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10 Buffalo-area places to be wise with humble fries

In light of Food Editor Andrew Z. Galarneau's french fry post with the best of local gourmet fries, we got to thinking: Where are the best places for humble fries?

You know, the kind of french fries you eat if you're out at a bar with friends, bowling or looking for a late-night snack. Plus, just because some fries may come pre-cut and frozen doesn't automatically mean they're unworthy of our appreciation.

Here's what we came up with, with a nod to our own eating histories, social media suggestions and advice from local comfort-food aficionados:

Five Guys, eight different locations, including Buffalo, Cheektowaga, Niagara Falls, Amherst, Hamburg and Lockport.

These pillowy puffs of golden brown goodness are hand-cut in each store and freshly fried in peanut oil, as the order board proudly proclaims.

The fries are crisp, buttery and downright delicious accompaniment to the Five Guys burger, and if you get your meal to go, there's bound to be at least 10 hiding in the bottom of the bag. Warning: You might smell like fries upon leaving. — EP

Coca-Cola Field concessions, 275 Washington St. $4. Home slate runs from April 12 to Aug. 27:

Bisons game fries — served in a cup! — are probably more about the scenery than the fry itself (but the fries themselves are consistently hot and crispy).

Squirt the ketchup directly onto them from the dispenser and hurry back to your seat to enjoy them on a beautiful summer day or night at the ballpark. Plus, you paid $4 for them, so you'd better enjoy every last morsel. They're best paired with an ice cold beer from Conehead. — EP

Elmwood Taco & Subs, 937 Elmwood Ave. 886-4953. $4.

ETS waffle fries are the Cadillac of humble fry options. It's hard to describe how good they are because they embody everything you want in a fry: hot, crisp, buttery and salty. The extra surface area on the waffle fries can hold more salt and oily pockets, making them extra savory. There's almost no need for condiments.

They're delicious even if you're not, ahem, inebriated. Bonus game: Try to eat them before the sack they come in turns translucent from the grease. — EP

The waffle fries from Elmwood Taco & Subs. (Ellen Przepasniak/Buffalo News)

Wiechec's Lounge, 1748 Clinton St. 823-2828. Small is $2.25, large $4.25; Curly-Q is $2.50 for small, $4.50 for large.

Pretty much everything at Wiechec's is wonderful. Seriously, have you ever eaten a bad thing there? Their fries are no exception. You can get a basket of them or get them as an accompaniment to many dishes — namely their famous fish fry.

If you get French fries with the pot roast, you can get the whole plate of delicious beef and fries smothered in gravy. Are you drooling yet? — EP

Taffy's Red Hots, 3261 Orchard Park Road, Orchard Park. 675-0264. Open April 1 to Nov. 1.

After a hot summer hike at Chestnut Ridge Park, stop by Taffy's in Orchard Park. After deciding between more than 100 milkshake flavors, there's only one simple choice for an accompaniment: the curly fries. Regular or family size is your last big decision.

The curly fries at Taffy's are shoestring fries, meaning there's the distinct possibility you'll stumble upon one magical fry that's several feet long. They're a perfect accompaniment to eating a dog and a shake in the sun, sitting in one of Taffy's fun swinging picnic tables. — EP

Checkers, 1969 Elmwood Ave. (262-2047); 2374 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda (262-2046); 5760 Transit Road, Depew (601-7743); 4200 Genesee St., Cheektowaga (262-2165). Does Skip the Dishes, and the Elmwood location stays open until 2 a.m. or later.

A personal weakness of Toutant owner James Roberts, Checker's famous seasoned fries are exceptional for their crunchy texture and addictive seasoning. "They don’t last past the drive thru exit sign, usually," Roberts admitted.

Another look at Vizzi's fries, which run for $4.95 for an order. (Ben Tsujimoto/Buffalo News)

We wouldn't recommend using Skip the Dishes for Checkers' fries, as they need to be consumed as quickly as possible. — BT

Vizzi's, 967 Kenmore Ave., Kenmore. 871-1965. $4.99 for an appetizer size, $5.99 with gravy.

The divey, cash-only Kenmore bar-restaurant with beastly burgers doesn't mess around with its hand-cut fries either. If you have a sizable appetite, tag-team a basket of fries before tackling the Monster Burger ($8.99).

Spending the extra dollar on gravy – served in a separate bowl for dipping – is wise, as ketchup can get dull toward the conclusion of the generous basket.

This entry is probably not far from the standards of Andrew Galarneau's initial list, but the humble digs allow it to fit in this version. — BT

The Nine-Eleven Tavern, 11 Bloomfield Ave. 825-9939. $4.50 for an order.

Nine-Eleven is a serious contender for best wings in Buffalo, which naturally causes the South Buffalo bar-restaurant's Finn Fries to be overlooked.

Like Vizzi's, Nine-Eleven is cash only and can be a little rough around the edges, but the hand-cut fries arrive piping hot and coated with a garlic-heavy spice mixture, lending an unusual twist. While some hand-cut fries may come out shriveled, these are thick enough to maintain a crunchy exterior and a soft interior.

Be advised that it's easy to reduce your appetite for wings if you conquer the fries while you wait; it's best to order them together. — BT

Keglers Sports Bar & Kitchen in Transit Lanes, 7850 Transit Road, East Amherst. 632-3838. $3.79 as a side by itself, or also served as a side included in the cost of sandwiches and burgers. It's $9.99 for a behemoth family basket of fries.

Wait, what? A bowling alley? Yes, and general manager Donna Perna let us in on Keglers' secret to the killer shoestring fries: there's no commingling of the fryer oil. In other words, the sports bar won't prepare onion rings and fries in the same batch of oil; this approach consistently produces a hot, simple and playfully shaped snack. — BT

Wendy's, 17 locations in the Buffalo area. Prices vary by location.

Yep, Wendy's. They're arguably the best fast-food fry available. They're hot, fresh, crispy and open late, and they even go well with chili or dipped into a Frosty (seriously, try it). What more could you want? — EP and BT

JUST MISSED:

Buffalo Joe's Cafe, 8611 Main St., Clarence/Lancaster border. 276-3012. The cafe serves only lunch, but don't sleep on french fries in the early afternoon.

Mythos, 510 Elmwood Ave. 886-9175. $3.99 as a side, but many of the lunches are served with fries. Mythos' fries come highly recommended by News Arts Critic Colin Dabkowski.

Good Tymes South, 114 Bloomfield Ave., Depew. 684-5240. $3.89, loaded for $6.89. The bar-restaurant's ownership changed in January, but we are hopeful that the fry preparation has continued unabated.

Amy's Place / Amy's Truck, 3234 Main St. 832-6666. $6.25 for Veggie Wet Shoes. What's with cash-only restaurants dominating the fry game? Amy's Veggie Wet Shoes are my go-to fries in Buffalo, but they excel because they're loaded with cheese, lentils, onions, peppers and tomatoes, so that's kind of cheating. — BT

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