The Best Loaded Cheese Fries in Austin

Whether they’re waffle, crispy or hand cut, there’s no wrong way to eat a french fry! Though the name would indicate otherwise, this salty snack is one of America’s favorite fast foods, mostly because it can be topped with just about anything! For years, Americans have been finding new and delicious ways to enjoy these crispy carb-loaded treats. But these Austin restaurants are taking snacking to a whole new level by topping their fries with the most outrageous and decadent ingredients they can think of. So from pepperoni and parmesan to hatch chile and kimchi, these are the best loaded fries you can find in Austin – and they’re totally worth the extra cholesterol!

Kimchi Fries at Chi’lantro
What began as a small food trailer in downtown Austin is now one of the city’s most popular Asian-fusion destinations. Fast-casual Korean-inspired BBQ sensation Chi’lantro BBQ got their big break on the hit startup show Shark Tank, where they were recognized immediately for their unique food concept and fusion creations. Today, Chi’lantro has 6 booming locations around Austin and counting, each with its own serving style and Korean/Tex-Mex menu. Whether you’re vegetarian or omnivore, Chi’lantro’s got you covered with everything from bulgogi burgers to tofu tacos. But the dish that made them famous is their one-of-a-kind Kimchi Fries. This salty mound of asian spices and fusion flavors starts with a generous portion of extra crispy made-to-order french fries, which are packed with your choice of spicy pork, spicy chicken, soy glazed chicken, tofu or even ribeye beef. Then they’re topped with caramelized kimchi (a traditional Korean side dish comprised of fermented vegetables and chilis), cheddar and monterrey jack cheese, onions, sesame seeds and Chi’lantro’s “magic sauce” finish, which can be compared to a sweet spicy mayo. This fusion french fry dish combines the best flavors of several cultures to create a spicy cheese fry experience unlike any other you’ve ever tasted!

Eggplant Parmesan FriesEggplant Parmesan Fries at Cane Rosso

Located in laid back south Austin, Cane Rosso is a contemporary Italian kitchen that offers handmade pizzas and eats that will fill your belly and captivate your tastebuds. Originally from Dallas, this Italian icon has made a name for itself with their hand tossed crusts made with Italian-imported “OO” flour and 900 degree wood fired oven that cooks pizzas in under 90 seconds. Named after owner Jay Jerrier’s love of dogs, Cane Rosso has delectable brunch and dinner menus that feature appetizing items like Smokey Deviled Eggs, Ricotta Gnocchi, Shrimp Scampi and all the handtossed pizza your heart desires. And as far as pizza flavors go, Cane Rosso has everything from Margherita and Marinara to Street Taco pizzas and Mexican Mole pizzas. If it’s fries you’re after, Cane Rosso has a fully loaded house fry platter that will blow you away. But even that doesn’t compare to the sheer genius of the Italian-inspired Eggplant Parmesan Fries, which are made with crispy breaded eggplant, cheesy tomato seasoning and served with a side of decadent herb parmesan dressing. If ever there were a french fry version of a full blown Italian meal, this is it!

Pizza waffle friesPizza Waffle Fries at Frank

Though they’re mostly known for their delectable artisanal dogs, there’s so much more to Frank than just hot dogs and cold beer. Yes, they do have those in spades, but this small downtown hangout is packed with local charm and an all-american menu that is a meat and beer lover’s dream come true. At Frank, you can build your own artisanal sausage from bottom to top, with savory flavors like smoked duck, smoked rabbit and antelope, knackwurst, bratwurst, smoked bacon & jalapeño, smoked venison and cheddar and even smoked alligator – if that’s your thing. They’ve also got a totally decent vegan apple and sage sausage for the meatless foodies at Frank. Then you can top your dog with sweet and salty homemade toppings like sauerkraut, caramelized onions, sweet peppers or horseradish slaw and drown it in one of Frank’s original sauces like Frank sauce, Sriracha aioli, South Carolina BBQ sauce or Dusseldorf mustard. Wash it all down with one of Frank’s craft cocktails, draft cocktails, draft beers, spirits or wines. If you’re not in the mood to build your own meal, you can also pick from a selection of mouthwatering dogs and burgers like the Chili Cheese Dog, The Chicago Dog and the Notorious P.I.G. with smoked bacon, jalapeño, sage, pork sausage and mac & cheese on a toasted bun. And for the loaded french fry lovers, Frank’s Drag location makes a wicked batch of waffle fries that they top with all kinds of crazy creations, including the Queso Waffle Fries topped with pico de gallo, Canadian Poutine Waffle Fries and Chong WaffleFries dressed with flamin’ hot Cheetos and queso. But among all the crazy cheese fry combos available at Frank, the most outrageous and decadently delicious has to be the Pizza Waffle Fries. Combining the two great loves of our lives – pizza and french fries, this innovative Italian/American invention is drenched in marinara and topped with mozzarella, pepperoni, banana peppers and parmesan. It’s like a homemade pizza but in waffle-fry form!

