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Wisconsin-style Fish Fry?

I've lived in Chicago (and now west of the city) for nine of the past 10 years and have never been able to find a proper Wisconsin-style fish fry in or around Chicago. Sure, there are plenty of taverns that will serve English/Irish pub inspired plates of fried fish and French fries--maybe even some slaw or, sadly, peas on the side. This is fine. But I'm looking for the Friday night fish fry of my youth..the same Friday night fish fry that happens in Milwaukee and pretty much every town across Wisconsin each week. Where are the relish trays, baskets of marble rye bread, both German and American potato salad, cole slaw, potato pancakes, French fries and the choice of baked or fried fish?

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    1. re: amoncada

      ditto amoncada's comment.
      badgerbrian, us flatlanders (or at least this one) have never seen a W. ff in the Chicago area. I think you will need to drive up to Miwaukee.
      I know that a few VFW halls have Friday fish fries. I have never tried those either, but you could try that. There's one in Park Ridge.

    2. I just did a little sleuthing online and although it is on the way south side of Chicago, it might interest you. It's a place called Club 81 Too. The bar is open daily, but they only serve food on Wednesdays from 4-8 and Friday from 3-8:30. I'm not sure if it is traditional Wisconsin fish fry, but maybe you can let us know by looking at some pictures on this lth forum thread:


      1. The VFW on Devon in Elk Grove Village does one every Friday. It's supposed to be pretty good, although I have not tried it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ketel Guy

          Probably the worst fried fish I've ever had, but that was a few years ago.

        2. Badgerbrian- The one question I have for you is where are you located and how far are you willing to drive for it?

          Up here in Lake County IL we have enough of the Green & Gold crowd running around that there several good fish Fry's are easily found at many of local bars, most notably at the Thirsty Turtle in Antioch which features a Door county fish fry & boil.

          I can also attest that right at the border starting in Pleasant Prairie (Kenosha) fish fries abound. I don't think its too far a drive from the city, but since I'm in Gurnee and trek down to the city I'm well used to 40+ min ride.

          Thirsty Turtle Beach Bar and Grill
          42273 N Woodbine Ave
          Antioch, IL 60002 (847) 395-4704

          Thirsty Turtle
          Antioch, il, Antioch, il

          1. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, IL does an awesome Lenten fish and shrimp buffet that brings in about a thousand people a night! It was set up by a guy that grew up in Milwaukee. Set some sort of world record last year, I believe. Tons of volunteers keep everything stocked and moving fast.

            They now have a webpage up with all the details.

            Their 2009 fish fry season runs for seven Fridays from February 20 through April 3, 4:30-7:30pm. Prices: $12.95 adults, $10.95 senior citizens, $7.95 kids (3-12). Dessert and most drinks included.

            St Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church
            1023 Mchenry Ave, Crystal Lake, IL

            1. I know exactly what you're referring to when you speak of Friday fish fries. I would always participate in those when I would visit my family in the South. The absolute closest to I can think of that is so worth it is...DiCola's Seafood. They have the bomb seafood that you could either take home and prepare yourself or the restaurant can fry them (let the restaurant do it). They also have garlic bread, all the sauces you used growing up, salads, cajun or regular fries, fried zucchini, etc. It is the bomb!!! But it is on the southside...10754 S Western Ave, Call and get hours if interested (773) 238-7071

              Highly highly recommended!!!!

              4 Replies
              1. re: LadyintheKitchen

                I would recommend skipping the fish fry anywhere in Illinois. You'll be disappointed.

                Instead, grab a nice meal, in Grayslake I like The Vine, The Country Squire, and Full Slab Ribs.

                1. re: lawn boy

                  Not to side track the OPs request (who was in the city, not Gurnee), but I cant think of a worst set of recommendations than two of those three.

                  The Country Squire is great if you want to have a Sunday brunch with your 90yr old grandma and like bland flavorless food.

                  The Full Slab is not only HORIBLE BBQ but its way overpriced too. If BBQ is the topic, than hands down, Big Ed's on MLK in North Chicago has few, if any equals in the entire city.

                  The Vine is really a wine bar with mostly appetizers, and is known for its high prices and just OK food.

                  Being that the OP is from the city, he/she can do significantly better than Grayslake for good dinner options.

                  Again, the Thirsty Turtle in Antioch with its Door County fish fry is quite good but a quick trip to Kenosha is definitely the way to go on this one.

                  1. re: abf005

                    Where to go in Kenosho for fish fry?

                    1. re: lilmomma

                      The VFW is amazing, I'll be there with the family this coming Friday:


              2. As one who's lived in the western suburbs over 30 years, I've found Donley's Wild West Steakhouse has the best fish fry, ESPECIALLY the Perch. They do have Cod as well, but its all you can eat, and the Perch is phenomenal. Additionally, they do serve it with potato pancakes (or fries). Anyway, its in Union (towards Marengo) but worth a drive. Cheap and Good!

                Donley's Old West Steakhouse
                8512 S Union Rd, Union, IL 60180

                1. Jury's in Lincoln Square has a Friday Perch special, if that helps any:


                  Casual, old school place.

                  1 Reply