The fried potatoes sign over the old George's Lunch storefront in an undated photo.

An Ode to Boardwalk Fries

Nothing says summer more than a bucket of hot, salty fried potatoes.

Nestled amidst the sun-drenched beaches of coastal Delaware, a culinary masterpiece has been quietly making history for decades — the iconic boardwalk fry. As the sands have shifted and the tides have ebbed and flowed, this humble fry has remained a constant, weaving itself seamlessly into the tapestry of Delaware’s coastal culture. The evolution of this seemingly straightforward fry has always held a special allure for me.

In a world of culinary complexities, the boardwalk fry is a testament to the idea that simplicity can produce unmatched excellence when executed with technique and love. The narrative deepens when we focus on the esteemed methods employed by classic institutions in Rehoboth Beach, like Gus & Gus and Thrashers. Making boardwalk fries is far more intricate than simple slicing and frying; it’s akin to a complex culinary dance.

The enticing scent of frying potatoes mingled with savory chicken lures you as you approach Gus & Gus. Their rendition of the boardwalk fry is a symphony of timeless practices married with a distinct style, standing as a yearly gastronomic mainstay for residents and holidaymakers.

Boardwalk fries evoke sunny childhood memories. The long lines during summer are a testament to their enduring appeal. 

Just a stone’s throw away, Thrasher’s stands tall as a temple of fry craftsmanship. Hushed tales hint that Thrasher’s might have charted the course for this distinctive fry creation. Their relentless commitment to excellence and consistency has garnered them praise and a legion of devoted fans.

Yet, what elevates these fries is the entire experience they encapsulate. The sensation of clutching a warm bucket filled with these golden treasures is magical. While many might drench their fries in ketchup, the piquant splash of malt vinegar completes this sensory journey in Delaware.

Beyond their delicious flavor, boardwalk fries serve as portals to the past. They evoke sunny childhood memories of sandy escapades and laughter. The long lines during summer are a testament to their enduring appeal. 

The playful seagulls, ever-present along Delaware’s shores, are also ardent admirers. Their fondness is evident as they daringly swoop closely, hoping to pilfer a fry or two, delighting (and occasionally exasperating) the beachgoers. But do not feed them. Their spirited endeavors and discerning palates are often the stuff of pleasant stories shared among locals and tourists.

Each fry is a reminder that sometimes we find the most profound joys in the simplest things. 


Serves 4 to 6


4-5 Russet potatoes

Peanut oil for frying

Kosher salt (to taste)

Henlopen Sea Salt and malt vinegar
(for the authentic Delaware touch)

➊ Fill a large bowl with cold water.

➋ Slice the russet potatoes lengthwise, aiming for a thickness of about ¼-inch. Stack these slices and cut them into ¼-inch-wide sticks, placing them in the water bowl as you go. Soaking potatoes in cold water removes some of the starch from the surface and prevents the sugars from browning before the potatoes are cooked.

➌ Once all are sliced, drain and thoroughly rinse under cold running water until it runs clear. To remove excess water, employ a salad spinner, then pat them dry using kitchen towels.

➍ Pour three to four inches of peanut oil into a sizable pot. Warm over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 300°F. Fry the potato sticks in two batches until halfway cooked, roughly taking three to four minutes for each batch. Remove using a slotted spoon, setting them on paper towel-lined trays.

➎ Boost the oil temperature to 365°F. Refry the potato sticks in smaller batches, ensuring even frying by stirring with tongs until they turn a golden brown. This should take about three minutes per batch. 

➏ Place them on fresh paper towels or opened brown paper bags to drain excess oil. While still warm, season with kosher salt.

➐ Sprinkling Henlopen Sea Salt and a final flourish of malt vinegar is recommended to achieve the genuine Delaware taste.

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