Spicy, Sweet, Savory: Fries Come Into Focus at Fast Casual Restaurants

Over the past decade, as hamburgers have been decked out, stripped down and reimagined at restaurants of all prices and sizes, French fries have largely served as the steady if unremarkable supporting player. Sure, once in a while a place like Five Guys would tout its attention to fry detail – the chain promotes the fact that its potatoes are fried in cholesterol-free pure peanut oil – but burgers have captured far more creative attention.

Now, though, more operators are revisiting the standby side, seeing significant upsell potential in spiced, sauced and shareable (because they’re less indulgent if you share, right?) servings of fried spuds.

Fine-dining and limited-service restaurants are in on the trend; among the latter, Burger King introduced cinnamon-spiced Seasoned Sweet Potato Curly Fries as a limited-time offer in October. But out-of-the-ordinary fries also are a calling card at a growing number of fast-casual concepts – not all of them burger joints. Whether doused in herbs and spices or smothered with gravy, they stand out as an interesting complement to the flavorful, freshly prepared fare for which the fast-casual segment is known.

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