Rocky Balboa FriesRocky Balboa at Get Fried

For all the die-hard fried food lovers, Get Fried is a gloriously greasy grub spot on campus whose slogan is “Live a Little”. This nationwide quick-service cafe is the first of its kind to offer everything fried, and boasts the motto “Sometimes, it’s good to be bad.” And they know what they’re talking about! While they’re mostly known for their fantastic french fries, you can find all kinds of tasty fried treats at this carb-tastic cafe, including Pizza Logs, Buffalo Crunch Rolls and Crispy Chicken Tenders. At their Austin location, guests can go “Dutch Style” and choose from 6 types of gourmet french fries, including hand cut, coated straight cut, seasoned waffle, sweet potato, funnel fries and curly. Then they choose one of Get Fried’s blended sauces like roasted red pepper, dijon horseradish, honey mustard, “boom boom” sauce, sweet and sour sauce and basil pesto. They even have topping options for the sweet tooth including maple syrup, powdered sugar, honey and cinnamon. Or try one of Get Fried’s signature topped fry baskets, including the “716” with shredded chicken, buffalo sauce and blue cheese, the local-favorite Texas Cheese Fries drizzled with cheese and sprinkled with crispy bacon, chives and chili powder for a little kick and the classy Truffle Love with truffle oil, parmesan and cilantro. But if you’re really in the mood to over-indulge at an already indulgent restaurant, try Get Fried’s manly Rocky Balboa fries. This savory pile of french fry goodness is Get Fried’s version of the Philly cheesesteak, with juicy sirloin, sautéed onion, sweet peppers and a smattering of melted cheese. You certainly won’t be able to run up and down those stairs triumphantly any time soon after eating these bad boys!

Firecracker FriesPhoto by FooditFoward

Firecracker Fries at The Grub House

Located in the heart of the Red River Cultural District, The Grub House is an unassuming new food trailer that is quickly becoming one of downtown Austin’s favorite late-night grub spots. The name perfectly captures the essence of this small comfort food truck, because on the menu you can find all the delicious, American grub that you’re looking for at 2 in the morning in downtown Austin. Because let’s face it, after a certain point in the evening, Austin isn’t looking for “food” anymore, it’s on the prowl for some good “grub”, and that’s exactly what The Grub House is all about. Nothing cures those late-night cravings like chicken wings, quesadillas or a fresh order of tacos stuffed with chipotle chicken or beef fajitas. Or how about a Philly cheese steak sandwich as big as as your head stuffed with tender steak and melted cheese on a buttered bun? But the one snack that late-night Austin can’t stop talking about at The Grub House is the Firecracker Fries. These addictive french fries are what keeps people coming back to The Grub House  again and again, earning them the local nickname “crack” fries, because once you’ve tried them you’re hooked! While you won’t find an ingredients list on the menu, many foodies have attempted to dissect the delicious components of this mysteriously spicy and cheesy $7 masterpiece, often comparing them to kimchi fries. But what discerning palates have surmised is that the Firecracker Fries are comprised of a zesty combination of cheeses and sauces all blended together to create a flavor explosion in your mouth. Some have even detected chicken wings in the mix and liken this mystery sauce to a buffalo sauce concoction. Either way, these Firecracker Fries definitely deserve their mischievous moniker as the most devilishly addictive fries in downtown Austin!

