Sometimes our jobs aren’t just to drink beer and talk weed. Sometimes, we must go on a journey – a journey to find the best fried pickles in all of fair Durango. (Also, this idea was definitely NOT birthed on a slow Friday afternoon when we were trying to decide what to eat for lunch.)
To our great surprise, not unlike an actual Knights of the Round Table quest, finding a hot plate of this pickled, greasy goodness was about as challenging as fighting off a hungry dragon. Only we were the hungry dragon(s)? Anyway, after some top-notch Internet sleuthing, we discovered three Durango restaurants offering up said pickles.
So we took one for the team and stuffed ourselves full of delicious, crispy deep-fried pickles until we needed someone to cart us back to the office in a wheelbarrow. We learned that a love of fried pickles is subjective, and factors such as shape, size, crispiness, levels of saltiness and grease, and bread-to-pickle ratio must come into consideration. From spears to chips to spirals (that was a new one), we dug our greedy hands into our plates, snatched up the fried goodies, dunked them into all sorts of savory sauces, and shoved them down our pie holes. Hey, being a journalist is hungry work.
The Irish Embassy PubStyle: Thickly-breaded pickle spears with a side of honey mustard
Amanda: “Even though they’re not as easy to eat as pickle chips, for whatever reason I prefer spears to chips, so I was pretty psyched when our server came back with this plate. The background pirate music helped. The breading looked delicious and super crispy yet not too greasy and I, of course, am always down for some honey mustard to dip into. While I undoubtedly loved these because I shoved entirely too many of them into my mouth, I would have preferred more pickle to the breading. Though I do love some good, crispy breading, we all the know the dill is the real star of the show and I would have loved to have had a stronger pickle presence. Compared to the thick breading, the pickle just seemed a bit thin. Obviously, this did not stop me from devouring all of them till I felt like a slug.”
Angelica: “I really don’t even want to talk about fried pickles after this journey, yet here we are. My thoughts: 1. These pickles were fine – I am super gross and really like to eat JUST the beer batter off of the fish and chips at Irish Embassy, so I’m fine with a ton of crunchy fried batter, which was what these fried pickles were made of. 2. Honey mustard should not be served with pickles. It’s weird. I would eat these again because batter makes me happy, but I do wish there was more pickle buried in there, and I would beg some ranch out of the server to make this thing all the more fattening. Also, why not fry the entire pickle? I’d be fine with that, too.”
Best for: Lovers of batter. Lots and lots of batter. ESPECIALLY beer batter, which is what they were dunked in.
Balcony Bar & GrillStyle: Thinly-breaded pickle chips with a side of Balcony sauce
Amanda: “I could not stop eating these things, even when I thought my stomach was going to explode. Pickle chips just make it soooooo easy to overstuff yourself because they’re so convenient to just grab, dunk, and toss to the back of your throat. And they’re also so small that you lie to yourself and say, ‘Oh, what’s one more pickle?’ until you’re doubling over the table cuz you’re about to explode out of your jeans. I, personally, preferred ranch to dunk these suckers into, but the bread to pickle ratio on these babies was a little more manageable. Much thinner than the ones at Irish Embassy. In fact, I probably could have done with a little MORE breading, if anything. I ended up having to shove the plate away cuz I was about ready to die from eating too many deep fried pickles.”
Angelica: “This was our second round of fried pickles in a matter of 24 hours, and to be quite frank, I wasn’t super stoked about eating any more of them, mostly because a second round sounded like torture. Still, I rallied, and I actually ended up liking these slivers of crunchy fried pickles. The batter to pickle ration was good, and they weren’t TOO deep-fried, but they weren’t soggy either. While I HATED the Balcony sauce, this time I DID beg ranch out of our server and then shoveled said pickle chips, which became ranch vessels, into my mouth until the basket was empty.”
Best for: Old school fried pickle lovers, or people who love to eat fried shit at a wings place. Ain’t no spears in this bunch. Just silver dollar slivers of pickle and batter.
Brew Pub & KitchenStyle: Spirals (how did they do this?!) with a side of spicy aioli sauce
Amanda: “OK, but really. HOW DO THEY MAKE THEM SPIRAL?! These pickles looked more like funnel cake than anything else. I was definitely open-mouthed leering when the server brought these over (at the pickles, not the waitress). The spirals were an awesome touch – I had never seen them served like that before – though it did make trying to pull them apart a little treacherous. More than a few fried pickles lost their lives due to being accidentally flung onto the table or floor. These lil’ homies were super crispy, with a solid pickle to breading ratio balance. It was impossible not to eat way too many of these since, not only were they mouthwateringly good, all the fried pickle vines were tangled together. You just had to tell yourself, ‘Well, I guess I’m eating a fried pickle foot-long,’ and reserve yourself to your overstuffed fate.”
Angelica: “I am fresh off of a lunch that involved these bad boys as I write this, and I feel like I’m unfairly critical at this point. I definitely liked this batter-to-pickle ration the best, and I feel like this batter was more like a tempura than a heavy ass crusty batter, but I didn’t know how to solve the spiral-pickle puzzle mound. They were so tangled! I ended up just tearing off pieces and shoveling them straight into my mouth. The sauce was hella good, though, so I occasionally paused to dip the curled pickle-batter mess into it. And now I am so full I can barely think. Please kill me.”
Best for: Fans of the Rubik’s Cube or Sudoku. You will be both satiated AND hard at work trying to solve the pickle puzzle.
Amanda: “It was a tough decision because obviously there are only amazingly, delicious fried pickles in this world, but I’m going to have to go with Brew Pub on this one. I quickly fell in love with the tangled spirals on my plate, and the spicy aioli sauce was such a great touch. I was really happy with the comparative amounts of pickle to breading on this one and I felt like Goldilocks finally discovering just the right porridge.”
Angelica: “I don’t know, man. I don’t even like these things anymore after eating three plates in two days. They’re all fine. Everyone gets a prize. Don’t ever put a plate of this stuff in front of me again, please and many thanks. I have also imposed an embargo on any sauce other than ranch. The other sauces can die in a greasy pickle fire.”