The new-school burger chains: fries

burger chain tasting fries composite

We have a string of burger-related posts this week -- let's call it a fast-casual theme week.

As we made our way along the tasting tour of the new-school burger chains, you didn't think we'd skip the fries, do you? That just wouldn't be right.

And we came to a very important conclusion in doing so. Mainly that, when confronted with mediocre fries, we'll continue eating them even though we know we shouldn't.

As for what we else we learned about fries on this burger tour...


Again, our tasters for this tour were:

+ Albany Jane from Albany Eats.

+ Daniel B. from FUSSYlittleBLOG.

+ Jon from Jon in Albany.

+ And Kate Welshofer, local anchorlady.

A quick note about scoring

This tasting tour was all pretty casual. We ordered fries along with the burgers, ate them, and the judges wrote down some scores and notes. The scores for each category are 0-20 (each taster representing a possible 5 points), higher being better. So the highest possible score for fries at each place was 40.

This wasn't a competition -- the scores were mostly just a way of helping to organize and state preferences. There's bound to variation among burgers at the same place. And, of course, taste is very subjective. Your mileage will almost certainly vary.




One taster described the BurgerFi fries as "starchy, crispy exterior, pillowy-soft interior ... but not shatteringly crunchy." And multiple tasters describe the interior as almost having a mashed potato texture. One taster was a big fan: "These are the kind of fries that you eat and say to your dining companion, 'If you touch these, I will kill you."

Tasters said the fries had good potato flavor, and were not too oily. One taster wanted more salt. And another would have liked the fries a little more done.

Burger 21



Multiple tasters said the fries at Burger 21 reminded them of the fries at McDonald's in both appearance and texture. The fries were crispy and thin, and very blond. "Like McDonald's, but not as good ... I think that is the best description," said one taster.

The tasters found the fries to be lacking in flavor, with one calling them "pretty bland overall" and another describing them as a "salt delivery device." And multiple tasters noted an oily aftertaste.




Tasters described the fries at Smashburger as thin and "very crispy," with "not a lot of interior ... more like crisp potato straws." One said the crunchiness made them "a little addictive."

The tasters noted the fries were more texture than flavor, and what flavor was present was a kind of greasy. The fries just sort of seemed to elicit a collective shrug from the tasters.

Five Guys



One taster called the fries at Five Guys "crunchy, yet densely soft." And another taster noted that the fries came out "so hot" and "so crispy," though another noted the crispiness faded relatively quickly.

One taster called them "delicious" and said they tasted like "light and fluffy potatoes." Multiple tasters noted the prominent saltiness, with one saying it was just the right amount and another commenting it might have been a bit too much. The tasters seemed to enjoy them. Concluded one taster: "They're great."

Overall thoughts

Now that we're at the end of the tasting tour, some thoughts from the tasters about their favorite burgers and fries from the afternoon:

Albany Jane: "Burger 21 was my favorite patty for the fattiness and juiciness. Smashburger was second, even though there wasn't much of a noticeable crust. But it had the same rich, beefy flavor and juiciness/fattiness, plus a little more salt."

"Fries from Five Guys foreverrrr. BurrgerFi were second. If I were going out for a burger I'd skip the fries and got to Burger 21."

Daniel: "Favorite burger: Burger 21. So juicy. Nice flavor. But it wins on the fatty, tender patty with nice browning on the outside. Ideally, I'd like it on a Five Guys bun, but a good burger has to start with a good patty."

"Favorite fries: BurgerFi. Texture! I've had inferior fries at this location. But today they were fantastic. Under-seasoned fries can be corrected with salt at the table. But crisp-tender fries are why you deep fry potatoes in the first place."

Jon: "Overall, I think BurgerFi was the best. Nice space. Decent burger. And I think the burger would be better ordering on my own instead of a tasting."

"Five Guys -- good fries and burger. The food was better than I remembered it being (haven't been in years). Whole shop felt a little greasy. Not necessarily a bad thing."

"Burger 21 -- fries were weak and burger was very fatty."

"Smashburger -- burger didn't live up to the smash crust advertised. Fries were nothing special. Beef was good, but the rest of the burger was average at best."

Kate: "Overall, it's between BurgerFi and Five Guys for me. BurgerFi wins. It was the burger to beat throughout the day, in my opinion. It edges out Five Guys because of toppings -- overall better and did not overwhelm."

"I also loved their fries and was worried I should have scored them higher than I did. But Five Guys [fries] were just that little bit better."

"Basically, it comes down to this: If you have roughly three hours to burn on a Saturday, grab a few friends and do this for yourself -- judging cheeseburgers will change your life... or, at least, will be an incredibly enjoyable use of your time!"

"PS: I feel like I'm writing the letter at the end of The Breakfast Club -- only it's The Burger Club... or something. (cue Simple Minds...)"


And we'll just leave things right on that note. Thanks to Albany Jane, Daniel, Jon, and Kate for coming along on the tasting tour!

Earlier on AOA:
+ A tasting tour of the new-school burger chains
+ Drawing: What's your favorite burger in the Capital Region?

BurgerFi advertises on AOA.


BurgerFi has had complaints about their fries being underdone, and I think they are listening

not a chain......but try the burger and fries at the Parish House.

You should mention that when ordering fries at 5 Guys, one order can feed a family of four (or maybe 5?).

Barold you said it- an order of fries at 5 Guys is not only more than I SHOULD eat, it is (gasp) more than I WANT to eat.

Hi there. Comments have been closed for this item. Still have something to say? Contact us.

The Scoop

For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine