It's one of those universal truths of high school: there's one house that becomes the go-to hangout for an entire group of friends. When I was a teenager, we all went to Ally's. The reason was simple—with a little convincing, her mom would make us fried pickles. This was small-town Illinois in 2004, back when fried pickles were practically unheard of. The ones Mrs. Phillips cooked up were unpretentious and fantastic: Vlasic Sandwich Stackers, fried in a skillet of canola oil and served up with a side of Hidden Valley Ranch. That first plate was a revelation. Who knew that jarred pickles and bottled dressing could be so good, with just some floury breading and a few minutes of frying?
Nine years later, fried pickles are downright ubiquitous. These trendy little snacks are popping up in dive bars, on food trucks, and in upscale restaurant kitchens. And everyone's doing their own spin on this snack—with aioli and sauces, thick batter and light breading, housemade pickles and store bought, and (the biggest debate of all) chips and spears. We could debate the merits of each until we're blue in the face, but I'd rather celebrate the incredible diversity of my favorite bar snack.
So here you have it: six great fried pickles in and around Boston.
About the author: Kate Shannon is a cheesemonger and former line cook. Although she calls Boston home, she hasn't lost her love for the fried cheese curds and Chicago-style hotdogs of the Midwest. She believes that leftover Thai takeout makes the best lunches and that strawberry shortcake is meant to be breakfast, not dessert.