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 six places where the fries can the stand-out star of your gastro show.
Everybody’s favourite curly friesPig & Whistle Historic Pub is the spiritual home of mountain biking in Rotorua, where after long days of hucking it in Whakarewarewa Forest, mountain bikers have called into this local hotspot for beers and banter, refuelling for the next day’s ride.
The perfect snack here is a bowl of famous ‘pigtail fries’, pictured above. We’re not sure how they pack these spuds with so much flavour, but these fun, bouncy, 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 halfway to mountain biking level cool.
Kumara fries with a smile on the sideOur House – the one on Eat Streat, not where we actually live – is the bilingual family restaurant, with an all-Māori staff known for serving up great kai and greater manaakitanga.
Their kumara fries are so good you too might speak another language upon tasting them. Cooked to perfection with a crispy outside and soft middle, a sweet potato taste explosion is definitely coming your way. But it’s the special garlic butter coating that raises these humble kumara fries above the rest and make them a must-try.
Crinkles not wrinklesWaimangu 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 (pictured above) 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.
Ode to CanadaSobar 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.
Chunky monkeyOne of our newest eateries, Eastwood 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 FTP’s words, they’re 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 he’s hankerin’ for Southern American style fries.
There are heaps more great fries – and wedges – 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.
There is always lots more on offer in Rotorua with great food, great people and great hospitality.