Al’s French Frys is nostalgic – a pre-McDonald’s fast-food operation serving greasy little burgers, pudgy franks in toasted split-top buns and, as the name says, French fries (or as Al’s spells it, French frys). Ruggedly handsome frys they are, cooked to crisp-edged darkness, presented in overflowing containers that hold a cup, pint, or quart. Business at Al’s is brisk enough that you always get them hot, just moments out of the fry kettle. Along with salt, tables are outfitted with a squeeze bottle of vinegar for those who like to add acidic twang to their potatoes.
The burgers are small enough that degree of doneness is not an issue and a double makes good sense. Not being so exquisite-flavored, the beef benefits from maximum accoutrements, which can include cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, and onions. As for the hot dog, it is nothing special in its own right. But the bun is a New England pièce de résistance, split and griddle-toasted, adding a cushion of starchy support to the piggy little tube steak. Fried chicken, which is often a second-tier dish in cheap-eats diners, is pretty darn good, encased in a thick, brittle crust that delivers the welcome flavor duet of chicken fat and skin.
Two order lines inside and three ice cream windows outside assure that no matter how crowded this boisterous joint becomes, you will eat soon after arriving. Except for chicken, which takes a while, service is nearly instantaneous. Place your order and pay, take a few steps and whammo: there is your tray full of food, ready to be carried to one of the tables or counter seats in the sprawling diner.