain: with just eleven locations in the New York City area, this brand aims for quality over quantity. Bareburger is unique for its concentrated attention to different food preferences and sustainability. Since Bareburger is dedicated to serving people with active dietary restrictions that often aren't able to eat in bigger fast food chains. The chain is super transparent about every ingredient in its food and even cooks its food in different fryers to cater to those with allergies. You can also order countless meatless burgers and even some specialty meats, like bison, all with the option to choose your own toppings.

The french fries at Bareburger are no joke — like the rest of its menu, they are ethically made and sustainably sourced, which means they are about as fresh as you get. At Bareburger, you can order french fries or "sweet fries," i.e. sweet potato fries covered in sugar and cinnamon, all of which are cooked fresh in-house. Then, if you really want to get into it, for an extra couple of bucks you can opt to upgrade your fries of choice "truffle-style," which means adding asiago cheese, aioli, and truffle salt on top, or "bacon + cheese style," which is ... self-explanatory.

5. BurgerFi

BurgerFi is very proud of its fresh-cut fries, which are actually labeled as "fresh-cut fries" on the menu. This chain opened their first location in Lauderdale-by-the-sea, Florida in 2011 with the mission to create high-quality, fresh food made with ingredients sourced locally. BurgerFi is so passionate about this that they instituted a program called the "Never Ever" program, which basically boils down to a guarantee that the Angus beef they use in their burgers never comes into contact with additives, steroids, antibiotics, or anything else that would lessen its quality.

The website claims that its fries are "fresh cut from real spuds" — Russet potatoes, to be exact. Just like Five Guys, BurgerFi cooks its fries in peanut oil for that specific decadent aftertaste; but unlike Five Guys, BurgerFi offers a host of delicious options for how to enjoy those spuds, from Cajun Style to its  "Urban Style" fries, which come with Parmesan, herbs, and truffle aioli.

6. The Smith

The Smith is more of an upscale chain restaurant than the other entries in this list — it's very much a sit-down joint, as you might expect when your order of fries costs $9 — but it still merits mention because its fries are not only hand-cut, they're also masterful. It took The Smith years to perfect what they call their "golden spears of joy." For the spud base, The Smith only uses GPODs, a Russet Burbank variety of potatoes; and to make them perfect, staff wash the fries in a bath of water and vinegar three different times before frying them twice. The resulting fries have a wonderful depth of flavor: they're extremely salty and satisfying. 

The first location of The Smith opened in Manhattan's East Village in 2007 to massive fanfare. Now, it has expanded to six locations in three cities and is regarded as a bastion of pleasant American brasseries. The quality of its food and service has been enough to entice people to cough up $9 for a side of fries for the past two decades, and they're not done yet.

7. Mooyah

Mooyah is a burger joint that originated in Texas. Founded in 2007 by Rich Hicks and Todd Istre, Mooyah has ballooned out over the past few decades, expanding its franchises to 19 other American states and ten other countries, most of which are in the Middle East. It offers a more cutesy feel than some other chains, naming their popular burger options the "Burger Hall of DANG!" and being generally punny, but make no mistake: Despite the gimmicks, Mooyah is serious about serving up high-quality food.

Mooyah uses hand-cut No. 1 Idaho potatoes for its fries. Most fries are made by cutting up the potatoes, blanching them in boiling water to remove extra moisture, and then frying them, usually twice. But Mooyah does most fry places one better. Instead of the three-step process just described, Mooyah goes through an elaborate six-step process to make its fries. The results are delicious: While the Mooyah burger is reportedly skippable, the Mooyah fries are legendarily long-lasting and tasty. You can also order them slathered in green chile queso or with chili and cheese if you're feeling brave.

8. Wingstop

Wingstop probably isn't the first chain on most people's minds when it comes to French fries, since this joint is known (and named) for its wings. However, Wingstop has always served fresh-cut fries to go with their famous Buffalo-style chicken wings ever since the first location opened way back in 1994. Now, with over 1,500 locations worldwide and many, many happy customers, Wingstop would never mess with its tried-and-true flavorful fries.

Wingstop uses fresh, skin-on Russet potatoes for its fresh-cut french fries, which are then tossed in a "secret seasoning" that some customers are desperate to copycat at home. You can order your fries basic, smothered in jalapeno cheese or buffalo ranch, or you can snag their specialty "Louisiana Voodoo Fries," which basically is just a combo of both the cheese and the ranch dressings to create a sloppy, spicy collaboration that's oh-so-good. 

9. Fuddruckers

Founded in 1980, Fuddruckers has spent the past 40-plus years dedicating itself to creating what it calls the "World's Greatest Hamburger." (It even trademarked the phrase — it's that essential to the brand.) The chain prides itself on using fresh ingredients in the pursuit of this platonic ideal, which means it never freezes its goods, grind the burger meat on-site, and even bake fresh buns at in-house bakeries each morning. Fuddruckers also set out all the fresh toppings you could possibly want on your burger at a buffet-style salad bar so that you can really enjoy your burger the way you want it.

Of course, the World's Greatest Hamburger needs a companion that measures up. Yet unlike other similar burger chains, Fuddruckers doesn't offer fries, per se. Instead, it has potato wedges, which you can think of as a very thick-cut fry. These potato wedges are heavier than fries and less deep-fried, so they're actually a healthier option — if you can sacrifice that crispy fry texture.

10. Roaming Rooster

Founded in 2015, this relatively-new DMV area chain started out by hawking its delicious fried chicken sandwiches in a food truck. Pretty soon, though, the vision of serving chicken you could feel good about eating — that means sandwiches made from free-range chickens — became such a hot commodity that Roaming Rooster started buying up some storefronts. Now, the franchise has 11 locations in or near Washington, D.C., all of which are committed to serving up good quality chicken; as Roaming Rooster states on its website, "We care about where our food comes from because we care about the people we serve it to."

That same care that Roaming Rooster applies to its fried chicken is evident in its fries as well. Roaming Rooster lists its fries as being "hand cut" and "twice fried," and they come with a dipping sauce. You can stick with just plain ketchup or honey mustard, or you can opt for their delicious "Rooster Sauce," which is hot and sweet.

11. Melt Bar & Grilled

Melt Bar & Grilled is an Ohio-based chain whose primary offering is gourmet grilled cheese. Founded by Cleveland musician Matt Fish, Melt Bar & Grill was born of a vision for a bar where he and his buddies could spend the afternoon and knock back some craft beers. At its inception, Melt was a makeshift organization; those initial years have been described by former employees as "punk rock" and "the Wild West days." Eventually, word got out about Melt Bar & Grilled's epic grilled cheese sandwiches due to a couple of media appearances (including one notable stint on "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives"), and then people started getting the Melt logo tattooed on their body, and suddenly it was clear to Fish that it was time to expand.

Though it might come as a shock from a place dedicated to the art of the grilled cheese, Melt Bar & Grilled also offers fresh-cut fries on its menu. The hangover fries come covered in pulled pork, melted mozzarella, gravy, and scallions, all of which are topped with a fried egg. It makes for a dangerous, decadent dish, much like the overall ethos of Melt Bar & Grilled. 

12. HiHo Cheeseburger

This small, LA-based chain is extremely focused on quality. Founded by restauranteur Jerry Greenberg, who also manages several other LA-area eating establishments, HiHo was always designed to be high quality. On its website, it states that all its Wagyu beef is "Grass-fed and grass finished[,] certified humane and sustainably raised, Omega-3 rich, GMO & antibiotic-free," and claims that it is the only restaurant in America serving 100% grass-fed and grass-finished Wagyu beef burgers. With just four locations in Los Angeles, this chain is building an empire slowly but surely by catering to the preferences of Angelenos that care about the environment and sustainable eating.

With all their fretting about their pure beef, it's clear that HiHo Cheeseburger cares about using fresh, natural ingredients. That's why it also sells "from-scratch fries," which are hand cut and fried twice. HiHo is transparent with the public that it sources these specific potatoes because they are non-GMO. At HiHo, you can either order normal fresh-cut fries, or go all in and order the "Ashton Fries," which are topped with a classy cut of pastrami, spicy onion jam, and fonduta, which is a cheese sauce made at local restaurant Matu, also owned by Greenberg.

13. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Originally a Miami-based chain, Yardbird Southern Table & Bar now has locations in a handful of big cities including Las Vegas, LA, DC, Aspen, Dallas, and Chicago, with one outlier in Singapore. The visionary behind the brand is John Kunkel, also CEO of 50 Eggs Hospitality Group, who designed Yardbird to focus on farm-fresh ingredients done in a way that honors his Southern roots. Since this spot is both a "table" and a "bar," the list of cocktails you can order to go with your meal is quite extensive, especially when it comes to bourbon options. 

The fries at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar are made fresh in-house. They are only on the lunch menu, where they're listed as a $12 side that comes with a housemade buttermilk ranch dressing and bacon salt. But don't worry if you're craving them for dinner instead; they're always available as part of the steak frites.

14. Hopdoddy

With locations in Texas and across the Southern U.S., this burger bar has been fast-expanding ever since its founding in 2010. As the founders tell the story, Hopdoddy began when one friend group got together for some beers and realized that they wanted to hold fast food burgers to a higher standard — to "raise the burger bar," as it were. From that point, they began building a burger chain that prioritizes handmade food and local sourcing of ingredients. Something distinct about Hopdoddy is that it's also dedicated to supporting musicians by offering performance opportunities for up-and-coming artists in each of its locations.

Hopdoddy may have been created to elevate the burger game, but this chain now boasts that fries are its claim to fame. To honor that, there are eight different flavors of dressed-up, hand-cut fries that you can order at Hopdoddy, spanning from the elevated truffle Parmesan flavors to nacho cheese and pretty much every greasy, cheesy option in between. When it comes to sweet potato fries, Hopdoddy offers the option to order them either straight up or coated in hot honey and sage for an extra spicy-sweet kick.