The Hot Mess at Hot Mess

Parked at two popular beer spots in Austin: Parlor & Yard and Zilker Brewery, Hot Mess is great for those who don’t mind a little sauce on their chin or sticky fingers after lunch. This phenomenal finger-licking food truck offers gut-busting treats that go perfectly with a cold beer on a hot Texas day. Both locations have a handful of burgers, tacos and sides and sharables that are great for lunch, dinner or late night munching. The Porker comes with pulled BBQ pork, Elgin pork sausage, apple smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, pickled onions and creamy chipolte slaw and the Chicken Tacos are packed with achiote-marinated chicken, pico de gallo and queso fresco. And Hot Mess doesn’t leave out the vegetarians, serving a delicious Veggie Taco with baby portabello mushrooms, sautéed onions, queso fresco, cabbage and poblano ranch. For something sharable or snackable, they’ve gots Hot Mess Wings drenched in housemade buffalo sauce and served with poblano ranch and the poppin Jalapeño Poppers filled with Elgin sausage, bacon and cheddar and served with poblano ranch. But there’s one snack that stands out above all as the messiest and most delicious: the humongous Hot Mess. This behemoth starts off simple with an order of fresh made french fries. Then the magic happens when they pack on as much sausage, pork, bacon, cheddar cheese and pico as they possibly can. The whole thing comes out awesomely overflowing and with a side of jalapeño aioli. They may be a little pricy at $14 a pop, but that’s because this super salty stacked snack is big enough for two, maybe even three, people who don’t mind a little water retention after a fulfilling meal.

Hatch Green Chili Cheese Fries at Shady Grove

A longstanding south Austin establishment, the Shady Grove is a family-friendly neighborhood haunt that offers fresh made comfort food in a friendly atmosphere, great food and drink specials and a sprawling lawn and outdoor patio where they host fun seasonal events. One of their most recognized annual events is Unplugged at the Grove, a fun, family friendly evening where friends and neighbors get together and spread their blankets on the Shady Grove lawn as they sip cold drinks and listen to live local artists show their stuff on the unplugged stage. Shady Grove’s drink menu has a list of refreshing drinks that are perfect for those hot summer afternoons, like the Wat-a-Rita with frozen, el Jimador Blanco and fresh watermelon juice and the Ladybird Lemonade with Tito’s Vodka, house made lemonade, lavender bitters, mint. Beer lovers will appreciate Shady Grove’s selection of craft and domestic beers, and they also carry a handful of wines for both red and white wine lovers. The food menu at Shady Grove is straight forward but consciously constructed, with crave-able dishes like Tortilla Fried Queso Catfish, Tamale Cakes, Truckstop Meatloaf and the popular Green Chile Cheeseburger, which is just as amazing as it sounds. For the cheese fry fans, they’ve got a diet-destroying platter of Airstream Chili Cheese Fries with thick hand-cut fries that will melt your cravings away. But there’s one french fry dish that is most requested at Shady Grove – and for good reason. The hearty, hand-cut Green Chili Cheese Fries are topped with fresh, melty queso and a heavenly hatch green chili sauce that will leave your tastebuds in a tangy trance.

Waffle Fry NachosWaffle Fry Nachos at Jackalope

A downtown Austin dive bar may not seem like the best place to find hand-crafted gourmet burgers and eats, but that’s exactly what Jackalope Bar is known far. This nationally recognized bar and grill has earned endless accolades from magazines and restaurants for their incomparable craft burgers and delicious crispy waffle fries. The Jackalope has all the essentials of a classic dive bar: dim lighting, quirky decorations littering the walls, nightly music and drink specials that keeps the crowds coming in droves. But little do these bar patrons know that it’s actually the food they should be after at the Jackalope. Start with one of the bar’s signature cocktails like the Fuego Bandito with illegal mezcal, ancho reyes liqueur, fire & damnation bitters and tajin rim, The Jezebelwith effen cucumber, martini bianco, st. germain, rhubarb bitters and club soda or the Kentucky Corpse Reviver with Makers Mark, lillet, cointreau and lemon. Then sink your teeth into one of the Jackalope’s award-winning burgers like the Chipotle Bacon Cheeseburger with housemade chipotle pimento cheese, the decadent Bacon and Brie Burger with housemade caesar dressing or the Mac & Cheese Burger with housemade green chili mac & cheese fritter and chipotle mayo. And locals urge you not to forget a heaping side of the Jackalope’s homemade waffle fries, which are served piping hot and seasoned to perfection. But if you want to really get a taste of what makes this place so famous, belly up to the bar and order the classic yet ingenious Waffle Fry Nachos. This exquisite pile of waffle fries is smothered in spicy housemade chili – emphasis on the spicy – creamy queso, onions and jalapeños. It’s like the classic chili cheese fry platter but ten times better!

