Lent is here, which means that it's time for Fish Fry-days in restaurants, churches and fire halls across the city.
If you're not sure why fish on Friday is a thing, let me back up a bit. Lent 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 revisit my top three fav fish fry places in the 'Burgh. A heaping dollop of tartar and a shake of hot sauce and I'm on a date with one of my favorite sandwiches!
Nied's fish sandwiches are legendary in Lawrenceville. They are ginormous and lip-smacking good. What makes them so yummy? The cod is light and fluffy and the breading is crispy. The price is reasonable and the size is generous. The hunk of fish 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 mom used to call "a nice sandwich." If you go during Lent (February through mid-April), I suggest calling in your order since the bar is usually packed on Friday nights. Or you can hang out at the cozy bar and chat with the 89-year-old bartender while you wait and smell your sandwiches being freshly made. 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?
Located in Uptown, Epiphany Church has great fish sandwiches. You can choose the deep-fried or baked-fish sandwich. Both are big. Hmmm do you see a pattern here with my preferred portion size?! They also have lots of side dishes like homemade pierogies, french fries, cole slaw, mac & cheese, New England clam chowder, crab cakes and jumbo shrimp. Enjoy your meal in McDowell Hall beneath the Church, across from Chatham Center next to CONSOL Energy Center, or call ahead for take-out orders. The Fish Fry is open every Friday from now through June 26.
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 144 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 p.m.) 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 perfect side to get with your fish sandwich is the onion rings – they are off the chart! Ask for the mustard sauce – it is tangy and perfect for dipping your rings. Not sure what's in this sauce but I would trade one of my 6 brothers to get that recipe!