The newest French fries to land in Las Vegas taste sinfully good, but may not be good for your health. The fries at Frites, the latest addition to the food court at Excalibur, are cooked in beef fat, a throwback to the early days of fast-food fries. The eatery serves them up full of the flavor of beef tallow, right down to the meaty flecks stuck to the spuds.
The taste will be familiar to Americans 40 and older who visited fast-food restaurants before 1990, the year McDonald’s stopped using animal lard to cook its popular fries. Other chains soon followed suit.“You’re missing that amazing flavor that we grew up with,” said founder Lincoln Spoor, 63. “It really is a creamy inside and crunchy outside [with] a deep, rich flavor.… It is an ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it’ moment.”
Spoor, who also operates Cinnabon and Krispy Kreme franchises, freely admitted that his fries are “deliciously unhealthy.” He isn’t ignoring the health risks of high cholesterol leading to heart disease. “Everything that tastes delicious isn’t good for you. It’s just not,” Spoor said. “So what you do is you eat responsibly.”
The emphasis at Frites is on beef fat fries ($5). You can also order sausage gravy frites or nacho frites ($8 each) topped off with a dessert of churro fries ($6) with Nutella dipping sauce.
But Frites doesn’t have the corner on the elevated fries market.
A couple of blocks down Las Vegas Boulevard at Mandalay Bay, the upscale Stripsteak restaurant brings a complementary “fry trio” to every table at dinnertime. Three cups of duck fat fries are served with dipping sauces: garlic and herb with ketchup, a truffle aioli, and another aioli made with Japanese furikake and togarashi spices.
“Duck fat adds another dimension of flavor to the fries,” executive chef Tony Schutz said in an email. “When you fry them in regular vegetable oil, the oil is neutral and doesn’t give any added flavor. For vegetarians who dine at our restaurant, we fry the potatoes in vegetable oil instead of the duck fat.”
Poutine, the classic Canadian meal-in-a-bowl made with cheese curds, fries and gravy ($6), is the go-to item at Fries N’ Pies. At the poutine and pizza place at 4503 Paradise Road, you can order pizza toppings such as Philly cheesesteak, Buffalo chicken and Hawaiian for your fries (single servings, $8.
Co-founder Adam Sadie said he uses only his family’s secret recipe when making the fries, which is a 72-hour process. “All my employees sign a nondisclosure agreement when they get started,” he said.
He uses canola oil or duck fat, which costs an extra $4. “People who want a fry want it crisp. They don’t want mashed potatoes and gravy,” Sadie said. “Even with our gravy (added), we have a great, crispy texture.”