Not all hot chips are fried and salted equally, but you can find Adelaide's best at these hot chip shops.
Adelaide’s best hot chips
Australian hot chip culture generally combines with sea and sun (and battered fish) and is an integral piece of the summer beach experience. But as summer fades and worker bees return to their CBD offices, the desire for chips will undoubtedly follow.
Particularly during festival season (i.e. Monday hangover season), it is the snack of choice for anyone short on time, and money, and with a strong need of grease. To help with this very particular hankering, CityMag ventured across postcode 5000 to find the best hot chips in town.
We narrowed our search terms by only hitting venues primarily aimed at takeaway, and at each stop we ordered the smallest size, without accompaniment (though one shop snuck in some sauce), to ensure comparisons were fair.
And because we have deemed all of the chips listed as the city’s best, we’ve decided to order them below from crispiest to softest.
City Doner Kebab
Cost: $6 Weight: 395.5g Sauce: No charge Salt: Chicken salt Oil: Cottonseed oil
City Doner Kebab was the only shop in our travels to ask us whether or not we wanted our chips to be crispy. Although we were hoping to come across more crunchy chip options, for the sake of journalistic integrity, we asked that they produce the chips exactly as they would for any normal customer.
The chips were a little bit crispy. They were slightly darker in colour, suggesting perhaps we gave off the impression we were after a crispier chip. (Again, for journalistic integrity, we will not disclose our preference.)
The salt is doled out generously, if unevenly, so there is the occasional chip with an entire flank coated in salt – which is best eaten by first resting the chip salt-side-down on your tongue (but you already knew this).
If you are a salt fan, this will be a very good time for you, but have a glass of water handy.
2/117 King William Street
Ali Baba Kebab House
Cost: $5 Weight: 332.4g Sauce: No charge Salt: Chicken salt Oil: Vegetable oil
These may be the most perfect rendition of tuckshop chips in all the CBD. The potato comes out golden in colour, the chip chef has been duly generous with salt – a variety that has a delectable bite to it – and they offer a satisfying crunch without the chips being overcooked.
Where we have to deduct points (not that we’re giving overall scores) is for the use of Styrofoam packaging. Not only is it detrimental to the environment, but it is just not a great way to transport hot food. Steam builds up inside the pack, making whatever’s inside soggy and creating steam-sweat which then drips everywhere when you open the pack up. But you can always dine-in.
21 Hindley Street
Cost: $4 Weight: 191.1g Sauce: 50c Salt: Chicken salt Oil: Vegetable oil
Without wanting to sound too old – how good was it when an order of small chips was $3? Based on this survey, those days are long gone, but Yiros House is hanging onto the concept of giving at least a little bit of change back from a fiver.
Yiros House is a late-night institution, being located on a historical party strip, and so much of Adelaide is no doubt familiar with the Yiros House hot potato offering. For CityMag, when the chips are passed across the counter, a Pavlovian response kicks in. We can feel the sharp flavour of the salt even before we’ve taken our first bite.
These were among the crispier chips we sampled, but some of this comes from the level of salt used. You may need a glass of water afterward.
258 Rundle Street
Cost: $5 Weight: 294g Sauce: No charge Salt: Vegeta salt Oil: Canola oil
Cheeseburger is owned by the Al-Sweedy family, who also own Levant. The house cheeseburger sauce, which comes free of charge, is a slightly altered take on the Levant sauce, but here the similarities end.
The chips are served super-hot, and the salt is prominent without being too salty. The chip itself is soft to bite into but is slightly more dense than fluffy. It’s a generous serving, and a complete snack unto itself, but its moreish nature (particularly when paired with the Cheeseburger sauce) will ensure the whole pack goes without too much trouble.
Lord of the Fries
Cost: $4.50 Weight: 215.1g Sauce: $1.50 Salt: Chicken salt Oil: Cottonseed and sunflower oil blend
In the reconnaissance phase of this story, we heard so many people say that “everyone raves about Lord of the Fries chips”, which isn’t an endorsement in itself, but an acknowledgment of hype. We therefore had to go in with a bit of healthy scepticism.
