What is the most satis-frying choice in Marin?

Julia Frankus

As new restaurants pop up all over Marin, the french fry market has undergone an expansion. With hundreds of eateries serving this American fast-food staple, the question must be begged: which has the best french fries? In order to identify the answer, one must first define the most ideal characteristics of a french fry. This is widely accepted as one that is crispy on the exterior, fluffy in the interior and is neither too oily nor too dry. In addition, it must carry enough saltiness for taste but not so much that it distracts from or overpowers the flavor. In this article, a scale will be referenced as a rubric for the perfect fry. On this scale, the sogginess to crispness ratio will be measured from one to 10 with the ideal crispness at about a six or a seven. Dryness to oiliness will also be measured with the ideal at about five. Lastly, saltiness will be measured with the least amount of salt being a one, the most amount of salt being a ten and the ideal amount of salt being around a seven. 

Illustration by Calla McBride

M&Gs – 8/10

These long, crinkle-cut, crispy fries are nearly the perfect combination of saltiness, crispiness and fluffiness. Each fry is about four to five inches long and carries a fairly crisp exterior. There are only a few foreseeable flaws in these fries: the first is their initial, mouth-scalding temperature. Although this may be a sign that they are freshly made, the fries are much too hot to touch, nonetheless to eat. Upon removing the fries from their bag, they cooled down fairly quickly and became easier to bite into. The second minor issue is the salt-to-fry ratio. Given that these fries are so large, they needed an extra sprinkle or two of salt. They ranked around a six for saltiness, six for dry-to-oily and seven for soggy-to-crunchy. 

Blue Barn – 7/10

Blue Barn’s skinny fries are beloved by many, and overall, they mostly lived up to their positive reputation. In terms of saltiness, the fries are about a four. They received a four for dry-to-oily and five for soggy-to-crunchy, making these fries slightly on the more soggy and less oily side. The only real issue with them is the salt distribution. The fries at the top are fairly salty but become progressively less so towards the bottom. The top fries are nearly perfect with a salt rating of about six or seven, while the fries on the bottom are closer to a four. This could be accounted for by a bad batch, however, this one flaw made the fries less enjoyable overall. 

Shake Shack – 9.5/10

Shake Shack’s fries tasted fairly accurate according to their appearance; they have a crispy exterior but are large enough in diameter to maintain their fluffy interior. These fries are an eight on the soggy-to-crunchy scale, six on dry-to-oily and a seven in terms of saltiness, making them my personal favorite of all of the restaurants. They had the perfect amount of salt, carried a crisp exterior with some light flaking and are overall delectable. Any fry enthusiast who “stands for something good” (in the words of Shake Shack) will enjoy the combination of crunch and salt that this fry has to offer. 

McDonald’s – 8.5/10

McDonald’s fries are a staple in the fast-food fry industry. They are fairly tasty and affordable, although their impact on heart health is questionable considering their notoriously high cholesterol levels and that they are fried in hydrogenated soybean oil: a trans fat that when consumed too frequently — depending on the individual — can cause cardiovascular disease. This practice of adding hydrogen to oil has been abandoned by many other restaurant chains. Overall, these fries did very well, with a good amount of saltiness (about a six) and in between on the soggy-to-crunchy and dry-to-oily scales, ranking about a five on both. As a classic in the fast food industry, McDonald’s smaller and longer fry shape is quite enjoyable and definitely worth the $1.39. 

Super Duper – 8/10

The oiliest of the bunch, Super Duper’s fries are comparable to that of McDonald’s, only with a larger diameter. They are fairly crunchy, earning a six on the soggy-to-crunchy scale. They are slightly greasy, however, landing at around a seven on the dry-to-oily scale. These fries are in the middle in terms of saltiness, ranking around a five. More salt would have definitely added to the taste because they are slightly bland. These fries are pretty standard, though there is something satisfying about their crunch and shorter shape. 

Starbird – 5/10

 This relatively new restaurant located in Town Center Corte Madera has been a recent attention-grabber for many high school students. Although Starbird is known for their fried chicken, one must wonder how their fries compare. These fries are medium in length, an average yellow color and somewhat crispy but with a good amount of floppiness. On the saltiness scale, they are about a five, or on the less salty side. The overall taste is what one might expect from fries served on the side of a burger at an average restaurant. They aren’t very “fast-food-like,” per se, and they are neither oily or greasy. These fries would be a nice addition to a chicken sandwich or chicken tenders, which they are often served with at Starbird.