Fish fry season is upon us. Take advantage with these 14-plus Twin Cities metro area destinations (Note: Burger Friday will return, soon). Note: Many are all-you-can-eat situations, but some are not.
Birch’s on the Lake dives deep into the Wisconsin fish fry tradition with beer-battered cod (the beer is brewed on the premises, naturally), fries, house-made tartar sauce and cole slaw, served at lunch Wednesday through Friday, dinner Wednesday through Saturday and brunch Saturday and Sunday in the restaurant’s lower-level brewhouse.
In beautiful downtown Stillwater, Brine’s Bar and Restaurant reserves Friday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m. for its weekly fish fry, an all-you-can-eat setup that includes beer-battered fish and all the trimmings (including access to the salad bar) for $10.95.
Lively Cafe Maude in south Minneapolis has revived its Friday night fish fry, serving beer-battered cod, coleslaw, potato wedges and tartar sauce for $16.50, starting at 5 p.m.
At the quintessential corner watering hole that is the Cardinal Restaurant & Bar (conveniently located at the 38th Street stop of the Blue Line light rail in south Minneapolis), every Friday is fish fry day, serving beer-battered cod, fries, coleslaw and bread, all-you-can-eat style, for $10.95.
Friday’s blue plate special at the Citizen Supper Club – the new-ish, great-looking restaurant inside the Intercontinental St. Paul Riverfront hotel in downtown St. Paul – is a fish fry, and it’s a doozy: battered cod, fries, tartar sauce and a non-alcoholic beverage for just $8.97. One caveat: it’s a lunch-only deal, served 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Historic Gluek’s Restaurant & Bar in downtown Minneapolis serves its Friday fish fry (11 a.m. to 10 p.m.) all year. Here’s the drill: $13.95 buys Cajun-seasoned catfish, red beans and rice, hush puppies and coleslaw. Another option: The kitchen’s walleye in a Gluek beer batter, served with crisp fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce ($10.95, a single serving), is available at lunch and dinner daily.
Cozy Henry’s Cafe does doing the diner-style Friday fish fry thing (beer-battered pollock with house-baked bread) in an all-you-can-eat format for $10.99, at lunch and dinner. Then remember to return on Monday morning for the fantastic all-you-can-eat pancakes bargain: $2.50, with a beverage purchase.
It’s all about truth in advertising at the Little Oven in St. Paul, which vows — accurately — to deliver “biggest portions, smallest prices.” The kitchen’s Lenten fish fry is no different. It features beer-battered cod, soup or salad, potato (baked, mashed, fries or hash browns), daily vegetable and a popover. Expect to pay $10.99 for three pieces of cod, $12.50 for the five-piece option and $13.50 for the all-you-can-eat plan. Lunch and dinner daily, through March 26.
During Lent (Feb. 19 and 26), the Lake Elmo Inn in Lake Elmo dedicates its Friday lunch special ($15.95) to the fish fry format. The menu? Alaskan cod, fried or broiled, served with fries or a baked potato, and coleslaw. Consider dropping by on Friday evenings (through March 25) and indulging in chef/co-owner John Schiltz’s annual seafood buffet, a spread that includes fresh oysters, smoked salmon, shrimp cocktail, an ever-changing seafood entree, salads, soup and other side dishes, at $60 per person. Toss in a 4-oz. lobster tail for an additional $10.
Morgan’s on Nicollet in Burnsville goes all-out during Lent, with an all-day fish fry that includes all-you-can-eat beer-battered Icelandic cod, fries and coleslaw for $15 (the kitchen also offers a basket-size single serving for $6). For those in a taco mode, the kitchen knocks out soft corn tortillas filled with crisply fried calamari with mango-beet slaw and avocado aioli ($6), sliders filled with ground tuna in a ginger-soy glaze ($6) and seafood chowder ($4).
The Nicollet Diner on Eat Street in Minneapolis is a convenient 24/7/365 fish-fry zone, thanks to its we-never-close hours and the menu’s heaping helping of fish and chips: four pieces of batter-dipped North Atlantic pollock, served with hand-cut fries and house-made tartar sauce, all for $11.99.
Sticking close to its northern Wisconsin lineage, Red Stag Supperclub in northeast Minneapolis puts out a doozy of a Friday night-only fish fry. Choose from single ($12) and double ($17) servings of cod, and single ($13) and double ($18) servings of walleye, all paired with malt vinegar-seasoned potato chips, coleslaw and a house-made tartar sauce that’s generously infused with sweet onions. Go ahead, splurge ($9) on a cone of the kitchen’s signature smelt fries.
The rooftop patio isn’t open – well, at least not yet – at Stella’s Fish Cafe & Prestige Oyster Bar in Uptown, but that’s not a reason to skip fish FRY-day (in Stella’s-speak), an all-you-can-eat setup that features Alaskan cod with fries and coleslaw for $14.95.
Fun-loving Tin Cup’s in St. Paul batters up with Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss beer in an all-you-can-consume situation ($11.99) that covers all the usual menu bases and runs Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Add a tall cold glass of that Wisconsin honey-infused beer – a perfect match for a platter of deep-fried goodness -- for $4.
Let us eat: Naturally, Twin Cities churches play a major role in the fish fry scene. The Catholic Spirit publishes a handy and helpful list, find it here. To that, I’d add a few more.
Nativity Men's Club in St. Paul has a fish fry coming up on Feb. 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. (a second one follows on March 11, from 5 to 7 p.m.). Cost is $12 per adult and $9 per child, with a $40 family option. Get this: There’s a drive-through take-out option, too.
Looking for an early Friday fish fry? Drop in on Church of the Epiphany in Coon Rapids, which runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday through March 18, with a great price: $10 for adults, $6 for youth (ages 6 to 12) and seniors (62 and older), and free for kids ages 5 and under. The menu? The fish is baked or fried, with a beer batter (Guinness) and a non-beer batter, and sides include potato, applesauce, coleslaw, dessert and a beverage. Not into fish? There’s pizza.
While they appear on the Catholic Spirit list, two extra-mile efforts deserve shout-outs. First up is St. Albert the Great in south Minneapolis, notable for its varied menu (fried or baked tilapia, mashed potatoes or hash browns, spaghetti with meatless marinara sauce, desserts), plus the added attraction of Bingo and raffles. Oh, and a handy shuttle bus from the church to the (much-needed) overflow parking lot at nearby Anne Sullivan Communication Center. A great price, too: $11 adults, $10 seniors (ages 65 and older), $5 children (ages 6 to 12), free for kids ages 5 and under.
And kudos to the anti-fish-fry enchilada dinners at Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul, which run 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday during Lent. Ten bucks buys three onion/cheese enchiladas plus rice, beans, dessert and a beverage (there’s a $6 option with one enchilada and all the sides). There’s even a takeout option: a dozen enchiladas for $20. And yes, credit cards are accepted.
Finally, save the date: Plan ahead for a major post-Lenten fish fry. It's the annual self-billed “world’s largest” all-you-can-eat smelt fry, sponsored by the Brooklyn Park Lions Club, The 2016 event is scheduled for April 20, 21 and 22 at the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center.