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Frying it up: 4 alternatives to Plain Jane fries

It's no surprise your body has a love affair with fries. The golden potato carbohydrates saturated in hot oil are both addictive and atrocious, and yet totally calorie-worthy. Shake up the side dish with Des Moines' hottest fry alternatives — and we're not just talking sweet potato.

Polenta Fries, The Continental

Polenta transforms fries into an unexpectedly delicious snack. A handful of these babies and you may never go back to flimsy, regular fries again. The lounge's appetizer is thick, hearty and easy to split late at night with a light cocktail. The crispy polenta sticks are served with a ravishing, rémoulade dipping sauce. (Think an even fancier aioli).

Find it: 428 E. Locust St.

Cost: $5.95

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Info: 515-244-5845,

Portobello Fries, Centro

Centro goes through 100-150 pounds of fresh Portobello mushrooms on any given week due the demand of these fabulous fries. To concoct this most popular appetizer, Centro chefs start by removing the stems and cleaning out the gills of the large mushroom. They then slice each into strips, coat with buttermilk and layer on the flour. After being crisped up, they dust each with salt, pepper and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. Dunk the large fries into your choice of truffle aioli or buttermilk chipotle dressing.

Find it: 1003 Locust St.

Cost: $5.99 / $10.99

Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Dinner: 5-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday

Info: 515-248-1780,

Root Vegetable Fries, HoQ

Expect nothing less than luscious flavors from this locally-sourced East Village restaurant — including their earthy take on fries. Served with lunch entrees like the vegetarian wrap and the lamb burger, HoQ raises the health bar with rustic, root fries. Beets, sweet potatoes, and red and white potatoes are striped, sliced and fried in peanut oil. "Everyone seems to love them! There are hardly ever any left on the plates," says Jessi Adam, HoQ employee.

Find it: 303 E. Fifth St.

Cost: $3

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-close Friday through Saturday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday

Info: 515-244-1213,

Masa Fries, Tacopocalypse

Owner Samuel Auen and his crew take masa — a mix of corn flour and mashed potatoes — to new and delicious heights. The mash is cut into strips and fried in soybean oil, then loaded with your choice of signature taco toppings. Keep it vegetarian with a veg-friendly poutine or go vegan by draping it in smoky tomato sauce, spicy vegan mayo, guac, slaw and seitan Andouille. Packing a hot, heavy punch, these masa fries don't mess around.

Find it: 407 East Fifth St.

Cost: $6-$7

Open hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

Info: 515-556-0571,