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Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
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Friday is National French Fry Day. Find (free!) fries in Tampa Bay.

Guess what Friday is? It’s National Fry Day (#FRYdayThe13th, see what they did there?). Fun fact: Their origin story may not lie in France but in Belgium. So why do we credit France? Thomas Jefferson is said to have introduced deep-fried potatoes at a state dinner in 1802 upon his return from a trip to France. C’est la vie, Belgium (which does have seriously good fries, double fried and often offered in paper cones and topped with mayonnaise). But since Saturday is Bastille Day, let’s keep our allegiance with France.

What started as a simple golden finger of potato, maybe a little ketchup dab, has gotten just plain goofy, with waffle cut, crinkle cut, curly fries, battered fries, disco fries, matchstick fries, loaded fries, poutine (that’s Canadian for fries with stuff on top), chili cheese fries and fancy truffle oil fries. To celebrate our ongoing love affair with them in spudtacular style, there are deals to be had this week.

BITE SQUAD

This food delivery service offers a tasty one. On Friday, people ordering from Bite Squad can redeem a promotion for free fries on orders of $20 (subtotal) or more. The code is FRYDAY, and it’s Friday only.

BURGERFI

Shake Shack, Smashburger, Burger 21, Burger Monger, Shula’s — Tampa Bay’s cup runneth over with premium burgers these days. When it comes to fries, BurgerFi is at the top of the heap: skin on, crisp and greaseless, and they can be tossed a number of ways, from Parmesan and herbs to Cajun spices, chili and cheese sauce. Just on their own, hot and salted, they’re sublime. (A regular size will feed two people, but you’ll be peeved if the other guy gets grabby.) BurgerFi is doing a corporate promotion on Friday: Customers will receive a free order of fries with a purchase of any burger or hot dog. 714 S Howard Ave., Tampa. (813) 440-2283.

DUNKIN’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts is celebrating National Fry Day for the first time with the launch of a new item: Donut Fries. Let that sink in. Pieces of buttery croissant-style doughnut dough that are tossed in cinnamon sugar and served warm with "just the right amount of crisp." This is a limited time item and DD guests can enjoy them for $2. All locations.

MCDONALD’S

It was too early at press time for local outposts to know if there will be a promotion this year to celebrate the special day, but here’s a way to nab some gratis fries. Download the McD app and get an order of free medium fries with a $1 purchase every Friday through Sept. 28 at participating McDonald’s.

JUST GREAT FRIES

Last year there were free fry deals at Pizza Hut, Arby’s, Wingstop and others (check Facebook pages to ferret out any deals) to celebrate the golden day. But don’t you just want to eat some insanely good fries?

This is going to sound nuts, but for some of the best Tampa Bay fries, head to Nordstrom at International Plaza. Bazille is its lovely full-service restaurant (one of the only remaining inside a department store around here), where you will find killer fries, skinny and herb flecked and offered with a savory kalamata-flavored aioli. They come with the burger and the French dip, but I’ve been known to put away a whole pile, sans anything else. 2223 N WestShore Blvd., Tampa. (813) 356-7916.

Nipping at Bazille’s heels are the fries at Five Guys, name brand potatoes (the Idaho farmer who grew them is written on a chalkboard — Five Guys goes through 140 million pounds annually), skin on, sturdy, fried in peanut oil, seasoned just with salt or with Cajun seasonings. A large comes in a 20-ounce cup in a brown bag, its surface an archipelago of grease blotches in no time. These are not frozen fries, but whole potatoes mangled in a machine that can cut a pound a second, then blanched to remove starch and fried in peanut oil.

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