Friday the 11th kicks off the 2011 fish fry season! You know, I've been doing the Fish Fry guide for a couple of years now, and I have to say that I am super psyched to see the local evolution. To think that it's gone beyond a religious habit and turned into a community cultural food event makes me wiggle my greasy fingers with glee!
I LOVED the piece that Heavy Table's Jill Lewis wrote and I am more than excited to see what the Twin Cities Fish Fry Club comes up with this year. Can we really all get excited about eating elbow to elbow off paper plates with the oldsters and kiddoes and bingo? OH MY!
So now there are plenty of people posting lists of where to go, but I'll still give you mine, with opinions, shout outs, and new intel (**) if you please. I like to break it down by venue.
Remember, churches will most likely be beer-free events, but they are your best chance for bake sales and bingo. The Catholic Spirit has an awesome list this year.
** Mary Mother of the Church in Burnsville keeps it real by cooking up walleye for their annual fry. They start 4/18.
** Our Holy Cross in Nordeast was a suggestion last year and I've heard great things. Plus this year, kids under 12 cost just $1.25! (And they do soup suppers for $5 on Wednesdays during Lent.)
** Holy Family Maronite Church always throws down the Lebanese meal, but this year it will be WITHOUT FISH. Whatevs, more garlic dip for your eggplant.
St. Albert the Great is like the Mall of America of fish fries, last year they set all kinds of records. You will wait in line, but it's one of the nicest waits.
Most Holy Trinity in SLP is still a top destination for me. Haven't had a bummer night there yet.
Church of the Sacred Heart in Robbinsdale has always had good beer batter, but I missed them last year, so I'm going on ... faith.
VFW/American Legions and the like will most likely have beer, and maybe some raffle action, but they might be more crowded with pull-tab lovin' regulars.
** Charles Knaeble VFW in Robbinsdale has an AYCE lunch and dinner, plus 4pm meat raffle!
** Chanhassen American Legion goes the extra step and throws an ice cream social for dessert during the Lenten fish dinners.
Excelsior American Legion is my local go-to. I've yet to be disappointed by the camaraderie or the fish. Or the fat n' foiled baked tater.
Gallagher-Hansen VFW in South St. Paul on Concord throws a mean shindig.
Restaurants and bars will clearly provide a good menu and some professional shine to the meal, but let's be honest, it's really not the same as basement chic dining. Gather with friends around a small table to really get the fish fry feel.
** Jack's Mpls. is doing the fish fry thing on Fridays. Stylish fish to be sure.
** Floyd's in Victoria throws an all day fish fry including $3 pints of Leinie's.
** Merlin's Rest is shunning the fry, but offering a grilled salmon plate for $9.75, and it's worth mentioning if only for the accompanying whisky bible.
** Cardinal Tavern gives you all the beer battered cod, fries, and slaw you want for $9.95.
Red Stag's Friday Fish Fry has those addictive smelt fries plus more sassiness.
Groveland Tap is AYCE for $10. And they have good beer.
Cafe Twenty-Eight is run by a Badger-State girl who knows how to throw down a beer-battered piece of fish. Every Friday is an homage to Northern Wisconsin.
Obb's in Mounds Park is worth the hype. It is all-you-can-eat fried fish, it is craft beer on tap, it is an order of serious onion rings if you have room.
The Valley, (aka Joe's Valley), rocks it for me in that divey, homey, friendly Wisconsin bar kinda way. And yes, the fish melts in your mouth.