Small town pubs and old school supper clubs, brewery beer halls and centuries-old historic joints – all serving up the most iconic of Wisconsin meals – the Friday night fish fry. As Lent approaches and we hit prime fish fry season, it seemed appropriate to find some of the very best spots all across the state that serve up a variety of delicious and unique fish in their Friday night fry. Sometimes they come with fries, sometimes with potato pancakes, always with slaw or potato salad and some bread. This is by no means an exhaustive list – even the internet doesn’t have room for a list of all the wonderful spots to get a Friday night fish fry in Wisconsin – but here are 13 spots you should definitely try:
1. Owl's Nest - Poynette
A particularly popular choice when smelt season comes around, folks also rave about the beer battered cod. Located at 617 E North St, Poynette, WI 53955.
2. Crawfish Junction - Milford
So. Many. Options. Baked or deep fried cod, fried lake perch, fried bluegills, fried walleye, shrimp, scallops, alligator, and frogs legs. Despite being well outside the city limits, they've been voted best fish fry in Madison. Huge portions, delicious flavor and the ability to do combo platters make this a stellar option. Located at W6376 Co Rd A, Johnson Creek, WI 53038.
3. Dexter's Pub - Madison
This unassuming little spot has one of the biggest beer tap lists you'll see and uses wild-caught, sustainable fish for their fish fry - often they'll be able to tell you the provenance of the fish. It's a very Madison take on the fish fry, but the results are still delicious. Located at 301 North St, Madison, WI 53704.
4. Lost Land Lake Lodge - Hayward
Open since 1923, this lodge is literally on the shores of Lost Land Lake. Fridays bring an AYCE fish fry that draws folks from all over. The house made tartar sauce is amazing. Located at 9436 W Brandt Rd, Hayward, WI 54843.
5. Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall - Milwaukee
The Beer Garden here is one of those places that either you know about or don't and those in the know are constantly singing its praises. Folks know to go to Lakefront for a fun brewery tour, but the big surprise is how absolutely amazing the food is. Perch, smelt and cod are your options, or mix it up in a combo. The dinner doesn't come with fried cheese curds, but these guys have the best ones I've ever had, so definitely get some for the table. Located at 1872 N Commerce St, Milwaukee, WI 53212.
6. Cliffs Boathouse - Racine
There are folks in southeast Wisconsin who drive right past Cliff's and never know what deliciousness is awaiting them inside. The fish fry is on from 11 am - 8 pm on Fridays and it's AYCE for just $10.50. The fish is great, but you're here for the potato pancakes, trust me. Located at 301 Hamilton St, Racine, WI 53402.
7. Daddy Maxwell's - Williams Bay
The homemade grated potato pancake is the star, but the fried haddock and lake perch aren't bad, either. If you're not up for fried, the grilled lemon pepper haddock is an awesome alternative. Located at 150 Elkhorn Rd, Williams Bay, WI 53191.
8. The Hale House - Hales Corners
Though it's a newer addition to the scene in the Milwaukee area, everything here feels old-school. The potato pancakes and applesauce are house made and the atmosphere feels as familiar as if you'd been coming here for years. Located at 10539 W Forest Home Ave, Hales Corners, WI 53130.
9. Kegels Inn - West Allis
This German restaurant has been open since 1924 and on Fridays it's always jam-packed with families who have made a fish fry part of their tradition. Again, it's the potato pancakes that are the star, but the cod, lake perch, walleye, bluegill and baked cod options certainly don't disappoint. Located at 5901 W National Ave, West Allis, WI 53214.
10. Patsy's Bar and Grill - Washburn
This fish fry features local Lake Superior whitefish provided by a local fishery. It's perfectly battered and fried and it's the stuff of local legends. Located at 328 W Bayfield St, Washburn, WI 54891.
12. Deep Lake Lodge - Iron River
This old school supper club offers fried, baked and blackened fish, giving you all the options - and flavors - you could want in a fish fry! Located at 67975 E Deep Lake Rd, Iron River, WI 54847.
12. The Niblick - Ashland
Also featuring fish from a local fishery, this spot does their own version of the White Fish Fry. Located at 3000 Golf Course Rd, Ashland, WI 54806.
13. Aunt Mary's Hooterville Inn - Blue Mounds
This fry is all delicious cod, and it's fried to perfection each and every time. There's a cheesy hash brown side option that's unusual for a fish fry but really, really delicious. Located at 10992 Division St, Blue Mounds, WI 53517.
Have you been to any of these spots? Have suggestions for other spots we should try? Let us know in the comments!