Over-the-top french fry and burritos stuffed with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos will soon burst into Chicago thanks to a fast-growing San Francisco Bay-area virtual restaurant chain. Next week, Man vs Fries will debut five Chicago-area food truck locations, founder William Bonhorst tells Eater Chicago, serving decadent build-your-own curly or straight-cut fry creations as loaded burritos, quesadillas, and fry plates. It’s part of a push to open 75 new locations across the U.S. and Canada on Tuesday, February 23.
Customers choose curly or straight fries, a carne asada or pollo asado topping, and a finish: either Northern California-style (cheese, sour cream, guacamole) or Southern California-style (grilled onions, cilantro, jalapeños). Other items include a Southern California-style burrito (Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, straight-cut fries, carne asada/pollo asado, cheese, sour cream, guacamole) and asada nachos (Flamin’ Hot Doritos/tortilla chips, carne asada, cheese, guacamole). The products have taken off on social media; the Man Vs. Fries Instagram handle has more than 25,000 followers.
Bonhorst first launched the brand as a pop-up in 2018 in the Bay area. He attributes his love of fries to his family’s weekly trips to a fast-food restaurant. The trips happened on Thursdays — the day his parents got paid.
Man vs Fries picked five locations scattered across the city to increase its delivery zones: East Garfield Park, Irving Park, near McCormick Place, River North, and University Village. Delivery fries do come with a ticking clock as quality and structure can quickly deteriorate in transit. Reve Burger, the fast food spot from fine dining chef Curtis Duffy (Ever, Grace), even touts its fry “technology” — a coating that makes fries crunchier after being microwaved at home.
Chicago is home to many great french fry options in a wide array of styles, from triple-fried British-style chips at Pleasant House Pub to nori-dusted waffle fries with parmesan and beni shoga ginger at Bokuchan’s Japanese Curry House. Some restaurants have gone so far as to build their whole business around fries, like Friistyle in Bronzeville where customers can find Belgian-style pommes frites in creative hybrids like lobster frite (butter-sauteed lobster, celery, red pepper, Old Bay aioli) and a Chicago-style Italian beef frite (asiago, giardiniera cheese sauce, au jus).
The company could also find competition among other spots with stoner-friendly menu items like Cheba Hut, the Arizona-based toasted sub chain with a location in Wicker Park, and Hotbox by Wiz, rapper Wiz Khalifa’s newish delivery-only restaurant that opened last fall in Chicago.
Man vs Fries will only be available through third-party companies including DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Postmates. It’s also the first Black-owned restaurant to partner with with Reef Kitchens, a ghost kitchen company and restaurant incubator that also works with brands like Wow Bao and Rebel Wings. Bonhorst has recently opened Man vs Fries locations cities including Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas, and Atlanta.
Man vs Fries, 317 W. Oak Street; 1434 W. Fillmore Street; 246 N. California Avenue; 4229 N. Pulaski Road; 2350 S. Wabash Avenue; Slated to open Tuesday, February 23.