These Are a Few of Our Favorite Rings

Burger eaters don't need to think twice; they assume that their sandwich of choice will come with an order of French-fried potatoes. Rare is the burger served sans fries, thanks to the trusty deep-fat fryer next to the grill. Making fries even from scratch is a relatively easy process (slice potato, fry, salt, drain, repeat), which probably accounts for a good deal of their popularity. Cooks love when wildly popular items are also simple to make.

However, the other part of the French-fried pantheon -- lightly breaded onion rings -- tend to be much less common than their starchy sibling. In addition to the cut-and-fry routine, preparation of o-rings often involves double-dipping the rings in milk or beer batter, then dredging them in flour before they hit the grease. Practical translation: increased time commitment and really sticky fingers. Many joints simplify the process by buying pre-breaded frozen rings, offering bagged FunYuns or pretending the dish doesn't exist. Devotees of "the other fried side" quickly learn to the value of a simple question -- "You make these here?" -- before placing an order.

The prevalence of frozen rings makes the handmade variety that much more of a treasure. Here are a few of the better-crafted rings in town for those who play both sides of the fry pits.

  • Dirty's: Lightly flour-dredged and quick-fried, the medium-sliced onion rings at Dirty's emerge from the grease steaming and sporting a delicate, perfectly crunchy brown crust.
  • Hut's: These towering wonders bear a striking resemblance to Wonder Woman's bulletproof bracelets and appeal to fans of cornmeal rings. The portions are huge, so think twice before ordering rings and fries.
  • Fran's: Also of the cornmeal variety, Fran's rings cook a bit longer, making for a beautifully dark and crunchy coating. A small bag runs the irregular price of $1.42 -- the perfect portion with a small order of skinny fries.
  • Shady Grove: Flecks of black pepper dot the Grove's flour batter, which fries up nicely in that nether region between crunchy and pliable. The onion itself sports a pronounced, smooth sweet-ness that calls subtle attention to itself. -- P.J.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle