America’s Best Fish and Chips
Big and Little's
America’s Best Fish and Chips
On the surface, fish and chips sound like they should be pretty easy to make. You just batter up a piece of fish and toss it into the deep fryer with some frozen French fries, right? What could be easier? In reality, however, it’s a very tricky dish to perfect, and when it’s done poorly, it’s a soggy mess. At these 20 restaurants, the fish and chips are anything but soggy; they’re the best in the country.
#20 Malibu Seafood, Malibu, Calif.
Located right on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, this BYOB patio café and fish market serves some of the area’s freshest fish and has become a beloved institution. More than 25 different varieties of fish are on offer, ranging from onaga to loup de mer, and while you can have your pick simply grilled, make sure you sample it fried as well (they serve it alongside “fries” instead of chips, but we’ll let that slide). The traditional batter is light, super crispy, and unobtrusive, and an afternoon spent here with a six-pack and an unobstructed view of the Pacific is worth the day trip from Los Angeles.
#19 Ye Olde English Fish and Chips, Woonsocket, R.I.
Ye Olde English Fish and Chips
This spacious downtown Woonsocket institution has been going strong since 1922, when Yorkshire natives Harry and Ethel Sowden opened this waterfront eatery, and today it’s still in the family, with the fifth generation in training. The unique English-style batter recipe, which results in a slightly heavier crust around the fresh-caught pollock or cod, hasn’t changed since the day they opened, and the fries are hand-cut and pair perfectly with a shake of malt vinegar.
#18 Matt Murphy’s Pub, Brookline, Mass.
Matt Murphy's Pub
This low-key and homey neighborhood spot serves a wide variety of expertly prepared comfort foods, including seafood pot pie, a lamb burger with feta and red onion jam, and beef stew. Their fish and chips (or as they put it, crispy cod and chips), however, are among the best you’ll find in the Boston area. They’re wrapped in newspaper, and smartly come with pickled onions to cut through the starchy goodness.
#17 The Shakespeare, New York City
This Midtown pub appears as if it’s been transported lock, stock, and barrel from the English countryside. It comes complete with one of New York’s only “snugs,” a small compartment located right at the end of the bar where a group of four to six people can relax completely enclosed from the rest of the room — it even has a sliding window to order your drinks through. While ensconced at the dark wood bar, or in the cozy side dining room, you can enjoy a huge piece of beer-battered cod, light and flaky under its shatteringly crisp crust, along with triple-cooked thick-cut chips. Wash it down with a bottle of Manchester Star Porter, and you may just think you’ve been transported to Stratford-upon-Avon.
#16 The Barking Crab, Boston
Yelp/ Vanessa R.
This open-air seafood shack directly overlooks the Boston Harbor, and on a nice day there are few places in the city more perfect for enjoying some fried seafood. The fish and chips here start with a big slab of fresh haddock, which is battered and fried to order and served alongside crispy fries and housemade tartar sauce. The fisherman’s platter, which also comes with clam strips, scallops, and shrimp, is a fried seafood lover’s delight.
#15 The Barnacle, Marblehead, Mass.
This no-frills waterfront eatery has been serving both townies and tourists alike since 1961, and owner Jay Sahagian and his crew still take their own lobster boats out into the harbor to catch seafood for the menu. While the lobster rolls are a major draw (not to mention the view of Marblehead Harbor), the fish and chips, made with fresh-caught haddock, shouldn’t be missed: light, crisp, and not greasy in the least, they’re served alongside shoestring fries.
#14 The Anchor Fish & Chips, Minneapolis
This bustling chipper brings a true fish and chips experience to Minneapolis, and their roving food truck is also spreading the gospel across the Twin Cities. Pasties, shepherd’s pie, Heinz beans, curry chips, and even battered sausage and chips are helping to get locals through brutal winters, but if you only get one thing, make it the fish and chips. A huge fillet of sustainable wild Alaskan cod is lightly battered and fried to crispy perfection, served on a heaping pile of fresh hand-cut chips.
#13 BIG & little’s, Chicago
Big and Little's
This BYOB, cash-only hotspot may have risen to fame after an appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but don’t hold that against it: Just about everything on its expansive and creative menu, including po’boys, seafood tacos, burgers, fries (topped with foie gras, naturally), and soft-shell crabs when in season, is insanely good. Their fish and chips comes with one of the biggest pieces of fried cod we’ve ever seen, lightly battered and fried to a deep golden brown and served atop a pile of fries that doesn’t have a soggy one in the bunch (seriously, the fries here are awesome).
#12 Ivar’s, Seattle
Since 1938, Ivar’s has been selling world-class fish and chips (as well as equally legendary clam chowder) from its perch on Seattle’s Pier 54, and since then more than 20 additional locations have opened up across Washington state. It’s a chain, but that fact speaks more to its success than any decline in quality. The traditional fish and chips are made with smallish pieces of Pacific cod and can be tossed in spicy Cajun seasoning, if you wish. Halibut, salmon, clams, scallops, shrimp, and oysters are also available. Founder–folk singer Ivar Haglund is nothing short of a Seattle legend, and his namesake eateries serve his memory well.
#11 Martins West Pub, Redwood City, Calif.
There are plenty of great fish and chips to be found in the Bay Area, but head to the cozy Martins West and not only will you find some truly stellar fish and chips, you’ll also have a surprisingly upscale gastropub experience. Fresh-cut Pacific cod is ale-battered for a light and crispy texture that shatters on contact, and the thick-cut fries are tossed with a 16-spice tandoori blend that you’ll wish they sold by the pound.
#10 Chip Shop, Brooklyn, NY
Chip Shop might be best known for its deep-fried Mars bars, macaroni and cheese, and pizza (they’ll actually batter and fry just about anything you want them to), but their straight-ahead fish and chips are what put them on the map and what keep the crowds coming back for more. Founder Chris Sell is nothing short of a wizard of the deep-fryer, dunking super fresh fish in a beer-laden batter and pulling out extremely crispy fillets served atop a mound of perfectly cooked chips. Dunk them in some of their addictive curry sauce and wash it all down with an Old Speckled Hen, and you’ll be in fish and chips heaven.
#9 Flying Fish Grill, Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Flying Fish Grill
Flying Fish Grill has been serving some of the Bay Area’s finest fish and chips since it first opened in 1992, and a 2011 move down the block in to a much larger space didn’t affect the quality of the food in the least. It’s really all about this fish here, available in tacos, wraps, cioppino, sandwiches, and salads. But the fish and chips, which you can get with either cod or halibut, are a wonder to behold: lightly coated in tempura batter and fried in rice oil, they’re light, crispy, crunchy, and insanely fresh.
#8 Chinook’s at Salmon Bay, Seattle
Yelp/ Richie D.
Since Chinook's is located smack dab in the Fisherman’s Terminal, it’s quite obvious that the fish sold here will be high-quality: the owners also run a seafood company, and all fish sold is local, sustainable, and in-season. The true cod, salmon, and lingcod (native to the West Coast) gets a tempura-style batter before being fried, leading to an ethereally crisp coating, and the spice mix doesn’t overpower the flavor of the fish. The view is also one of the city’s finest.
#7 Island Creek Oyster Bar, Boston
When a restaurant cultivates their own oysters (which happen to be among the best on the East Coast), you know that they take their seafood very seriously. Island Creek chef Jeremy Sewall is one of the nation’s leading experts on sustainable fish sourcing, and the seafood selection at his restaurant changes daily depending on what’s coming out of the water. Their fish and chips are usually made with pollock (but is subject to change according to availability), and they’re light and crunchy thanks to a beer batter. Make sure you don’t forget about the malt vinegar aïoli, which brings everything together.
#6 Barbara’s Fishtrap, Half Moon Bay, Calif.
