Houston loves french fries. While they wouldn't appear on a list of "essential Houston dishes," any time there's even a rumor that the city might be getting a new fry-centric restaurant people get into a frenzy. Seriously, after crawfish roundups and In-N-Out rumors, French fry restaurant news might be the most well-read food articles in Houston.
This will never not be weird to me. I like French fries as much as the next person, and I'll admit that I too have clicked on the stories promising new French fry delights with curiosity, at the end of the day we're talking about a side order you can literally get anywhere and is a distant third to nacho chips and tater tots when it comes to excuses to eat chili and cheese.
Still, I admit, a perfect order of humble, non-fancy French fries is a thing of joy, not only because of how they taste but by how rare they are. There's so much that can go wrong with something as simple as fries, from going with the wrong cut to over- or under-cooking them to perhaps the saddest of all: lack of seasoning. Honestly, any time you get an order of fries that stands out in a good way, you should say a small prayer to the gods of food.
Houston, I have found my perfect order of French fries, and I am here to spread the good word.
Lee's Fried Chicken and Donuts does not mention their fries in their name, which I understand, but maybe they should, because what comes in their paper cones is magic. These fries are not going to blow you away when it comes to presentation, but once you get a bite of one you'll be too busy eating the rest to even remember what the pile looked like before you started chowing down.
Each fry is perfectly cooked—no lie, I've yet to come across any that even had the faintest hint of floppiness—and has that crunchy bite with a hint of interior softness you're always hoping for. They're not too hot but remain warm enough long enough to avoid the dreaded fry coldness that befalls so many lesser fries. But the real secret to what makes Lee's fries so good is that they are impeccably seasoned. As a serial oversalter, believe me when I tell you that nothing amazes me more than an order of fries that doesn't need any assist from outside seasonings, toppings or sauces. These fries have just the right dusting of salt and the pepper hits you at different times with a happy punch of flavor.
They are a great side order, but honestly, I've just been getting them as my main meal so that I can get to working my way through Lee's donut options without feeling too guilty about my life choices. Right now, I find that they pair best with Lee's old-fashioned donut, which is tasty but not so heavy you're risking a food coma ordering one. No disrespect to the chicken or any of the other wonderful looking sides Lee's has to over, but my heart belongs to the fries.