Poutine, the Canadian tour de force of crispy fries topped with cheese curds and gravy, has popped up in cities from Denver to Dallas. Here, 10 new twists on the classic comfort food worth eating—even when you’re sober.
1. PHILADELPHIA: It’s never too early for poutine; at least that’s what Marc Vetri, chef at the meat-centric Italian gastropub Alla Spina, thinks (and we’re inclined to agree). Go for brunch and order the Testina Hash Poutine, topped with porky bits of meat from a boiled pig’s head (testina), mozzarella curd and two eggs, sunny-side up.
2. DENVER: Poutine gets a Southwest spin at beer mecca Euclid Hall with the Carnitas Papas Fritas. Pork legs are braised in a blend of PBR and O.J., then placed atop chili-lime fries along with fried jalapeños, green tomatillo chile, cheddar curds, goat cheese and a sprinkle of cilantro. Pair it with a bottle of Avery The Reverend Belgian Quadrupel, and share both with an amigo.
3. ATLANTA: A subway-tiled tribute to New York’s Jewish delis, The General Muir’s claim to fame is house-smoked and -cured pastrami. Skip the sandwich and eat the peppery meat crisped, added to fries and cheese curds, and topped with a rich schmaltz gravy.
4. CHICAGO: At SpritzBurger, you can order a poutine starter, or you can commit to a Poutine Burger. The open-faced sandwich starts with a grass-fed beef patty as the base, and is crowned with fries, cheese curds, and sage country gravy.
5. DALLAS: If it were possible to make cheese from ducks, you can bet it’d be on Blind Butcher’s duck poutine. The dish starts with duck- fat fries and cheese curds, then grows with shredded duck leg confit, a sunny-side-up duck egg, duck stock gravy, and for $10 more, a slice of perfectly seared foie gras.
6. LOS ANGELES: At Top Chef winner Ilan Hall’s downtown spot, The Gorbals, poutine gets a Vietnamese makeover: Inspired by the banh mi, it’s layers of shredded pork, pickled carrots and cucumber, cilantro, sliced jalapeños and melted mozzarella blanketing thrice-fried fries. The finishing touch? Hoisin gravy.
7. SAN FRANCISCO: Hand-cut fries and house-made cheese curds up the ante at Citizen’s Band. Kennebec fries, curds and crispy pork belly are anointed with wild mushroom gravy and then finished with a feathery heap of grated pecorino.
8. NEW ORLEANS: Swapping out spuds for sweet potatoes, Oxalis adds a little sweet to an otherwise savory dish. The fries come crowned with charcuterie scraps, cheese curds, smoked chili béarnaise and hickory-smoked chicken jus.
9. ATLANTA: You might want to skip breakfast so you can order the seafood poutine at The Optimist. Served only for lunch, the Chowder Fries are a culinary symphony of shoestring fries, bacon, clams, white cheddar and a ladle of smoked white fish chowder.
10. CHICAGO: With 30 different poutines on the menu at Wrigleyville’s Big Cheese Poutinerie, you could literally eat a different poutine every day for a month. Eschew indecision and order the customer favorite, the Notorious P.I.G., which comes with root beer chipotle pulled pork, double-smoked bacon and Italian sausage.
OFFICIAL CANADIAN COMMENTARY: “I have a deep affinity for poutine. The fries should be done in peanut oil, and the gravy has to be just right: Too hot, and the curds melt and lose their squeak; too cold, and it really throws off the experience. Our Lug Tread kölsch is great with a standard gravy; the beer and poutine won’t overwhelm each other. If the gravy’s really rich or spicy, try an alt, a Czech pils, Irish red or a medium-strength IPA.” —Steve Beauchaine, co-founder of Beau’s All Natural Brewing in Ottawa