“Burger-and-fries” is right up there with peanut butter and jelly as a classic combination. But French fries, it could be that your time has come. French fries can be indisputably delicious, but they’re far from guaranteed. Some are soggy, some aren’t seasoned well, some are just not the right shape. Maybe it’s time to give fries a break.
Once you cast French fries (and similar potato options, like tater tots) aside, a plethora of burger side-dish options pop up: Cheese curds. Roasted brussel sprouts. Fried mushrooms. So we asked our staff, and we ask you, our beloved Takeout commenters: What’s your favorite non-fries accompaniment for burgers?
I am under no health pretenses when I’m eating a burger. I like my burger with a smoky or spicy cheese, mayo, and bacon jam. And if I’m not eating that burger with fries, I’d like to continue indulging with a handful of mozzarella sticks and sweet-tangy marinara dipping sauce. Mozzarella sticks are, on their own, undeniably delicious. Alongside a burger, it’s like having all the flavors of that burger plus the flavors of a pizza slice at the same time. Kate, that’s so bready, you protest. Go sit at the salad table, Karen, I respond. Tomatoes on a burger don’t tend to offer much in the way of acidity unless you actually get a good vine-ripe tomato, so that’s where the mozzarella dipping sauce is important to my meal’s flavor balance. [Kate Bernot]
Two things about me: I haven’t eaten a fry in 15 years, and I’m not always a responsible eater of my vegetables. The former is true because I love fries too much; the latter is true because, while I enjoy veggies, it doesn’t always occur to me to prepare them for myself at home. A side salad is the perfect corrective both to my grocery habits and to whatever my restaurant entree is, which is surely more caloric than necessary. It doesn’t even have to be a particularly good salad; just something bright, crisp, and light to serve as a great contrast and a much-needed intake of vitamins. [Marnie Shure]
Similar to you, Marnie, if I’m eating something as on-the-surface not-great for me as a burger, I’d like to have something green on my plate besides a piece of lettuce or a pickle. For that reason, I’m a fan of cole slaw (not like Kevin is a fan of KFC slaw, but still), which works as both a side dish and a garnish. The crunchiness of the slaw adds a nice texture to the mushiness of the burger, and I’m likely to pile it on there right under the bun. The mayonnaise makes it delicious, and the shards of green and orange make me feel like I’m actually having some sort of salad. The deep-fried beigeness of french fries just can’t offer me that. [Gwen Ihnat]
Tempura Green Beans
I’m splitting the difference between Kate’s and Marnie/Gwen’s: I’m going for tempura green beans. These beauts (well, beauts when done right) are lightly fried—lacy and delicate—maintaining the crispness and nutritional integrity of whole green beans. I remember one time being served these as an accompaniment to a Hawaiian Loco Moco burger, and the tempura green beans came with wasabi aioli. I inhaled them like I was starving for oxygen. [Kevin Pang]