In Search of the Best Milwaukee Fish Fry

Whether you find yourself dancing to a polka in a traditional beer hall while enjoying locally brewed beer batter delights, eating a fish fry with your family in a church basement, sitting in a local tavern washing fresh fried perch, or in a classic supper club when it comes to fish fry’s - Milwaukee does not disappoint. Milwaukee restaurants are serving up this Friday night staple during the Lenten season, and Milwaukee Food & City Tours is excited to help showcase a few of these classic Milwaukee Fish Fry hotspots on a special Milwaukee Fish Fry Tour this Lenten season.

What creates the best Milwaukee fish fry?

On our Milwaukee Fish Fry Tour, it quickly becomes clear that the ‘best fish fry” is a matter of personal preference. The star of the Milwaukee fish fry begins with a beautifully seasoned piece of fish, dipped in flour and often a secret beer batter recipe, and then either pan fried or deep fried to a delicious golden perfection. We asked recent food tour attendees what they love about a good fish fry, and Debra from Sheboygan, commented, “It’s that crunch - I love the crispy breading and then the flaky melt in your mouth tenderness of the fish.”

Iconic Milwaukee Not-to-be-Missed Fish Fry’s During Lent

1.      Clifford’s Supper Club: Serving up tasty All You Can Eat Deep-Fried Iceland Cod with homemade tartar sauce and crispy French fries. Perfectly paired with an old fashioned!

2.      Do you prefer a little polka entertainment with your beer battered cod? If that is the case, you can’t go wrong with Lakefront Brewery with its family style seating and serving. The batter is a secret blend of tasty Lakefront beers, battered and fried to perfection. If drinking locally brewed beer, polka and one of the best fish fries in town isn’t Milwaukee, I don’t know what is.

Relish tray at Dobie's Steak House in St. Francis, WI

Relish tray at Dobie's Steak House in St. Francis, WI

3.      Dobie’s Steak House; established in 1954 in St. Francis, WI: There is something nostalgic about grabbing a Brandy old fashioned and cozying up on a Friday night while nibbling on pickled eggs, cucumber slices, radishes and green onions right off the relish tray as you wait for your battered fish fry of perfection to arrive.

4.      Brown Bottle Pub in historic Schlitz Park: It only makes sense in Brew City that we would feature beer battered fish fries in some of our top restaurants. A beer batter recipe substitutes beer for milk or water in the batter, but this isn’t just for novelty – it’s serious science as those golden bubbles in the beer add body and lightness to the fish and beautiful color and flavor. The traditional Milwaukee beer battered fish fry recipe pairs best with a piece of cod or haddock. Whether you prefer a thick beer battered cod, or lightly breaded freshwater fish fillet, you can’t go wrong with a fish fry as a delicious way to celebrate the end of a long work week!

Sampling both beer battered cod and smelt at St. Florian Catholic Church in West Milwaukee. 

Sampling both beer battered cod and smelt at St. Florian Catholic Church in West Milwaukee. 

5.      St. Florian Catholic Church offers one of the most popular church fish fries in town, serving up not only fish, but salad and dessert bars with all of the fixings! (P.S. On our tour, when we have a chance to visit this churches, we also enjoy a church tour provided by Father Mike!)

6.      Mibb’s & Viv’s in Sussex, WI. Located in its original location since the late-1800’s and operated by great-grandson of its founders Mibb and Viv, this classic Wisconsin bar makes a fantastic breaded version of the classic fish fry. The side dishes are a standalone supporting cast of stars with perfectly seasoned potato pancakes, apple sauce, coleslaw, bread and tartar sauce. Upon arrival at Mibb’s & Viv’s, be sure to place your food order at the bar, then order a Milwaukee brewed beer and sit back to unwind to the weekend while waiting for your table and meal to become available and served.

Breaded haddock with apple sauce, potato pancakes, cole slaw and rye bread at historic Mibb's & Viv's in Sussex, WI

Breaded haddock with apple sauce, potato pancakes, cole slaw and rye bread at historic Mibb's & Viv's in Sussex, WI

Travel anywhere else in the United States and ask a local, “Where can I find the best fish fry?,” and you may be met with mixed reactions. Sometimes a blank stare, a clarifying question such as “you mean fish and chips?,” or my personal favorite, “do you mean like a Fillet-O-Fish?” Here in Milwaukee though, one could argue that outside of a controversial referee call during a Green & Gold football game, there are few things that can spark more passionate conversation than comparing favorite fish fries in the city.

Are you up to spotting the best fish fries in Milwaukee?  Join our tour! Offered now through April 21, 2017 every Friday beginning at 5:30 pm – or available year-round for private tours - the Milwaukee Fish Fry Tour offered by Milwaukee Food & City Tours let’s you decide for yourself who offers the best Milwaukee fish fry! 

Finding the best fish fry in Milwaukee is no easy task though, as it’s often a combination of personal taste preferences, side dishes and atmosphere. Offered now through April 21 every Friday beginning at 5:30 pm, the Milwaukee Fish Fry Tour offered by Milwaukee Food & City Tours visits 3 establishments during the 3-hour tour so that you can decide for yourself who offers the best Milwaukee fish fry. You’ll sample a half-sized portion of a fish fry along with sides such as potato pancakes, coleslaw and apple sauce at each stop that we visit. And as with all of our food tours, guests are encouraged to save room for dessert - in this case, a scoop of legendary Milwaukee-style custard. Reserve your seat before they sell out at HERE