Snuffer's Cheddar Fries: Examining a Dallas Institution

Categories: Eat This

Snuffers Cheddar Fries .jpg
I knew it wasn't a good idea. Passionate decisions almost always bear a cost. I'd just watched scores of tweets extol the virtues of Snuffer's cheddar fries with such enthusiasm I was incensed. Surely, there is no way something worthy of such praise can come from a dingy Greenville Avenue restaurant whose back dining room smells a bit like a wet bathroom mop. Snuffer's needed a take-down, and I was prepared to dish it out. And so I found myself sitting in traffic with my camera slung around my neck headed to a long-time Dallas institution.

Snuffers was dead when I walked in and asked if I could sit at the bar. This bar is for servers only, though, and I was relegated to a booth with a small, sticky table while I waited for my waitress, then ordered a Budweiser, then received a Bud Light. I would have protested, but I thought the error was in my favor. Snuffer's cheddar fries come in three sizes; I was about to go whole hog.

The waitress tried to warn me as she showed me each size with her hands. A small was the largest circle the could make with her digits still touching, and a medium drew them apart and lengthened the shape a bit. To show me a large, she made a shape with her hands about the size of a pie plate. "That's what I want," I told her. "It's deep," she warned. I told her I was ready.

Nursing that Bud Light, I pondered the significance of Snuffer's and their cheddar fries. The fries were listed as a City of Ate Favorite two years ago. D Magazine called the dish a rite of passage according to Snuffer's website. The reference neglects to complete the sentence as printed, which ends "for all SMU students." It's an important clarification. Nick Rallo told me he ate there all the time in college, even though he thought the food was terrible.

While I waited, a medium order was dropped off to a table of three. The young blonde clapped gleefully as the plate arrived, accompanied by the enthusiastic eyes of what I guessed were her parents. Maybe she's enrolled at SMU? I watched the three of them share a medium-sized order of cheddar fries: a plate they failed to finish. I became nervous.

Then my plate came, topped with massive pickled jalapeño slices, fresh green onion slivers and bacon as crisp as bacon can be. It was as large as a pie plate and quite deep, as my waitress described: not as tall as my beer bottle (which was now a Bud heavy), but close. I want to tell you I left victorious. That I conquered that plate on my own and went home to spend some quality time on the treadmill. I was not victorious, however, I was defeated. I barely made it halfway through.

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My vision blurred, I ran out of gas. The cheddar fries were winning.

And the cheddar fries take down? I'm afraid it's not coming. Who am I to dethrone an institution that's been slathering college kids with calories since 1978? The fries are cut on-site, fried reasonably well and topped with a mountain of cheese. I asked how they get the cheese to melt so smoothly. How does it string and pool, but not clump or weep oil? My waitress didn't know. A manager said it was the "high-quality" 90-day aged cheddar, but good cheddar is notorious for breaking under heat.

My guess is it's a highly processed shredded cheese that melts down a lot like Monterey Jack or provolone you get at the grocery store. Either way, I can see the appeal. And at the same time, I'm very very glad I'm not in college anymore.

Sunffers Checkmate.jpg
Checkmate




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24 comments
shhhhh
shhhhh

might i add as a former snuffer's employee that the kitchen is DIS-GUS-TING. i don't understand how it passes city inspection. the people that run the place are only looking for profit to support their drug and alcohol habits, they could give a shit less about serving quality food.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

Really depends on what you eat. My wife likes the Mazto Ball at factors better. I think the bread and pastrami at N&A is better. And they custom make their own hot dogs

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

Arc en Ciel was "OK". It was groundbreaking for being in Dallas so long ago. Sad to hear about Mickey

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

I trash people in the city that not only patronizes these places, but do so in droves. They over-hype the old crappy places, instead of supporting the high quality great places, and then gets pissed when someone dares to point out how bad they are

Terry Day
Terry Day

Jon, if you find Dallas to be nothing but a temple of mediocrity, may I kindly suggest that you get the fuck out of town!   I agree with you when you say there are a number of restaurants in town (like Campisi's, which serves the worst pizza I've ever eaten in my life) that are severely overrated.  But to use your culinary criticism as a segue to trash the city and the people who live here is nothing but a cheap shot.   

Mike Avery
Mike Avery

 I believe a large part of what they serve is right off the food service truck,  And yet, Southern Living magazine said the Babe's in Sanger was one of 100 reasons to get off of IH-35.  I like their smoked chicken more than their fried.  And then things go down hill fast. However, in Sanger they often have singing waitresses.  One did an amazing rendition of Tammy Wynette's, "You ain't woman enough to take my man".  Despite not being a country fan, that waitress was a great singer!  Still, that's not enough reason for me to go to Babe's very often.

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

hey - we have the Dallas trifecta! 1) If you don't like it, leave 2) The burbs are better because they are safer 3) Calling someone gay Because being gay is bad?

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

Nahh - impossible to find Jimmy Choo stuff in a Men's 14

Jon Daniel
Jon Daniel

I live in Valley Ranch because this is where my Ex chose to move with my kids, so I am stuck here until they are out of the house. I rarely eat or do anything else in Valley Ranch.  

matt
matt

Says the guy who lives in valley ranch.  Stop smelling your own farts dude.  There are a lot of dallasites (that even LIVE in the actual city of Dallas) that are always on the hunt for new and exciting food.  A lot of them are extremely well traveled too.  Dont be the village idiot screaming from the suburb about how cool you think you are.

Slewfoot
Slewfoot

Now ask any former Snuffer's employee how Pat Snuffer screwed them out of a fair wage. I dare you.

Bill
Bill

Oh you know he sucked a dick or two in his lifetime.

Jim
Jim

What are the odds the tranny was Jon D

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Thank you. Oh.  Ver.  Ray.  Tid.

SCamp
SCamp

Stan's Blue Note, just down the street from Snuffers, has better cheese fries.

MattL1
MattL1

You're right to a large extent, and would have been right on 5-10 years ago, but I think some of that is starting to erode. Maybe not for everyone, mind you, but there seems to be a growing segment of the Dallas population that is willing to challenge the conventional wisdom that these places are actually good.  That being said, I do like Snuffer's cheese fries. Javier's and Campisi's, however? I don't see the appeal. 

Darren Schmits
Darren Schmits

 Quite the contrary, Jon.  Because I like it, it must be good.  Why would I like something that wasn't good??  Just because you, and Hanna, do not like it, doesn't mean it is not good.

turbosix
turbosix

i bet you are really fun to hang out with at parties. 

Jerruh Jones
Jerruh Jones

Snuffer's is like the Dallas Cowboys - everyone here knows they suck but we will defend the hell out of them.

todd
todd

If it's "not just cheese fries", who in Dallas has good cheese fries?  Or, what would you do to make Snuffers' cheese fries worthy of the praise that is heaped upon them?    

G_David
G_David

You're divorced?  Least surprising thing I'll hear all year.

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