We know, we know: why mess with a good thing? And a good plate of french fries is better than a good thing—it’s a great thing. But sometimes you need to go beyond the spud, and throw something else in the fryer. Here are five excellent alternatives to fries. By Jessica Allen.
A savory, steamed, rice and black lentil cake often eaten for breakfast in South India, idlis are most commonly served as appetizers or sides at Indian restaurants in the United States. You’ll often get a cup of coconut chutney as well as sambar, a spicy soup, served alongside. They are a humble, filing food, kind of like the potato itself, which makes Dosa Delight’s idli finger chips all the more scrumptious. Chomp on the seasoned crust of these thick wedges of fried idli, and you’ll find starchy, carby goodness.
Sticky’s Finger Joint specializes in chicken fingers with a side of saucy, often sexual puns. The tiny West Village restaurant tends to attract students from nearby NYU, among others, drawn to dishes ilke “vampire killers,” chicken fingers infused with garlic, served on garlic chips, and covered with garlic aioli, pink peppercorn, and a black garlic clove. You can get such fries as “salt and pepper” or “cajun,” but the fried string beans will steal every show (i.e., meal). They are crisp, crunchy, fresh, salted, and utterly gobbleable.
Arepas Cafe, in Astoria, offers not one but four alternatives to fries, all on the same plate. The mini platter comes with three tequenos (white cheese sticks wrapped in wheat flour dough and deep fried), three mini cachapas (corn pancake with a square of Venezuelan cheese), three mini empanadas (fried dumplings stuffed with cheese, chicken, beef, or baby shark), four fat fried rectangles of yuca, and three dipping sauces. There’s nothing mini about it! If you’re still hungry after this big boy, order an arepa, the house specialty.
Bill’s Bar & Burger cooks up burgers, hot dogs, cupcakes, and shakes, also known as classic American grub. You can get salads and tacos and sandwiches and disco fries (with melted cheese and gravy) as well. Just make sure to order the crispy veggie fries (available at the meatpacking district location). On the one hand, vegetables offer nutrients and will help offset all the calories you’ll likely be ingesting. On the other, this basket of broccoli, carrots, and other produce will make you wish all your veggies came fried.
New York City has thousands of Chinese restaurants, many terrific, most offering food from one or two regions of China, often Sichuan and Hunan. Yunnan Kitchen cooks the flavors of Yunnan Province, and emphasizes seasonality and subtle, thoughtful spices. Its potato balls are wonders of nature: lightly fried on the outside, super-soft and creamy on the inside. Imagine a croqueta, only less intensely crispy, or a tater tot missing its distinctive textured coating (and shape). Or just get an order, and enjoy.