Good Burger just entered the downtown marketplace, and they didn’t do it quietly. The founder of the burgeoning burger chain recently claimed that they serve “the best fries in Idaho.”
Now, any time you declare yourself the best at anything, you’re probably wrong. Good Burger’s audacious claim is nothing more than shrewd marketing.
But it’s a marketing trap that I will gladly fall for! Enticed by Good Burger’s confidence, I decided to compare it to competing local chain (and member of many a “best French fries” listicle) Boise Fry Company.
The spuds themselves:
I’m troubled by the inconsistency of Boise Fry Company’s fries. BFC offers a kabillion different types of fries, but they can’t fry them all at the same time, and too many of them turn limp and greasy on the cooling rack. The upside, of course, is that you get to choose between a kabillion different types of fries. And when they’re hot, you’re happy.
Good Burger only offers one type of fry — classic cut and battered. They’re reliably crispy but the batter doesn’t do much in the way of flavor. Sadly, Good Burger’s dreams of serving the best fries in Idaho are just that.
The all-important sauce:
For a condiments guy like myself, the sauce is almost more important than the fry. Good Burger provides perfectly acceptable special sauce, but Boise Fry Company destroys the competition with a freaking flotilla of ketchups, mustards, and magical mayos. The garlic aioli is so good I would use it to exfoliate.
What about those burgers?
BFC’s burgers have always been better than their fries. But like their fries, BFC’s burgers are occasionally too cold and/or curiously small. That said, the quality of the ingredients is always evident. I can’t complain about Good Burger’s meat and melty American cheese, but the bun is distractingly elastic. (I almost wondered if it was *gasp* gluten-free.) The quality of BFC is a cut above.
Now, some serious analytics
I don’t think either of these restaurants is the best option for fry fans. Let’s look at a standard order at both places:
Boise Fry Company: Burger (5.99) + Cheese (.50) + Small Fry (3.15) + Tax (.59) = ~$10.23
Good Burger: Burger (6.27) + Cheese (included) + Small Fry ($2.87) + Tax (.55) = ~$9.69
They’re very close in price. I like to eat my weight in complimentary sauce, so I’ll take BFC.
BUT, right now, I think Fork makes the best fries in town. (BFC’s burger is slightly superior to Fork’s. But BFC’s fries are inferior to Fork’s parmesan-coated happiness sticks.)
And you might think, “well sure, but Fork is fancy.” But look at the numbers:
Fork: Burger (10.95) + Cheese (2) + Fries (included) + Tax (.78) = ~$13.73
I assume we’re all great people who will tip 20% everywhere. But even if you tip 10% at the fast-casual spots and 20% at Fork, we end up here:
Good Burger ~$10.66
Boise Fry Company ~$12.28 ($1.62 more than Good Burger)
Fork ~$16.48 ($4.20 more than Boise Fry Company)
If we assume that the experience of sitting in a nice restaurant and getting waited on is worth at least $3 per hour, and Fork’s improvement in fries over BFC is worth $1.25, we can calculate that:
Sit-down restaurant (3) + Fry upgrade (1.25) > $4.20
Fork is the best deal. Because you pay $4 more to get a burger that’s comparable to BFC AND better fries AND you get to sit down in a nice room for an hour while someone refills your water.
I could have skipped all of that by simply telling you this:
Good Burger is just okay. Boise Fry Company is flawed, but their sauces will always be perfect. And I’d leave them both behind for Fork’s rosemary and parmesan-encrusted fries.
As you were. ∎