In 2011, Nina Rodriguez introduced Chicago to The Slide Ride truck – the Windy City’s original slider truck that brings new flavors to traditional comfort foods – by whipping up creative sliders to offer zesty variety to the average lunch break. My food search today wasn’t, however, to try the tasty treats at The Slide Ride truck, but rather to check out the fries and sliders at Frite Street, The Slide Ride truck’s “sister” brick-and-mortar restaurant established in November 2014.
I didn’t expect to find parking off of Belmont Ave. and Elston Ave. at 2 p.m., but I’m glad I did. The restaurant – located on the northwest side of Chicago in an area called Avondale – wasn’t too hard to find, as The Slide Ride was parked right out front, and the truck itself was bright pink.
Walking into Frite Street, I saw an eatery with Parisian flare, the walls painted cherry red and the evolution of the Eiffel Tower being constructed hung on the walls. I read the words “We make our own bacon” on a chalkboard behind the register and immediately ordered “Original” frites. These warm hand-cut fries were covered in a house-made cheese sauce that had enough dices of bacon to put a person in a pork coma. Luckily, the mountain of fresh-cut scallions would make anyone feel less guilty about eating half a carton of French fries, with the earthy flavor they bring to the dish.
I decided to pair my frites with a – two of the five slider options available. My Sriracha Buffalo Chicken slider consisted of pulled chicken lathered in a Sriracha buffalo sauce topped with carrots, celery, and ranch mingled between a fresh-toasted bun. In the Guinness slider was a medium-well Angus beef patty with melted provolone cheese, grilled Guinness onions and tangy horseradish sauce.
Rodriguez owes her awesome flavor combinations to her chef, Chris Graham, as well as herself. “We certainly take our inspiration from different ethnic cuisine. If we try a great dish at a restaurant, we think about how can we incorporate these flavors into fries,” said Rodriguez. Her favorite combinations of sliders and frites change daily.
“Alcohol-infused food always gets my vote, and it may be overkill, but I love a Guinness slider with our Guinness Gravy Poutine frites. I also really love the Korean frites – topped with an egg of course – and a Sriracha Buffalo Chicken slider on the side. The Asian flavors meld well together.”
When asked how the idea of opening a French fry dive came about, Rodriguez said that it seemed like the customers practically demanded it–plus parking restrictions make it difficult to cook fries on the truck because the oil has to heat up and cool down, cutting into selling time.
“We are known for our sliders on the truck, and customers have asked for a long time for us to do fries,” said Rodriguez. “So we did a storefront dedicated to fries and at the restaurant, the sliders are the sides.”
Since opening last year, Frite Street has gained media momentum fast. Rodriguez is grateful for all of the press and media attention they have received. In fact, the business made its debut on Chicago’s Best on May 17th on WGN.
“Our storefront doesn’t get much street traffic so it’s helped tremendously for our customers to discover us through reading about us in articles,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez plans to build more Frite Street locations in the future and will continue to have the Slide Ride roam the streets of Chicago.
-Chicago area Guest Contributor, Dana Lee