Philly Cheese Fries at Wholly Cow

Inconspicuously tucked inside a convenient store on south Lamar, Wholly Cow quickly gained recognition when in started dishing out grass-fed Texas beef in the form of juicy, burgers, philly cheesesteaks, reubens and homemade chili. All their carnivorous menu options are made from local, organic pasture-raised protein that is grass fed, hormone and chemical free and down-right delicious. They also go above and beyond by topping their burgers and buns with locally-grown organic seasonal produce, so every bite is a true taste of Texas. If your’e craving something homemade and full of protein on your way to work, you can swing by Wholly Cow for breakfast and grab a taco on the go, like the Grassy Know’ll with thinly sliced ribeye, caramelized onions, scrambled eggs and cheese or the Wholly Guac-a-Not with avocado chunks, pico de gallo, cilantro, lime and red onions. Then head back to Wholly Cow for lunch and feast on one of their grass-fed burgers or sandwiches like the Heavenly Double with your choice of cheese, the Wholly Cheesesteak Batman! or the paleo-friendly Fit Cross Burger with portobello mushroom caps, bacon and grilled onions. And though the fantastic Chili Cheese Fries at Wholly Cow are great for any cheese fry lover, they seem to always be outshone by the ever-popular Philly Cheese Fries, which are made with Wholly Cow’s hand-cut fries, thinly sliced grass-fed ribeye beef and grilled onions then drenched in 4 gooey cheeses including pepper jack, provolone, American and a mystery cheese. You may have come for the burger, but you’ll stay for these fries!

Tip: order the Philly Cheese Fries “trashy” and they’ll pile on sweet red bell peppers, portobello mushrooms and jalapeños.

Garlic Fries
Photo by Ysabelle S. via Yelp

Garlic Parmesan Fries at Mission Dogs

A recent addition to the Austin comfort food scene, Mission Dogs dishes out delicious bacon-wrapped goodness out of both their east Cesar Chavez brick-and-mortar location and their roving food truck. This place is all about the beef, serving gourmet specialty dogs like the Mission with sautéed onions, jalapeño, ketchup, mustard and mayo, the Vietdog with cucumber, carrot, jalapeño, cilantro slaw, garlic chili sauce and Sriracha mayo andthe Dogijuku with pickled ginger and cucumber slaw, nori, teriyaki glaze and spicy wasabi mayo. Or you can just get to the point and order a straight-up bacon-wrapped gourmet dog on a bun and have your meat and eat it too. But Mission Dog knows that Austin has its fair share of vegetarians, so you can also go meatless and order a delicious “Veggie Dog” with one of their vegan versions of a specialty topping. You can even get the full vegan experience and order vegetarian bacon to wrap around your veggie dog! But don’t fill up on these lip-smacking housemade hot dogs, because you’re going to want to save room for an order of Mission Dog’s fresh-cut fries, which are made to order and specially seasoned. You can’t go wrong with the classic Mission Fries, which are always a favorite with bacon, sautéed onions, jalapeños and cheese. Or you can get the Canadian-inspired Poutine Fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds – which some say rivals our northern neighbors! But the most buzz-worthy french fry dish on Mission Dog’s menu is hands down the Garlic Fries. This ridiculously rich order of fries is mixed with a copious amount of fresh garlic and topped with fresh parmesan cheese. It’s a garlicky, cheesy, pungent french fry love-affair that will leave your breath “kickin” and “completely un-kissable”, as reviewers so lovingly say.

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