Best Potato Chips

Leave it to this Huntington Beach-based company to make a hell of a classy and crunchy potato chip. Any old frying oil will do, right? Wrong! Vegetable oil? Yeah, right. Olive oil? Nope. Rusty's is all about safflower oil. And what about the salt? Sun-dried, evaporated sea salt from the French Mediterranean. Class-ay! Now, on to the crunch factor of Rusty's chips: very high. You have to chomp each crunchy sucker at least 10 times before you'll feel comfortable swallowing it. You'll notice, too, that they aren't the off-whitish color of most potato chips. Unlike most places, Rusty's doesn't blanch or wash the potato slices before frying them. These chips are the prototype of handmade: Employees slice each potato and fill each bag by hand. The chip kitchen is located in an industrial park tucked behind another industrial park in Huntington Beach, and true to form, the office space is rather homey: lots of posters and newspaper articles tacked onto the walls and a sprawling combination of mail and clutter lines the floor. Founder Rusty Vasterling is an H.B. native, father of twin boys and the onetime partial owner of a sports bar in Costa Mesa. He got the idea for the company after eating some especially delicious chips on a trip to Maui. Rusty's Chips opened in 1985, but he sold the company five years later, and then reopened it in 2000. Check out photos of Rusty's throng of fans on the website's photo gallery, too. One fanatic named Sandy takes a bag of Rusty's with her everywhere she travels. So far, the chips have traveled to the Taj Mahal and a Canadian glacier. Thanks to its delicious chips and homemade touch, the local company has made a name for itself nationwide and garnered lots of media coverage, even from Newsweek. You can buy the chips at various Southern California markets or off the website, or you could just book a reservation at the Wynn resort in Las Vegas, since each room is stocked with a bag of Rusty's Chips. $

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