Mediocre French fries can ruin a good meal by adding an instantly regrettable dose of calories and grease.
Decent French fries can take a good meal to the next level.
Truly great French fries stand on their own, and they should be enjoyed like the crispy golden straws of potato heaven that they are: with a friend, and possibly a milkshake.
We asked members of the Bradenton Herald Facebook group “Manatee Eats” where to get the best French fries in Manatee County.
Here’s where they say you can strike French fry gold:
Fast-food restaurants are hard to beat at the French fry game, and Five Guys is at the top of the chain.
For goodness sakes, the potatoes are right there when you walk in the door, stacked up in those white and red checkered bags.
The fries are so voluminous that it takes a cup and a brown paper bag (which eventually saturates with grease) to contain them. Kudos if you can finish a whole helping of the things.
Five Guys has two Manatee County locations: 6783 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton; and 8447 Cooper Creek Blvd., Sarasota.
More information: fiveguys.com.
Central Cafe is located in east downtown Bradenton in the historic building that formerly housed the Manatee Hotel.
The cafe is so confident in its fries that it serves them as a unaccompanied dish on the small plates menu, flavored with malt vinegar.
Alternatively, get them as a side with a one of the cafe’s big burgers.
Central Cafe is at 906 Manatee Ave. E., Bradenton.
Checkers’ fries just have that special something. That perfect contrast of black pepper crispiness on the outside and a soft warm interior makes you keep reaching for just one more. And one more ... and one more ...
Checkers has five Manatee County locations: 1001 Eighth Ave. W., Palmetto; 5140 Cortez Road, Bradenton; 5220 15th St. E., Bradenton; 6020 U.S. 301 N., Ellenton; 8357 N. Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota.
The French fries at Jaxx Sportsbar in Palmetto are house-made, crispy and piled high.
Order them as an appetizer, loaded with melted cheese and bacon, or as a side with the bar’s wings, sandwiches and burgers.
Jaxx Sports Bar is at 1035 Hasko Road, Palmetto.
▪ Curly fries at Sketch Daddy’s Wings ‘N Things, 7814 Cortez Road, Bradenton.
▪ Shake Pit, 3801 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
▪ Regular and sweet potato fries at Clancy’s Sports Bar and Grill, 2601, 6218 Cortez Road, Bradenton.
▪ Sour cream and chive wedges at Buffalo Wild Wings, 4120 14th St. W., Bradenton.
▪ Popi’s Place, 6409 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton and four other locations.
▪ Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steak Burgers, 7376 52nd Place E., Bradenton.
▪ Kite’s Corner Pizza, 817 14th St. W., Bradenton.
▪ Blackened fries at The Bad Ass Cafe, 312 12th St. W., Bradenton.
▪ Gecko’s Grill and Pub, 7228 55th Ave. E., Bradenton.
▪ Skinny’s Place, 3901 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach.
▪ Boiler Room Bar and Grill, 5600 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.
▪ Cortez Clam Factory, 10104 Cortez Road, Bradenton.
▪ Sharky’s Sea Grill, 2519 Gulf Dr., North Bradenton Beach.
▪ Sweet potato fries at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, 4925 Cortez Road, Bradenton and two more locations.
Not a member of Manatee Eats? Join the group today to get in on the local food and drink discussion.