Lent is here, which means that it's time for Fish Fry-days in restaurants, churches and fire halls across the city.
It's almost Fish Friday season! So get your fish crawl on. If you're not sure why fish on Friday is a thing, let me back up a bit. Lent (February 14-March 30), is a religious observance by many Christian denominations that covers a period of approximately six weeks before Easter Sunday. During all of the Fridays of Lent, Catholics over the age of 14 abstain from meat and from foods made with meat. So this Catholic girl (who may be a little over the age of 14!) is always happy to "go fishing" at some of my favorite places in the 'Burgh. A heaping dollop of tartar and a shake of hot sauce and I'm a happy girl. TGIF!
Don't let the name make you pass them by because they have a really nice variety of fish sandwiches including the Pittsburgher (beer-battered fish, cole slaw and provolone), Buffalo (whiskey buffalo sauce and blue cheese), Baja (grilled with lime mayo, cabbage, tomato, pickled jalapeno and cilantro), and create-your-own. Gotta love that!
Tucked into a stretch of row houses along Butler Street, E-Town has a great beer selection and terrific food, including flavorful fish sandwiches. The place is hopping on Friday nights and the restaurant isn’t that big so get there early.
Grant’s has long been known for their fish sandwiches. The generous size leaves plenty to share (if you want to!) Pair it with their off-the-chart onion rings and you won’t be hungry again for a while.
Great food comes from local churches, and St. Malachy dishes out a great meal of baked cod along with a selection of sides. Their crab cake sandwich is the bomb – nice and spicy and topped with coleslaw.
Hefty sandwich. Two big hunks of cod with a crispy, cornmeal batter. Not at all greasy. And a soft bun that doesn't overpower the sandwich. I don't want a bun that competes with my fish. It's all about the fish. Note: Armand's is cash only so this debit-card girl had to make a banking machine stop beforehand. No worries, there's one across the street.
It's the building with the fish on it! Arguably Pittsburgh's fish mecca, Wholey's Wild Caught Cod Fish Sandwich is perfectly cooked and lighter than air. Also try the new Saintly Scallop Po’boy (breaded scallops topped with chipotle remoulade), the Wholey Holy Moley (Icelandic cod sandwich) and the Wholey Whaler (a pound of Pacific whiting fillet on a Mancini bun).
Legendary fish sandwiches. Ginormous and lip-smacking good. Yummy cod that's flaky and light. Reasonable price. The sandwich is so big (how big is it?) that it actually hangs off either side of the bun. Seriously you can split one between two or three people and still have what my mother used to call "a nice sandwich." I suggest calling in your order since the bar is usually packed on Friday nights. Be sure to let it ring a while as it’s very busy on Fridays and they eventually answer. While you wait, hang out at the cozy bar and chat with the 90-year-old bartender who is as legendary in Lawrenceville as his fish sandwiches. There's also a restaurant on the other side with tables and booths. A fish sandwich and a frosty mug of Iron City beer. What could be better than that on a Friday night?
Epiphany's efficient kitchen is in the lower level. It's big enough to not feel crowded and has scrumptious sides. Service is quick. Health conscious folks can order the baked fish, but deep-fried is the most popular. The homemade pierogies are legit good. My eyes were bigger than my stomach and I ordered the New England clam chowder too. Next time I will wear pants with an elastic waist!
Perhaps the Grandfather of all Fish Sandwiches is The Original Oyster House (OOH) in Market Square, where they've been serving up great fish sandwiches for 145 years. OOH gets my vote for one of the best fish sandwiches around. The cod has a delicate flavor with just the right amount of spices. Try to avoid going during peak lunch hour times (Noon-1 pm) as you'll see around-the-block lines at that time. I recommend going around 11:30 or after 1:30. But whatever time you go, the staff is efficient and the line moves quickly. The onion rings are perfection. Ask for the mustard sauce for the rings. Not sure what's in this sauce but I would trade one of my 6 brothers to get that recipe!