UNC Bucket List is a weekly feature highlighting the 100 things students should attempt before they graduate. Check out the full bucket list and all previous Bucket List posts here.
UNC Bucket List #88: Eat cheese fries at Linda’s on Franklin Street
When it comes to getting some good late-night greasy food, Linda’s Bar and Grill was never the first place that came to mind. Usually when I’m buzzed or hammered (and yes, ladies & gents, I’m over 21) I’ll usually head on over to Time-Out for a western omelet with cheese or grab Mexican food out at Qdoba or Cosmic Cantina. But Linda’s? Never been.
I always thought it was a restaurant for some reason. In fact, I had always wondered if it was still in business since I never saw people walk in or out. None of my friends had ever talked about it, and since I felt all too comfortable in my usual Franklin St. haunts, I never really thought about visiting it.
That was, however, until I heard about Linda’s cheese fries.
Daily Tar Heel editors had told me “they have a bit of a cult following.” The fries — called the Loaded Cheese Fries on the Linda’s menu — cost $7.25 for a large serving and $5.25 for a half-order, with 50 cents extra for sauce or dressing.
The order consists of potato fries topped with cheese, bacon, and chives. On paper, it all sounded pretty good. A member of the Avett Brothers described them as awesome . It was only natural that I had to see what all the hubbub was about.
A word to the wise, however: Linda’s is not only a restaurant. While the front lights of McAlister’s next door shone brightly, the only lights shining from Linda’s were a couple of neon-lit alcohol bar signs from within. The inside is made of or paneled in wood, from the tall booths engraved with names of customers through the years to the tall chairs near the bar.
An old, gray-haired couple sitting next to me raved about the food. They told our bartender, George, that they had come specifically to Linda’s to celebrate their 31st anniversary.
Neither of them ordered the fries — not even the half-order like I did — and I probably should’ve taken a hint. What came out in that red basket was, simply put, frozen fries.
While there was indeed bacon and cheese and chives, there was not much of it. Only the top layer of fries were lightly covered with these ingredients. All below this layer were frozen fries. And greasy ones at that.
It’s one of those plates where after a couple of bites everything you touch starts to feel moist and sticky, even after continuously wiping your hands with napkins, the kind that causes your fingers to slide across the buttons on your phone as you try to text.
It’s a good thing that ranch dressing is included, since it gives the otherwise bland fries an extra, much-needed kick of flavor. However, you’ll likely end up spending the extra fifty cents if you want every bite to be covered in ranch. Though I admit I like to cover my bites to the max with dressing, one container of ranch was only able to cover around half the basket.
Granted, I didn’t have my beer goggles on at the time — I had only a rum and Coke. So it’s possible my Linda’s experience wasn’t entirely typical. When I paid my check, George recommended stopping in later in the night after a few drinks.
“People come in and tear up these things,” he said of the cheese fries. I can only imagine — greasy food and alcohol are an unbreakable marriage. Linda’s fries might not have won me over sober, but I do plan on trying them again when I’m hammered. Maybe then I’ll finally join the cult following.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.