The thick-cut (but not steak fries thick) fries with a homemade Hungarian seasoning at Bluffton’s Craft Kitchen are winning over diners at this five-month-old craft beer eatery. TIM WOOD

It’s the question that starts instant debate.

“Who has the best?”

We live in a time where getting feedback to that question is as easy as hitting “send” on social media. Just be prepared for the barrage of hot takes.

The Lowcountry is a melting pot of cultures, as folks have migrated here from every direction. While it often appears most newbies are from Ohio or New England, the answers we see in these questions online often reveals regional biases and actually starts conversations that allow us to get know each other.

The downside: These debates are often repeated with little consensus and fade quickly from a social media news feed. 

So, we at The Sun have endeavored to provide some closure and a more navigable road map to finding the best of the best. We’re calling it 10 Hot Spots.

This isn’t a ranking; it’s the 10 places that were mentioned most often by our “editorial committee,” which includes online polling of readers. When editor Lynne Hummell and I discussed which topic should begin the series, there was a strange mind meld of what must be first. (We must have both been hungry.)

Ask about a good French fry and you’d better be ready for a mouthful of opinion. Most will agree it is a quintessential American comfort food, but just what makes the perfect fry is where the debate gets interestingly tricky.

From thin chips to plump steak fries, everyone likes their potato product a little different.

Here is our take on The 10 Hot Spots For French Fries. We’ve excluded fast-food chains, though McDonald’s, Five Guys and Zaxby’s got plenty of love from our crew. These are the spots brought up most often by our committee and the reasons behind the hype.

Street Meet, The American Tavern, 95 Matthews Drive, Suite D11, Hilton Head, streetmeethhi.com: This official home of Cleveland Browns backers has won many best-of votes for wings and their signature hot dogs. Thin, crispy and hot, you get four options – soul (tossed in homemade chipotle ranch), chili cheese, cajon and original crispy cut.

Old Town Dispensary, 15 Captains Cove, Bluffton, OTDBluffton.com: This Calhoun Street fixture has a roasted garlic fondue option with smoked gouda, blue cheese, bacon and a roasted garlic bulb. But it is the truffle fries that got the most raves, thanks to OTD’s secret truffle oil, parmesan shavings and curry ketchup.

R Bar and Grill, 70 Pennington Drive, Suite 1, Bluffton, RBarBluffton.com: The slow-roasted roast beef with Kimmelweck roll is a Western New York import and fave here, but their hand-cut Cajun fries were a consistent rave from our committee.

Craft Kitchen, 7 Johnston Way, Bluffton, craftkitchen.online: This newcomer to the scene, opened in October 2020, is earning fast attention for its craft beer variety, small but delectable menu choices and homemade desserts. Their fries are thick cut, meaty and tender inside, crispy outside, with a homemade Hungarian seasoning blend.

Bluffton BBQ, 11 State of Mind Street, Bluffton, bluffton-bbq.com: Ted and Donna Huffman are pulled pork, ribs and roasted chicken geniuses, but the quiet champion of the menu here is the hand-cut beauties. It seems criminal at such a staple BBQ joint to say the fries are worth a meal all by themselves, but it’s true. A perfect blend of spices adorn these gems.

Skull Creek Boathouse, 397 Squire Pope Road, Hilton Head: Crinkle-cut fries got very little love in our polling, and that just ain’t right. Yes, hand-cut is all the rage and for good reason, but a good crinkle-cut fry invokes childhood memories of tasting the perfect pier or boardwalk fries. Skull Creek is waterfront, and their thick crinkle-cut fries are the unsung heroes of an award-winning menu.

Upper Crust, 30 William Pope Drive, Suite 105, Bluffton: We’re still adjusting to the location change from Moss Creek to just outside the Sun City gates, but the food, thankfully, is unchanged in the move. Sure, come for the pizza (and it’s delish), but we guarantee you’ll be thinking of the sour cream and chive fries long after you leave. They are addictively delectable.

Fat Baby’s Pizza and Subs, 1034 William Hilton Parkway, Hilton Head, fatbabyspizza.com: I was drawn to this place by the logo the first time. The food kept me coming back. Oh, the pizza (another story). But the chili cheese fries were repeatedly complimented by friends, foodie confidants and strangers online and off. I will second that emotion. 

Captain Woody’s Seafood Bar and Grill, 17 State of Mind, Bluffton, captainwoodys.com: This legendary 38-year-old island eatery has distinguished itself even more in Bluffton’s Promenade. Their seasoned fries made their seafood sing just as melodically as Jevon Daly and Gary Pratt on Thursday nights. And they are the perfect brain fuel to try to win B-Town Trivia on Wednesdays.

French Bakery and European Cuisine, 28 Shelter Cove Lane, Suite 120, Hilton Head, frenchbakeryhhi.com: This is an entry that threw us, if only because there are so many other oohs and ahhs of this eatery that have drawn louder attention. But commenter Robert Leonard summed up the praise perfectly, saying, “It’s a French bakery, no one would suspect out-of-the-world truffle fries. Don’t believe me, try for yourself.”

Others winning kudos: Okatie Ale House, Fat Patties, Katie O’Donald’s, Butchers Market and Deli, Oak Terrace at Rose Hill, British Open Pub, Downtown Deli and Southern Barrel Brewing Company in Bluffton; Main Street Café, Brother Shucker’s, Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café, Charbar, Harold’s Diner, Gr8 Bites, Bistro 17, Jane, Rockfish and HogsHead Kitchen and Wine Bar on Hilton Head.

Do you have other choices you think we missed or other categories you want us to tackle for 10 Hot Spots? Email Tim Wood at timmaywood@gmail.com