The key to a good fried pickle is not in the pickle itself, but the breading. The majority of fried pickles we've tasted have a coating that falls right off in a greasy mess with little prodding. What's the point of deep frying anything if the deep-fried quotient of the equation falls apart after a couple of bites? Hot dog and hamburger joints around the city (i.e. Po Dog and The Counter) have embraced the fried pickle, serving both as a bun filler and a side dish. In our quest to find a perfectly briny snack (with a decent dipping sauce) that we could enjoy by the plateful, we found two strong contenders -- a pub and a sandwich shop -- but only one worth its salt.
3416 Fremont Ave. N., 453-5232
These kosher dills are battered in beer and Panko crumbs and served with Creole honey mustard ($3.95). The problem is not in the taste, but the weakness of the coating, which falls off after a bite or two. The batter is also a tad greasy, easily soaking up several napkins by the time we were finished eating. Homegrown's fried pickles have a nice flavor, but either the recipe or execution needs tweaking to keep the breading intact instead of the oil.
5429 Ballard Ave. N.W., 783-6521
Seems you can't mention People's Pub without mentioning their fried pickles. What makes these pickles so great is the batter. The chef tells us it's all about using good flour and real eggs, and making sure to sufficiently coat the pickles with flour before applying the second egg wash. Like Homegrown, Panko is also in the mix. The dill pickle spears are breaded and deep-fried and are served with garlic aioli ($6.50, $4 during happy hour). The aioli is a little too thick, almost paste-like, but the fried pickles are hard to beat.
People's Pub. Hands down. These dills are coated with just enough breading to create a light and crunchy coating that's fully committed to the pickle. The result is a crisp and delicate texture that's not soggy, greasy or too thick. It's easy to ruin a good dill pickle. Making it taste even better? That's the hard part. The People's Pub pulls it off.