Arcana's menu is long on showstoppers; it reimagines familiar foods with unusual ingredients and innovative flavor combinations. But chef Kyle Mendenhall also knows that in order to truly wow a diner, every bite must sing, from appetizer through dessert, from the meal's focus to the lowly sides. And so his kitchen pays careful attention to things like fries, which accompany a handful of sandwiches on the lunch menu but get no special billing. And these spuds deserve acclaim. Arcana starts with skin-on russet potatoes and cuts them pencil-thin before frying them at two different temperatures — at lower heat to cook them, and at higher heat to crisp them up — and then dusting them with salt. This process, Mendenhall says, ensures that the fries retain a creamy center within a crunchy casing. They're served golden, crispy, salty and hot, and are so good you're likely to power through them and then consider a re-up before you've finished your meal. Give in to the temptation: Arcana sells a side of fries, though it's not listed on the menu.
Readers' Choice: Steuben's