Sea Islands Sweet Potato Fries: Possibly the Best

Don’t like sweet potatoes? You haven’t tried ours yet.

by Marcy Harris

Sea Islands' Sweet Potato Fries at Zingerman's Roadhouse
Photo by Emma Boonstra.

One of the things we love to do at Zingerman’s Roadhouse is connect you with food from obscure regions of America. By doing so, we try our best to transform your experience with food. Many of us have tasted many things at one point or another in our lives, and have formed an opinion about these things based on how they were cooked and served.

Yet how truthfully can any of us say we’ve had the best (fill in the blank) ever? For example, can you say that you’ve had the best sweet potato fries at this point in your life? If you’ve had them at the Roadhouse, you might say yes.

Bringing island flavor to the Roadhouse.

Ari discovered the recipe for our sweet potato fries while studying the foodways of the Gullah people on the Sea Islands, off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. The Gullah population is a group of African Americans descended from slaves who worked rural plantations, then settled in the Lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina. The group speaks a Creole dialect, and they either stayed on the mainland and refer to themselves as “Freshwater Gullah”, or moved to the Sea Islands and call themselves “Saltwater Gullah”.

Like Creole food, Gullah food is a good mix of Native American, European, and African influences. Gumbo and shrimp are popular, and there are many recipes devoted to yams or sweet potatoes. The Sea Island sweet potato fries are really something special, which is why we feature them proudly on our menu.

We are not talking about soggy pile of orange shoestrings, here. We take thick wedges of sweet potatoes with the skin still on, and twice-fry them. What we then set out in front of you is a paper-lined chicken basket of quite possibly the best sweet potato fries you will ever eat. The skin is perfectly salted, crispy and golden brown, the sweet potato itself is melt-in-your-mouth creamy and buttery. On their own, they are amazing. Dip them in the spicy mayo we serve them with, and the flavor is out-of-control good.

Do try this at home!

What is this spicy mayo you ask? We take real Hellman’s mayo and add cayenne, garlic, and Frank’s Hot Sauce. It is the most sought-after condiment at the Roadhouse. People can’t get enough of it for their sweet-potato fries, and it is also wildly popular on burgers. It’s really super simple to make at home, and you can adjust the heat to your liking.

Spicy Mayo Recipe

1 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Frank’s Hot Sauce

1 pinch peeled and minced garlic

1 pinch cayenne pepper

Combine the ingredients and mix well, whipping quickly by hand or using an electric mixer.

Or you could just stop in and enjoy our Sea Islands’ Sweet Potato Fries with Spicy Mayo at the Roadhouse! They are available for lunch and dinner, make your reservation today!