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Sarnia’s ultimate chip truck showdown

Nine-year-old Keaton Hakker scored the tastiest job in town this past weekend: undertaking a comprehensive, non-scientific review of local chip trucks.
Keaton Hakker.

It’s pretty much the best job a kid could ask for, and as a self-proclaimed French fry super-freak, Hakker took on this task with great seriousness. With his father/chauffeur at his side, Hakker visited five of Sarnia’s favourite mobile destinations to sample the best fries they had to offer and give his opinion for the benefit of Sarnia Journal readers.

Please note that Hakker chose salt and vinegar for his condiments, saying, “You may want ketchup or malt vinegar, but a good French fry with a little salt and vinegar is perfect.” Your personal tastes may differ.

Archie’s Fresh Cut Fries

In the parking lot just north of the Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward, Archie’s is a popular stop for quality fries and happy service. On Hakker’s visit, this was evident yet again.

Upon ordering, the staff added condiments for Hakker, which he said was nice, but felt that they put on a little too much salt. That being said, the fries he was served were top-notch. “The fry shape is good. The length is good. And you definitely get crunchiness on the outside and nice and soft inside,” he said. 

They also come in a little brown box instead of a tray. “I like it,” Hakker said. “It’s easy to fold it up and take it home and having a box that doesn’t allow vinegar to soak in is ‘super helpful.’” 

It was a hot day, but he appreciated the steaming-hot temperature of the fries. “It’s hot, but you’re able to eat it right away and enjoy it,” he said, sitting by the bridge watching the boats go by.

Mr. Chip

It was a short drive to Corunna’s Guthrie Park (237 St Clair Parkway, across from Shell) to experience this local mainstay, which has been serving quality cuisine since 1981. Watching a large lake freighter go by on the St. Clair River, Hakker ordered his fries.

Mr. Chip in Corunna. Darren Hakker photo.

With no lineup, the food arrived quickly and the ‘small’ order was larger than he imagined, with enough food for two. “And the length and shape are perfect,” Hakker said. “They’re not too skinny, and they still have the skin on!” Hakker appreciated the flavour of the skin, while his father noted the nutritional benefits of potato skins, including potassium and vitamin C.

Mr. Chip fries. Darren Hakker photo

Although it did take a few extra minutes to drive from Sarnia to the outskirts of Corunna, Hakker says it was worth it. Especially since he wasn’t paying for the gas.

Curbside Grill

Hakker also headed over to Bright’s Grove, home to Curbside Grill at Kenwick On The Lake Park. The chip truck scored a great location at a beautiful park with washrooms, and right near Lake Huron. 

Curbside Grill. Darren Hakker photo

There was no wait, and the fries were served fast and friendly. “They have a good saltiness, they are warm and toasty and nice and soft in the inside,” Hakker said, adding, “I love the texture on the outside” 

Curbside Grill fries. Darren Hakker photo.

“They aren’t huge fries or all long fries, and that helps to make them crispy,” the fry guy assumed. Overall, no complaints from Hakker, who added that he would certainly be back.

Big Daddy’s BBQ

Sitting at the south end of the Canatara Park main beach parking lot, Big Daddy’s BBQ is a well-known name to Hakker, who frequents the snack stand at the Pat Stapleton Arena when taking in Sarnia Legionnaires hockey games.

Big Daddy's BBQ. Darren Hakker photo

The service was fast and friendly. A great-looking plate of skin-on fries was sitting in a shallow cardboard box, which Hakker appreciated “so that you don’t spill all of them.” Although there was a good mix of big and small fries, crispiness was lacking, with Hakker lamenting that they were “super floppidy.” A few seconds more in the fryer, and these could have been stellar.

Yogi’s Fresh Cut Fries

On the south side of the Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward is another popular fry truck “Yogi’s”. 

How do their fries taste? “They’re super-fresh and it didn’t even take long to get them,” said Hakker. 

Yogi's Fries. Darren Hakker photo
Yogi's fries. Darren Hakker photo

Upon visual inspection, the main difference Hakker noticed with these fries is that they were all long compared to other chip trucks. Perhaps it was just a fluke, but there were no small fries here. “They’re decent-sized!” Hakker said, adding after a few bites, “They’re not too crispy. A great balance in the centre.” 

Hakker left full and pleased, following Yogi’s wise words to “Be as happy as a bird with a French fry”.

The Winner!

Ratings can be easy to misinterpret, and one person’s tastes differ from the next, but Hakker’s epic fry adventure does sway to a couple of trucks: Curbside Grill and Mr. Chip.

Both locations provided excellent service, had quick wait times, served fries that were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside and the trucks had great views. In both cases, Hakker says it’s worth the little extra drive to experience their flavours. 

Note: Hakker had every intention of sampling Original Albert’s in Point Edward, which he understands is not a chip truck but was willing to make an exception to the rule. But both times his chauffeur drove by, there was a lineup out the door. He also visited Centennial Park three times over two days and there was never a chip truck parked there.

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