Milwaukee fish fry guide
The Friday_ fish fry is one of Milwaukee’s most cherished and distinctive traditions. In fact, visit most other cities and ask where to get the “best fish fry,” and you’re likely to be met with a blank stare … but not in the Brew City.
Milwaukee came by its fish fry tradition honestly. After all, the European settlers who flocked to the Cream City in the 1800s would have been remiss if they didn’t take advantage of the bounty provided by Lake Michigan’s waters. It helps that many of those immigrants were Catholic, and the tradition of foregoing the consumption of meat on Fridays made the fish fry a natural evolution.
The fish fry tradition developed even further during the Prohibition era, when fish fries became a way for former alcohol-purveying establishments to stay in business. Many went so far as to conceal their illicit speakeasies beneath the intoxicating aroma of frying fish, offering free or low-cost fish to those who imbibed.
As time moved forward, fish fries became an easy way to avoid meat while enjoying a night out and eating affordably. The tradition grew from there, providing Milwaukee families an opportunity to go out to dinner without breaking the bank.
Most places in town have fish fries, and this guide couldn’t possibly cover them all; but after much searching, asking and eating, here are some of the best places in the city to catch a fish fry.
And, as always, if we’ve forgotten your favorite or if you’re willing to share your hidden gem … share it with others by posting a Talkback below.
A fish fry marked with this symbol has been reviewed by Lori Fredrich as part of her Thank Cod It’s Fryday series.
Where do you want to find a fish fry? Downtown/East Side North/Northwest Side/Suburbs Multiple Locations South/Southwest Side West Side/Suburbs Worth the Drive Churches and Centers
Downtown/East Side Bar Louie 1114 N. Water St., (414) 847-1492 barlouieamerica.com Bar Louie serves up its Drunken Fish & Chips seven nights a week. Enjoy beer-battered fish, tartar sauce and tasty seasoned fries.
Buck Bradley’s 1019 N. Old World 3rd St., (414) 224-8500 buckbradleys.com Tasty baked or breaded cod fish fry, great sides and one of the longest bars east of the Mississippi.
Cafe Benelux 346 N. Broadway, (414) 501-2500 cafebenelux.com At Cafe Benelux, High Speed Wit battered haddock is served with coleslaw, old bay remoulade, frites, rye bread and a grilled lemon.
Hi-Hat 1701 N. Arlington Pl., (414) 225-9330 hihatlounge.com Hi-Hat may not be the first place you think of for fish fry, but it fries those fish up right (with a slight twist), from open to close every Friday night. Choose from battered cod or Milwaukee-style fried perch; both are served with coleslaw, marble rye, fries and caper mayo. You can also opt for the fish sandwich or Lake perch tacos.
Hooligan’s 2017 E. North Ave., (414) 273-5230 hooliganssuperbar.com On Fridays Hooligan’s guests have a choice of cod, lake perch or walleye with the option of eating the fish as a dinner or in a sandwich. All dinners are served with coleslaw, tartar sauce, marble rye bread and a choice of fries, fresh fruit or homemade potato pancakes.
Klinger’s East 920 E. Locust St. (414) 263-2424 [Read the Thank Cod It’s Fryday review] Walk into Klinger’s East and you’re (literally) walking into a piece of history. On Fridays, that comes with a side of fish fry. Choices include battered pollock or breaded perch served alongside potato pancakes (or fries) and marble rye.
Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall 1872 N. Commerce St., (414) 292-0808 lakefrontbrewery.com A favorite of OnMilwaukee.com readers, Lakefront has one of the city’s most unique fish fries, served from 4 until 9 p.m. The menu offers cod with East Side Dark batter, panko-breaded perch, breaded smelt or a combination platter with beer battered cod, breaded lake perch and 2 jumbo shrimp. Each option is served up with creamy coleslaw, housemade tartar sauce and a choice of sides including fries, potato pancakes or German potato salad. A lovely setting on the river, polka music and tours of the brewery are also available.
Major Goolsby’s 340 W. Kilbourn Ave., (414) 271-3414 restaurantji.com/wi/milwaukee/major-goolsbys- On Fridays, Goolsby’s offers guests breaded Icelandic cod fillets with coleslaw and fries. Other offerings include a fish sandwich on a bun with lettuce and tomato.
Miller Time Pub 509 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 271-2337 millertimepub.com Miller Time Pub welcomes guests to try the famous Milwaukee fish fry tradition seven days a week. The entree includes Miller beer battered haddock served with dill tartar, three cabbage coleslaw, potato pancakes and apple sauce.
Milwaukee Beer Bistro 2730 N. Humboldt Blvd., (414) 562-5540 milwaukeebeerbistro.com This bar and grill, once home to Rio West Cantina, serves up all sorts of food infused with beer. And that includes the fish fry which features ale battered cod with fries and coleslaw. The fish fry is also available on Wednesdays during Lent.
Milwaukee Brat House 1013 N. Old World 3rd St., (414) 273-8709 milwaukeebrathouse.com Even the brat house serves fish on Fridays. Stop in for three pieces of fresh cod, coleslaw, rye bread and tartar sauce.
Mo’s Irish Pub 142 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 272-0721 mosirishpub.com Mo’s serves its Irish fish and chips all year round. Entrées come with golden brown, beer-battered Atlantic cod served with seasoned fries, tangy tartar sauce and homemade coleslaw.
Motor 400 W. Canal St., (414) 287-2778 motorrestaurant.com There’s nothing more Milwaukee than a Harley and a fish fry. Head to the Harley-Davidson Museum’s own Motor for an all-day Wisconsin fish fry featuring beer-battered fish served with fries, coleslaw and (here’s the twist) cornbread.
Continued on OnMilwaukee.com_