Since 1971, this cash-only restaurant has been serving some of the country’s finest seafood out of a nearly 100-year-old building located right on the water. Along with clam chowder and fried calamari, the fish and chips are the most popular option on the menu, and they don’t disappoint. Thick-sliced rock cod gets a light tempura-style coating and comes out golden brown and delicious, served alongside thick-cut steak fries that need nothing more than a sprinkling of salt.
#5 Susan’s Fish-n-Chips, Portland, Maine
The team behind the venerable Susan’s, a local favorite in Portland since 1989, has the art of frying seafood down to a science. Whole belly clams, lobster tails on a stick, and even ice cream is fried at this no-frills clam shack, and the free coffee, $2.50 fish sandwich special, and hugely portioned $11 lobster rolls have some wondering whether owner Susan Ecklund is insane or just very generous (she’s just generous). But as the name implies, the fish and chips are the must-try: huge fillets of fresh cod are coated in their signature batter and deep-fried until golden brown, then served with a heaping pile of fries. If you’re looking for even more evidence about how wacky this place is, you can even BYOF (bring your own fish) and she’ll fry it for you for $5.
#4 The Frying Scotsman, Portland Ore.
The Frying Scotsman
One of Portland’s most legendary food carts, the Frying Scotsman is indeed run by an actual Scotsman, an Ayrshire native named James King who serves what many agree is the best platter of fish and chips in a city that has no shortage of them. King makes every order by hand, using a batter that results in a light and crispy product. Cod, mahi mahi, halibut, red snapper, and haddock (as well as haggis and British bangers if you’re so inclined) are all available, served with extra-crispy chips and best washed down with one of Scotland’s most popular native soft drinks, Irn-Bru.
#3 Eamonn’s, Alexandria, Va.
Eamonn’s calls itself a “Dublin chipper,” setting a lofty bar for itself and succeeding with flying colors. Located in Old Town Alexandria, this 20-seat takeaway serves fresh cod, prawns, grouper, fish of the day, and ray (“Eat the bones if you’re brave,” the menu reads), served alongside hand-cut chips and a variety of sauces, including curry, hot chili, tartar, and “fronch.” The simple baking soda-kicked batter lends a light, airy crunch that highlights the fish’s tenderness; it’s all served in a brown paper bag that the menu implores you not to close at the risk of steaming what’s inside. Chef Cathal Armstrong (who also happens to be a James Beard nominee and helms Eve, one of the town’s finest restaurants) named the shop after his son, and the Dublin native brings a deft, masterful hand to a dish that he clearly holds dear.
#2 Nosh, Seattle
Yelp/ Jeff L.
Since 20013, the Nosh food truck has been rolling through Seattle serving a unique menu of specialties including fried rabbit, roasted bone marrow, and cod chowder. Its fish and chips, however, are the best in Seattle, thanks to the endless experimentation of London-born chef-owner Harvey Wolff. A whole fillet of wild Alaskan cod is beer battered and fried to a shatteringly crisp and greaseless crust , and the fish remains tender and flaky within. It’s served with housemade tartar sauce, crispy English-style chips, and (as a very nice touch) minty mushy peas.
#1 A Salt and Battery, New York City
Nic G. / Yelp
There’s nowhere else in the United States that replicates the authentic chipper experience as well as A Salt and Battery, located in New York’s West Village. A small takeaway, they offer local, sustainable pollock, haddock, sole, and whiting as well as shrimp and scallops. The batter that they use fries up beautifully, always seems to be perfectly golden brown, and doesn’t interfere at all with the flavor of the fish. The hand-cut chips are thick, crunchy, golden brown, delicious, and need no accompaniment aside from a few lashings of malt vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. While the place doesn’t offer much in the way of seating, if you want to truly experience the perfection of these fish and chips (and mushy peas), find a seat and eat it there. Not only does A Salt and Battery offer the best fish and chips in America, we’d dare to say their offering is better than many of the fish and chips you’ll find across the pond.