Most popular are the carne asada curly fries served SoCal-style: a pound of fries topped with Monterey jack cheese, steak, guacamole, sour cream, secret sauce, grilled onions, grilled jalapenos, cilantro and a side of queso — with the option to add Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Bonhorst said he thinks part of the appeal of fries is tied to nostalgia for a simpler time.
“I think, as a society, fries bring us back to that comfortable and safe space we all yearn for in today’s world,” he said.
1020 Spring St. NW, Atlanta. manvsfries.com/popupshops
Poor Hendrix. Aaron and Jamie Russell’s East Lake eatery makes almost everything it serves in-house, but the restaurant’s small kitchen doesn’t lend itself well to fry-making, so the fries aren’t house-made. The magic comes from its mix of toppings — spicy sesame sauce, ground peanuts, scallion and furikake.
Poor Hendrix’s loaded fries have gone through several iterations, but the popular current version might be on the menu for the long haul.
“So far, so good,” Aaron Russell said. “We don’t season them with anything, we just let the furikake and sauce handle the flavor, and people seem to be really happy with it.”
2371 Hosea Williams Drive NE, Atlanta. 404-549-8756, poorhendrix.com
Puncho’s Late-Nite Fry Trap. Brandon “Puncho” Williams and Ebony Blanding, who work in the film industry, started this venture in 2019, after a lull in film work. They wanted something that would be “fun and genuinely Atlanta,” Williams said.
He started experimenting with loaded fries, topping hand-cut potatoes with shrimp and crab, and drizzled with Cajun aioli. Blanding came up with fries topped by Buffalo chicken, lemon pepper sprinkles and ranch, and the pair realized they were on to something; Puncho’s was born.
“Going around from wing place to wing place in Atlanta, fries are not usually the first thing on their list,” Williams said. “We wanted to put a focus on the fry. For us, it’s spiritual.”
The Atlanta love is sprinkled throughout the menu. Magic City, an homage to the iconic Atlanta strip club of the same name, sees garlic and chive fries topped with sesame seeds, chives, a ranch drizzle and fried salmon and shrimp tossed in honey garlic sauce. Other fry-plate options include the 96 Olympics and the Bluff.
Puncho’s, which also has wraps and salads on its menu, has plans to expand to a brick-and-mortar store, but, for now, it can be found at pop-ups and events, as well as through what Blanding describes as a “speak-easy” setup. Customers who order online get an email with pickup time and location in the Pittsburgh neighborhood.
Editor’s note: Puncho’s Late-Nite Fry Trap is in the process of moving; check Instagram for updates on how to order and where they’ll be moving.
Southern Drip Fries. Alex Johnson started offering loaded fries in August. His hand-cut fries come with a choice of sauces, or “drips,” most homemade, including spicy honey, jerk sauce and garlic Parmesan. Toppings include chicken, steak, crawfish, shrimp and crab. For vegans, there’s a plant-based plate of sweet potato fries topped with options like tofu, mushrooms, avocado, broccoli and fried green tomatoes.
Johnson is working on opening a brick-and-mortar location, but, in the meantime, his ordering process is fairly bare-bones: Visit Southern Drip Fries on Instagram to check out the menu, then text Johnson with your order and he’ll text you back with a pickup time and location on Old National Highway in Riverdale.
Tandoori Pizza & Wing Co. When Archna Becker closed her Buckhead Indian restaurant Bhojanic and launched ghost kitchen Tandoori Pizza & Wing Co., she decided to offer versions of fries and poutine.
“It goes hand in hand with other items on the menu,” Becker said.
The base for her Punjabi poutine is potato wedges, dredged in chickpea batter, and fried and seasoned with spices and garlic. There are three versions: chicken tikka masala with cilantro and onions and a sprinkle of mozzarella; vegan chana masala with chickpeas simmered with garlic, ginger and onion and topped with chutney, red onion and cilantro; and saag paneer with creamed spinach in ginger, garlic, onion and tomato sauce with Indian cheese, topped with sriracha aioli, diced onions and cilantro.
The kitchen also offers Masala fries, a less-loaded version with a selection of dipping sauces, including mint chutney, sriracha aioli and tamarind chutney.
739 Lambert Drive NE, Atlanta. 404-841-8472, bhojanic.com/tandoori-pizza-and-wings
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