Our initial reaction was underwhelming – yes, these are good chips but what is the hype? For the sake of comparing apples with apples (a week of eating hot chips everyday will make you crave apples) we ordered the ‘classic fries’ – did we order the wrong type? But by the time we’d finished this train of thought, the pack was empty. And we wanted – nay, needed – more.
This is the secret of the Lord of the Fries chip; you can eat them forever. Two notes on the salt from our visit: a “very calm” flavour, like “milk and ocean water.” And as a bonus for crispy fans, there are lots of crunchy mini-chips at the bottom of the pack.
23 Hindley Street
Hutt Street Chicken & Seafood
Cost: $5 Weight: 253.7g Sauce: No charge Salt: House-made chicken salt Oil: Vegetable oil
Before coming to Hutt Street Chicken & Seafood, we had not been aware that a hot chip could be described as succulent, but sure enough, that is a note we scrawled during our visit.
There is no crunch, but a soft-edged kind of crispiness – truly these chips are a magical contradiction unto themselves and to what we previously understood chips to be.
The house-made chicken salt (hard to find around the city) is delicious, almost briney, without being over bearing.
Cost: $5.30 Weight: 307.6g Sauce: No charge Salt: Chicken salt Oil: Canla oil
Sass is a cute little shop on Pulteney Street run by the Poulos family. The hot chips on offer are an alluring bright yellow – colour being a crucial component to the enjoyment of hot chips – with a deceptively mild level of salt used.
Also deceptive is the level of crunch on offer; the chips look crisp, but there is but a soft cushion of pillowy potato to bite into. There is the occasional crunchy tip, but crispy chip sticklers will be left wanting.
314 Pulteney Street
Cost: $2.95 Weight: 118.1g Sauce: 50c Salt: KFC salt Oil: Canola oil
Ubiquity is the primary weapon global chains wave above the head of their smaller competitors, but Kentucky Fried Chicken is also a master of sensory marketing. You cannot walk by a KFC without at least being tempted by the smell of deep-fried goodness within.
Those who opt for KFC are likely to be more partial to soggy than crispy chips, but there is a range often available. The chips are served hot, and the salt – a secret KFC recipe, as is their wont – is almost sweet. It’s as though their chips are designed to match perfectly with a bottle of Mountain Dew. That may sound derogatory, but truly we can only revere the KFC chip.
Multiple CBD locations
Cost: $6 Weight: 243.9g Sauce: No charge Salt: Vegeta salt Oil: Vegetable oil
In our attempt at a fair fight between all of our selected chip vendors, we didn’t include sauce in our images, even when free of charge. Levant foiled our plan by providing their highly addictive Levant sauce slathered all over the chips free of charge and without prior consultation. We’re not mad about it.
The combination of chips and sauce creates a salt-sweetness that will haunt you long after the chips are gone – and there are a lot of them. Levant’s chips are closer to fries on the fry-chip spectrum, and due to the sauce and the closed lid of the takeaway pack, they are an experience for fans of a soggy chip.
Cost: $2.50 Weight: 88.5g Sauce: No charge (ketchup only) Salt: McDonald’s salt Oil: Vegetable oil
It’s a strange case that in global businesses wholly set up to be easily replicable, efficient and cheap, the quality of food can often range from transcendent to trash.
Get a back-of-house McDonald’s team on an off day, and there’s every chance you’ll end up with what amounts to an unsalted handful of mashed potato. But, on a good day – even ok day – the risk is worth the reward.
The chips, for the uninitiated, are of the shoestring-fries variety, are best when hot (i.e. if you’re driving, eat them while in the car), and the salt is so subtle as to be indistinguishable from chip. You will only know when there’s not enough.
Occasionally there is crunch to be had, but, as is the case for most fries, they are mostly soft and squishy.
Multiple CBD locations
CityMag’s ‘Adelaide’s best…’ lists are continuously updated. If you’ve got a favourite hot chip vendor that we’ve missed, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.