Whether you call them chips or fries, these humble, hot, little potato treats are the unsung hero of every social gathering, helping to fuel the conversation, absorb the beers or raise the burger from a simple snack to proper meal status.
Rotorua is home to some wonderful masters of the hot chip, and here we have a list of several places where the fries can be the stand-out star of your gastro-show.
Everybody’s favourite curly fries Pig & Whistle Historic Pub“The Pig” is the historical spiritual home of mountain biking in Rotorua (long before the Waipa mountain biking hub experienced its glow-up), where, after long days of hucking it in Whakarewarewa Forest, riders called in at this local hotspot for beers and banter, refuelling for the next day’s ride.
The perfect snack here is a bowl of their famous pigtail fries (pictured at top). We’re not sure how they pack these spuds with so much flavour, but these fun, boing-y, salty morsels truly take your fries experience to the next level. They’re served with aioli and tomato sauce but try this local’s tip: ask for satay sauce, your taste buds will thank you. Mix it with a craft beer on tap and your half way to mountain biking level cool.
Kumara fries with smokey garlic mayo at River’s Catch
Here’s something a bit different. Which equals great, in our minds. River’s Catch is all about fish-n-chips but elevated. Think cheesey cranskies, smash burgers and a personal favourite, adobo fish tacos served on the freshest tortillas ever. But we digress; we’re here to talk about hot chips, so let’s get into it.
Firstly, you have three options: thick cut, shoestring, or kumara. They’re all so great and fresh, it’s seriously difficult to decide every time.
Next, you have not one or two, but FIVE sauce options. Generally you can never go wrong with Wattie’s tomato sauce, which is an option, but why not branch out when you can, especially when the Filipino owners are all about flavour! We’re talking smoked garlic mayo, chipotle mayo, adobo aioli, and yoghurt tartare.
Crinkles don’t cause wrinkles at Waimangu Local Store & CaféWaimangu Local Store & Café at Waimangu Volcanic Valley is a hot bed of volcanic activity as well as hot chip action. As a perfect post-walk snack, the golden crinkle-cut beauties are perfectly fried to deliver a crisp and crunchy exterior with a light and fluffy potato centre. A bowlful will make sure the only rumbling is coming from the volcanic valley and not your tummy! Dress them up with tomato sauce, or try them naked with a little salt and pepper.
An ode to Canada at SobarSobar on Eat Streat is known for its cool vibes, great live music and eclectic menu. If you’re just wanting to take in the atmosphere and looking for that little something to tide you over, then you must order up the Montreal fries. Based on poutine from Quebec, Sobar’s version comes to you loaded with beef gravy, caramelised onions and melted cheese. Your palate will dance as your feet tap to the beat of the music surrounding you.
Singing with zing at Poco Tapas and WineHere’s another example of people doing things differently. One of Rotorua’s newest evening eateries, Poco Tapas and Wine, opened early this year in the central city. Several menu items change with the seasons but one of their stalwarts is the bowl of Agria fries served with saffron lime aioli and sea salt. It’s a good thing the bowl is a generous size because, being a tapa dish, it’s expected to be shared. If you’re the good sort to follow this unspoken rule, you’ll want to keep an eye on them because they’ll disappear right under your nose.
Chunky monkey at EastwoodEastwood is hidden away at the end of Titokorangi Drive (formerly Long Mile Road), nestled along the edge Whakarewarewa Forest and inside the newest and now-iconic Scion building. Being so close to the forest and its walking and mountain bike trails, this café is the perfect haven for foodies looking to power up on delicious food before a hike, or those looking to reload after some heart-racing fun on their mountain bikes. Since spuds are carbs and carbs fuel bodies, you won’t go wrong with a bowl of Eastwood’s house-cut chunky fries cleverly served with balsamic aioli. It’s the ideal snack to accompany one of the craft beers on tap.
Is this really vegan? Yes!
Last but certainly not least is the happy story about a super delish vegan food truck we fell in love with at the Rotorua Night Market. FTP Vegan Eats’ owner Kaya decided to find a more permanent home for her “big, bad vegan burgers” and things, and opened her more-solid doors just last month (don’t worry, she still heads to the market around the corner every Thursday).
In Kaya’s words, she’s all about “serving up socialist rabbit food” to the masses, and that includes a big bowl of vegan loaded fries with cheese sauce and ‘bacon’ bits that tasted like the real McCoy. So tasty that this non-vegan is going back for more next time there’s a hankerin’ for Southern American style fries – and maybe a cheeky vegan donut.
There are heaps more great fries available in Rotorua. This list just aims to tickle your taste buds and show you the humble potato sticks can be more than just your sidekick.