[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]


3335 N. Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60657 (map); 773-935-9663; woodchicago.com
The Short Order: Belgian frites to-go
Want Fries with That? Um... that's all you can order.
Seats? Nope.

When I first heard about the opening of Backwoods, a brand new Belgian fry stand in Boystown, I did the same thing most people who have ever spent a debacherous night in New York's East Village have done: I started comparing it to Pomme Frites. Why? Well, it just happens to be a similarly tiny shop that only serves Belgian frites. But beyond that, there are actually enormous differences between the two.


Namely, while you can visit Pomme Frites during the day, if you want to eat at Backwoods you need to stay up late. During the week, the walk-up window doesn't open until 10 p.m., while on the weekends you'll have to wait until 11. Why the wait? Backwoods is located in the "back" of Wood, a small plates restaurant on Halsted. Backwoods is also sleek and spare, with only enough room to barely fit four standing adults. Forget about tables or chairs, this is only a to-go operation.


And about those frites. Though the restaurant proclaims that they are "twice-fried in the traditional Belgian style," these sure don't look like any Belgian frites I've sampled. They might come in the same paper cone, but instead of a mix of misshapen pieces—resulting in a variety of sizes and textures, from softer, pillowy hunks to the decadent crispy shards—Backwood's frites are uniform, crunchy, and brown.

But set those preconceived notions aside, and you can appreciate these for the tasty fries they are. Each bite is well seasoned and extra crunchy, proving that Backwoods is more of a passion project than a crafty way make more money.


Though tasty on their own, Backwoods also offers a range of house-made sauces that change daily. (The first is free, while each additional one is a dollar.) I tried two, and found the creamy and funky truffle aioli preferable to the scorching siracha aioli. And if you so chose, there is even ketchup.

I can't say I'll be waiting in line for the shop to open up, but if I ever find myself out late and need some serious fries to fill me up, I'll definitely think about stopping here.



Comments can take up to a minute to appear - please be patient!

Previewing your comment: